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Showing posts from December, 2011


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

Talking of blasphemy, Tim Minchin cut from tonight's J. Ross show

Tim Minchin's blog has very cross post about ITV's decision to cut his recorded appearance on the J Ross show tonite. Tim writes... "And then someone got nervous and sent the tape to ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham. And Peter Fincham demanded that I be cut from the show. He did this because he’s scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way." Here's what was cut... PS Tim's "I am not saying I'm Jesus" reminded me of king of the blasphemers ( Jerry Springer musical case ) Stewart Lee - go to 1min30 . I have sent my thoughts to Their explanation is: "We often make changes to programmes before transmission and on this occasion we felt that the song didn’t quite work editorially."

BLASPHEMY EVENT 28th January! CFI UK event!

I have organized this upcoming event for CFI UK. Really excellent, knowledgeable and entertaining speakers... “Blasphemy!” - Blasphemy, religious hatred, and human rights: Who speaks for the sacred? 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. Jointly presented by Centre for Inquiry UK and SPES. Saturday 28th January 2012 Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square Holborn EC1R 4RL Tickets: £10 (£8 student). 10.30am REGISTRATION 11.00AM Kenan Malik Beyond the Sacred Kenan writes: The idea of blasphemy is closely linked to the concept of the sacred. Detachment from the sacred, the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor claimed at the installation ceremony for his successor, has been responsible for war and terror, sin and evil. In this view the acceptance of the sacred is indispensable for the cr

THINK contributions welcome

I am looking for contributions to THINK: Philosophy For Everyone, which is a journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy published by CUP three times per year I'm the editor). Pieces must be 4k words max and very accessible and clear. No endnotes or footnotes and minimal refereneces. Mostly we publish stuff by professional philosophers but do include other pieces too if they're good. I also encourage unusual approaches, such as using dialogues. If you have a piece or an idea that might be appropriate let me know. If you're a professional philosopher with a short piece for which you hold copyright that would be suitable, do please send it over. Word documents sent as attachment to my email address (see the title bar above) are best, please.

Illustrator needed

I am putting together a philosophy poster for my college and need an illustrator who can do, e.g. fun Quentin Blake style cartoon illustrations in colour. Preferably not too expensive! Anyone out there?

Glenn Peoples' moral argument for God

Glenn Peoples' blog has been interesting me lately. He has just out up his version of a moral argument for the existence of God. Glenn argues, as does Craig: If there's no God, there are no objective moral values. There are objective moral values Therefore there is a God. Of course, Glenn realizes his premises, especially the first premise, will require considerable support, so he makes his case for it here . Here's part of my comment on People's moral argument... Glenn – I’m tempted to start investigating your argument more but it would be really helpful if you could set out the argument more formally, so that the most basic premises supporting your conclusion are clearly identified. Make it very clear why there is objective moral value only if there is an all-powerful, all-good, personal God. E.g. why moral Platonism won’t do, for example. Why non-natural objective moral facts won’t do either. Why it’s got to be a person. Exactly how the is-ought gap plays a rol

Glenn Peoples on the Evil God Challenge

I have been having an exchange with Glenn Peoples on his blog about the Evil God Challenge . Glenn thinks the problem of evil (and reverse problem of good) is neutralized by the theodicies (and reverse theodicies). Hence there's no reason provided by the vast quantities of evil/good we observe to conclude that belief in a good or evil god is unreasonable. So all Glenn has to do to show that belief in a good god is quite reasonable is, he thinks, to come up with e.g. a fairly good moral argument for the existence of God. So here's my latest comment... Let me explain how things look from my end. I give you what appears to be overwhelming empirical evidence against the existence of your particular God - the evidential problem of evil (e.g. hundreds of millions of years of horror before humans show up, a million plus generations of children around half of which are killed through disease and/or starvation before they reach the age of 5 before Jesus shows up, etc. etc.) You app

Naturalism, Evolution and True Belief

This article on Plantinga i just published in Analysis. It's a fairly short attempt to refute Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. Go here . PDF is here . Abstract Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism aims to show that naturalism is, as he puts it, ‘incoherent or self defeating’. Plantinga supposes that, in the absence of any God-like being to guide the process, natural selection is unlikely to favour true belief. Plantinga overlooks the fact that adherents of naturalism may plausibly hold that there exist certain conceptual links between belief content and behaviour. Given such links, natural selection will favour true belief. A further rather surprising consequence of the existence of such links is this: even if semantic properties are epiphenomenal, unguided evolution will still favour true belief.

Answers in Genesis responds to my 4thought slot

Answers In Genesis, the bonkers Young Earth Creationist website headed by Ken Ham (who gets special mention in my book Believing Bullshit ), singled out my Channel 4thought slot for comment . Go here and scroll a little over halfway down. I am very pleased. All I need now is to be attacked by "Mad Mel" Melanie Phillips and I can die happy. P.S. This guy at "They Don't Fool Me!" has also got cross about the Channel 4 thing, after reading the above Answers in Genesis post. Apparently anyone who thinks the world is older the 6k years is a "leftist". I just posted this comment (which I suspect won't ever appear): Stephen Law December 8, 2011, 8:04 am Reply Your comment is awaiting moderation Yeh, let’s string up this leftwing atheist commie punk for insisting the Earth is older than 6 thousand years. P.S. 12th December: As I predicted above - They Don't Fool Me! blogger refuse

Subscribe to my updates

To subscribe to email updates about the Centre For Inquiry UK events I am arranging, please email me the phrase "subscribe cfi". You can unsubscribe any time. The next event is this pretty amazing one on ghosts, spirits, etc, btw. Sat 14th Jan. Magicians are involved so it will be entertaining as well as educational. To subscribe to email updates about Heythrop and other conferences and events of interest to pupils doing A Level RS and/or Philosophy , please email me the phrase "subscribe Heythrop". use the email address AT (but fixing this anti-spam version, of course!) The next Heythrop Conference is this one on Sat 21st Jan 2012 with Keith Ward, Richard Harries, John Cottingham and myself. It's free but you need to book.

Philosophy Conference Sat 21st Jan

Here's an upcoming event I have organized for my college. Venue is Heythrop College, Kensington Square. It's free. Aimed especially at VIth formers and their teachers.To book email me or Karoline Wilhelm-Brown HEYTHROP RELIGIOUS STUDIES CONFERENCE KEITH WARD, JOHN COTTINGHAM, STEPHEN LAW, RICHARD HARRIES 21st Jan 2012 Particularly aimed at students of RS, though all are welcome. Bookshop by Newham books. Book signings. 11.00 KEITH WARD Life, the Universe, and Everything Keith Ward is a Fellow of British Academy, one-time Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, King's London, Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford, and now Professorial Research Fellow at Heythrop. 12.00 JOHN COTTINGHAM Ethics and Religion: How They Fit Together John Cottingham is Professorial Research Fellow at Heythrop College, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Reading University, and an Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. He is Ed

Al Jazeera - my contribution to discussion

Here's the Al Jazeera discussion programme I appeared on last night. It was a very good discussion I thought. Al Jazeera produce exceptionally high quality TV. The other contributors were Salman Hameed and Imam Joe Bradford from the US. The discussion was prompted by an article by Geneticist Steve Jones in the Telegraph . In fact I had not seen this earlier interview in the Australian where Jones does say the problem of students boycotting evolution classes is predominantly with Muslim students.

The Stream, Al Jazeera tonight

I'll be on the Stream programme this evening, talking about Muslims who (it's alleged) walk out of or boycott lectures on evolution that form part of their university course. Steve Jones has previously expressed a concern . From 7.30-8.00 via Skype, along with some others. I'll be tweeting afterwards....@stephenlaw60

Believing Bullshit chpt 2

“BUT IT FITS!” AND THE BLUNDERBUSS “But It Fits!” is one of the most popular strategies for immunizing beliefs against refutation. In fact, “But it fits!” does double duty. Not only is it a great immunizing strategy, it can also be used to create the illusion that a ridiculous belief system is not, after all, ridiculous, but at least as well confirmed as its rivals. I’ll explain how “But It Fits!” works by means of a particularly impressive example: Young Earth Creationism. Young Earth Creationism Young Earth Creationism is a theory based on a literal reading of the Old Testament. Young Earth Creationists maintain that the entire universe is less than ten thousand years old (a typical estimate is about six thousand years old). They claim that the universe, the Earth, and every living species were created literally as described in Genesis, over a period of six days. So, according to Young Earth Creationists, the theory of evolution, which says that new species can evolve, and hav