Sunday, January 18, 2015

William Lane Craig and ruling out an evil creator on the basis of observation

Here is a post for the philosophers of religion amongst you. Can we rule out an evil god on the grounds that the world is not nearly evil enough? Of course we can. But then why can’t we similarly rule out a good god on the grounds that the world isn’t nearly good enough?
Back in 2011 I debated philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig on the existence of God (link). I presented the evidential problem of evil as my main argument against the existence of God. In particular, I pointed out that, for almost the entire two hundred thousand year sweep of human history, one third to a half of each generation died, usually horribly, before reaching their fifth birthday. This caused immense suffering to both all those kids and also their parents who had to watch helpless as their children were killed on an industrial scale.
That evil is certainly ‘inscrutable’ in the sense that we can see no good reason why God would allow it. This and much of the other evil we see around us strikes many of us as ‘gratuitous’: we suppose there is no good God-justifying reason for it. And God, if he exists, won’t allow gratuitous evils. So it seems to me we can reasonably rule out an all-powerful all-good God on the grounds that the world just ain’t good enough. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

CFI UK events at Oxford Literary Festival 2015

CFI UK events at Oxford Literary Festival 2015 (March)

Saturday 21 March
Christopher French
Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience
2pm / Oxford Martin School: Lecture Theatre / £12
Psychology professor Christopher French explains why some people think they have been abducted by aliens or that they have seen a ghost. He looks at the reasons why belief in the paranormal has been reported in every known society since the dawn of time, and wonders whether there is any room for superstition in modern science. Reports of ghosts and alien encounters grab the headlines, but French says the science behind those claims can be even more fascinating.
French is professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and co-author of Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience with Anna Stone, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of East London.

'Does Humanism Need God?' - on Unbelievable? podcast now up.

My discussion with Angus Ritchie about 'Does Humanism Need God?' is now up on the Unbelievable? podcast on itunes (Premier Christian Radio, Justin Brierley presents). Also broadcast 2pm.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's the point of lampooning religion? To upset the religious?

Here is my latest blog post over at CFI: link.
In the wake of the horrific massacre at Charlie Hebdo, debate has focused on the issue of causing of offence to religious people. Is that the point of lampooning religion? Is causing offence to Muslims the aim of someone who draws a cartoon of Mohammad? No, usually it's not (though this point is usually lost on the offended).

Monday, December 8, 2014

My response to THEOS essay claiming humanism needs Christianity

Here is my response to the new THEOS essay on why Humanists should be Christians. Posted at CFI blogs.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"But it Fits!' Douglas Adams' puddle and Ken Ham's creationism. How it all 'fits'! My latest blog post at CFI here.

"But it Fits!' Douglas Adams' puddle and Ken Ham's creationism. How it all 'fits'! My latest blog post at CFI here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Open Letter to Karen Armstrong on 'The Myth of Religious Violence'

An open letter to Karen Armstrong on her Guardian article ‘The Myth of Religious Violence’. I invite Karen to either come out as a Secularist with a capital 'S', or come up with a better argument.

Go here to CFI logs for my post.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

'But is it art?' Wittgenstein on family resemblance concepts - explained!

But is it Art?

From my The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking. This introduces Wittgenstein on 'family resemblance' and the idea of 'necessary and sufficient conditions'.

Philosophy Gym category:

Warm up

More challenging

I mean they’d gone and fucking installed the work without me even being here. That’s just not on. This is my bed. If someone else installs it, it’s just dirty linen. If I do it, it’s art. Tracey Emin (artist), Evening Standard, 12/9/00.

Today it seems almost anything can be classified as a work of art: Damien Hirst’s pickled shark or Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, for example. But what is art, exactly? What is it that Macbeth, a piece of tribal sculpture, The Nutcracker Suite, the roof of the Sistene Chapel and Emin’s bed all have in common? What is the common denominator that makes each one of these things art? This is an extremely difficult question to answer. This chapter explains one of the leading theories, taking in one of Wittgenstein’s (1889-1951) most important insights along the way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Follow my CFI blog: The Outer Limits

Just posted my first blog post for CFI here as part of their Free Thinking site. I will be posting exclusive Humanist/Skepticism related article there regularly - at least once a month. Do please follow!

My CFI blog is called The Outer Limits. They made me a nice banner - have a look.

This blog will of course continue. In particular I'll put more academic posts here (e.g. drafts of papers for discussion, etc.), plus news of events (CFI UK especially, which I organize) and other interests. Skeptical/humanism related posts here will usually also appear over at The Secular Outpost.