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Showing posts from August, 2010

The appeal to "prior commitments" or "presuppositions" re. theism

Here's a bit from a paper forthcoming in Faith and Philosophy. I put it up because it concerns a certain move that's often made re evidence of miracles - that whether it's sensible to accept testimony of the miraculous depends on ones "presuppositions" or "prior commitments". This phrase just cropped up in a slightly bad-tempered interchange I am currently having with Glenn Peoples here . The Ted and Sarah case Suppose I have two close friends, Ted and Sarah, whom I know to be generally sane and trustworthy individuals. Suppose that Ted and Sarah now tell me that someone called Bert paid them an unexpected visit in their home last night, and stayed a couple of hours drinking tea with them. They recount various details, such as topics of conversation, what Bert was wearing, and so on. Other things being equal, it is fairly reasonable for me to believe, solely on the basis of their testimony, that such a visit occurred. But now suppose Ted and Sarah a

The Third Wave

This might be worth introducing int a few British classrooms... Remembering the 3rd Wave by Leslie Weinfield Peninsula, September 1991 Although the specter of fascist resurgence seems largely forgotten in the euphoria of German reunification, it may not be far beneath the peaceful veneer of that nation, or any other, for that matter. Even the most ostensibly free and open societies are not immune to fascism's lure - including places like Palo Alto. What came to be known as the "Third Wave" began at Cubberly High School in Palo Alto as a game without any direct reference to Nazi Germany, says Ron Jones, who had just begun his first teaching job in the 1966-67 academic year. When a social studies student asked about the German public's responsibility for the rise of the Third Reich, Jones decided to try and simulate what happened in Germany by having his students "basically follow instructions" for a day. But one day turned into five, and what hap

Plantinga on evolution and naturalism

I just came across pharyngula's criticism of Plantinga's short, sweet version of his argument against naturalism. It is here if you are interested. Plantinga still runs the following type of argument that false beliefs are just as adapative as true beliefs, and so evolution won't particularly favour true-belief-producing mechanisms: Consider a frog sitting on a lily pad. A fly passes by; the frog flicks out its tongue to capture it. Perhaps the neurophysiology that causes it to do so, also causes beliefs. As far as survival and reproduction is concerned, it won't matter at all what these beliefs are: if that adaptive neurophysiology causes true belief (e.g., those little black things are good to eat), fine. But if it causes false belief (e.g., if I catch the right one, I'll turn into a prince), that's fine too.

Chris Hallquist's book

I have been reading Chris Hallquist's UFOs, Ghosts and a Rising God, and I must say that, while I initially approached it with caution (I guess because the title makes it sound like it belongs on the shelves of a New Age bookstore), it is very well researched and written. The arguments are very strong. And entertaining, I should add. It's a discussion of the testimony-based evidence for the resurrection in light of what we know about other cults, testimony made about ghosts, alien abduction and so on. No doubt many Biblical scholars would consider a close look at claims about ghosts and UFOs to be beneath them; but, actually, these are precisely the sort of claims they need to know more about if they are to have a genuinely balanced view of the historical evidence for the resurrection.

Intro to book (part 1) new draft

Here is a new version of first part of the intro, for comments please. Too "academic" (remember - this has to become a best-seller and make me a fortune)? How could I make it more snappy and appealing? INTRODUCTION Intellectual black holes Wacky and ridiculous belief systems abound. The Heaven’s Gate suicide cult promised members a ride to heaven on board a UFO. Advanced students of scientology are taught that 75 million years ago, Xenu, alien ruler of a “Galactic Confederacy”, brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft shaped like Douglas DC-10 airplanes and stacked them around volcanoes which he then blew up with hydrogen bombs. Even mainstream religions have people believing absurdities. Preachers have promised 72 heavenly virgins to suicide bombers. Others insist the entire universe is just 6,000 years old (extraordinarily, polls consistently indicate this belief is currently held by about 45% of US citizens – that’s around 130 million individuals). And of cours

Logo Competition

Logo Competition. We only received three entries for the new CFI logo competition, and, on reflection, the judges decided none were quite right. However, because we very much appreciated the effort that these three individuals made we are giving them each two year's free membership of CFI UK which gives them free entry to all Conway Hall events (which I am just organizing now). Can the three contributors email me their postal addresses - thanks.

Jazz drumming Sunday evening

I am taking my drum kit down to the Old Anchor pub in Abingdon (Oxfordshire) (St Helen's Wharf, OX14 5EN) for a jazz jam tomorrow night, Sunday August 8th, 8.30pm onwards. Can't say what it will be like, but should be fun. I promise there will actually be some philosophy on this blog shortly...

Jesus paper published

The journal Faith and Philosophy have accepted my piece on "Miracles, Evidence and The Existence of Jesus", which evolved from discussions on this blog. So thanks for all your comments, provocations, etc. I will put the final version up here eventually. That's three papers in Philosophy of Religion now published. "The Evil God Challenge" has just been published in Religious Studies . "Plantinga's Belief-Cum-Desire Argument Refuted" appears in Religious Studies shortly. If you want a copy of any of these, let me know...