First, apologies if I am boring the hell out of everyone but a few of us fanatics with yet another sequel on naturalism and norms. It is just that I think the issues are very important, and I have gotten such terrific feedback on these points, that I am going to post a couple more replies to Philip K. and Dianelos.Philip K, Your commentary raises a good many deep issues, so many that pursuing them all would take us far… Read more

We usually debate weighty issues on SO, but I thought I would offer something a bit lighter. For fun I am writing a memoir (I was inspired by Bill Bryson’s Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid) of growing up in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia in the ’50’s and early 60’s. These are my religious reminiscences. Names have been changed. Mom and Dad were both practicing Christians. Grace was said before every meal. Mom read us Bible stories at… Read more

I’m going to make two objections to standard justifications of the correct answer to the Monty Hall problem. The conclusion to an unsound argument can still be true, so if I’m successful at showing that there is a problem with the reasoning supporting the accepted answer to the problem, this will not show that the accepted answer is false, just that the justification of the answer is faulty.At a high level, the two objections are that the standard justification (1)… Read more

Philip K asks some very probing and incisive questions about ethical naturalism (EN) in his comment on my post “Naturalism and Norms.” These questions raise issues too large and too important to be addressed in the very limited space of a comment box, so I am making a new post. He puts two questions to the ethical naturalist:Here are two questions, then. First, is it an empirical discovery that the members of each species have a natural purpose, a proper… Read more

These probability tree diagrams represent a standard line of reasoning in support of the ‘correct’ answer to the Monty Hall problem. Read more

A student I ran into recently told me that I, along with his roommate, was the reason he became an atheist. Apparently when in a questioning period, he went to a panel discussion on campus where I represented a godless infidel perspective, and this helped tip the balance.Now, I don’t want to exaggerate my influence, though everyone who teaches is gratified when occasionally a student gets something deeper from what we do than just a passing grade. I’m sure his… Read more

This post is off topic, but there are math and logic buffs out there who might enjoy a discussion of the Monty Hall problem, and I’m hoping to get some feedback on some thoughts I have about a standard solution to the problem.Fig Leaf JustificationAtheists and Naturalists are a minority group. Most people in the USA believe in God. So those who are doubters and skeptics are generally clear on the idea that the majority can be in the wrong,… Read more

My recent exchange with Taner on ethical naturalism (EN) prompted a good bit of stimulating comment and criticism. I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks and away from blogging, so I have not been able to reply to each comment as it arrived. Rather than attempt to do so now, I would like to address the issue that seems to me to be at the heart of much of the discussion: How do naturalists justify norms? The… Read more

One consistent theme in my writing about science and religion is that there is an awful lot of randomness in the world, and that supernatural beliefs typically deny this randomness.Here’s a discussion of some recent psychological research that connects nicely. Religiosity is often associated with an inability to accept randomness.I should probably add a qualification. I have run into some more strict-rationalist nonbelievers who also object to randomness, and who also are compelled by the intuition that there has to… Read more

In the news:A self-confessed atheist has become a believer after mocking God by sarcastically praying for his mother to win the lottery. However, his joke prayer was amazingly answered as the next day his mother won $1 million on the New York Lottery Sweet Million game.Sal Bentivegna, 28, who did not previously believe in God, had sarcastically asked his mother to “ask your God for a million dollars”.However, his mother Gloria Bentivegna, follows the Catholic faith, and staying true to… Read more

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