Zero probabilities

There is a subset of the supernatural being fan club whose members are enamored of improbability arguments. That is, they will calculate the probability of some feature of the universe, get a very small number, and declare that since the probability is so low under a naturalistic scenario, supernatural intervention is required.Usually there are some blatant surface errors in such a calculation, such as assumptions no one is entitled to, or an artificially narrow set of naturalistic scenarios. … [Read more...]

New Chick Tract

Hell is a strange, strange notion. … [Read more...]

Would we want divine intervention?

One reason I don't fully trust arguments against God that revolve around the problem of evil is that I don't have that clear an idea about what a more perfect world would look like. Sure, I can suggest some improvements to the universe. But if I were able to fundamentally mess with the way the world works, I would still have very little hope to calculate what all the unintended consequences would be.For example, I have no idea whether I would like the opportunity to have supernatural knowledge … [Read more...]

Secularism bashed by foreign policy group

According to the Washington Post, a foreign policy task force has decided that "Western secularism" is impeding US foreign policy goals. The US needs to make religion "an integral part of our foreign policy."Some of this might be based on a degree of reality. If our imperial masters have been ignoring religion as a major cultural force in the world, then, they've been screwing up. I doubt that this is the case, but I don't really know.What worries me is the notion of explicitly disavowing … [Read more...]

Old Testament in action

With conservative religious people, you always have to worry that they actually believe what they say.Today's example: State Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas, Virginia.The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. . . In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There's a … [Read more...]

Young Americans remain believers

The Pew Research Center has a new report out, entitled "Religion Among the Millennials: Less Religiously Active Than Older Americans, But Fairly Traditional In Other Ways."Short summary: the younger generation of Americans are weaker in their institutional religious affiliations, though the vast majority is still tied to a religion. Where supernatural beliefs are concerned, however, most young Americans remain thorough believers, even when not attached to older institutional forms. There is a … [Read more...]

Human rights and universal human interests

Much of liberal secular moral thought, including notions of human rights, seeks common ground between people who might have differing comprehensive moral or religious convictions. We want secular government, because we think that everyone's interests would be best served by a government that does not play favorites. We want human rights to be respected, because everyone has an interest in not being tortured, not being jailed for political or religious convictions, and so forth.I usually side … [Read more...]

Deriving morality

A student who took an internet quiz and got diagnosed as a "secular humanist" emailed me, asking me what I thought secular humanism was all about. Good question.I said that "'Secular humanist' is most often a label adopted by people who are skeptical of supernatural entities, and who identify with political and moral views deriving from the tradition of the European Enlightenment." I added that "Secular humanists are less interested in finding a unified functional substitute for religion," and … [Read more...]