Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Feedback on my books, writing, blog, etc. needed for "impact" please

I really need some quotes to demonstrate how either of these books:

Humanism: A Very Short Intro
Believing Bullshit

or my blogging, debates, etc (especially the Evil God Challenge and stuff on rationality of theism) has had some impact on e.g. on your teaching, your life, etc. I need quotes I can attribute though so if you don't want to post your name here and/or prefer to send me something confidentially send it to me to think@royalinstitutephilosophy.org

thanks...



13 comments:

Geoff Shorts said...

For many years I enjoyed discussions on the existence of God. Despite being an atheist from my teenage years I found I'd viewed it as a question immune to robust rebuttal, and while I always felt confident that the evidence better supported a world free of gods I did respect the often well constructed arguments put forward by those who dotted the line between opponents and friends.

This hobby expressed itself in different ways: from blogging of my interactions with street preachers, to travelling for some radio shows, to being published in a Christian magazine, and giving talks for atheist groups.

I heard what felt like every rework of every old argument for and against the existence of the divine.

But, then, I watched a talk Stephen Law gave where he outlined his Evil God argument.

I'm still interested in religion, faith, and how they inform the lives of others. I still enjoy learning of the lived experiences of those on the other side of the fence. And I'm open to the possibility that some day a Theist might write a worthy rebuttal. But until that day, I feel Dr Law has rather taken the fun out of discussing the existence of God. As a challenge it's just too strong.

Geoff Shorts said...

Philosophy is not always easily accessible to the layperson, and some philosophers seem to enjoy emphasising this point through their writing. One of Law's many strengths is his ability to bring philosophy out of the University and place it in the hands of someone unfamiliar with the field.

Perhaps this is why I first warmed to "Believing Bullshit". I could read it. It made sense without a dictionary of philosophy to hand or a requirement to learn Bayesian probability.

Through the first chapter I realised that something much more robust than a taste of a different field was contained within its covers. Inside it, I found the formula of every unsatisfying discussion I've ever had. Each tactic employed, each fallacy deployed, all the ways a bad argument is papered over using bluster and balderdash. Each chapter yields a new tool to scrape through the superficial covering and view the crumbling mortar beneath.

Read this book. Don't argue with me: I've read it. I'll win.

Tony Lloyd said...

I often come across the Evil God Challenge online,especially since the debate with William Lane Craig.

Craig was flustered. I think that was because EGC is a genuine advance on previous formulations of the problem of evil. Thinking theists realise that it is a genuine problem that they must address and hey have been doing so since that debate.


(I'm assuming that you're going to include the title of the blog post: "Bill Craig loses a debate!" (exclamation in the original) - http://bit.ly/GFyLVO)

Are you not including "The War for Children's Mind's"? My copy got nicked by my wife. Once she'd got over the presence of section headings and diagrams (for some reason they're utterly awful) it got passed around the parents of our locality.

Stephen Law said...

Many thanks guys. No can't include The War unfortunately. Doesn't count as research, apparently.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked by the daring, novelty, and nuance of Stephen Law's Evil God Challenge in his debate with William Lane Craig.

I thought I'd already heard all the arguments concerning God and Christianity, and was pretty well bored with the subject. I'm glad I decided to listen to one more debate. My full appreciation of the merits and depth of the EGC took some further reading on Stephen's blog. There was much more to it, it was far more robust than I could take in when I heard it in real time listening to the debate recording. No wonder theists and atheists continue to discuss this argument. It's been added to the canon, it's here to stay!

Greg Burke

Philip Rand said...

A problem with the Evil God thesis...perhaps not a problem per se...is that...

The Gnostics beat Dr Law to it...

It was essentially this Evil God thesis of the Gnostics that resulted in the formulation of the Nicene creed.

I am not sure there is much mileage in this Evil God model...it doesn't appear to lead to any more development...and if research is the main driver, I would say it is a dead end...

However, the "Believing Bullshit" model does offer scope for further research development...mainly, because it can be applied to any type of "belief"...essentially it is a language-game model...

Now, since the basics of the model exist...if say one were to develop it further...say using the ideas from the psychologist Jane Loevinger's system of stages of self-development...then the results might be quit interesting...

Philip Rand said...

Before I am off to work...

You chaps might be interested in the ideas of John Horgan (of Horganism fame)...

He has written of similar stuff, it is after all a branch of some "mystic" Catholics beliefs...

Stephen Law said...

Thanks Greg

Csiki Attila-József said...

Didn't know where to comment this, I've found it minutes ago, a cartoon series known as Jesus and Mo about your evil god argument:
http://www.jesusandmo.net/2013/10/09/world2/
Enjoy:)

Daver said...

Stephen's 'God of Eth' argument has become a central meme in modern discussion of the existence of God. It's popular enough to have been featured in the comic strip 'Jesus & Mo'

Source: http://www.jesusandmo.net/2013/10/09/world2/#.UlYdXfIgjk4.reddit

Whiplash Compensation said...

This hobby expressed itself in different ways: from blogging of my interactions with street preachers, to travelling for some radio shows, to being published in a Christian magazine, and giving talks for atheist groups.

Guilherme Guzzo said...

I'm a science professor in Brazil, and I like to discuss with my students how important it is to think clearly, not only in science, but in all areas of our lives.
I use a part of Believing Bullshit, "dogs are from Venus", and it is very useful for us to think about many issues: a) in science, but not only in it, we must support a claim with good reasons; b) before reaching a conclusion, we should investigate if there are good reasons to accept it; c) if someone presents good evidence that is contrary to our beliefs, we should, at least, carefully examine it; d)in science, knowing is much more important than believing; and so on.
I consider "Believing Bullshit" one of the best books I've read about critical thinking, and there are other several interesting points in the book.

Guilherme B. Guzzo
Caxias do Sul - RS - Brazil

David Louys said...

There are many reasons why Believing bullshit is one of the best books about critical thinking, but if I had to highlight one fundamental feature, it would be the idea that a set of belief can be attractive for 2 different reasons : a) because of the reasonableness of its core propositions,
b) thanks to its ability to disarm critical and rational faculties through various strategies laid out in the book.(exploiting cognitive biases, intellectual prejudice and so on)

Once you've adopted this paradigm, it changes radically the way you look at any kind of knowledge claim, religious cults, political rallies etc.

As a future philosophy teacher, this one of the tools I hope to pass on to my students.

Another feature that deserves to be emphasized is that mere coherence with the empirical data isn't enough to be labelled as a scientific theory. Stephen aptly insists on the importance of producing precise and non ambiguous predictions to be empirically tested. You won't believe how many people justify their belief in a sacred text by citing some vague prediction in it that supposedly anticipates xxi century science. Here I think the parallel with Nostradamus was right on point.

An other argument we keep hearing and which is dealt with in the book is the 'you can't neither prove or disprove it' argument. I think Stephen clearly shows that we prove the existence of a hypothetical entity by underscoring its empirical effects. By the same token, we prove the inexistence of such an entity by underscoring the abscence of empirical effects precisely where it should produce them. That's at any rate how we prove the existence of microbes and the inexistence of Atlantis.

Thanks Stephen, keep going !

David Louys
Philosophy student.