Richard Dawkins isn’t stupid. He’s a bright spark. This makes me think that his muddle-headedness about arguments for God’s existence can’t be written off as a dullard’s inability to understand. The confusion must surely be an intentional tactic to confuse matters, giving his fans the impression that arguments for God’s existence are just a bit of a mess. The (possibly kinder) alternative is that Dawkins exhibits an inexcusable laziness and hubris, pontificating about arguments that he has never taken the time to understand because he just knows that religious beliefs are a load of nonsense.
At a public event to discuss his recent book about himself this month, Dr Dawkins was asked what he considers to be the best argument for God’s existence. Naturally, he prefaced his answer with a reminder that he doesn’t believe in God or that there are any good arguments for God’s existence. But if pressed for the best argument out there, here is what he says:
Continue reading “Dawkins Still Doesn’t Get Arguments for God”
Once upon a time, in a free country, a private organisation that loves the Bible encouraged private individuals to take their own Bibles to school for their own use in free time, because they love the Bible and because they wanted to remind people that this is allowed.
It wasn’t long before word spread of this decree, and the American Humanist Association asked its friends what they thought of it. This is what the American Humanist Association says about itself:
The mission of the American Humanist Association is to advance humanism, an ethical and life-affirming philosophy free of belief in any gods and other supernatural forces. Advocating for equality for nontheists and a society guided by reason, empathy, and our growing knowledge of the world, the AHA promotes a worldview that encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good. [Emphasis added]
They aren’t old fashioned humanists, the AHA. Old fashioned humanists believed in silly things like God. Isn’t that funny? No, these are modern, clever humanists. It’s fun to call this group AHA, because “Ahaa!” is the sound you make when you’ve had a clever idea. The AHA’s friends are all very, very clever, which is why this is such a good name. Don’t you agree?
This is what the AHA asked its friends: Continue reading “A story of reason, science, bookburning and wiping bottoms”
Are you a humanist? A lot of Evangelical Christians might hear that question and immediately say no, as though the idea is just unthinkable. Have another look.
This is the first of what may be many short videos, comparable to the “Nuts and Bolts” blogs. I’m interested in seeing how they are received.
Is the internet really a benevolent playground of truth about religion?
Some people read conspiracy theory websites and magazines. In fact, I’d wager that more people than ever before read them. As a result, more people than ever before believe ridiculous conspiracy theories. Although I have no desire to see people forced to stop reading such trash, I really wish they would. The fact that more such theories are available now than ever before does not increase the likelihood that people who read this material are going to stumble onto a true theory. It just means that there is more nonsense to choose from, leading to paranoid, sometimes hysterically funny, and often sad, unscientific and damaging beliefs and practices. I have little sympathy for anyone who would reply by saying something like “Dude, you’re just threatened. The truth is out there and now that it’s out there, you can’t stop people finding out.”
I suspect that my perspective on the proliferation of conspiracy theory websites and magazines is shared by most people. At least I hope it is. Such material gives a platform to views that frankly do not deserve it.
Josh McDowell is concerned about the proliferation of comments of a different sort on the internet.
Continue reading “Scepticism about Online Scepticism”
A number of people are linking to and commenting about a recent story over at Hemant Mehta’s blog, Friendly Atheist, about “The Atheist Daughter of a Notable Christian Apologist.” The apologist is Matt Slick, and the atheist is his daughter Rachael. Essentially, the article is her relatively short life story about growing up with Matt as her Dad, how he taught her what theological terms means and all about the importance of critical thinking, and how she lost her faith after leaving her parents’ home and she no longer speaks to her Dad. This is either going to be an intellectually riveting insight, or it’s going to be an intellectually vapid, classless capitalisation on someone’s family tree and a broken relationship with one of the “bad guys.” Guess which it turned out to be. Continue reading “How to exploit a family falling out for the sake of ideology”
Are religious people on the whole more likely to be mentally ill?
We live in a world where people form strong opinions (or rather, are happy to see their already strong opinions/biases reinforced) by browsing headlines. So when people see the (still fairly recent) headline, “Spiritual people are more likely to be mentally ill,” you can guess what prejudices will be reinforced. “Religion is a symptom of an unwell mind!” Or maybe “Religion is so crazy that it makes those who believe in it go mad!” Whatever the specifics, the point is, religion equals nutso.
Here, as with many misunderstandings, the solution is simply taking a few minutes to read and digest the information before leaping to conclusions. Continue reading “Religion and Mental Health”
At the request of a couple of listeners, this episode is a response to the documentary: Zeitgeist.
As I promised in the episode, here are a few links.
First, a link to some astronomical illustrations: http://www.tracer345.org/zeitgeist.html
And here are the links to my three part blog series on evidence for the historical Jesus outside the New Testament, as promised:
You might also find it helpful to check out my previous blogs on copycat theories about the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Some arguments are like mosquitoes. They get slapped and well and truly squashed – unambiguously defeated in plain sight for all to see, obviously crushed. The smeared body is witnessed. But then as soon as you try to relax again, that familiar whining sound fades in again. You think, Didn’t I just squash you? Yes you did, and it’s back.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, objections to divine command theories of ethics are a good example of arguments like this. But they’re not alone. Another is the Lottery Fallacy Fallacy. I know, calling something a “fallacy” is a bit of a rhetorical device, but I use the term because the argument that I want to rebut – again – is one that trades on using that word for rhetorical effect, so my use of the word twice must surely double the effect! Continue reading “The Lottery Fallacy Fallacy”
So-called new atheist Sam Harris maintains that moral values are really scientific facts, and that they have no connection to God (indeed, God does not exist, thinks Harris).
Episode 35 is an analysis of a recent talk given by Harris gave on science and human values. The talk was part of a TED conference, and you can see it here. Here I offer an explanation of how I think he has failed. In brief, I think his entire presentation is an exercise in circular reasoning.
Harris has a new book on the subject, The Moral Landscape, which is to be released later this year.
Should we reject Christianity because of the harmful deeds done in its name? Some have said so. This episode explains what is wrong with that line of reasoning.