What Does “Supernatural” Mean?

The word "supernatural" appears in the Mission Statement for the Secular Web (emphasis added):The Secular Web is owned and operated by Internet Infidels, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization dedicated to defending and promoting a naturalistic worldview on the Internet. Naturalism is the “hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system” in the sense that “nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.” As such, “naturalism implies that there are no supernatura … [Read more...]

What is a Microaggression?

OK, this is way off topic, but I asked my colleagues for clarification and have gotten almost no response. I guess (a) they do not care about the issue (odd), or (b) they think that I am just trying to stir up controversy (not on this occasion), or (c) they are, for whatever reason, hesitant to speak up on the issue (Why would this be?). One thing I know about our commentators here at SO is that they are not at all hesitant to speak up on controversial issues, so I will raise the question here: … [Read more...]

Critical Historians vs. the Dogmatists (Believers or Deniers)

Several recent discussions here at SO have addressed the perennially fascinating issue of the historical Jesus. In fact, in one guise or another, this is one of our most popular subjects for discussion. Recently, there have been abundant comments from “mythicists” who argue that the Jesus of the Gospels is a figure of myth or legend. This thesis was famously defended by G.A. Wells in a number of works. Wells argued that the evidence for the so-called historical Jesus was really no more com … [Read more...]

Science and Religion: The Clash of Ideals

In my previous post I argued that science and religion still can and do clash, especially concerning the implications of evolutionary theory and neuroscience. Specifically, an account of human origins that views Homo sapiens, like every other species, as the highly improbable end-product of a very long series of contingencies and accidents, cannot rest easily with worldviews in which humanity is an essential element if not the centerpiece of creation. Further, many if not most religions require … [Read more...]

How Science and Religion Still Clash

“Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every new science, like the serpents strangled by the infant Hercules.” That is how T.H. Huxley classically expressed the “warfare” theory of the relationship between science and religion. On that theory, science and religion are playing a zero-sum game. One advances at the expense of the other. Eternal and irreconcilable opposites, science and religion only flourish by excluding the other.A number of contemporary writers, especially some of t … [Read more...]

A Christian Responds to Harris on the Evils of “Moderates”

I recently had an interesting discussion here at SO on Sam Harris’s views on “moderate” believers. One commentator took me to task for saying that Harris holds that “moderates” are “just as bad” as extremists. I think he may have had a point that this was unfair, but Harris clearly does make some fairly serious charges. So, I wrote to a couple of friends, men of the cloth, to ask how they responded. One has graciously replied at length. I am giving below my letter of inquiry and his response. … [Read more...]

Prof. Pruss on Hell and Free Choice

Prof. Alexander Pruss considers the traditional doctrine of hell and its alternatives:http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2016/04/eternal-nagging-endless-second-chances.htmlThe three salient proposals, then, are these (2 and 3 are quotes from Prof. Pruss’s post):(1) The traditional doctrine: At death there can be no further changes in one’s eternal destiny.(2) Imposition: God imposes moral transformation on those who do not freely opt to love him.(3) Endless Second Chances: God … [Read more...]

Nasty as you want to be: Bash Erdogan

Lately here at SO I have issued a number of calls for civility in discussions, eliciting some very uncivil responses from some quarters. Generally, though, the comments have been encouragingly positive and make me think that the rude and the crude, as always, make us overlook the good people. Yep, civility, restraint, and respect. All great.Wouldn't it be nice, though, if there were someone, an obnoxious, egotistical, irrational bully, say, whom you could bash and rip in perfectly good … [Read more...]