Separate spheres

In educated, liberal circles today, the conventional wisdom about science and religion is that they are compatible. Each belongs to a different sphere. In one popular formulation, natural science produces naturalistic explanations of natural phenomena, while the sphere of religion is knowledge about an entirely different realm, the supernatural. Or, possibly, science is about a narrow subset of reality that can be empirically probed by a "scientific method," while other kinds of knowledge, such … [Read more...]

Soldiers for Christ

Hey, check out Liberty University's on-line theology and apologetics program! is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools! … [Read more...]

Unscientific America

Chris Mooney, journalist and author of the eye-opening The Republican War on Science, teamed up with Sheril Kirshenbaum, a scientist involved in science policy, to write Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future.It has its good parts. But possibly because I expected more from Mooney, my overall impression is one of faint disappointment. There is too much in the book that is unimaginative and superficial. Mooney and Kirshenbaum too often approach the cultural problems … [Read more...]

Transcendent values for radicals

I just finished reading Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges. He's an interesting writer, who has previously gone after both the Religious Right in American Fascists and the New Atheists in I Don't Believe in Atheists.My immediate interest in the book was due to a chapter criticizing the state of higher education in the US today. I was looking for something to start a discussion with beginning college students. And after reading the chapter, I … [Read more...]

“Investigating Atheism” web site

There's an interesting new(ish) academic web site called "Investigating Atheism." It collects some useful social science and historical information, and other stuff. The material has something of a theologically liberal spin on it, though the site disingenuously claims neutrality:The Investigating Atheism project is designed to stimulate interest, thought and debate on this important topic (one that has rapidly gained a whole new audience in recent years). The website has been put together by a … [Read more...]

Collins heading NIH

I've recently read a number of nonbelievers commenting on the appointment of Francis Collins to head the NIH. These include an editorial by Sam Harris, which expresses concern. Russell Blackford pragmatically accepts Collins's appointment as not that bad.From my point of view, there is nothing wrong with NIH being headed by an outspoken evangelical Christian, even one willing to mess with science at the edges to make it fit his faith. First of all, this is a political appointment, in a strongly … [Read more...]

Metaphysical Naturalism and Consciousness

Frequent correspondent Dianelos Georgoudis recently responded to my request that he present three conceptual problems with metaphysical naturalism. I had planned to address all three in a single post, but the issues are tangled and multifaceted, so I really only managed to address his first one—and this is still a very long post. The other points will have to wait until later. I think, as is so often the case, one source of our disagreement is that we have different understandings of the … [Read more...]

Report: North Korea Publicly Executes Christian Woman for Distributing Bible

LINKWhile we usually address church-state issues that involve violations of the civil liberties of nontheists, this story highlights an extreme example of the reverse sort of issue, where the lack of government neutrality apparently harmed a theist (to put it mildly). Anyone who claims to be a freethinker or a supporter of church-state separation should condemn this action by North Korea. … [Read more...]