Sunday, February 05, 2023

Was C. S. Lewis a chicken atheist?


Christopher Hitchens on Liar, Lunatic or Lord

 The atheist writer Christopher Hitchens, on the other hand, argues that Lewis's contention is right but offers a different interpretation: in contrast to Christian moralists like Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Renan, he writes, "I am bound to say that Lewis is more honest here. Absent a direct line to the Almighty and a conviction that the last days are upon us, how is it 'moral' [...] to claim a monopoly on access to heaven, or to threaten waverers with everlasting fire, let alone to condemn fig trees and persuade devils to infest the bodies of pigs? Such a person if not divine would be a sorcerer and a fanatic."[37

  1. Hitchens, Christopher (9 July 2010). "In the Name of the Father, the Sons...". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 

Thursday, February 02, 2023

75th Anniversary of Lewis's exchange with Anscombe

 This is the 75th anniversary of Anscombe's famous paper presentation. Clearly Lewis believed 1) That Anscombe's criticism showed a serious problem with his presentation of the argument in Miracles, and 2) her criticisms did not show, as she claimed, that the naturalist is off the hook from objections to the effect that it naturalism is inconsistent the validity of reasoning. I think this is clear from Lewis's comment in his reply to Pittenger and his the short reply in the Socratuc Digest, not to mention his revision of the chapter for Fontana which appeared in 1960, twelve full years after the original exchange. The issue here isn't the popular nonsense about giving up apologetics and writing Narnia instead. The question is why, being critiqued in this way by Anscombe, and believing that the core of the argument holds nonetheless, why he didn't present a paper to the Socratic subsequently called "A Reply to Miss Anscombe's Argument that Naturalism is Not Self-Refuting." That's what I would have done, and have done in response to my critics over the years.

See the appendices here.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Free Market Fundamentalism

 A frequently held position is that the best results can be achieved by allowing the free market to operate, and attempts by government to correct it in the interest of fairness simply make matters worse instead of better. This is a very typical conservative economic philosophy. On the other hand, because of a pre-existing condition, I was never able to get health insurance until the Affordable Care Act was passed, and without insurance I would never have been able to get the surgery I needed six years ago. (I realize that what is good for me might be bad in general, but I would like to see some proof that this is the case.) Would the free market have mandated, for instance, warning labels on cigarettes, or even putting ingredient information on canned goods? This view is called "free market fundamentalism" and it doesn't seem to me to be supported by the evidence.

Is there good reason to believe this? If so, what is it?

Monday, January 16, 2023

Atheism and the Establishment Clause

 It would be very odd if our government were to make it legal to practice any religion you wanted to, so long as you practiced one, but prohibited you from lacking any religion at all. So, freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. But does freedom from religion involve more that this? If so, what?

Suppose a religious professor at a state college were to make it his goal to get as many students to believe his religion as possible. There seem to be at least some things he could do (for example, making it clear that anyone who wrote a paper in opposition to his religious beliefs would almost certainly get a failing grade), that would give the student grounds for suing based on the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
Now, suppose an atheist professor were to make it his stated goal to get as many students to become atheists as possible. Are there things he could do that would give a religious student grounds for suing based on the Establishment Clause? Or, since it's nonbelief instead of belief, that's different?

Sunday, January 08, 2023


 This is a link to the Russell-Copleston debate. What if C. S. Lewis had debated Bertrand Russell? What if Richard Dawkins had debated William Lane Craig?

Saturday, December 24, 2022

A skeptical Christmas question

 It is, I believe Christian doctrine that Jesus was born of a virgin. But in Matthew the biblical text maintains not merely that Jesus was born of a virgin, but was prophesied to be so born. 

Matthew 1: 22-23, NIV

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

This is, of course, a quote from Isaiah 7: 14. There is some controversy as to whether the Hebrew word in the prophecy really means "virgin" or "young woman." But that is not my worry about the use of this. But that is not my concern. My concern is that it looks as is Matthew has ripped the Isaiah prophecy out of its context. The context is this: Pekah the King of Israel, and Rezin the king of Syria are threatening to attack Ahaz king of Judah. Ahaz is scared, and wants to go get protection from the Assyrians. Isaiah is telling Ahaz to trust God, not Nineveh, for protection against Pekah and Rezin, and tells him to look for a sign from God. The sign is supposed to be that a virgin or young woman (however you translate it) will conceive and bear a son, showing Ahaz that God is with us (and that he doesn't have to go do business with the stinking Assyrians (not nice people, by the way) to maintain the security of Judah. 

But if that's the sign Isaiah is talking about, then the birth of Jesus, which takes place several centuries after Ahaz is dead, doesn't do the job.  Ahaz needs a sign NOW that God is with us. So how is the Isaiah verse a prophecy of Jesus? 

Monday, December 12, 2022

What does the right to an opinion amount to?

 What does it mean to have a right to a belief or an opinion. Is part of the right to your opinion the right to express your opinion? If it doesn't involve this, then what kind of a right is it? What does such a right protect you from. If I have a right to life, then I have the right to be protected from someone else's attempt to take my life. No one has the power to take my opinion away from me by force, so what does a right to an opinion amount to? 

Homosexuality and the need for approval?

 One right that I believe sometimes get neglected is the right to disapprove of someone's conduct. I'm not particularly hostile to homosexuality but I fear that people in the LGBT community equate disapproval with some sort of assault or endangerment. (Microaggression?) Does my love life need everyone's approval?