How to be Secular

I just read Jacques Berlinerblau's How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom. It's a good book and well worth reading, precisely because it will rub a lot of atheists the wrong way.I see little to object to in Berlinerblau's description of the poor state of secularism in the United States. I'd be even more blunt: secularism has not just faded, it has been defeated, and any attempt to resuscitate it must start from the fact of defeat. I also tend to agree with his description of … [Read more...]

William Lane Craig: “Animals aren’t aware that they’re in pain”

Recently, some theists have attempted to deal with that part of the problem of evil generated by horrendous animal suffering found in nature - including hundreds of millions of years of animal suffering before we humans even showed up - by saying that animals aren't aware that they are in pain. They maintain this is what "science" has shown. That helps bring the problem of suffering down to size!Indeed, that animals aren't aware that they are in pain is a remarkable "recent scientific … [Read more...]

Nagel’s “Mind and Cosmos” Reviewed by Michael Weisberg & Brian Leiter

"We conclude with a comment about truth in advertising. Nagel’s arguments against reductionism are quixotic, and his arguments against naturalism are unconvincing. He aspires to develop “rival alternative conceptions” to what he calls the materialist neo-Darwinian worldview, yet he never clearly articulates this rival conception, nor does he give us any reason to think that “the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two.” Mind and Cosmos is cert … [Read more...]

More Open Questions for Muslims

Note: These are not rhetorical questions. I really would like to know.Q: What is blasphemy against the Prophet? Is any criticism of Islam or the Qur'an or Mohammed considered blasphemy? If not, can you cite any instances of such critiques that are not blasphemous?Q: On the other hand, if even the mildest and most respectful critique is considered blasphemous, does this mean that non-Muslims may not, respectfully, express their reasons for not accepting Islam?Q: What about a religious … [Read more...]

Three Amazingly Good Books

I am currently reading three amazingly good books. J.L. Schellenberg's, The Wisdom to DoubtColin Howson's, Objecting to GodHerman Philipse, God in the Age of Science? I can sum up all three books in one word: "Wow."If you are interested in the philosophy of religion (and, if you're reading this blog, you probably are), then you should run, not walk, to the nearest bookstore to get your own copies.If any theists read this post and are looking for a change of scenery from rehashing the problems … [Read more...]

Jesus Married?

So, Jesus was possibly married? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/the-gospel-of-jesus-wife_n_1891325.html?1347990916&icid;=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl3%7Csec1_lnk1%26pLid%3D207309 Wow. What would his home life have been like? I guess we are allowed to indulge our imaginations: "Well, Mr. Big Shot! Mr. 'Son of Man!' Out with "the boys" all night again, huh? That Peter calls himself a fisherman. He looks like he is fishing for free meals to me. And that hussy Magdalene! … [Read more...]

Anselm for Undergrads

I have lately had the unenviable task of trying to explain Anselm's ontological arguments to undergraduates. Over the years I have read many expositions of ontological arguments and many critiques. However, I had never sat down and gone through Anslem's arguments line-by-line. Now I have done so in an effort to make a hand-out that will, I hope, things more tolerable for my students. I enjoyed doing it and I found it an instructive and challenging exercise, and I am appending it below.There … [Read more...]

Prosblogion: Physicist Sean Carroll on God and Modern Physics

Kenny Pearce at Prosblogion comments on Sean Carroll's essay, "Does the Universe Need God?", which we linked to a couple of days ago.The article is a model of constructive dialog between philosophy and physics. Carroll shows engagement with the major philosophical arguments under discussion, and does not come off as condescending or dismissive. He also provides concise and helpful summaries of the relevant physics. Additionally, the article shows an admirable degree of epistemic humility, … [Read more...]