Call him Voldemort!

"Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things.  Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself"  -- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  I was dumbfounded by a "On the Square" feature at First Things this week.  Christopher Kaczor gave advice to Christian parents who aren't sure whether to have their children vaccinated against HPV and adopted the tone of someone teetering at the edge of a precipice.  After considering several approaches, Kac … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (6/3/11)

--1-- I had the privilege of guestblogging at Daylight Atheism last week (all posts available here), so I'd like to kick off this week's Seven Quick Takes by featuring a recent post by Adam, the creator of Daylight Atheism.  In "The Logic of Genocide" he asked penetrating questions about the kinds of rationalizations apologists in the mold of William Lane Craig use to justify Old Testament slaughter.  They rarely allow these explanations to be applied in any other cir … [Read more...]

Stemming the Knowledge Drain

Technically relevant to the content of this postI've been following in the footsteps of Luke of Common Sense Atheism and been spending more time on Less Wrong (the rationality/probability theory writings of Eliezer Yudkowsky -- author of the fabulous fanfiction story Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality).  I thought I'd share the opening paragraphs of a post titled "Tsuyoku Naritai! (I Want To Become Stronger)" In Orthodox Judaism there is a saying: "The previous generation is to … [Read more...]

Sam Harris, Psychopaths, and Moral Culpability

Sam Harris is blogging about morality and free will, and one of his examples puts me in mind of our discussion about culpability, hate, and radical forgiveness.  Harris doesn't think free will is a coherent concept, but he doesn't see that fact as precluding any discussion of culpability.  I want to focus more on the example he provides than his explanation, but, for the sake of completeness, here's what he has to say: What does it really mean to take responsibility for an action? For instance, … [Read more...]

Who Gets to Use Lewis’s Excuse?

Now that college is over, and I'm wrapping up my guest stint at Daylight Atheism, I finally have time to get back to reading and blogging about books (or more precisely, books about atheism and philosophy, since if I were blogging through all the YA fantasy I've been reading, this would be a very different blog).  I've just finished C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, but I'm not that interested in discussing the main thesis of the book since, as I've said before, I don't think theodicy is a … [Read more...]

You Call That Religion?

One (possibly last) guest post at Daylight Atheism.  This one is also inspired by The Book of Mormon and is focused on how the diffuse, unrooted idea of religion that emerges in Mormon and is praised by reviewers ought to be opposed by atheists as well as fundamentalists.My last day for guestblogging is tomorrow, so please comment if there's a topic you think I should be sure to cover for Daylight Atheism's large (but mostly pissed off with me) audience. You Call That Religion? The … [Read more...]

The Mormon Test

Another day, another post at Daylight Atheism (and jeez oh man have I been catching flack in the comments sections).  Today's post tries to give an example of the kind of challenging but not condescending conversations with Christians I've been trying to sell the commentariat on.  This one's inspired by seeing The Book of Mormon, but is focused on talking to non-Mormon Christians.  If you want something more focused on talking to Mormons, click back to my dialogue with Mormon e-missionaries.  S … [Read more...]