Unsecular Turkey

Here's an interesting corrective to the notion that Turkey is a "secular state" as so often described in Western media reports.The Diyanet (the Turkish Directorate of Religious Services) has long been one of the largest government departments, and is devoted to Sunni Islam. In Turkey, clergy are government employees. With recent expansions, the number of people employed by the Diyanet will go up to 130 thousand. Before the current Islamist ruling party took power in 2002, this number was around … [Read more...]

Secular Web asking for support

The Secular Web—this blog is a side-project of the Secular Web—is asking for support. It's a good cause; I encourage donations. … [Read more...]

Historical fine-tuning

I would like to bring a hitherto much-neglected example of divine fine-tuning to the attention of the public: the fine-tuning of human history. Moreover, this fine-tuning is reaching a critical point now.Let us set aside religious sources as interested parties, and restrict ourselves to arguments with a secular pedigree. Even with this restriction, it is clear that we live in times where we can anticipate great transformations, ranging from the utopian to the apocalyptic.On the … [Read more...]

The Meaning of Divine Attributes

As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing better than doing philosophy, and philosophy of religion is the chocolate-fudge frosting on the cake. In philosophy of religion, you get a full serving of each of the major areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science, to name just the most obvious examples. Richard Swinburne points out this multi-facetted aspect of philosophy of religion in the Introduction to The Coherence of T … [Read more...]

Atonement as satisfying a vendetta

Some time ago, on the local Christian radio station, I was listening to a preacher explain how Jesus's death on the cross saved us all by paying the penalty for all our human sins against God. He used the analogy of a judge who lets a convicted person go, because some other person, innocent of the crime, volunteers to go to the gallows instead. The law is satisfied by someone paying the penalty; the convict just has to accept the sacrifice of the innocent person and walk free.I've run into this … [Read more...]

Secular asabiyya?

I've been reading Bassam Tibi's Political Islam, World Politics and Europe.Don't bother with the book itself: it's almost unreadable. This is not, by the way, Tibi's fault. He's a Syrian social scientist who spent his life in Germany—English must be his third language. This book was in desperate need of a good editor, and some executive at Routledge no doubt thought editorial work was merely a cost that could be safely cut.Still, Tibi has some interesting ideas. For example, he follows Ibn K … [Read more...]

New Chick Tract

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Headscarves to placate the police

An interesting observation I ran across in an interview with a Turkish journalist: Apparently, many women drivers in Turkey have begun to keep a headscarf in the car. This is just in case they run into a police checkpoint (usually for traffic purposes). In Turkey today, the police are notoriously a stronghold of religious conservatism. So when a woman drives by the police with a headscarf on, she is supposed to be less likely to be stopped for an examination of her license.Stories like this … [Read more...]


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