Friday, March 31, 2023

Arizona School Board ends contract with anti-LGBTQ Christian college

 Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, defends the Washington School District for ending its student teacher contract with Arizona Christian University. It isn't because ACU is Christian, it's because it affirmation of traditional marriage is "bigoted," diversity and inclusion is, he thinks, consistent with excluding such "bigots."

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Indiviidual Race Theory

 I think one way of posing the issue on race is to ask, not whether critical race theory is true, but whether individual race theory is true. IRT is a claim that racism is something that occurs in, and only in, individuals. There is nothing systemic about it. Thus, if a racist cop in Minneapolis kills a black man in a chokehold, he's an individual bad apple, not a symptom of a deeper problem. In the words of the prophet Brian, we're all individuals. So, if I stop using the n-word, if I associate with black people just as readily as I associate with white people, if I don't support segregation, if I see slavery and Jim Crow as part of a regrettable past, if I learn to stop seeing color, then I am free of racism and I'm fine and dandy. It seems that ant-anti-racism pushes this narrative. Tom Horne, the AZ school superintendent, is very explicit about it. Now even if CRT goes off the deep end in some ways, I think they are right in criticizing IRT.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Left on abortion

 This is where the left has gone on abortion, and pro-abortion extremism is toxic. 

They are so afraid of people who get abortions being "stigmatized" that they stigmatize people who disapprove of abortion, or refuse to get them in the face of pregnancy difficulties. Newsflash: Being disapproved of is a part of life, and abortion is a serious moral issue.


Friday, March 17, 2023

Tucker vs.Trump

 Tucker vs. Trump

–Tucker Carlson, Jan. 4, 2021
–Tucker Carlson, Jan. 4, 2021
–Tucker Carlson, Nov. 6, 2020

But of course none of this was never aired on FOX News.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Faulty Epistemology

 I remember a few years back there was going to be a debate at the Oregon State Socratic Club about the legitimacy of transgendering. The transgender community objected to the debate not because their pro-trans perspective was being challenged, but because the defender of the transgender community was cisgender (sound of fingernails on blackboard) and therefore could not represent the lived experience of the trans community.

This seems a faulty epistemology--that only people who experience something can know about it.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Friday, March 03, 2023

C. S. Lewis anticipated Thomas Nagel


Sad News: The passing of Starhopper

 Bob was a friend I knew as an undergraduate at ASU. I met him in a History of Middle Ages class, back in 1973. He, along with his friend Joe Sheffer, helped me gain an appreciation for Catholicism and navigate my way to developing an orthodox Christianity while avoiding fundamentalism. He was a big Lewis fan and a science fiction buff. We used to play something called the World Conquest Game, which was an expanded version of Risk. 

Here is the obituary. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

I'm right, and everyone else is wrong. Awfully arrogant of me to say that????

 Presumably you should try to pick a religion where there is good reason to believe that its claims are true. If you think you religion is true, then you think that, to the extent that others differ from you, they are mistaken. But you don't get away from that by rejecting religion. If you think religious nonbelief is true, then you think that, say, atheism is true and that theists are wrong, and so with that you can use that as a basis for thinking yourself better than others. So everyone, believer and unbeliever, thinks that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

From my facebook feed--just for fun


Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Godelian argument against mechanism


Which Godel himself seems to have endorsed. 


Monday, February 13, 2023

Elections and the Burden of Proof

  I think the innocent until proven guilty rule has to apply to elections as well as to criminal cases. If, in order to be elected, you have to prove that there was no fraud, you could never elect anybody. Besides, stealing an election is a criminal offense. The expedient of locking someone up requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I think the expedient of overturning an election result requires a similar degree of proof. Trump and those like him think that it's OK to overturn elections because partisan officials assert, or even believe there was fraud. It doesn't work that way, and it shouldn't. None of the evidence provided in the case of the Arizona governor's race, or in the 2020 Presidential election, rises even to the level of a preponderance of the evidence (what is needed in a civil case), much less beyond reasonable doubt. You can't just scream FRAUD at the top of your lungs and float theories about Venezuelan voting machine software in order to get an election overturned. If that were true, then all Hillary would have needed to do would have been to make claims about Russian interference and she could get the 2016 election overturned. Without a high burden of proof for election fraud claims, chaos would result.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Are religious motives for good conduct mercenary?

 But religious motives for good conduct are not all mercenary.

“We are afraid that Heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that the mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man's love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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?