A Scientific Question? Part 7

Some thoughts on the relationship between "scientific questions" and "historical questions"...Is the question “Was Bradley Bowen born on a Wednesday?” a scientific question? Could the answer to this question be discovered and confirmed (in principle if not in practice) purely by the use of scientific methods? I believe the answer to this question is “No”, but because of the qualification “in principle” it is difficult to be certain. If the answer to this question is “Yes”, then we have found … [Read more...]

Idiot America

John Loftus has published my review of Charles P. Pierce's Idiot America on Debunking Christianity: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/It has quite a bit of political comment, rather more than I judged would be appropriate here. I think this is an important book and a very enjoyable one. Pierce pulls no punches and I don't either. Sometimes it is fun to write with the poisoned pen when your target really deserves it, and I think the proponents of militant idiocy deserve all the abuse … [Read more...]

SEP: Baron d’Holbach

Michael LeBuffe has just revised his Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Paul-Henri Thiry (Baron) d'Holbach. The article focuses on Holbach's positive metaphysics and ethics, rather than his arguments for atheism, which LeBuffe dismisses as neither "original" nor "especially well presented." … [Read more...]

“I can draw Mohammed if you can build a mosque”

From the New York Daily News, about the protests concerning the (non)Ground Zero (non)Mosque:Later a scuffle broke out at the site of the pro-mosque protest a when a mosque opponent held up a sign that read, "I can draw Mohammed if you can build a mosque."That seems very reasonable to me. But since this person was protesting the mosque, I presume they want to stop both the mosque and any Muhammad cartoons, perhaps in a spirit of mutual respect.Sigh. … [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins: Faith School Menace?

Richard Dawkins' Channel 4 program about faith schools in the UK:This is part 1/4. The rest will play automatically, in sequence.H/T: Why Evolution is True … [Read more...]

CFI needs help

The Center for Inquiry, one of the leading US organizations supporting skepticism about the paranormal and the supernatural, plus secularism and humanism, is in serious financial trouble due to a large donor not being able to contribute as much as usual. Please consider donating a small amount to help.CFI is the organization behind magazines such as the Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry. (If you are not already subscribed, you may find it worthwhile to do so. They're much more satisfying than … [Read more...]

A Scientific Question? Part 6

In Rocks of Ages, Stephen Gould places a heavy emphasis on the fact vs. value distinction. According to Gould, science is concerned with facts, and religion is concerned with values. Values don’t imply facts, and facts don’t imply values, so there can be no conflict between a given set of facts (scientific teachings at a given point in time) and a given set of values (religious teachings at a given point in time). This is how Gould reasons about the relationship of science and religion.Given t … [Read more...]

“Ground Zero” Islamophobia

Surprising though that may be, I still run into people who think that "Islamophobia" is an illegitimate term. I don't see how anyone observing right wing politics in the US can seriously say that deep-seated irrational hatred of Islam is not a widespread problem.Mind you, Islamophobia does get used by Muslim groups and Muslim-majority countries as an excuse to attempt to stifle criticism. But then, every ethnic and religious group does that. To some supporters of Israeli nationalism, every … [Read more...]