In the Moral Landscape, There Still Be Dragons

Transcranial magnetic stimulation isn't a hypothetical

Sam Harris has announced the winning entry in his contest for critiques of The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.  The winner (from a philosophy M.A. and blogger at Point of Controversy) is the obvious complaint, which seems just.  Here's an excerpt: First, your analogy between epistemic axioms and moral axioms fails. The former merely motivate scientific inquiry and frame its development, whereas the latter predetermine your science of morality’s most basic findings. … [Read more...]

The Uncharity of Ideological Containment


There's an unpleasant undertone to Terry Firma's vision of a kinder, humbler Christianity over at Friendly Atheist.  He reads through an essay from The New York Times about a Christian parent's discomfort when her daughter wants to put an evangelical sign on their lawn.  The author talks about her immediate flinch, and Firma thinks that's all to the good. Along with that gratitude, there’s a bit of embarrassment woven through Taylor’s account, and I think it becomes her. She knows that … [Read more...]

No Room for Atheists at the Conservative Inn

silverman face

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is on the horizon, and, not 24 hours after the American Atheists announce that they'd registered for a booth, they were unceremoniously ejected by the organizers.  Over at my day job, I interviewed both Dave Silverman, head of the American Atheists, and Edwina Rogers, leader of the Secular Coalition for America.  They're both self-described conservatives, and they talked about why atheists should want to reach out to conservatives and vice … [Read more...]

Philosophy Class Should Be Perilous

phil book

Over at Friendly Atheist, there's a trailer for a terrible looking Christian movie, where a noble Christian student stands up to his bullying atheist philosophy professor who begins the semester by essentially asking telling his students that they'll need to disavow religion in order to pass.  Cue the intense stares, montages, lazy apologetics, and guest appearance by a Christian rock band. Hemant Mehta titled his post "This Must Be What Christian Apologists Think A College Philosophy … [Read more...]

Safe Zones for Secular Students


  My friend Jesse Galef, the communications director at the Secular Students Alliance, sat down with me to do a Q&A about a new project they unveiled: the Secular Safe Zone.  The program recruits and trains teachers, students, and other allies to establish clear safe points for non-religious students to have conversations and ask questions.  Here's the discussion we had:   Jesse, can you tell me and the readers a bit about why the Secular Students Alliance has started … [Read more...]

Is it Hard Out Here for a Humanist?


My alma mater is turning up in religious news stories this week.  It turns out that the Yale Humanists have asked to join the consortium at Yale Religious Ministries, and have been turned down [further discussion at Friendly Atheist]. The organization in the ministry are "dedicated to the spiritual, ethical, intellectual, social, and physical welfare of students, faculty, and staff," which, for the most part, sounds like a decent match for the Humanists.  I can come up with a couple … [Read more...]

Sam Harris Throws Down His Gauntlet

buffy gauntlet

Ok, probably not this gauntlet Sam Harris, one of the 'Four Horsemen' of New Atheism, has issued a challenge to critics of his moral philosophy. It has been nearly three years since The Moral Landscape was first published in English, and in that time it has been attacked by readers and nonreaders alike. Many seem to have judged from the resulting cacophony that the book’s central thesis was easily refuted. However, I have yet to encounter a substantial criticism that I feel was not … [Read more...]