Overdoing Origins

In public controversies over science, there's a lot of interest in questions concerning the origins of things. Evolution, cosmology, the origin of life—these are considered big questions. I see this in the classroom as well. I like to devote a fair bit of time to questions by students, which can range far beyond what's in their textbooks. I often get questions about the big bang. This is good; I get to take them on a whirlwind tour of some interesting physics, starting with general … [Read more...]

Atheism and intelligence

There's some research out there concerning correlations between intelligence as psychometricians understand it and atheism. I've come across (thanks to Prem Dhanesh) another example: "Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations," by Richard Lynn, John Harvey and Helmuth Nyborg. The abstract:Evidence is reviewed pointing to a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief in the United States and Europe. It is shown that intelligence measured as psychometric g … [Read more...]

The Trilemma Argument – A Preliminary Evaluation

I have been mostly defending the Trilemma argument against various objections for the past few weeks, so I have not spent much time thinking about how to refute it. I reject the conclusion, of course, on the basis of various other reasons unrelated to the Trilemma.God, as understood in Western theism, is an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good person, and Jesus was none of those things:God is, by definition, a perfectly good person.Jesus was not a perfectly good person.Therefore,Jesus was … [Read more...]

Quantum Gods

Vic Stenger's latest book, Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness is about to come out. Here is the blurb I wrote for it:Physics has developed a reputation of providing support for all sorts of supernatural beliefs, from old-fashioned religions to New Age ideas. Quantum physics, especially, seems to mean "magic" for too many people. Most of us in physics treat all this as an annoyance and go on with our teaching and research. This is all the more reason to … [Read more...]

Endorsing the compatibility of science and religion

One of the science and religion related debates online that caught my eye lately is aired by people such as the biologist Jerry Coyne and philosopher Russell Blackford, on their blogs.They argue that in their zeal to defend evolution education, many American scientific organizations, from the National Academy of Sciences to the National Center for Science Education, have endorsed what amounts to a liberal theological doctrine concerning the compatibility of science and supernatural religion. … [Read more...]

Against sharia

I am politically in agreement with such anti-sharia activism. But I am also troubled by the way that we, when defending liberal secular Western individualist policies, we so rarely acknowledge the burdens such a regime places on devoutly religious people. We may defend our views in the name of minimizing harm, but we inescapably also do harm, and we cause pain. I just wish we could oppose sharia without the liberal fantasy of a world free of coercion and conflicts of interests. Interests rooted … [Read more...]

On Civility

I note that one topic that often pops up in various postings and comments here and elsewhere is the issue of civility. A writer will fequently charge another with incivility, and there will be a riposte charging hypocrisy, since, after all, the first writer has occasionally vented...and so on. Of course, discussions of religion and irreligion tap into deep passions, and philosophical debate always risks bruised egos. So, small wonder that our missives occasionally get heated. Also, of course, … [Read more...]

Dallas Willard on the “Absurdity” of a Self-Sufficient Physical Universe

This is a longish post, but I would appreciate comments from those who have the patience to work through it. BTW, job responsibilities prevent me from getting into an endless loop of replies and counter-replies with respondents, so, if I fail to respond to all your messages, please do not feel that I am ignoring you or not appreciative of the feedback. The quotes from Willard are from Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology, edited by R. Douglas Geivett and Brendan Sweetman, OUP, … [Read more...]