Skip to main content

Today's BBC 1 Big Questions

From about 43 minutes on "Do we need religion to create a moral society?" I start it off and finish it up too. It will be up for a week.


Currently BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only

That sucks. Can't find this on iTunes - if anyone is aware of how it can be accessed ex juris, please let me know.
Anonymous said…
The Atheist Missionary said...To be certain that god does not exist I’d have to be all knowing. However, the only entity possessing that power is a god. Therefore, I would have to be the god that I claim does not exist. Hmmm… Better convert myself to the agnostic persuasion instead.

Appreciated your comment on philosophy embracing all religions Steve. (The Big Questions) As I see it religions and science are merely flawed tools. Devised to assist survival of us, in compliance with the meaning of life. The meaning of life is life itself, ensuring the continuity of the species. Since nothing entirely dependant or wholly reliant on human existence, can occur in our absence. While we have existed without them. They cannot exist without us. If we did indeed teach our youngsters how to question, they would soon expose all the paradoxes (incomplete understandings of reality) currently holding us back. Regards, al.
Psiomniac said…
You dealt well with one pernicious aspect of this debate that seems to crop up often: the false dichotomy between morality based on religion and naive moral relativism.
Unknown said…
Here it is on youtube I believe
Jack, thanks for posting the youtube link. I enjoyed watching the discussion.

Stephen, I'm interested to know whether you have read Chris Hedges' I Don't Believe in Atheists (Free Press, 2008). If you have, I would be interested in your take on Hedges' attack on (what he suggests is) the myth that modern societies are progressing morally. If you haven't read it, I think you would enjoy it - the title is deceptive. Although Hedges has a Masters in Divinity, he excoriates religious fundamentalists. Here's a snippet:

"We live in a universe indifferent to our fate. We are seduced by myths that assure us that the world revolves around us, that fate or the gods or destiny have given us a unique and singular role in the cosmos. It is hard to reject these myths and face the bleakness of human existence. It is more comforting and reassuring to have faith in our collective moral advancement as a species, to believe that we are heading toward something great and wondrous. The bitter reality of existence and the bondage of human nature, however, are real. These myths are not. All those who tempt us to play God turn us away from the real world to flirt with our own annihilation". (pp. 89-90).

Popular posts from this blog


(Published in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2011. Stephen Law. Pages 129-151) EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS Stephen Law Abstract The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of indepen

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism refuted

Here's my central criticism of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). It's novel and was published in Analysis last year. Here's the gist. Plantinga argues that if naturalism and evolution are true, then semantic epiphenomenalism is very probably true - that's to say, the content of our beliefs does not causally impinge on our behaviour. And if semantic properties such as having such-and-such content or being true cannot causally impinge on behaviour, then they cannot be selected for by unguided evolution. Plantinga's argument requires, crucially, that there be no conceptual links between belief content and behaviour of a sort that it's actually very plausible to suppose exist (note that to suppose there are such conceptual links is not necessarily to suppose that content can be exhaustively captured in terms of behaviour or functional role, etc. in the way logical behaviourists or functionalists suppose). It turns o

Suggesting a new named fallacy: the Non Post Hoc Fallacy (or David Cameron Fallacy)

Many of us are familiar with the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Fallacy (' after this, therefore because of this) - Post Hoc Fallacy for short). It's the fallacy of supposing that, because B occurred after A, A must be the cause of B. For example: My car stopped working after I changed the oil, so changing the oil caused it to stop working. Or:  I wore my red jumper to the exam and I passed, so that jumper is lucky: it caused me to pass. This fallacy is so common, it gets a latin name. However, there's a related common fallacy that I think also deserves a name. I am going to call it the Non Post Hoc Fallacy (' not after of this, therefore not because of this), or, perhaps more memorably, the David Cameron Fallacy. Every now and then someone desperate to ‘prove’ that X is not causally responsible for Y – e.g poverty is not a cause of crime, will commit the following fallacy. They will argue that as X has often occurred without Y following, therefore X was not the