The Purposes of God

Whether a theist says “God created all living things” or “God created the universe” or “God raised Jesus from the dead” the point is to give a personal explanation for some facts (or alleged facts) as opposed to a physical or scientific explanation. When giving a personal explanation for some fact, information about motivations or purposes is obviously relevant evidence.If we know that just one person committed the murder of a rich man, and if we know that it was either the butler or the maid wh … [Read more...]

Son of even more on multicultural dystopias

Time to wrap up.Russell Blackford has his third response to me up. Looking at that, and going back to look at how all this started, I have to make some concessions.I overcooked my interpretation of the Bouma-Blackford dispute, pressing it into use for my own agenda. I didn't, and still don't, know exactly what Bouma was getting at, and I didn't give too much thought to the wider context of why Blackford responded as he did. I still maintain that someone who considers secular criticism of … [Read more...]

Even more on multicultural dystopias

Some things that are, again, too long for the comments.SlaverySome commenters think they have a knockdown argument by bringing up possible atrocities under a multicultural order. Slavery seems to be a popular example. I think this is a very weak response. Let me explain why.In the US, opponents of gay marriage and other homosexual rights often argue that if homosexuality is granted legal status, this opens the door to all sorts of behaviors traditionally thought of as sexual perversions. … [Read more...]

More on multicultural dystopias

I was putting in a comment in reply to YamaZaru, but it ended up exceeding the character limit. So I'll have to post this as a separate entry."You don't want liberal ways “forced” upon anyone, but instead are consigning many of the members of these subgroups to having ways they didn't choose “forced” upon them."Liberal language about "choice" and "force" is very misleading here.No one chooses who they are. Our choices take place in a context of unchosen circumstances, and unchosen but organic … [Read more...]

A revived millet system?

Russell Blackford, in the second part of his response to me, brings up the Ottoman millet system as an example of a political arrangement based on accommodating different ethno-religious communities—an example of what not to do.As it happens, I was born and raised in the old Ottoman capital. I might be able to say a few things about the millet system. I'm not going to praise it. For someone like me, it has few attractions. And this is not, by the way, because of discrimination against the … [Read more...]

“Theocracy” is not the issue

Russell Blackford has responded to my suggestion that multicultural recognition of ethno-religious groups might have a better claim to protect social peace in some circumstances. It's a thoughtful reply, and it convinces me that I should better qualify some of my claims. Overall, however, I still disagree. I especially think that speaking of theocracy and religiously inspired laws for all is not to the point. Indeed, the way we immediately think of religious control as the alternative to … [Read more...]

Postmodern peace-keeping

Russell Blackford, editor of 50 Voices of Disbelief (which I have contributed to), is a strong defender of secular liberalism. In his blog, which I like to follow, he regularly responds to critics of secularism and nonbelief.In his latest, he rips into sociologist and priest Gary Bouma, who has recently attacked secularists and active atheists as divisive elements that threaten social harmony.I'm as dyed-in-the-wool a secular liberal as they come. But I want to argue that here, Bouma is correct … [Read more...]

Taking advantage of religion

Many (most?) nonbelievers are convinced that supernatural believers would be better off without their religion.That's hard to evaluate, particularly since important beliefs such as religious convictions are not merely instrumental in letting us achieve our purposes. Instead, they strongly shape what our deepest interests are. Unless we have a way of figuring out who is "better off" independently of our particular interests, it is hard to see how we can say that the religious would invariably … [Read more...]