This is the website/blog of Philosopher Stephen Law. Stephen is retired, formerly Reader in philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He is editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK, and has published books including The Philosophy Gym, The Complete Philosophy Files, and Believing Bullshit.
For school talks/ media: stephenlaw4schools.blogspot.co.uk
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8th June event: Can science solve every mystery? A scientist, a philosopher and a Christian discuss
for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall present
science solve every mystery? A scientist, a philosopher and a Christian discuss.
Atkins, David Papineau, Peter S. Williams
Can science answer every question? Should
scientists show a little humility and acknowledge there are questions that only
religion can answer? Are science and religion “non-overlapping magisteria”, as
the scientist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, or is science capable of showing that
religion is false, as Richard Dawkins believes? And what, exactly, do
Presented and chaired by Stephen Law
(Philosophy, Heythrop and Provost of CFI UK).
Professor Peter Atkins (Univ. of Oxford).
Chemist, atheist and author of many books including Galileo’s Finger and Four
Laws That Drive the Universe:
closes off the central questions of existence by attempting to dissuade us from
further enquiry by asserting that we cannot ever hope to comprehend. We are,
religion asserts, simply too puny.”
around thinking about the world … [that] is philosophy. And we know where that
leads to in understanding. My argument is - nowhere.”
Peter S. Williams (Damaris Trust). Philosopher and leading British
Christian apologist. Author of C.S. Lewis vs the New
Atheists and A Faithful Guide to Philosophy:
existence of scientific laws is inexplicable unless we move beyond science into
the realm of metaphysics, postulating a God who intends those laws for a
Professor David Papineau (KCL). One of Britain’s
leading philosophers and humanists and author of Philosophical Devices:
problems are characterized by a special kind of difficulty, a difficulty which
means that they cannot be solved, as scientific problems normally are, simply
by the uncovering of further empirical evidence. Rather they require some
conceptual unravelling, a careful unpicking of implicit ideas, often
culminating in the rejection of assumptions we didn't realize we had.”
What is Humanism? “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad. We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of course most of us qualify as Humanists, including many religious theists. But the fact remains that, around the world, those who organize under the label “Humanism” tend to sign up to a narrower, atheistic view. What does Humanism, understood in this narrower way, involve? The boundaries of the concept remain somewhat vague and ambiguous. However, most of those who organize under the banner of Humanism would accept the following minimal seven-point characterization of their world-view.
(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
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