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Showing posts from November, 2011

Premier Christian Radio - two upcoming interviews

Two upcoming shows which I just recorded - link to shows is here : Sat 10th December: "The Evil God Challenge" I discuss the challenge with Christian philosopher Glenn Peoples. Glenn is based out in New Zealand. His blog is here . This was a useful discussion as it allowed me to deal with several common misunderstandings about the challenge - including "But Christians don't base their belief about God's goodness on empirical evidence" (this is a complete red herring: it's irrelevant to the challenge, in fact, as I explain in this interview). Saturday 18th December "Is Christianity an intellectual black hole?" Second recording is based on my book "Believing Bullshit". Discussion with James Orr - a graduate philosophy student at Cambridge. We discuss whether its rational to believe in things like the miraculous. BTW I don't claim Christianity is an Intellectual black hole, or bullshit. As everyone on the show agrees. Take no

Live on Atheists Talk Radio

Today, 9am Minnesotta time, 3pm UK time. I must not say "bullshit" When Radio 3 asked me not to say it, I ended up saying it about 20 times. So there may be a few bleeps.... Link here . It will be a podcast almost immediately I think.


CFI UK and The Ethical Society present: BEYOND THE VEIL – A CLOSER LOOK AT SPIRITS, MEDIUMS AND GHOSTS Arranged by Stephen Law (Provost CFI UK) Saturday 14th January 2012 Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London Bookshop by Newham Bookshop TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE . General: £10 general public. Members and students: £8 BHA, AHS and SPES members and students with valid ID. Free to members of the Centre for Inquiry UK. ***Special offer*** Tickets to this event and the Blasphemy! event on the 28th January £16 general, £12 members and students):Members and student ticket offer and General public ticket offer. 10.30am REGISTRATION 11.00 CHRIS FRENCH Spirits on the brain: Insights from psychology and neuroscience Chris French is a Professor of Psychology and Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and former editor of the Skeptic. Belief in spirits can be foun

Blasphemy day

'Blasphemy!' - blasphemy, religious hatred, and human rights: who speaks for the sacred? Presented by CFI UK and The Ethical Society Saturday 28th January 2012 CONWAY HALL,25 Red Lion Square Holborn Introduced by Dr Stephen Law of Heythrop College, University of London and Editor of Think (Royal Institute Philosophy) Provost of Centre for Inquiry UK. This event focuses on the criminalization of religious hatred, defamation, and insult under European human rights, and how this functions as a de facto blasphemy law. Tickets on sale HERE . General: £10 general public Members and students: £8 BHA, AHS and SPES members and students with valid ID Free to members of the Centre for Inquiry UK. ***Special offer*** Joint tickets to this event and the Beyond the Veil event on the 14th January: £16 general public and £12 members and student ticket offer. PROGRAMME 10.30am REGISTRATION 11.00 am Kenan Malik - Title TBA 12.00 Andrew Copson – Blasphemy laws by the back door And

Robin Ince on Intelligent Design

On Channel 4 "4thought" slot on creationism TV tuesday

I have a brief two minute slot at about 5 mins to eight, tomorrow night on Channel 4. Part of a week long series on whether (young earth) creationism should be taught in schools. In the 4thought TV. Website with links to all the clips including mine here . P.S. They chose the "angry" bits out of the stuff they recorded with me! PS Which is fine as I am angry about it.

I'm tutor for admissions at Heythrop College, University of London

I happen to be tutor for admission for the BA in philosophy at Heythrop College University of London. If you want to find about more about our BA programme, or an evening MA in philosophy, get in touch (email address is in the header to this page). Obviously with the new fees system, all colleges are focusing on recruitiment, and so are we of course. Obviously we're not as well known as some other colleges. But we are quite exceptional. So here are a few facts about Heythrop you might be interested in, if you're thinking about pursuing a degree in Philosophy or Theology. (1) Heythrop is the University of London college that specializes in just Philosophy and Theology. It's all we do. (2) Heythrop students achieve remarkably good results, despite our comparatively modest entry requirements. We have outperformed other better known colleges in terms of number of first class hons degrees achieved, for example (3) This is because, astonishingly, Heythrop runs a one-to-one t

Feser saga continues

Just posted this on Edward Feser's blog here . It relates to this post of mine below . It all ultimately related to my paper The Evil God Challenge . Edward, you say: “But your [evil god challenge] argument now sounds like it amounts to little more than the claim that the existence of evil is a challenge to the claim that there is no God.” Ah right the penny has finally dropped. It is indeed a way of developing that traditional challenge and refining it somewhat. “Which is just the ancient argument from evil warmed over rather than the novel challenge your "evil god challenge" was supposed to be!” Warmed over, eh?! Charming. Well, the evil God challenge is a way of developing the evidential problem of evil in such a way that very many standard theistic responses are neutralized or revealed to be hopelessly inadequate. Because, it turns out, those responses work just as well in defence of an evil god. The key point is, the evil god hypothesis remains straightforwar

Superior audio recording of my debate with William Lane Craig

Justicar has very kindly produced a much-improved version of the audio of the debate between myself and William Lane Craig. The original audio recording was pretty ropey. This is much better and the blurbs are largely edited out too. Go here . I am hoping the video, when released, will have better audio. I was kitted out with two shirt mics plus there were two lectern mikes so I assumed the audio would be fine. It wasn't.

Fumbling Feser

Edward Feser, Catholic philosopher and big fan of Aquinas, wrote a post a year ago explaining why he thinks the evil God challenge doesn't apply to his sort of non-personal, classical God-of-the-philosophers. This is because Aquinas et al demonstrated that anything that's God must be good, given the medieval background metaphysics. Hence an evil god is impossible. I pointed out that showing an evil God is impossible is irrelevant (I also pointed this out in the paper "The Evil God Challenge" which Feser has read). Even if there were a conceptual problem with the idea of an evil God (and there may also be similar problems with the notion of a good God, actually, but let's set that worry to one side), that does not prevent the evil God challenge from being run. Feser still can't understand why, but here's the reason. Assume an evil God is conceptually impossible. Nevertheless, there might also be powerful empirical evidence against an evil God. In fact

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God coming through your letter box soon

I just got a newspaper though my front door (in Oxford) called City News, with a red top and front page splash about benefit cheats and scroungers. As you read through it, it starts to dawn on you that this might not be a free newspaper, but an advert of some sort. It reads just like a paper. But there are references to something called UCKG, and how it has helped people out of welfare dependency, saving the Government millions. On the back page there's a full page spread promoting events round the country, at centres around the country, of the UCKG. The UCKG is the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. The UCKG has been linked with charges of fraud, tax evasion, extracting money from the poor and directing it to church leaders, money laundering, child demonic-possession cases, and the appalling death of Victoria Climbie (see the wiki page on the church for details ). The UCKG is a focus of cult watcher Rick Ross. Go here for a long list of worrying reports. There have also

Feser's criticsm of the "Evil God Challenge"

Edward Feser thinks he has shown my evil God challenge doesn't apply to his god. I explained why he was mistaken ages ago, promised him a further response to his response but then never got round to it. Hence he posed this . Well, I have now explained in the comments section in some detail why Edward is just mistaken (see comments on 11th and 12th nov 2011 ). I will post something here as his confusion is a quite common (even more common now, thanks to Edward).

The Evil God challenge - skeptical theist response

I just put this comment as a reply to a comment made on the preceding post. As it's so long, and contains some details that may be of interest to others, I am also posting it here... Hi Brigadier The Evil God Challenge is supposed to be a challenge. The challenge is to explain why belief in a good god is significantly more reasonable than belief in an evil god. Craig tried to meet the challenge, but failed. I see you are coming close to admitting that he failed, as you are now attempting to bolster his arguments with additional arguments of your own. Do your arguments succeed? No. I said earlier about intuitions generally that: "you can't just drop them without adequate justification." You agreed, but said about our intuition that there’s more than enough empirical evidence to reasonably rule out an evil god: “Sure, but the point is that once you realize certain metaphysical/logical distinctions of which you were previously unaware, then you also realize that

Craig's website response re our debate

This response to my evil god challenge has recently appeared on William Lane Craig’s website , after our debate. It’s posted in full below. With my comments in bold. The post takes the form of Craig responding to a question emailed by a fan. Question: Dr. Craig this is a simple question in regards to your debate with Stephen Law. Suppose someone hypothetically argued for an Evil God that exists. Could one use the "Problem of Good" as an objection, just as Non-Theists use the "Problem of Evil" against theism? Would all the arguments such as Plantinga's Free Will Defense be flipped around, and actually work against the problem of good? So far, it truly does appear that Evil is a privation of good, and the arguments used to counter the "Problem of Good" against an Evil God do not work very well as a refutation. Cornell USA BTW notice Craig never responds re the comment on flipping Plantinga's free will defence (which applies only to the logic

Gig in Oxford, Thursday evening

My band the Heavy Dexters playing here tomorrow night: JOE'S BAR AND GRILL 260 Banbury Rd Oxford OX2 7DX. 8.30pm - 10.15pm.Tel. 01865 554484

Notes on "Morality without religion has no firm foundation"

Here are some notes I used for the debate: “Morality without religion has no firm foundation” Notice the focus of this debate is not on god. God gets no mention. The question is specifically about religion. The question before us is: can morality have a firm foundation in the absence of religion. And so it’s on religion that I shall focus. I think the answer is pretty clearly yes – morality can have at least as firm a foundation in the absence of religion as it can with it. I want to start by outlining an alternative, non-religious approach to morality which I think is preferable to most traditional, religious approaches. What are the characteristics of humanism? 1. First, humanists don’t believe in a God. They are atheists, or at least agnostics. 2. Secondly, humanists, like many sensible religious folk, are secularists. They favour an open, democratic society in which the state takes a neutral position with respect to religion. 3. Thirdly, humanists sign up to the idea that

debate tonight in Farnham, Surrey 8pm

farnham HUMANISTS “Morality without religion has no firm foundation”. 1. The debate will take place on Tuesday 1st November at South Farnham School, Menin Way, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8DY at 7.45pm, (actual introduction and debate starts at 8.00pm), ending promptly at 10.00pm. We will arrange to collect you from the station or, if you prefer, we can send you some maps and directions. 2. The motion is “Morality without religion has no firm foundation”. 3. The motion will be proposed and seconded by Professor Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Dr Nabil Mustapha, Baha’i and Interfaith. It will be opposed by Dr Stephen Law, Provost, Centre for Enquiry and David Pollock, President of the European Humanist Federation. Each side will decide who will speak first and who second. Mrs Norma Corkish, head of Citizen’s Advice Waverley will chair the debate. 4. The debate will be opened by the Chairman of Farnham Humanists who will welcome and thank everyone, introduce the Debate Chairman and say th