January 30, 2006

William Vallicella ranks the greatest philosophers, asking whether they were theists or atheists–and his list puts at least seven theists in the top ten. I think he’s asking the wrong question–an alternative question which would put things in a different perspective isWere the greatest philosophers advocates of the mainstream religious views of the population they lived in, or did they express doubts about such views?Atheism has always been a tiny minority view, especially if you only count those who called… Read more

January 29, 2006

I probably should have posted this directly here rather than on my own blog, but I’ve offered up a critique of Wanchick’s moral argument in his Internet Infidels debate with Richard Carrier at The Lippard Blog. I believe that not only does Wanchick mainly proceed through the mere assertion of dubious premises, but that at one point he effectively argues for something that is almost moral subjectivism as a premise by which he attempts to derive the existence of God… Read more

January 27, 2006

Take a look at this poem by Nazim Hikmet, On Living. It loses something in being translated from the original Turkish, but there’s enough of an echo here of what is one of my favorite poems that I have to recommend it. And it’s a very secular view of life, just to make it relevant to this blog, but I almost hesitate to say so — it’s not like whether I enjoy something has a whole lot to do with… Read more

January 25, 2006

The New York Times issues yet another in a series of found-another-planet-out-there articles that have been steadily coming in from astronomers around the world. In this case, the team reports that the new planet is the “the most Earthlike planet yet to be discovered.” It seems that it’s just a matter of time before we detect planets that can support life. And you know what that means. Aliens. No, not flying saucers but worlds in which intelligent beings are thriving…. Read more

January 25, 2006

The New York Times Magazine of January 22, 2006 contains an interview with Daniel Dennett on the subject matter of his new book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. A couple of excerpts suggest it will have some similarities to Pascal Boyer’s Religion Explained:We have a built-in, very potent hair-trigger tendency to find agency in things that are not agents, like snow falling off the roof.When a person dies, we can’t just turn that off. We go on… Read more

January 25, 2006

I was following a conversation elsewhere about how some Christians insist that everyone really knows that their God is real, it’s just that due to sin, they suppress this knowledge. Everyone is exposed to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, it’s just that those of us who remain skeptical prefer darkness.Muslims, interestingly, do the same sort of thing, perhaps even more often. It tends to be based on their belief that the created nature (fitra) of every human is such… Read more

January 23, 2006

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January 23, 2006

An interesting article came to my attention this morning. Frank Furedi’s The Curious Rise of Anti-religious Hysteria, argues that British and American cultural elites are in a panic about religion and are tempted to develop vapid appeals to morality in their politics. Furedi’s not religious himself; he does not write as a religiously-inspired moralist. The essay’s overblown, I think, but worth thinking about. Especially because Furedi finds a negative sort of elitism behind anti-religious attitudes, arguing that elites perceive especially… Read more

January 22, 2006

Frank Walton writes: “Evolutionist Dr. Massimo Pigliucci writes, ‘It has been pretty obvious since Darwin that we, indeed, are nothing but machines.’ Obviously, then, there wouldn’t be a problem if one machine ‘kills’ another machine. When an automobile slams and crashes into another automobile do we say that the cars murdered one another?”Walton makes a very common mistake here, one that was first recognized by David Hume and which philosophers call the “is-ought problem” after Hume’s comment in Book 3… Read more

January 21, 2006

Tom Clark at the Center for Naturalism has written an open letter to the atheist community entitled, “Denying Big God and the Little God: The Next Step for Atheists?” Read more

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