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Showing posts from September, 2010

God Virus talks (pro and con)

Darrell Ray is talking about his controversial and best-selling book The God Virus on Sat October 23rd at Conway Hall 11-1. I am going to follow this even up with another event looking critically at Ray's The God Virus (probably with a very well-known theist) at a later date (probably a Tuesday evening soon after). October 23rd, 2010 Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL – Main Hall Just £7 on the door. Free to Friends of CFI UK, PLUS GLHA, SPES, BHA, AHS, CAMP QUEST, NEW HUMANIST AND THE SKEPTIC (UK) SUBSCRIBERS. P.S. I am giving a talk from 10-11am based on a bit of my Believing Bullshit book (I'll probably be looking at UFO reports and other weird beliefs).

EVENT: THE ROOT CAUSES OF THE HOLOCAUST

Centre for Inquiry UK and South Place Ethical Society present The Root Causes of The Holocaust What caused the Holocaust? What was the role of the Enlightenment? What role did religion play in causing, or trying to halt, the Holocaust? Prof. A.C. Grayling Prof. Jonathan Glover (King’s College) Dr David Ranan (author of Double Cross) 11am-2pm, Sat. December 18th, 2010 Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL – Main Hall 10.30-11.00 Registration 11.00-12.00 Jonathan Glover 12.00-1.00 David Ranan 1.00-2.00 A.C. Grayling Just £10 on the door. Free to Friends of CFI UK, PLUS GLHA, SPES, BHA, AHS, CAMP QUEST, NEW HUMANIST SUBSCRIBERS. Tickets on the door. To book in advance go to www.cfiuk.org, hit button “support cfiuk” and follow instructions. Credit and debit cards welcome. Alternatively send a cheque payable to “Center for Inquiry London” to: Executive Director Suresh Lalvani, Center for Inquiry London, PO Box 49097, London N11 9AX, and include names of those co

revised chapter for comments

4 GOING NUCLEAR Suppose Mike is involved in a debate about the truth of his own particular New Age belief system. Things are not going well for Mike. His arguments are being picked apart, and, worse still, his opponents have come up with several devastating objections that he cannot deal with. How might Mike get himself out of this bind? One possibility is to adopt strategy I call Going Nuclear. Going Nuclear is an attempt to unleash an argument that lays waste to every position, bringing them all down to the same level of “reasonableness”. You try to force a draw by detonating a philosophical argument that achieves what, during the Cold War, used to be called “mutually assured destruction”, where both sides in the conflict are annihilated. There are two main variants of Going Nuclear: sceptical and relativist. I’ll begin with skeptical versions 1. SKEPTICAL VERSIONS OF GOING NUCLEAR Skepticism about reason In philosophy, a “skeptic” is someone who denies we have knowledge, or

Chapter for comments, please....

For comments. The opening sections repackage material I have used before but then there's quite a bit of new stuff. 6. PSEUDO-PROFUNDITY Some marketing, religious, and lifestyle “gurus” have genuine and valuable insights to offer. But not all. Some are charlatans or fools offering little more than pseudo-profundity. Pseudo-profundity is the art of sounding profound while talking tosh. Unlike the art of actually being profound, the art of sounding profound is not particularly difficult to master. As we’ll see, there are certain basic recipes that can produce fairly convincing results – good enough to convince many others, and perhaps even yourself, that you have achieved some sort of profound insight into the human condition. If you want to achieve the status of a guru it helps to have some natural charisma and presentational skills. Sincerity, empathy, or at least the ability to fake them, can also useful. Props often help – try wearing a loincloth, a fez, or, in a business se

Chapter of book - for comments

4 GOING NUCLEAR I am particularly looking for advice on sign posting, making clearer and more accessible. Suppose Mike is involved in a debate about the truth of his own particular New Age belief system. Things are not going well for him. His arguments are being picked apart, and, worse still, his opponents have come up with several devastating objections that he cannot deal with. How might he get himself out of this bind? One possibility is to adopt the intellectually dishonest strategy I call Going Nuclear. Going Nuclear involves playing a general skeptical card. In philosophy, a “skeptic” is someone who raises doubts about our claims to knowledge in a given area. Here is an example of a skeptical argument: Whenever we argue about the truth or falsity of a belief, we apply our powers of reason. But why suppose that reason is itself a reliable route to the truth? You might attempt to justify our use of reason, of course. But any justification of reason that you offer will itself r

God redundant says Hawking

LONDON (Reuters) – God did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book. In "The Grand Design," co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday. "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," Hawking writes. "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going." Read more here . Er, atheist though I am, there seems to be a slight problem with this, right?

Feser's criticism

Edward Feser has been criticising my evil God argument over on his bog. I have rattled his cage with a comment (not yet moderated). Wonder if he'll respond? Here is what Feser said: Law's argument evidently presupposes a "theistic personalist" or "neo-theist" notion of God and is therefore completely irrelevant to the classical theism of Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, et al., according to which God is not "good" in the way a human being is good, as if He and we both instantiated the same property; rather, He just is Goodness Itself, and anything less than that is (for a classical theist) necessarily other than God. Hence it is incoherent to suggest that God might be evil. Re: the analysis of evil as a privation, I would say that it is hard to makes sense of individual examples of evil on any other view, and hard to make sense of evil as an objective feature of the world at all -- which the atheist himself has to do if he's going to