“You are Under Arrest in the Name of Jesus!”

Life in Texas is many things, but it is never boring. You can always count on zealous Bible-beaters, uh, our duly elected state officials, that is, to liven things up. Our governor Greg Abbott wants crosses on police cars:http://www.charismanews.com/us/55009-why-the-texas-governor-wants-crosses-on-police-carsNote that his justification only mentions the religious significance of the cross in passing. Chiefly, the cross is a symbol that supposedly elicits the deepest respect from Texans. … [Read more...]

Off Topic: Critical Thinking about Marijuana Use

I don't smoke pot, so I don't have a significant personal stake in questions about the risks and dangers of marijuana use.  I am glad that my state recently legalized marijuana, but I think it should be legal whether or not it has significant health and safety risks, just like smoking tobacco and drinking alcoholic beverages is legal even though these activities clearly have significant health and saftey risks.Ever since I was a young person I have noticed that many people have a strong … [Read more...]

The Argument from Silence, Part 9: Mormonism’s Missing Golden Plates

I began this series with a Bayesian interpretation of arguments from silence and then proceeded to use that interpretation to evaluate various arguments from silence about Jesus and God. In this post, I want to assess an argument from silence against a central claim of Mormonism, namely, that the Book of Mormon is the English translation of golden plates which church founder Joseph Smith received from the angel Moroni.If we abbreviate “the golden plates are nowhere to be found” as S, let B re … [Read more...]

Off-Topic: A U.S. Constitutional Amendment Wish List

All the presidential primary debates, primaries, and causes got me thinking about the U.S. Electoral College, which in turn got me thinking about changes I'd like to see made to the Constitution.1. Eliminate Lifetime Supreme Court Appointments. See, for example, here. Instead, have Supreme Court justices get, say, 20-year terms after which they are ineligible to ever serve on the SC again.2. Repeal Citizens United Supreme Court Decision.3. Single Subject Rule.4. Prohibit states fr … [Read more...]

Three Ontological Arguments

I have been trying to provide some clear and plausible versions of the ontological argument for one of my classes. This is a lot harder than it sounds. Below is what I have so far. The first argument is an attempt to capture what Anselm was arguing in his first version in Proslogion. The second tries to do the same thing for Descartes's version in Meditations V. The third tries to capture the essence of the Malcolm/Hartshorne version, which, they say, is based on Anselm's second version. Any … [Read more...]

What Could God do about Evil?

My post “Evil: Still no Good Answers” has provoked a lively discussion with over 200 comments. Theistic commentators naturally want to argue that there are indeed plausible reasons for God to permit evil, even evils of the magnitude, extent, and variety that we find in the actual world. A common theme of these replies is to demand that those who pose atheological arguments from evil must state realistic alternatives. How, specifically, might God have eliminated or alleviated the moral or natural … [Read more...]

What is Christianity? Part 3

One objection to my cognitivist view of religion and of Christianity goes like this:"Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ."In the previous post in this series, I argued that (1) Christianity is a religion according to the Bible.  So, Christians who believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, should accept the view that Christianity is a religion.I also argued that (2) none of the definitions of "Christianity" found in various dictionaries … [Read more...]

Evil: Still no Good Answers

Here is an essay written by my friend Eddie Tabash. He is a Constitutional lawyer, legal scholar, and one hell of a defense attorney. Here he tells of his experiences growing up as the son of an Auschwitz survivor.http://secularhumanism.org/index.php/articles/7861Eddie also provides enlightening and incisive comments on evil and theism. When confronted with instances of atrocious evil, and asked how this squares with the belief in a God who is both all-powerful and perfectly good, … [Read more...]