I see your trilemma, and raise you a tetralemma!

Over at Cross Examined, Bob Seidensticker has an objection to C.S. Lewis's Trilemma, and John E_o raised the same question over here.  Bob says, why stay stuck in Lewis's framework that Jesus Christ must be either a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord of all Creation?  Can't we just pick 'legend?' We have no problem with wisdom taken from the Koran or the story of Gilgamesh or the Upanishads or any other book of religion or mythology despite its being wrong about the supernatural stuff. Assuming that t … [Read more...]

The theologians Chris Hallquist doesn’t believe in

Chris Hallquist (who blogs in the Patheos Atheist channel as the Uncredible Hallq) is in the process of writing a book tentatively titled Angry Atheists?: Why the Backlash Against Popular Atheism Is Silly. As he writes it, he's posting drafts of chapters on his blog to invite comment, sort out confusion, etc.   The most recent chapter he's revised and posted is to be Chapter Two: The many gods I don’t believe in (yours included).Since I guess I'm in the intended audience for the eventual book … [Read more...]

The Monster is Father of the Man

As I warned you, I’m taking some time before I write anything specifically about being received into the Catholic Church. In the meantime, I hope my thoughts on the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein will do. After all, it’s also about the surprise of becoming a new creationEngland’s National Theatre tapes some of its performances and allows them to be shown around the world. This past summer, I was lucky enough to see their production of Frankenstein twice through this program (on … [Read more...]

Steelmanning one of Dennett’s arguments

This post is part of a series discussing Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell.Back in the cultural history of religion sections of the book, Dennett touches on a very powerful argument against religion.  He writes: "And here is an interesting fact: the transition between folk religion to organized religion is marked by a shift in beliefs from those with very clear, concrete consequences to those with systematically elusive consequences--paying lip service is just about the only way you can ac … [Read more...]

If only I could throw dinner parties for semi-fictional characters…

I've been reading Hillary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety, and I'll admit I don't like it as well as Wolf Hall.  I don't feel the same intimacy with Robespierre that Wolf Hall gave me with Thomas Cromwell, and the distance is killing me.  However, I thought readers of the blog might like this dialogue between Camille Desmoulins and a French judge in the early days of the revolution. "I object to the use of the courts as instruments of the intrusive moralizing state""Really?"  The judge le … [Read more...]

What Freedom from Moral Sensibilities Feels Like

Writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Kevin Dutton underwent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to damp down his amygdala and explore the way some brain scientists think psychopaths feel.  (It's the Dark Side version of a moral jump discontinuity).  I've read some scientific literature on this hypothesis before, but it was really interesting to read his subjective experience. It isn't long before I start to notice a fuzzier, more pervasive, more existential difference. Before the e … [Read more...]

The Generic God of the Stump Speech

Patheos bloggers are roundtabling on issues of faith and politics in the run-up to the election.  This week's prompt is: "What's wrong--and what's right--with the role of faith in American politics today?  For instance: How should church and state be separated, and how should they work together? Does one side manipulate faith more than another? How do you see you the candidates appealing to voters of faith?"I was ticked off during the Democratic National Convention when the party crowbarred a … [Read more...]