Throwing Ideas into the Arena

I've been in an extended commenting debate over at Debunking Christianity, after mentioning Loftus in my post yesterday talking about why a diversity of opinions isn't always a good thing.  I have a weakness for pugilistic rhetoric, which may have muddied my message slightly, so I'm reposting a comment I made there over here.  If you're interested, click here to read through the thread. A brief quote from my interlocutor (click above to read the whole thread, so I don't do him a disservice … [Read more...]

What Atheists and Republican Strategists Have in Common

I recently wrote a post ("The Perils of Decentralized Philosophy") as a response to Friendly Atheist Hermant Mehta's attempt to limit the definition of humanism to exclude the gunman who attacked a school board.  I argued that atheists and humanists were hurt by a lack of community or sense of responsibility for other people who shared their beliefs.  Commenter March Hare took issue with my argument, saying: There is no need for atheists to band together in that way. It's not like when a Jew … [Read more...]

Questions for Atheists: Does Moral Law Exist in Itself?

This post is one in a series responding to Michael Egnor's challenge to New Atheists to explain what they believe.  And yes, I'm slipping the last answer in right before the year ends. Edited to add: WHOOPS!  I have two questions left.  One on Aristotle's four causes and one on subjective vs. objective experience.  Ah well. there goes my feeling of accomplishment.) For his question on moral law, Egnor set up his prompt as a dichotomy: Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (12/31/10)

Happy New Year's Eve!  I'll still have a couple of posts going up this weekend, and, on Monday, I'll be debuting the guest bloggers who will be fleshing out their disagreement on the prospect of discerning purpose in nature. I started this blog over the summer as a way to try to clarify my thoughts on religion and morality, especially after I started reading Christian apologetics and attending Mass with my Catholic boyfriend.  One hundred and fifty posts later, we're still surprised by … [Read more...]

This is NOT How Evolution Works

But it's a good primer in some of the most common mistakes from people who are semi-literate in the relevant sciences, so I'm going to go through the problems from a recent post ("Less Mature by Age") by Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias. The Background Data: Hanson found an article from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that suggested that, although there is an overall positive correlation between age and psychosocial maturity, this trend reverses during the teenage years. … [Read more...]

Guest Posting and a New Year’s Challenge

Two exciting new developments for this interholiday week: Early on in the Eight Questions series, three commenters got into a long, detailed arguments about why there is regularity or law in nature and how well equipped humans are to detect order in the first place.  They're at 91 comments and counting, but I imagine the discussion slipped off the radar of most readers.  Therefore, after January first, I'll be kicking off the new year with guest posts from Eli, Lukas, and possibly March … [Read more...]

Secret Santas on Christmas Day

I was going to post Tim Minchin's "White Wine in the Sun" for Christmas but I was a little abashed after reading No Forbidden Questions prediction that the song would show up on every atheist blog today.  It is a lovely song about a secular holiday, so feel free to click the link above or watch the video on any other atheist blog. But, as a bonus, I'll link you to a video at the New York Times that tells a heartwarming story of a couple that mysteriously recieved hundreds of letters … [Read more...]

“They might stuff you in a sack and take you to Spain”

My family's other Christmas Eve tradition is a reading of David Sedaris's The Santaland Diaries.   Sedaris is now a well-known comic essayist, but before he was published, he supported himself through a variety of odd jobs, including working as an elf in Macy's Santaland.  The story is a series of funny vignettes from his term of employment.  Some of them made their debut in 1992 on NPR.  You can still listen to the  original broadcast. When we go through it as a family, we take turns … [Read more...]

“The Marleyes Were Dead, To Begin With”*

My family may be entirely composed of atheists, but we do have some important Christmas traditions (even beyond Chinese food on Christmas day).  On Christmas Eve, we watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.  It is the best Christmas Carol on film (it has Michael Caine as Scrooge) and I will fight anyone who says different. The movie is narrated by Gonzo, playing Charles Dickens. I've scheduled this to post in the morning, before I get up, so you'll have time to rent it before nightfall, as you … [Read more...]

John Loftus reveals his Questions for Christians

Some time ago, prominent atheist (and ex-Christian minister) John Loftus and I had a bit of a disagreement about the best way to debate Christians.  Loftus said then that critics should wait to draw conclusions until he had the full list of questions posted.  They're up. I've posted the list below with some comments interpolated in bold.  If you want me to expand on one, say so in the comments, but I can only comment to a point, since I don't know what kind of evidence either side is … [Read more...]