Science Matters

Will science matter in the Trump Administration? All signs are that it will not. Indeed, not only will science not matter, it will be actively opposed. The title of Lawrence Krauss’s article “Donald Trump’s War on Science,” published in the December 13 New Yorker, sounds alarmist. After all, haven’t we heard hype from the right about the “War on Christmas” and the “War on traditional values,” and so forth? Is Krauss engaging in the same sort hyperbole? Not at all. He details the “qualifications” … [Read more...]

The Empirical Confirmation of Miracle Claims

Is the empirical confirmation of miracles possible, in principle? Hume has often been interpreted as denying the possibility. However, Hume does say that it is conceivable that there could be testimony for a miraculous event that is so unlikely to be false that it would be a “greater miracle” for the testimony to be false than the occurrence of the event. Presumably, he means that, in principle, the likelihood of the provision of particular testimony T, given the non-occurrence of the Miracle M, … [Read more...]

Truth: What Really Matters Now

In the nearly ten years that I have been contributing to Secular Outpost, I have enjoyed conversations with a number of outstanding theistic thinkers. I will not name them since that might lead some respondents to focus on these individuals rather than the general point I am making. While we deeply disagree on philosophical issues, I have learned a great deal from these interlocutors, and I regard them with a deep respect that I hope is mutual. Though our differences are deep, there is something … [Read more...]

Consciousness and souls

Substance dualists insist that no matter what goes on in the squishy 3 pound lump of brain inside the human skull, none of it constitutes what is really essential to human cognition. Something else, an immaterial soul, has to be added to the brain in order for it to … well, to do something – just what is not entirely clear. Free will, consciousness, and personal identity are some of the most common candidates.There are a lot of problems with substance dualism, but for me one of the most com … [Read more...]

Living in the Post-Truth Era

Donald Trump sailed into the White House on an ocean of lies. His erstwhile political opponent, and then wishy-washy supporter, Sen. Ted Cruz called Trump a “pathological liar.” I take it that a liar becomes pathological when his lies are no longer conscious fabrications, but merely statements made with no regard to truth or falsity. The pathological liar does not circumvent truth; he is oblivious to it. Truth is simply irrelevant to his narrative, which is aimed entirely at creating an emo … [Read more...]

Off Topic: President U-Can-Grab-Them-By-The-Pussy

59 million Americans voted for a racist, sexist, bully and IDIOT to be their President.It looks like 81% of Evangelicals voted to put a shit-head in charge of the most powerful military in the world, and to give him control over our potentially world-destroying nuclear weapons.https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/09/exit-polls-show-white-evangelicals-voted-overwhelmingly-for-donald-trump/I suppose it is no surprise that Evangelical Christians could be so … [Read more...]

Pseudo random thoughts on AA and free will

There are some atheists who would like to see references to God or a higher power dropped from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) materials.  I think it is clearly desirable for people to have recovery resources available to them that don't mandate adherence to religious doctrines. But that's not what I want to focus on. Instead, I just want to throw out some questions for consideration.Suppose you are an alcoholic. You join AA and in reading the literature you are informed that you need to accept … [Read more...]

How do you Spell “Hypocrite?” B-A-P-T-I-S-T

There was an excellent editorial in this morning’s Houston Chronicle concerning the still-growing sexual assault scandal at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. For anybody who does not follow college football, for decades the Baylor Bears were a laughingstock, a delicious cupcake for the real teams like UT, A & M, and Oklahoma, who would regularly pound them to the tune of 50-0. Then, praise Jesus, a miracle occurred. St. Art came to Baylor. The formidable head coach Art Briles arrived and s … [Read more...]