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Showing posts from February, 2012

Moving Secularism Forward Conference

I am speaking in Florida next week (and also Washington - see below). Go here for details of the conference. I'm highly flattered by my ridiculously prominent billing... Speakers include Stephen Law | Ophelia Benson | Daniel C. Dennett | Jessica Ahlquist | Pz Myers | Sikivu Hutchinson | Russell Blackford | Elisabeth Cornwell | Steven K. Green | George Hrab | Sir Harold Kroto | Rita Swan | and more! Here is what I am doing in Washington: Voices of Reason - Stephen Law: The Evil God Challenge Starts Monday, March 5th 2012 at 7:00 pm Ends Monday, March 5th 2012 at 9:00 pm Location Busboys and Poets 14th & V - Langston Room, 2021 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U St / Cardozo Metro) The Evil God Challenge is perhaps the most powerful argument against the existence of the Judeo-Christian God yet developed. Stephen Law will present a version that he published in the journal Religious Studies in 2010, and has since developed further. If you want a single, simple

Magdalen College Oxford last night - THINK week.

Had an interesting debate with Richard Swinburne, Ard Louis and Peter Atkins yesterday evening as part of THINK week. Richard Dawkins was in the audience and contributed quite a bit. Richard D's dislike of philosophy was apparent again, as was Peter Atkins's, so I was for a while fighting for philosophy alongside Richard Swinburne against Richard Dawkins. Religion was also an issue, though, so Richard S and I were also occasional opponents, with Dawkins, Atkins and myself then on the same team. It was fun, and of course also flattering to be in such prestigious company. There will be a video recording available shortly. My opening statement (correctly anticipating an anti-philosophical tirade from Peter Atkins) is below, if you're interested (though I did deviate a bit from these notes), followed by a brief comment on Richard Dawkins's subsequent criticism of what I had to say. I am a philosopher. So it will come as no surprise to you that I am going to argue that phi

We need to know who funds these thinktank lobbyists

Here's George Monbiot in the Guardian on Monday...for your edification. Shocking, fascinating, entirely unsurprising: the leaked documents, if authentic, confirm what we suspected but could not prove. The Heartland Institute , which has helped lead the war against climate science in the United States, is funded among others by tobacco firms, fossil fuel companies and one of the billionaire Koch brothers. It appears to have followed the script written by a consultant to the Republican party, Frank Luntz, in 2002. "Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate." Luntz's technique was pioneered by the tobacco companies and the creationists: teach the controversy. In other words, insist that the question of whether cigarettes cause lung cancer, natural selection drives evolution, or

Religious vs gay rights

I am interested in resources and articles (especially of a more intellectually rigorous sort) on how the rights of the religious are supposedly being infringed when it comes to rights for homosexuals. e.g. Christian B&B owners being told they cannot deny homosexual couples a double room, Christian adoption agencies being told they cannot discriminate against gay couples, Christian foster parents told they should not tell children under their care that homosexuality is wrong. PS this is for an upcoming presentation I have been asked to give at a conference at Magdalen College, Oxford. April 11- 13. Religious Freedom and Equality: Emerging Conflicts in North America and Europe. Sponsored by The Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center, Georgetown University, and The Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Link here. I will be in discussion with Prof. John Finnis.


At the Oxford festival - me on drums.

Feedback required please...

To any teachers out there ....If anyone had ever used my "Evil God Challenge" or other philosophy of religion or philosophy of mind material, in the school classroom, or in some other educational setting, I'd be very keen to hear about it, as it counts as "impact", which I am being assessed on. I'd need to know what material was used, where, when and to how many students. Or if you can give examples of other ways in which the Evil God challenge has had impact (educational, public, etc.) that I might not know about... V best Stephen

Conference in Florida (CFI)

I am pretty busy in next few weeks... Moving Secularism Forward From: 01 March 2012 To: 04 March 2012 Time Zone: Eastern Time (US & Canada) Description: The Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Council for Secular Humanism will hold their annual conference "Moving Secularism Forward" March 1–4, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida. At "Moving Secularism Forward", learn about one of Florida's most dramatic church-state battles regarding the Blaine Amendment, and much, much more; including an optional motorcoach excursion to Kennedy Space Center. Scheduled to speak: Daniel C. Dennett, Sir Harold Kroto, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Stephen Law, Rita Swan, Anthony Pinn, Victor Stenger, Elisabeth Cornwell, Eddie Tabash, Ophelia Benson, Lionel Tiger, Ronald Bailey, Razib Khan, Jamila Bey, Sikivu Hutchinson, David Silverman, Bill Cooke, Steven K. Green, Ellenbeth Wachs, Ronald A. Lindsay, Debbie Goddard and Tom Flynn. Mu

Discussion Tuesday 21 Feb, Magdalen College, Oxford - Swinburne, Atkins, Louis and myself

Tuesday, Feb 21st: Think About Knowledge 7:30pm: Life, the Universe, and Everything - The Quest for Truth Magdalen College, Grove Auditorium, OX1 4AU Science is credited as the most effective approach to answering questions. Scientifically derived facts are viewed as truths. But there are also truths to be found in mythology, in historical accounts, in philosophy. As we try to make sense of our world, to answer the big questions, how do we know what ‘truths’ to believe? Which, if any, of these is preeminent? Is there ultimately only one truth, or are there categories of truths? And in our quest for the truth, what sorts of questions should we be asking? Who is best placed to ask them? Join us as we engage with a panel of distinguished thinkers from science, philosophy and theology as they try to assert that their domain is, in fact, best placed to answer the biggest questions. Dr. Stephen Law, philosopher, Prof. Peter Atkins, chemist, http://www

Gig Tuesday night with Heavy Dexters

I am playing with The Heavy Dexters tomorrow night at the Bullingdon Arms on Cowley Rd. 9.30pm to midnight. Drums. It's jazz funk... 162 Cowley Road Oxford OX4 1UE

2011 Morris D. Forkosch Award

Have just heard I am the recipient of the 2011 Morris D. Forkosch Award for Humanist Book of the Year for my Oxford University Press Humanism: A Very Short Introduction. For an alternative point of view, here's my favourite review to date: "It is incomprehensible that the editors at the Oxford University Press had such a colossal failure of judgment. I intend to read the upcoming volumes in this series, but I certainly hope that I don't come across books like this one again."