Unknown offensive cartoon

I ran into this cartoon in a Turkish news story about a court case. Apparently it inspired some Islamists to bomb (or attempt to bomb; it wasn't clear) the secularist newspaper that originally ran it:The offensive bit is the pig dressed in hijab. "AB" stands for the EU; it's in the context of the apparent enthusiasm of the moderate Islamist party that runs Turkey to join the European Union. … [Read more...]

Argument from diversity

There is a common argument against religious belief that points out the diversity of religious beliefs available. People everywhere almost invariably have supernatural beliefs, but they also believe in all sorts of different religions. Most people follow the faith they were born into. And even though such an accidental circumstance largely determines their faith, they also are very often confident that they have the One True Faith and that others are mistaken to some degree. This seems odd.I … [Read more...]


Religious texts are meaningless. That is why they are deeply meaningful.Religious truths are ever-changing, endlessly adaptable. That is why they are timeless and immutable.Religions promise Everything. That is why they do not have to deliver.Religious insights are inexpressible. That is why believers never stop talking.The gods are absurd. That is why they are immortal. … [Read more...]

All you need is love?

I had an odd experience last week, when I was part of a panel discussion on Islam and Evolution at Hampshire College.As part of my presentation, I argued that Darwinian evolution counts against the notion of a supernatural designer, even though it does not strictly imply that there is no theistic God. And I made it pretty clear that I was representing a naturalistic, nonreligious point of view.I didn't know exactly what to do with one of the questions afterwards. A man from the audience asked me … [Read more...]

Supernatural Agents

Ilkka Pyysiäinen's new book, Supernatural Agents: Why We Believe in Souls, Gods, and Buddhas is a very nice addition to the recent literature on cognitive science-based explanations of religious and supernatural beliefs.Pyysiäinen provides a useful update on what is happening in this fast-changing field, though this is an academic book and some previous acquaintance with the field is probably necessary to get the most out of the book. Still, Pyysiäinen is especially notable in how he has (in pr … [Read more...]

Further Comments on Naturalism and Consciousness

First, I would like to apologize for not getting back to my interlocutors more promptly. I have to do blog postings at times when there are no other pressing duties, and there have been no such times for the past month. My previous post on August 31, “More on Metaphysical Naturalism and Consciousness” prompted much high-quality response, and I find that gratifying. I would like to respond to some of these responses. Unfortunately, it may be another month before I can continue the conversation aga … [Read more...]

Angry atheists etc.

Last night I gave a talk on "Angry Atheists and Soulless Scientists: Stereotypes of nonbelief in the era of the 'New Atheism'". The link is to the slides of the talk (.pptx). It was interesting, especially the discussion that followed.Thanks to all the readers here who helped me when I asked about common stereotypes about nonbelief a few months ago. … [Read more...]

Adoration of science

Vic Stenger has a very nice slogan: "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."It's nice and catchy. Memorable. It inspires my envy, because I'll never come up with anything that good. It's too bad I find myself in such disagreement with what it actually says.I guess a common objection might be to ask whether it's fair to blame religion in such a blanket sense. But that's not my gripe. In context, Stenger is saying that it takes something like a set of beliefs in … [Read more...]