Upon this ROC I will build…

Real data is noisier than this

I was considering writing an April Fools day post, but life's too short to not blog about epidemiology and epistemology.As is often the case when I go back to Yale for alumni debates, I ended up in some extended theological debates.  In a conversation with one friend, we ended up on thse topic that used to form the core of my about section: what evidence would persuade me that Christianity (or another religion) is true?I think it's possible that I've set the bar for proof so high … [Read more...]

Is Civil Marriage a Right?

Last week the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human right guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, according to The Daily Mail's write-up of the case, the court ruled that if gay couples are allowed to marry, any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.Before I get to the main point, I have to say that last part struck me as bizarre. There's not a Catholic church in … [Read more...]

How Much Good Does Atheism Do?

In one of my Reason Rally posts, I talked about why atheists feel such an urgent need to change other people's beliefs.  If false beliefs aren't generally accepted, it's easier to catch and help people before they take dangerous action based on their incorrect views of the world.  (The example was a woman who cut her son's throat because she believed he was possessed).  Iota had a good follow-up question in the comments: [Is it] reasonable to expect that, simply by ousting religion/theism*, you … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (3/30/12)

--- 1 --- If you're coming here from Conversion Diary, I really recommend you take a look at a guest post series I had this week on the Mormon priesthood. After a couple news sources started reporting on Romney's priesthood and role as a bishop, and asking whether we'd be concerned if a Methodist priest or a Catholic bishop became a politician, I realized I needed more data about how Mormons think about priesthood.A college friend of mine graciously stepped in, explained what priesthood … [Read more...]

Making Book on God

A reader of Marginal Revolution posed a theological thought experiment this week, and a friend challenged me to answer.  Here's the pitch: In this thought experiment you are a contestant on a gameshow. The host of the gameshow (let’s call him Alex) has a notecard that says whether or not god exists and to what extent he is involved in the affairs of mankind. You start with $1,000,000 that you must allocate across five possible categories:Scriptural literalism. Bet into this category if you … [Read more...]

Debate with Justin Martyr [Index Post]

debate rostrum

In June of 2010, I had a debate with Justin Martyr of the now defunct blog The Faith Heuristic on the topic "R: The Evidence Supports the Existence of God."  Unfortunately Justin has taken down his blog in the interim, so his parts of the debate are lost to the winds of the internet.  I've collected my posts below, and I think you can still piece together most of the arguments.Rebuttal to Justin (Part 1) - Justin began the debate with Kalam's Cosmological Argument and I reply by talking a … [Read more...]

Q&A on Mormon Priesthood (Part 2)

How do I know Michael is a scifi fan, you ask?

Now that Michael's given us an overview of the Mormon priesthood and answered some of my questions about how the priesthood relates to gender and transfiguration of spirit, I think we've all got enough background to go on to weirder and wonkier questions.  Again, my questions are in bold, his answers follow, and he's not to be blamed for the illustrations.Q: At various points in the history of Christianity, monks and ascetics were seen as particularly holy because they withdrew … [Read more...]