Richard Purtill “Defining Miracles”

In confronting miracle claims skeptics and naturalists look for flaws and weakness in the evidence put forward for specific miracles, and ask critical questions like, "Do we have eyewitness testimony for the event?", "Are the eyewitnesses credible and reliable?", "Are the accounts of the eyewitnesses consistent with each other?", and "Is there physical evidence that confirms or disconfirms the testimony of the eyewitnesses?" Such questions are of obvious relevance to rational evaluation of … [Read more...]

Harun Yahya sentenced

Adnan Oktar, the public face of the very successful Harun Yahya Muslim creationist phenomenon based in Turkey, has just been sentenced to three years in prison, on a racketeering charge.If carried out, I doubt it will put a dent in the popularity of Islamic creationism. It may even give Oktar, who has always had a shady public image, an aura of martyrdom. Still, it will be interesting to see what happens. … [Read more...]

Philosophers Without Gods

Here's another book I want to recommend: Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life, edited by Louise M. Antony (Oxford University Press, 2007).Half the book is taken up by informal descriptions by philosophers of why they don't believe. Many are very interesting, and the more informal reflections are, I think, a good way of bringing out a distinctly philosophical sensibility leading to nonbelief. Plus, mercifully, no one goes on about ****ological arguments or other … [Read more...]

Dawkins’ Definition of “God”

The Conclusion of Chapter 4In the final paragraph of Chapter 4 of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins draws one of his main conclusions:If the argument of this chapter is accepted, the factual premise of religion - the God Hypothesis - is untenable. God almost certainly does not exist. This is the main conclusion of the book so far. (p. 189, Mariner paperback edition).Based on this paragraph one might think that Dawkins has provided an answer to the age-old question "Does God exist?". But it is … [Read more...]

Never swear at God…

A Turkish barber working in Saudi Arabia has been condemned to execution, based on testimony that he had sworn at God during a personal quarrel. (Think of it as a Muslim equivalent of denouncing the Holy Spirit: completely unforgivable.)You can read about it in the Arab News or Turkish Daily News. … [Read more...]

Jefferson Center

For a while now, I've been an Honorary Fellow of The Jefferson Center in Ashland, Oregon. When I was first invited to speak there, I thought of it as an ultraliberal religious organization, and soon discovered that quite a few people associated with it were at least ambivalent about supernatural beliefs.I got to know some of the very nice people involved with the Jefferson Center, particularly Robert Semes, its energetic Executive Director. He has a very interesting background, having spent … [Read more...]

New Chick Tract

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When you write skeptically on religion, you get some interesting reactions. My favorite so far is is a Muslim comment on An Illusion of Harmony:. . . that book by the enemy of Allah, and the mini-dajjal of our era Taner Edis.(I ran across it on an online forum discussing a nasty review of Illusion by some sheikh.)This is sort of like calling someone an enemy of God, a mini-Antichrist, in a Christian context. I kind of like it, actually. It's over-the-top and weird enough to be amusing. … [Read more...]