Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2009

Draft of PART of chpt 3. VSI Humanism. For comments please...

CHAPTER THREE: AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THE EXISTENCE OF GOD The previous chapter provided an overview of several popular arguments for the existence of God, and found them wanting. In this chapter, we will see that there exists, in addition, at least one very powerful argument against the existence of God. The problems of evil God, as traditionally conceived by the three great monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, has at least three important characteristics. First, God is omnipotent or maximally powerful. God has the ability to create the universe and destroy it again. Being the creator and sustainer of the laws of nature, he is also free to break them by, for example, raising people from the dead or parting the Red Sea. Secondly, God is omniscient. His knowledge is unlimited. He knows even our most private thoughts. Thirdly, God is, supposed supremely benevolent. Indeed, God is often characterized as watching over us as a loving parent watches over his children. God

Sye show continues

I was sent a link to this , for those interested in the never ending saga of Sye TenBruggencate and his "proof" of the existence of God. Hit "sinner ministries' proof of the existence of god" link below or on side bar for 30+ earlier posts on this topic that I wrote during an extended interchange with him last summer (check the literally many hundreds of comments attached to these posts if you really want to get into how Sye thinks and argues). Sye's amazing intial "proof" is available here . PS. For those interested, my own "presuppositional" proof, parodying Sye's proof by his principle "the impossibility of the contrary" (which turns out to be the key to Sye's proof) is: My claim: Sye's mind is addled and his thinking unreliable because he was hit on the head by a rock. Prove this is false, Sye. Try to, and I will say - "But your "proof" presupposes your mind is not addled and you can recognise

Draft chapter for comments, please (4.900 words)

CHAPTER 2: ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Humanists embrace atheism or at least agnosticism. Some believe that belief in a god or gods is not particularly rational or justified. Others go further, insisting that belief in God is actually downright irrational. Those who believe in God, on the other hand, while maintaining their belief is a “faith position”, nevertheless typically suppose their belief is not unreasonable. Believing in God, they suppose, is not, say, like believing in Santa or in fairies - it is much more reasonable than that. Perhaps God’s existence cannot be conclusively “proved”. But that God exists is, they think, at least a fairly reasonable thing for a modern, educated adult to believe. But if belief in God is far more reasonable than, say, belief in fairies, what makes it more reasonable? Theists respond to this question in a variety of ways. Some attempt to offer some sort of rational argument for the existence of God. There are many such arguments for t

Humanism book introduction, 2nd draft, for comments...

INTRODUCTION – What is humanism? The word “humanism” has had, and continues to have, a variety of meanings. At its broadest, “humanism” means little more than a system of thought in which human values, interests and dignity are given central importance. Understood in this way, almost everyone qualifies as a “humanist”. However, as understood by contemporary humanist organizations, the term “humanist” means something more focussed. Those who sign up to “humanism”, understood in this contemporary sense of the term, are embracing a particular sort of worldview that by no means everyone accepts. That worldview is the focus of this book. So what distinguishes the humanist outlook? It is difficult to be very precise. The boundaries of the concept are elastic. But I think most humanists would probably agree on something like the following minimal, seven-point characterization. First, humanists are either atheists or at least agnostic. They are sceptical about the claim that there exists

"Is Catholicism a Force For Good?": Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry vs. Ann Widdecombe and Bishop (1 of 5)

Thanks to Blakeley Nixon for this link. Surprising vote at the end. To be fair to the Catholic side: as speakers, Widdecome and the Bishop were pretty awful and entirely outclassed. Postscript. By the way, for anyone interested in this topic I would strongly recommend David Ranan's Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church , which is at least as exciting as The Da Vinci Code . The Catholic Herald wrote: Speaking of how other people may see us, I have been reading a fascinating, if somewhat uncomfortable book called Double Cross by David Ranan (Theo Press). When I tell you that it devotes 350 pages to attacking the Church ... you will understand why I would not recommend it to anyone who is not familiar with Church history and the general cut and thrust of apologetic debate. ... whenever I was able to check references they proved satisfactory. Withal, I found the book salutary. It reminds me how the credibility of the Church has so often been endangered not only by bad i


Express yourself! Campaign for Free Expression Essay Contest The Campaign for Free Expression is a CFI initiative to focus efforts and attention on one of the most crucial components of freethought: the right of individuals to express their viewpoints, opinions, and beliefs about all subjects—especially religion. To encourage free expression and to emphasize the importance of this fundamental right, CFI and its sister organization, The Council for Secular Humanism, are sponsoring this contest. Free Expression Essay Contest: Students enrolled in an accredited college or university are invited to submit an essay about "The Importance of Free Expression and Its Limits (If Any)." Each entry must address the question of what limits national governments or recognized international bodies, such as the United Nations, may justifiably place on free expression. First prize is $2,000 (USD). Open to UK STUDENTS, e.g. mine! * Download Free Expression Essay Contest Rules and g

A terrible justification for keeping TFTD exclusively religious

The BBC Thought for The Day debate rumbles on. I notice that, according to an Ekklesia report, the BBC Trust defended the exclusively religious contribution to the TFTD programme against charges that this failed the test of 'due' impartiality on this ground: “The requirement of ‘due’ impartiality means that the approach required depends on audience expectations” the BBC Trust report ruled. Since the audience expected a certain range of contributors, then the status quo was acceptable in the Trust's opinion. [Source here ]. But of course, if this is the justification, it is terrible. Impartiality does not depend on audience expectations in this way. Notice that, if it did, then a racist programme that excluded black contributors would qualify as 'impartial' if the audience did not expect black people to appear. E.g. an openly white supremacist radio show that banned black people from appearing on it would qualify as showing 'due' impartiality, so long

Thought For The Day will continue to exclude non-religious

The BBC Trust announced today: The BBC Trust today announced its findings on a number of appeals about the broadcast of Radio 4's Thought for the Day and BBC editorial policy on non-religious content. The Trust found that the editorial policy of only allowing religious contributors to participate on Thought for the Day does not breach either the BBC Editorial Guideline on impartiality or the BBC's duty to reflect religious and other beliefs in its programming. Go here .

My notes for the McGrath debate

Here are the notes I used for the debate with Professor Alister McGrath on the 29th October . I ended up only alluding to the second objection as I thought it too technical on the night. Does the natural world point to God? Cosmic fine-tuning arguments - that God provides the best, or even a half-decent, explanation of the character the natural world in which we find ourselves - face FIVE main types of objection. I am going to briefly outline all five. But, I intend to rest my case on just the last two. So the first three will just be sketched out, and are merely for your information only. FIRST OBJECTION. As Alister acknowledges in his book, the science on which fine-tuning arguments are based is by no means uncontroversial. For example, some scientists believe there may well be a multiverse – a plethora of universes governed by a wide range of different physical laws. If there is a multiverse, then it’s not particularly unlikely that there should happen to exist a universe tha

Really Really Big Questions

My skeptical kid's book Really Really Big Questions was one of the top fifty winter reads in yesterday's Independent (it was number five, in fact): Go here . 'This is one book I wish I'd written,' admits Joe Craig of Dr Stephen Law's philosophical compendium, which any child over the age of eight should find some treasure in. 'It is definitely worth spending time on every page of this life-enhancing book. Every home should have a copy,' he adds. The book aims to develop independent, critical thinking about weird and wacky stuff, from fairies to spoon-bending to God. A sort of skeptical primer that aims to be a lot of fun at the same time... Publisher Kingfisher How much? Normally £12.99. But currently just £6.49 from amazon uk: and also from amazon US.

MONSTERS FROM THE DEEP! A Fortean adventure

If you are in the vicinity of London and are interested in Fortean and skeptical topics, do please come to Monsters from the Deep! It promises to be a fascinating journey into the deep sea myths and legends, from the perspective of science. Registration 10.30-11am. Finish 3pm (QandA session till 3.30pm if you want to stay longer). No booking required - just show up. Directions here . SPES/CFIUK present: MONSTERS FROM THE DEEP! An interactive skeptical odyssey – with sound effects! University experts investigate tales of sea-monsters, mermaids, etc. Saturday, 7th November, 11am-3pm (with good break for lunch) £10. Free to members of cfi uk, glha, spes, bha, new humanist and subscribers. Dr Charles Paxton, a scientist from the University of St Andrews, is one of the country’s most qualified cryptozoologists, and he will be running both a lecture and workshop on monsters from the deep – mythical and real. Dr Darren Naish is a researcher at The University of Portsmouth, who will ta

Let's be fair...

Erroll Treslan sent me this...