February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Just to say this blog has moved elsewhere. Hope to see you on the other side!

On becoming pro-palestinian

February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

See here

There’s lots of stuff going around about the recent leaked memos of the negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis. Much is being made of the Palestinian authority betraying their mandate to their electorate by behaving in a humiliating manner and offering far too much to the Israelis (eg. right of return, settlements, etc.)

The far bigger issue, though, is Israel’s behaviour: after being offered so much, why did they choose to walk away instead? « Read the rest of this entry »

On Outsiders and Atheism: a reply to Loftus

January 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

A while ago, I wrote a post claiming that Loftus’s brain child, the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF), was unconvincing. A little bit after that, after I started commenting more regularly on his blog, Loftus responded.

Often online discussions devolve into endless block-quotes incomprehensible to anyone but the two discussants. Therefore, I’ll instead take the opportunity to summarize the lines of argument in ascending order of importance. Many of these criticisms parallel those made by others, and I fear I may well have failed to acknowledge all of them. My apologies in advance.

To remind ourselves, the most modern incarnation of the OTF is this:

  1. Rational people in distinct geographical locations around the globe overwhelmingly adopt and defend a wide diversity of religious faiths due to their upbringing and cultural heritage. This is the religious diversity thesis.
  2. Consequently, it seems very likely that adopting one’s religious faith is not merely a matter of independent rational judgment but is causally dependent on cultural conditions to an overwhelming degree. This is the religious dependency thesis.
  3. Hence the odds are highly likely that any given adopted religious faith is false.
  4. So the best way to test one’s adopted religious faith is from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism used to evaluate other religious faiths. This expresses the OTF.
  1. Ground clearing
  2. Making OTF1-3 valid
  3. Objections
    3.1. Reductio and Atheist special pleading
    3.2. Good arguments and rude dialectics
    3.3. Epistemic privilege and the insider test for infidels
  4. Conclusion « Read the rest of this entry »

GnarlyOcelot and chatroom citation standards

December 31, 2010 § 14 Comments

GnarlyOcelot” (GO) is the handle of a Christian epologist, primarily hanging around the CARM chat room. I also go there to mis-spend my productive hours. There, Atheists and Christians cross swords about all sorts of issues, from philosophical arcana, to biological science, and to more important things besides.

A major plank of GO’s strategy in the defense of the faith is citing scholarly work. Unfortunately, the way he does so leaves much to be desired. Often he provides a battery of quotes from luminaries or a torrent of papers, but on investigation it is found that he hasn’t read the works which he is citing or quoting. Further, he often also paraphrases the research of someone else who did cite those sources. However, he does not cite this secondary source.

« Read the rest of this entry »

America: one nation pretending to be under God

December 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

The United States has always been considered unusually religious compared to the rest of the developed world. This isn’t right. The US isn’t any more religious than secular Europe: rather, it simply pretends to be.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Not “God isn’t nice”, but “God isn’t”: Misconceptions around the Problem of Evil

December 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

There is a common misconception in discussions surrounding evil and God: that when presenting the argument from evil, the conclusion sought is that God is failing to live up to his moral responsibilities – that God isn’t very nice. Yet this is nonsense: the God all standard arguments from evil have in their sights is a God who is morally perfect. It simply cannot be that this God would exist and yet do anything wrong. What the argument is trying to show is that the world with all its apparent evil could not be the the work of this morally perfect God. The conclusion is not God isn’t nice, but that God simply isn’t.

Yet this confusion is fairly common. Perhaps it is partly due to how one often discusses the argument from evil. Often God is ‘put on trial’ where various defenses for his seeming misconduct are offered and scrutinized, and this sort of trial-esque game seems to imply (like a defendant) that his character is in doubt, not his existence. Regardless, it needs to be emphasized that God is not on trial in the sense that he is being called to account for his deeds, but rather the question is whether the world-as-it-seems contradicts the idea of a being with the character and resources that God is meant to have. Not least, this distinction must be made because it is possible that some argumentative moves are licit for ‘trials’, but illicit here.

I’m sorry sir, but you’re fucking annoying

December 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

Some patients can be extraordinarily irritating. Some are easier to tolerate than others: it’s easy to put up your professional barriers towards  a patient swearing at you or who regards you as an irritation. Far harder are those that aren’t trying to annoy you – the garrulous but well-meaning patient wastes you oh-so-valuable time. « Read the rest of this entry »

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