Secularism and positive rights

I was flipping through Stephen Holmes and Cass Sunstein's The Cost of Rights, which points out that the distinction between positive and negative rights is dubious, or at least not very sharp. This is because assertion of a negative right—a right not to be interfered with by others or the state—is empty without the demand that this right be enforced. This demand involves significant burdens on the public treasury, so in that sense it is a demand for a positive right—that the state or others … [Read more...]

I’m (In)famous!

My "retirement" notice posted on SO last Sept. 1 got MUCH more attention than I expected--or wanted. Religion Dispatches has an article about the announcement and the subsequent brouhaha: letters were written and a couple of questions were raised that I would like to address: 1) Q: If I no longer respect the "case for theism" sufficiently to devote professional activity (teaching, … [Read more...]

Say What???

For connoisseurs of theological gibberish, check this out (by Paul Wallace, in Religion Dispatches, from last Dec. 14): was particularly impressed by these two paragraphs:The third level is the most difficult but the most important. This is second-order negation, or the inversion of the inversion. Here we would say, “God is not a fire, but God is not a not-fire either,” and “God is not love, b … [Read more...]

What God Cannot Do – Part 3

In Chapter 6 of Our Idea of God (1991), Thomas Morris provides a brief but helpful explanation of different types of necessity in relation to divine attributes.Morris explains three different types or levels of necessity. Let's use claims about the divine attribute of omnipotence as examples of the three types of necessity. I think this might help with further discussion about the paradox of the stone and the divine attribute of dicto necessity(1) Necessarily, God is … [Read more...]

Miracles and Antecedent Probabilities

Victor Reppert responded succinctly but thoughtfully to my posting on ECREE (the principle that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”):There is a sense in which I agree with the ECREE thesis, it is just that I don't believe that there is any objective way of proving that one set of antecedent probabilities is rational and another is not. So what is "extraordinary" is just what your antecedent probabilities tell you is improbable.I think that as you pull at the story of the f … [Read more...]

What God Cannot Do – Part 2

There are two types of actions that God cannot do (see The Coherence of Theism, p.164): T1. Actions that are logically impossible for any being to perform.T2. Actions that are logically possible for some beings to perform, but logically impossible for God to perform.No being, including God, could produce or discover a four-sided triangle. No being, including God, could produce or find a married bachelor. No being could produce or identify an even number that is greater than 1 but less than 2. No … [Read more...]

New Chick Tract

Just to start your New Year off with a dose of homophobia... … [Read more...]

Americans not more religious than Europeans?

There is some recent research that adds to the long-known fact that Americans inflate their religious participations in surveys. It appears that in terms of frequency of attending services, Americans are not such an outlier compared to other post-industrial nations after all. Shankar Vedantam suggests that this indicates that Americans are actually not significantly more religious than Europeans.That, however, strikes me as relying too much on one type of research instrument as much as relying … [Read more...]