Friday, July 31, 2009

A response to some comments about the previous post from Triablogue

Oh good Lord. I posed a simple question. I did not advocate the Obama plan, or oppose it. I pointed out that there were some things which were "socialized" and some things which were not socialized, and asked whether health care is something that should be socialized or not socialized. That's it. That's all I said.

It does reflect one thing, and that is that when you look at something and ask whether government should try to provide it or whether it should be provided privately, it's a case by case decision. A simple "capitalism good, socialism bad," or the reverse, won't do the job, unless you are a thoroughgoing, consistent libertarian, or a complete Communist. I mean, is there anyone out there that wants to privatize the military? Besides the CEO of Blackwater?

Vallicella offers some reasons why health care should remain privatized, or rather, why the step in the direction of socialization that has been proposed by the Obama administration is not a good one. However, his post and mine are not parallel to one another. He advocated something, I asked a question, and behind that question are a few observations about the nature of the debate. Only by reading a whole bunch of things in to my statements do you get anything like a basis for the kind of comment you made. I respect Bill's points, and may at some point raise some questions about his post.

I might add that the Democratic proposals have been criticized on the left because they don't replace the insurance companies with a single payer program.

OK, you guys know my political affiliation, but not everything I write is intended as advocacy. My job as a philosopher is sometimes to ask questions, rather than to answer them. In fact, I wrote that as a response to a student's paper proposal to give that student a way of thinking about the issue, and then thought it would be a good blog entry. I do that a lot, actually. Remember that guy Socrates? Oh yeah, he was a charlatan, too. That's why he had to drink hemlock.

But notice two things that happened here. One is that you resorted to name-calling and personal attack. The other is, apparently, you read a huge amount into my statements that are simply not there. This is a serious problem that I have with this blog. It's kind of tough to take you guys seriously when it comes to exegesis, when your interpretation of my statements is nothing but eisegesis.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Health care, cars, and your local fire department

Is health care something like a car, which most of us think we can have only if we can afford one, or like having a fire department available to put a fire out if your house in burning down, which is and, we think should be paid for by the government.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rape and culture

In many parts of Africa, being raped is blamed on the woman. In this news story, a 8-year-old was attacked in West Phoenix by fellow Liberian refugees, and now the parents are shunning her for bringing shame upon the family. If morality is relative to culture, then this is OK. Or maybe it's not OK, because these people have come to America?

On debating Calvinism

I would have to admit that the Calvinists on Triablogue come across as angry, belligerent, and obnoxious. Everyone I know who has disputed with them has complained about their discussion tactics. That doesn't mean that you can't learn a great deal from them, or that they have nothing of interest to say. I would have to admit that I might treat a defender of infanticide who avoids the ad hominem better than a Calvinist who shifts from talking about my positions to talking about me. I have a different philosophy of dialogue from them, which makes it difficult for me to discuss this issue with them with much of any enjoyment.

Birch's post mentions their "rules of engagement" in which they justify the use of harsh and judgmental language, even against those claiming to be Christians. In defense of this they might point out that John Wesley's famous sermon Free Grace is loaded with emotional charges and polemical salvoes.

There is a difference, however. Wesley reserves his harsh language for Calvinism, not for Calvinists.
The Triabloggers attack persons as well as doctrines. But I am not saying that all the ad hominems are on one side of this issue. Nor do I think all Calvinists are like the Triabloggers.

Why is there so much anger in the debate about Calvinism? One is the passion-inducing nature of the controversy. Each side thinks that the other is denigrating God by taking the position that they do. Calvinists think that Arminians are turning God into a wimp, and Arminians think that Calvinists are replacing a loving God with an arbitrary tyrant who does what he wants to because he can. Calvinists further think that Arminians are undercutting the authority of Scripture, although Arminians think that their reading rightly divides the word of truth.

Perhaps contrary to what Birch thinks, we don't need any more psychology than this. You do have to show that someone is wrong before you show how (psychologically) they came to be wrong. C. S. Lewis's rule, you know.

The important question, which Birch raises, is how we go about not being angry Calvinists or angry Arminians. In the course of the discussion the other side does say things that tick us off. I think the way we do it is we avoid ad hominem arguments and misrepresentations. That takes work in this controversy, just as it takes in the controversy surrounding atheism.

Whenever the discussion shifts from a position to the people who hold position, the chance of real intellectual progress is pretty much lost.

Arminianism and tough love

The idea that the God of Arminianism is some sort of "bro", whose love is essentially a soft "wuv" is patently silly.
For Arminianism, and even for Evangelical Universalism, the love of God is very tough and can include the infliction of plenty of suffering on those being loved.

There are three central claims that have to be emphasized. First, God's love will not be satisfied with man's sinful condition and it is that very love that will get in our faces so long as we rebel. That is tough love, not soft love. Read The Problem of Pain by Lewis and ask yourself if the God protrayed there is a "cool, hip, and relevant dude."

Second, you can't have love unless the one who loves prefers reformation to continued punishment, and aims that punishment at the reformation of transformation of persons. If all I want for some person is for them to be punished, I don't love that person. This is compatible with the possibility that persons will continue to rebel and God will continue to get in their faces for all eternity. It's just that, if it were up to God, God would bring it about that the person repent.

Third, God's love is directed toward all persons. If "God loves the world" doesn't mean God loves every person, it means God loves every lost person. The reduction of "all" or "the world" to the elect seems simply contrary to intent of Scripture.

These three considerations rule out Calvinism. However, the God described here is not a humanized, soft, "good buddy" of the human race.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Beckwith contra Dawkins

Can Dawkins criticize someone for failing to reach their intellectual potential?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Habermas reviews Flew in Philosophia Christi

Jimmy Carter leaves the Southern Baptists

Because of that church's sexism.

On defining murder

The claim that abortion is murder is frequently made. Now if by murder you mean an act of homicide without sufficient moral justification, then the claim has some initial plausibility. Whether it's true or not depends upon the outcome of disputed issues in the abortion debate. But is there something else required? Is there an element of malice toward the person murdered that is required in the definition?

Should all homicides be prosecutable if they are done with insufficient moral justification?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Getting away with murder

Is there anything more than intuition in support of the idea that you cannot hold the following two positions.

1) Abortion is murder.
2) Abortion should not be criminalized.

Most advocates of abortion laws oppose prosecuting the mothers, which means that they believe that some people should be allowed to get away with murder.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

God's plan for economics?

Acts 4

32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

What does God think of keeping what you earn? Read what happened to Ananias and Sapphira.

OK, I'm pulling your leg, but only partly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Abortion and the Deer Hunter Argument

Versions of this argument are found in Beckwith quite frequently. What do you think?

If you were out hunting, and you saw something move, and you didn't know whether it was a deer or a human person, would you fire, or refrain? If we are in doubt as to whether or not fetuses are persons, doesn't moral prudence dictate that we refrain from abortions until we get it figured out?

Do skeptics use non-rational persuasion?

Of course.

There is something pusillanimous and sniveling about this point of view, that makes me scarcely able to consider it with patience. To refuse to face facts merely because they are unpleasant is considered the mark of a weak character, except in the sphere of religion. I do not see how it can be ignoble to yield to the tyranny of fear in all terrestrial matters, but noble and virtuous to do the same things where God and the future life are concerned. Bertrand Russell, The Value of Free Thought (1944).

Now this is in defense of the "rational" position, but I mean who wants to be called pusillanimous and sniveling?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Epicurus on death

When death is not, we are, and when death is, we are not. So Epicurus argued that we should not fear death. But would that make murder a victimless crime? After all, once it is committed, the victim is no longer around.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Imposing your religion on others

It is sometimes said that religious believers attempt to impose their religious views on others, and that this is bad. What does this mean? How are they "imposing" their beliefs? With guns, knives, or weapons of mass destruction? Where is this coercion going on?

Even with Jehovah's Witness "door knocking," I don't see the coercion. I really don't.

Bad News for Evangelicals???

I did a search in Bible Gateway for the phrase "accept Christ" and found no responses. Does this mean that pleas to "accept Christ" are unbiblical?

Same thing happened with "lord and savior."

Ilion's defense of the death penalty

Ilion says that I haven't really addressed his argument for capital punishment. It looks like it goes like this.

1. Any civilized society stands in need of protection.
2. The protection of society requires the preparedness to use deadly force. An example would be if, actually happened in 1966, someone went up into the bell tower at the University of Texas and started shooting people. He had to be shot down out of the tower to protect the student and staff of the university.
3. Therefore, a systematic rejection of deadly force in the protection of society undermines the very idea of protecting society.

I think this is a good answer to a simon-pure pacifism. However, someone could argue as follows.

1. The use of deadly force should be used only as a last resort.
2. In the case of captured criminals, deadly force is never a last resort. It is always possible to lock these people up and throw away the key.
3. Therefore, the need to protect society may require the preparedness to kill in some cases, but does not require the preparedness to execute.

It could further be argued that if we have the capacity to imprison for life, this is preferable, because of the possibility that always exists that exculpatory evidence may subsequently emerge.

C. S. Lewis's critique of the raw divine command theory

I asked what refutation might be available for what I called the raw divine command theory. This critique, for Lewis's A Grief Observed, is the closest I've seen to a refutation.

And so what? This, for all practical (and speculative) purposes
sponges God off the slate. The word good, as applied to him, becomes
meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him.
Not even fear. It is true that we have His threats and promises. But why
should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view “good,”
telling lies may be “good” too. Even if they are true, what then? If His
ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls “Heaven”
might well be what we should call Hell, and vice versa. Finally, if reality
at its very root is so meaningless to us—or, putting it the other way
round, if we are such total imbeciles—what is the point of trying to
think either about God or about anything else? The knot comes undone
when you try to pull it tight.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Abortion: The Only Truly Infallible Method of Evangelism?

According to some theologies, killing someone in infancy guarantees their eternal salvation. On the other hand, if the kid grows up, he might reach the age of accountability and refuse God's saving grace, which means they will be lost. Is this an argument for abortion and infanticide, on the grounds that it is the only truly foolproof method of evangelism available???

The rebuttal to this argument is often that humans shouldn't play God. But what does that do to the argument above that a good God would not order the death of the Amalekite children? You can't criticize God for playing God.

I would just point out that it could turn out that God's having people killed may give the people who are killed the best chance of salvation. If there is an eternal life, then it may be that God is aware of eternal consequences that humans are not. Of course, on the thesis that "a tree lies as it falls," the Amalekite adults would be ushered immediately into eternal damnation.

I do think the Amalekite case, and cases like it, are somewhat more complex than ordinary human cases of genocide or infanticide.

Also, we ought to reflect a little bit on the phrase "human beings shouldn't play God." Should a thoroughgoing utilitarian who believes in God be deterred by this argument?

The Raw, Naked, Divine Command Theory

Here is a moral theory.

Good = In accordance with the will of the most powerful being.

Why is infanticide wrong for humans? Because the most powerful being forbids it.

Why is the infanticide of the Amalekites justified? Because the most powerful being commanded it.

Why is God justified in predestining people for hell? Because he is the most powerful being.

Why are humans not justified in making the lives of others a living hell? Because the most powerful being has commanded them not to do it.

I find this position morally repugnant, of course. But is there an actual refutation available?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bill Craig still wants to debate Dawkins

I find WLC-style debates do have some limits with respect to scholarly discussion, though they are entertaining. The best reason for someone not to debate Craig would be that one's work is to scholarly and complex to present in a debate format. Dawkins doesn't have this excuse.

Is oil a good enough reason to start a war?

Is it morally acceptable to start a war in order to further one's country's economic instance. Whenever I ask "Why Iraq and not Darfur" the answer keeps coming up "Black Gold. Texas Tea." I'm starting to hear commentators defend this motivation, as opposed to denying it.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Do child sponsorship appeals commit the fallacy of the appeal to pity?

You can actually overdo it by identifying things that look like fallacies but really aren't fallacies.

Let's take the appeal to pity, for example, and take those shows that they have on late night television of starving kids who need a sponsor through the Christian Children's Fund. Because it is never pretended that this children merit assistance, but only that the need assistance, there is no appeal to pity. In order to appeal to pity to be a fallacy, there has to be a question of merit that is initially presented, and then resolved by an appeal to pity.

One of my favorite things in the movie About Schmidt was Jack Nicholson's letters to his sponsored child, Ndugu.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Bruce Russell reviews Erik Wielenberg's God and the Reach of Reason

The book is in interesting and valuable treatment of the arguments of Lewis, Hume, and Russell, mostly Lewis. It does offer a response to one of the lines of argument in the AFR, and just says that Wielenberg has answered another.

I think there are plenty of difficulties in the idea that intentional mental states (or to be more specific, propositional attitudes), can evolve from non-intentional states, so long as we insist that they physical is mechanistic and closed, and that any mental state would have to supervene necessarily on the physical states. What that would mean would be that there is a set of truths at the non-intentional level that entails some truth at the intentional level. I don't think such entailments are even logically possible. Pile up the non-intentional truths as high as the ceiling, and they won't entail an intentional truth (S believes that p), necessarily. It will always be possible for the intentional state not to exist, or that multiple possible intentional states are logically consistent with the state of the physical. (For example, a world physically identical to this one could be populated with zombies). Given this, if we are in particular intentional states such as S believes that P, then there is something other than the physical that makes it the case that I am in this mental state as opposed to that one, or as opposed to no mental state whatsoever.

Russell offers an analysis of Lewis's argument that goes like this.

If S knows that P

1) S believes p

2) The complete cause of S's belief that P is the truth of p itself.

Hence if I believe that 2 + 2 = 4, in order to know that 2 + 2 = 4, the cause of my belief that 2 + 2 = 4 is the fact that 2 + 2 = 4, and that would be impossible given naturalism.

However, says Russell, I know I will be dead onon Jan. 1, 2100, but the truth of that belief is a future state, and can't cause me to believe that this, so on this theory of knowledge, I can't know that 2 + 2 = 4. Therefore the theory of knowledge is flawed, and hence the Lewisian AFR on which the argument is based is also flawed.

However, the case of my being dead in 92 years, the knowledge is not known directly, but is a conclusion of a principle of past-future resemblance (which Lewis actually thinks is rationally justified on a theistic world-view but not on a naturalistic one), plus evidence we have concerning human lifespans in our collective experience. Clearly some corrections and/or clarifications need to be done on Lewis's "An act of knowing thus solely determined by what is known," which Russell is surely referencing. Nevertheless, the fact that we live in a world that renders is likely that we will die before the age of 150 seems to be evident to us, and a bridge to the future fact seems possible if we grant the naturalist the resemblance principle. But how do we get a bridge from ourselves as physical beings to the fact that 2 + 2 = 4, of that arguments of the form "modus ponens" are valid.

So I don't think the objections to the AFR work that are found in this review.

I am glad to see Wielenberg's book getting some attention.

Can false beliefs be helpful?

Can false beliefs help us sometimes? If your goal is to pick up as many girls as possible (not a goal I endorse by any means), doesn't the belief that you are irresistible make you more likely to succeed, even though it's wishful thinking?

This may have some relevance to the EAAN.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A possible utilitarian reply to Nozick's Ultimate Pleasure Machine objection to utilitarianism

A utilitarian might reply that most people who aim at pleasure aim at their own pleasure. But when we aim at everyone's pleasure instead of just our own, we don't find the unfulfilling situation that we find with the "ultimate pleasure machine."

I have linked to a discussion of the Ultimate Pleasure Machine on Free Cognition.

C. S. Lewis and Philosophy as a Way of Life

This is a new book by Adam Barkman.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Strait answer to Richard Dawkins

"In January 2006 I presented a two-part television documentry on British Television (channel 4) called the Root of All Evil? From the start I didn't like this title. Religion is not the rood of all evil, for no one thing is the root of all anything. But I was delighted with the advertisement that Channel Four put in the national newspapers. It was a picture of the Manhattan skyline with the cation 'Imagine a world without religion.' What was the connection? The twin towers of the World Trade Center were conspicuously present.

Imagine, with John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian Partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of the Jews as 'Christ-killers', no Northern Ireland 'troubles', no 'honor killings', no shiny suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money ('God wants you to give til it hurts'). Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin for the crime of showing an inch of it. Incidentally, my colleague Desmond Morris informs me that John Lennon's magnificent song is sometimes performed in America with the phrase 'and no religion too' expurgated. One version even has the effrontery to change it to 'and one religion too.' "

All in all, wouldn't it be wonderful when you no longer had to worry about how safe it is to board a flight going to the states, or stand in the customs lines while you get searched for said flight? Wouldn't it be beautiful not to worry everytime you step onto a bus or train in London? Or go to work in New York? Or even visit Bali?

My answer is once again the same. A little George Strait is the perfect answer to Lennon, or Dawkins.

if you'll buy that
I got some oceanfront property in Arizona
From my front porch you can see the sea
I got some oceanfront property in Arizona
If you'll buy that I'll throw the Golden Gate in free

You think Christians are credulous???

I am linking to a YouTube video of the Richard Dawkins theme song.

A Christian defense of capital punishment

By Kerby Anderson.

Two obvious problems. First, Anderson thinks that because the Old Testament law teaches that the penalty for murder ought to be death, that this is part of God's moral law (as opposed to the ceremonial law) and should be carried forward into modern society. However, there are lots of other stoning offenses in the Bible (adultery, homosexual activity, and my favorite, disrespecting your parents). I don't see Anderson saying that the penalty for these offenses should be carried forward into modern society.

Second, Jesus stopped an execution. Should we accept Jesus' criterion for who should participate in an execution? If so, we can have the death penalty on the books but are going to be hard pressed to find anyone to perform the executions, since the last sinless person who walked the earth ascended into heaven nearly two milennia ago.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

From David Yount's website: Three charts of arguments for and against the war in Iraq

David Yount is a philosopher at Mesa Community College. A redated post.

Is it really against reason?

Is it really against reason to say, "I will do what is good for me, and what happens other people does not matter. Kant thinks I have to be willing to universalize my principles. Why? I'm not other people. Of course, let other fools be ethical. I will do what I have to do for me.

Religion and violence

I looked at some dialogue I had in March of 2008 about Dawkins and his child abuse claims, and I claimed at that time that those claims were irresponsible and a potential threat to the separation of church and state. Dawkins said he thought that teaching a child the doctrine of everlasting punishment was worse abuse than sexually abusing the child. We use force to prevent child sexual abuse, so even if Dawkins doesn't advocate the forcible removal of children from religious parents, the road in that direction is already marked out in what he says.

There is an intellectual path that leads from religious belief to religious persecution. There is an intellectual path that leads from atheism to religious persecution. The child abuse talk on the part of Dawkins takes us part of the way.

One step in the direction of persecution, either religious or anti-religious, involves something that I think is true, namely, that ideas have consequences and they do matter. We can remove the temptation to persecute on behalf of our beliefs by adopting a "Can't we all just get along" kind of intellectual relativism, but the price is, in my estimation, just too steep.

Christians have by and large rejected the idea that they ought to use political power to inculcate their beliefs, so the "religion leads to violence" concept is not borne out by at least the last couple hundred years of history. That is because Christians have decided that the right to impose their sectarian beliefs on others isn't worth risking the possibility of being persecuted for one's own beliefs.

The fact that Billy Graham might think it likely that Richard Dawkins will suffer in hell forever for his atheism, while Dawkins doesn't think that Graham will roast for his religious faith doesn't mean that Graham is a better candidate to persecute than Dawkins is.

Religion doesn't lead to violence. A willingness to use the powers of the state to enforce religious or non-religious conformity is what leads to violence. Political power carries with it temptations. Christians have a track record in dealing with those temptations. It has some bad patches in it, but by and large Christians aren't going down that road. Do atheists have a track record? No, unless the Communists count. If they do, the record is bad, if they don't, then atheists are untested when it comes to not persecuting when possessing sufficient political power to do so.

Would you take The Ring if you thought you could make things so much better by so doing?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Christian environmentalist organization

Called care of creation.

Hallquist on religious persecution

I had indicated, in a previous post, the kinds of considerations that might lead a believer in, say, Christianity, to use force in the promotion of his own beliefs. I had given the following argument as to why they might think this way.

1) Our beliefs are true, and others are false.
2) Whether you accept our beliefs or not determines whether you go to heaven or to hell.
3) The people who promulgate these other religions are putting other people's souls in danger.
4) Even if we have to forcibly stop them from doing so, we can prevent them from leading other people on the road to hell.
5) Therefore, the use of force in the name of religion is justified.

Chris Hallquist has responded, suggesting that assuming Christianity and some biblical assumptions, this line of arguments provides a good reason for using force to promote Christianity. I had maintained that there were gaps in the argument, but Chris thinks those gaps can be easily filled. Hence, he maintains, people like Sam Harris are right in supposing the religion leads to violence.

First, I would begin by saying that Christians have gone far enough down this road to see that they don't want to go there anymore. In the present day, we don't see persecution in the name of Christ, or not a whole lot of it. (The disputes in Northern Ireland are political first and religious second). But we did have the 30 Years War in which Protestants and Catholics decimated 1/3 of the population of Europe. This is largely because religious groups have gradually come to accept the secularization of government. The bitter lessons of history have made Christians think twice about the kind of reason that leads to the use of force to promote their beliefs. This history is why I, for one, am a pretty thorough church-state separationist who gets nervous when people like Falwell and Dobson look to state to support their religious values. Even though there have been persecutions since the Thirty Years War, the trend has been away from the use of force on behalf of faith.

Remember, Christianity was founded when it had no political power and it survived for nearly three centuries before it got any political power. Islam is another story, since it's inception was political, and it does seem essential to Islam that it have the aspiration to rule.

Second, many Christians that I know are inclusivists and universalists, not exclusivists. I know that there is a biblical argument to be made for exclusivism, as Chris mentions, but many Christians don't accept that argument. I am not an exclusivist myself.

Third, if we say religion causes violence, presumably the violence would be removed if religion were removed. Of course atheists affirm 1 in the above argument just as vehemently as Christians do. They think they are right and we theists are wrong. Of course, atheists do not believe in hell. However, it would be naive to suppose that there is no equivalent to hell in the atheist ideology. To be able to say, with John Lennon, that if we had "no religion" we would have "nothing to kill or die for, a brotherhood of man," one would have to smoke as much pot and drop as much acid as John did. To people like Dawkins and Harris, religious belief is delusional and insane, and impedes the progress of science and the human race in general. My commentator mattghg's equivalent argument is relevant here:

1) Atheism is true, and so obviously so that religious believers must be insane.
2) Insane people can do outrageous things.
3) The people who promulgate belief in God are putting other people's sanity in danger.
4) Even if we have to forcibly stop them from doing so, we can prevent them from leading other people on the road to insanity, and hence possibly outrageous actions.
5) Therefore, the use of force in the name of suppressing religion is justified.

We already get Dawkins saying that raising children to believe in supernatural beings is to abuse them. He doesn't just say the sensible thing that you could say here, which is that religious upbringing can be abusive if the doctrine of everlasting punishment is used as a tool for control. He says that all religous teaching of children is abusive. Now he doesn't say that the forcible removal of children from religious homes is justified, but most of us think that Child Protective Services is doing its job if it removes a child from an abusive home. Dawkins and Torquemada agree that one's beliefs about religion matter profoundly to the well-being of human beings. Taking one's children away forcibly to prevent Christian parents from teaching them their faith is anti-religious persecution.

Have atheists shown that, put in the seats of political power will all the tendency to corrupt that political power provides, that they would wield that political power in a way that respects the beliefs of all and doesn't force unbelief down anybody's throat? Well, there were atheistic governments in Russia, China, Cuba, and throughout Eastern Europe. Oh right, those were communists, and communism is really a religion. They weren't true humanists. So I suppose it is also a telling point to say that the so-called "Christians" who did much of the persecuting in history were Catholics, and that I am not a Catholic? Didn't think so.

I suppose one could be escape the possible temptation to persecute by being a thoroughgoing relativist. But that kind of position is just incoherent. No, the way out of this problem is not to enlist political power to promulgate one's world-view, whether that world-view is religious or secular.

It is quite true that Christian history has had some bad chapters in it. But we have for the most part learned our lesson. If the New Atheists acquire political power, would they learn the same lesson or would they think themselves immune, since they have no religion?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A link to the eliminativism exchange

Dennett on Compatibilist Free Will

I wonder if he would agree with Dawkins' claim that blaming people for their actions is as silly as beating up Basil's car.