Nonmetaphysical Naturalism (part 3)

Originally I had thought I'd break a long post into two parts, but then I got carried away. So this ended up as a kind of online note-taking and thinking out loud prompted by some recent books I've read. Oh well, here goes again...I've said I'm partial to the idea of rehabilitating metaphysics, bringing it out of the realm of armchair reflection and Platonic rationalism and seeing how it might play a role in systems that make contact with reality tests. There is, I think, another advantage to … [Read more...]

Nonmetaphysical Naturalism (part 2)

Let's say you are inclined to go along with me so far: you agree that there is something troubling about metaphysical thinking, and you think that naturalism in particular should tread as lightly as possible where metaphysics is concerned.We need a bit more, though, unless we want to announce that we have a metaphysical intuition that metaphysics is bad. (Actually, I am tempted to stop there.) Then, we get complications. It's not entirely clear how to separate metaphysical from nonmetaphysical … [Read more...]

Nonmetaphysical Naturalism (part 1)

There's something about the description of this blog that bothers me, especially since inadvertently I've ended up as the most frequent voice here. Apparently this blog is centered on metaphysical naturalism. What if you're a naturalist who is suspicious of any and all metaphysical enterprises, and who is inclined to think that most of what goes on in the philosophy of religion is so much wheel-spinning? Someone like me, in other words.Now, I can see why we might want to attach "metaphysical" to … [Read more...]

Looking for a Miracle

According to a news report from India, "At least 50 people in Kottayam district have reportedly lost their vision after gazing at the sun looking for an image of Virgin Mary."My first reaction to news like this is that it confirms my prejudice that the human race is, generally speaking, insane. Still, I wonder how religious examples of self-harming behavior are different from more secular examples. No small number of people have lost their shirt investing in a stock market bubble, which with … [Read more...]


One of the oddest things about the “new atheist” phenomenon, typified by the best-selling anti-theistic works of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, is that some of the most vituperative criticisms of these works have come, not from fundamentalist Bible-beaters, but from liberal, secular, intellectuals. For instance, last October, the Los Angeles Times published a sublimely silly op-ed by author and critic Lee Siegel, who decried the new atheist authors and acc … [Read more...]

Former religious right leaders recant

Rob Boston has a post at AlterNet, "Theocracy Rejected," reporting on how and why Frank Schaeffer, John Whitehead, and Cal Thomas have publicly repudiated their involvement with the religious right. All three now challenge the idea that Christians should seek political power in order to impose their ideas on American culture.A few quotes from each give the flavor:Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, from his book Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious … [Read more...]

The new seven deadly sins

The Catholic Church has announced a new updated list of seven deadly sins for the twenty-first century, which are:1. accumulating obscene wealth2. polluting the environment3. genetic engineering4. drug dealing5. abortion6. pedophilia7. causing social injusticeThis has been a topic of discussion on the SKEPTIC mailing list, with many observing that the Catholic Church itself is guilty of several of these new sins. One wag (Barry Williams) observed that transsubstantiation seems a lot like … [Read more...]

Most important, or least important?

In the March 6 issue of Science, there's an interesting story on paleontologist Stephen Godfrey, who grew up in a fundamentalist environment and lost that form of faith through his education.One part I want to highlight comes toward the end:Trying to articulate where his religious beliefs stand now, Godfrey's eyes fill with tears. "It's been so long, a lifelong struggle, to sort out," he says. He has flirted with atheism but found it too depressing. Several years ago, he stopped attending church … [Read more...]