Dennett’s Thesis isn’t Evidence for Very Interesting Claims

This post is part of a series discussing Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell.The main thrust of Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell is that the history of religion is not incompatible with evolutionary theory.  That sounds a lot less exciting than an attack on religion, but it's what the book is actually about.  Dennett's book doesn't mount up any direct evidence against the truth claims of religion, but it does make the argument that religion is something you might be reasonably likely to ob … [Read more...]

Bob, can I interest you in Transhumanism?

Bob Seidensticker has looked over my recent post on objective morality and hard to get at truths, and he's got some more questions.  Let me pull out a couple quotes from Bob's post: I'll agree that there’s nothing absolute for the consensus to be truth about. When we say, “Capital punishment is wrong,” there is no absolute truth (the yardstick) for us to compare our claim against. Is capital punishment wrong? We can wrestle with this issue the only way we ever have, by studying the issue and arg … [Read more...]

Have Humans ‘Won’ Evolution?

In the comments of my last post on evolution and the source of moral law, I had a bit of a back and forth with Matt about whether evolution favors altruism.  I want to single out his comments for two reasons.  First, I thought he displayed admirable humility in admitting he didn't have the evidence to back up his intuition.  A lack of data didn't mean he had to give up his opinion (after all, scientists usually aren't agnostic about what experimental results they expect) and he did a nice job ex … [Read more...]

Scared of Darwin for All the Wrong Reasons

UPDATE: I've expanded a response to a commenter in a new post: "Have Humans 'Won' Evolution?"Over at Patheos's group blog on science and religion, Connor Wood is trying to explain why people have a visceral discomfort with evolution.  He sees natural selection as the ultimate example of "nature red in tooth and claw" -- a rigged game that pits us all against each other and suppresses the better angels of our nature.  He writes: Once you start looking at evolutionary reasons for human beh … [Read more...]

Evolution Isn’t On Our Side

Remember you can vote once per day for the Atheism Awards.  I’m one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.Looks like there are still some questions about why I'm drawing a distinction between selecting for and selecting against in my post on how evolution doesn't optimize for ethics.  One commenter wrote: I see what you are saying, but isn’t it easier to think in terms of “selecting for” when considering how sexual selection gives rise to traits like large antl … [Read more...]

Evolution Doesn’t Select for Ethics

Remember you can vote once per day for the Atheism Awards.  I’m one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.The second most incorrect thing people say about evolution is that it is the survival of the fittest.  (The most incorrect award has to go to the claim it doesn't exist).  The problem with this framing is that it sets up a picture of evolution-as-craftsman, carefully scrutinizing genetic variations and selecting and nurturing the most promising varian … [Read more...]

Natural vs Normative

I appreciate the Christians weighing in on why they oppose gay marriage and trying to explain how they think people are harmed. One genre of response has turned up in thread and is fairly widespread, so I’ll try to address it. Anonymous wrote: Many people are wondering why infertile heterosexual marriages are considered moral and praise worthy while homosexual "marriages" are not. The reason is that in an infertile heterosexual marriage the sexual organs are, at least, being used for the p … [Read more...]