Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Astronomer says we are cosmically special, contradicts Hawking


The limits of retribution

 There can be limits on retribution based on what we can humanely do. We might think a murderer who tortures his victims to death should himself be tortured. But who could take that job and come out of it a decent human being?

A Lewis scholar reviews Nagel

Lewis scholar Michael Aeschliman review Nagel's Mind and Cosmos. Here.

Hard and soft determinism

Hard and soft determinism  are both determinism and it is the same type of determinism. The difference is in how freedom is defined. With soft determinism, freedom is defined as the ability to do what you want to do. With hard determinism, (and libertarianism) freedom is a matter of being able to do otherwise from what you did given the actual past.

Chronological snobbery once again

 Have we regressed? Just because something has changed over time doesn't necessarily mean it changed for the better? To think that such change is necessarily progress is to commit the fallacy of chronological snobbery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tom Gilson's Critique of The Christian Delusion


David Bentley Hart on New Atheism

I think I am very close to concluding that this whole “New Atheism” movement is only a passing fad—not the cultural watershed its purveyors imagine it to be, but simply one of those occasional and inexplicable marketing vogues that inevitably go the way of pet rocks, disco, prime-time soaps, and The Bridges of Madison County. This is not because I necessarily think the current “marketplace of ideas” particularly good at sorting out wise arguments from foolish. But the latest trend in à la mode godlessness, it seems to me, has by now proved itself to be so intellectually and morally trivial that it has to be classified as just a form of light entertainment, and popular culture always tires of its diversions sooner or later and moves on to other, equally ephemeral toys.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christian concerns about Trump


If you’re a Christian who voted for Trump, I understand your concerns — jobs, the economy, health care, national security, frustration with the political status quo. What I don’t understand is your heart. All factors considered, were Trump’s calls for massive deportation of immigrants, along with his anti-Semitic dog whistling, racist commentary, documented history of misogyny and his mocking of the vulnerable, worth overlooking in favor of his shaky promises to make things better in your world? If, as Christians, we’re supposed to love our neighbor, a vote for Trump seems a little suspect. Am I wrong? If so, tell me how.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

If Christianity is debunked, why keep debunking it?

From atheist Taylor Carr. Here. 

At the risk of further infuriating some of my critics, I'll end with something I've been wondering for a while - which I genuinely do not intend to be mean-spirited. John Loftus is obviously very proud of his three master's degrees in philosophy of religion. He has brought them up in several posts, in discussions on Facebook, and elsewhere, often to imply that he is qualified to discuss philosophy of religion, while those of us poor young students who haven't earned our degrees yet are not. Normally, I don't bother with petty quibbles over credentials unless there is actually a legitimate appeal to authority to be made. The problem here is that John Loftus quite clearly thinks the field from which he earned his degrees is an illegitimate field. To be frank, he got his three master's, from two Christian universities, in a discipline that his friend Jerry Coyne has referred to as "garbage". So, in all sincerity, I'm left wondering why John Loftus doesn't seem to accept that his degrees are in nonsense. I don't believe that they are, but if philosophy of religion is truly dead, and we should all stop "god-bothering", as James Lindsay calls it, why continue to run a blog like Debunking Christianity, or write books like Christianity is Not Great? You might argue that you're doing your part to bring others into that realization, but why not lead by example?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

C. S. Lewis's Critique of Chronological Snobbery

Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my "chronological snobbery," the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also "a period," and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Concerns about assisted suicide, because it is cheaper

 If PAS is available, since people other than the patient have to pay for end-of-life care (which is expensive), wouldn't there be pressure on patients from their financial caregivers, whether family members or insurance companies, to make use of the PAS option? (We won't pay for that, can't you just kill yourself instead and make life easier on us?)