March 9, 2006

DePaul University graduate student Hemant Mehta–an atheist and chairman of the Secular Student Alliance–sold, on eBay, the chance to save his soul. His offer was that for each $10 of the final bid, he would attend one hour of church services, and document the results on his blog. The winning bidder (at $504, which was donated to the Secular Student Alliance) was Jim Henderson, a former evangelical minister from Seattle, who instead hired Mehta to attend 10-15 services of Henderson’s… Read more

March 8, 2006

The church fires of the past three months were very puzzling. At first, with black churches being set ablaze, it seemed like a classic hate crime. But then white churches went up in flames too. The mystery is only partly solved with the just-announced arrest of three white college students, all of whom met each other at Birmingham-Southern College. Yet, why would students at an elite Christian school (affiliated with United Methodist) allegedly torch area churches? Just for the thrill… Read more

March 5, 2006

Henry M. Morris, the leading figure of creationism in the 20th century, died on February 25 (See also the ICR site). He was instrumental in the revival of young-earth creationism, through his writings, his tireless work among conservative Christians, and his institution-building. His influence will live on for a long time yet; even Muslim creationists today borrow wholesale from the Protestant creationist movement inspired by Morris.In terms of intellectual substance, Morris’s views are hard to take seriously. Nevertheless, I think… Read more

March 1, 2006

There’s an interesting selection from an interview with Wafa Sultan, a secular Arab-American, broadcast on Al Jazeera. (Thanks to D J Grothe for mentioning this.) It’s an eloquent expression of secularist frustration with fundamentalist Islam.It’s unfortunate that this appears on the web site of MEMRI, a right-wing Islamophobic organization who I don’t trust very much. Still, just because they have an eye out for anything that puts Islam or Arabs in a bad light, they occasionally come across some sensible… Read more

February 27, 2006

I’d like to give a quick shout out to Andreas Heldal-Lund who continues to maintain Operation Clambake, a clearinghouse of valuable information on the Church of Scientology. Many of us infidels have corresponded with Andreas over the years and I remember a particularly tough time he went through five years ago keeping the secret library of Scientology online despite enormous pressures from the Church’s legal team to remove all traces of these documents from the internet. So if you have… Read more

February 23, 2006

Brad Harrub of Apologetics Press gave a talk at my university last week, to kick off a series of creationist presentations that went on in local churches.I like talking to creationists — their views at least have the virtue of being wrong, when so much else said in defense of religon is not even wrong. So I hung around with a bunch of students afterwards who peppered him with questions. The students did a pretty good job, and Harrub adopted… Read more

February 19, 2006

The New York Times has just published a rather stupid review of Daniel C. Dennett’s new book, Breaking the Spell. The intelligent design creationists like it, and just about anyone who buys into the traditional self-conception of philosophy as the fundamental intellectual discipline should find much in it to like as well. Wieseltier, the reviewer (who doesn’t display much evidence of knowing much about any of the relevant sciences addressed in Dennett’s book), starts out with “The question of the… Read more

February 19, 2006

If anyone is still interested in the points of connection between creationism and postmodernism, or just wants something that has less to do with modal navel-gazing, take a look at Norman Levitt writing on Steve Fuller and ID. Read more

February 19, 2006

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been busy migrating the software that supports the secweb.org kiosk. That’s online now so I can breathe a little easier. Yesterday I read a fantastic article in the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs by primatologist Robert Sapolsky on primate behavior (also online here). The typical story of evolution, primates, and human history goes something like this: out of the group emerges a few alpha males who claw and tear their way to… Read more

February 18, 2006

The following essay was recommended to me by Paul Draper. The paper is not a defense of the fine-tuning argument, but he regards it as one of the best critiques of the many worlds explanation of fine-tuning:Roger White, “Fine-tuning and Multiple Universes,” forthcoming in Noushttp://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/white/papers/ftmu.pdf (PDF)Here is some info about the author:ROGER WHITE, (Ph.D., MIT), Assistant Professor of Philosophy, specializes in philosophy of science, epistemology, and metaphysics. He is currently focusing on epistemological issues in the philosophy of science, particularly… Read more

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