atheism

God Is Not Dead Yet | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
William Lane Craig lays out his best arguments for the existence of God.
(tags: kalam william-lane-craig christianity religion apologetics atheism philosophy)
On God and Our Ultimate Purpose
Stephen Maitzen argues that introducing a God does not solve the question of what, if anything, makes life meaningful.
(tags: god purpose stephen-maitzen maitzen atheism philosophy)
Cycle of Fear – NYTimes.com
Tim Kreider (of “The Pain, When Will It End?”) on the meditative value of fear: “When I’m balanced on two thin wheels at 30 miles an hour, gauging distance, adjusting course, making hundreds of unconscious calculations every second, that idiot chatterbox in my head is kept too busy to get a word in.”
(tags: meditation funny flow cycling anxiety)
How filthy lucre could subvert the Church of England | World news | The Guardian
“Conservative evangelical churches threaten to withhold cash from pro-gay and liberal ‘heretics'”. What fun.
(tags: andrew-brown money evangelicalism church-of-england anglicanism anglican)
Beyond Mitt’s Underwear: Part 1: Apostasy and Restoration
tongodeon did an excellent series on Mormon beliefs. This is the first part, which links to all the others. The conclusion is worth reading even if you skim the rest.
(tags: lds joseph-smith underwear mitt-romney religion mormonism mormon)
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is – Whatever
An explanation which tries to avoid those problematic identity politics jargon terms (see what I did there?)
(tags: sexuality feminism race privilege gender)

Stephen Law read a bunch of stuff by top apologist William Lane Craig and noted that Craig believes a bunch of odd things (apart from the odd things you’d already know about from Craig’s debates, I mean). There was some discussion in the comments over this one:

“Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.”

[William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), pp. 35-36.]

This is all very Biblical: Craig’s “loves darkness rather than light” is a reference to the verse following that famous verse in John 3:16: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”

As a good inerrantist, Craig apparently believes this and other passages like Romans 1 (see my old blog post about this) where the Apostle Paul writes that unbelievers are “without excuse”. Atheists know there’s a God really but don’t worship him because to do so we’d have to acknowledge how bad we are, or something. This is a culpable error, not a mistake, too.

The pathologising of non-belief based on knowing what people think better than they do is itself pathological, as Thrasymachus says, at least if it’s used to dismiss atheist arguments without engaging with them (note that Craig does not do this in debates, though he seems to do it personally, and to advocate other Christians doing it, which is bad).

In the comments, wombat suggests that the evangelical claim is that atheists are in the situation “where one accepts something intellectually but not at a more basic emotional level e.g cigarette smokers who continue in spite of acknowledging its dangers. The Christian apologists here are claiming that the “knowledge” is at that deeper visceral level.” wombat also linked to Jamie Whyte’s observation that religious believers don’t really act like they believe what they say they believe.

On that subject, there’s also Georges Rey’s “Meta-atheism: religious avowal as self-deception“, where he argues that Christians generally don’t act as if they believe what they say they believe. I’ve discussed Rey’s paper before.

There’s a folk psychology where “thoughts” are propositional sentences that occur to us, and “beliefs” are the ones we hold on to as true over time and use to guide our actions. But the way the phenomenon we call “belief” really works doesn’t seem much like that. This doesn’t just apply to religion: see The Mystery of the Haunted Rationalist.

If the evangelical claim is just to know that atheists are secretly lying, it’s bizarre, as Thrasymachus says. On the other hand, if the evangelical claim is that atheists anticipate-as-if there’s a God while avowing-as-if there isn’t, I don’t think that works. What are the things that atheists are doing which give away the fact that they are anticipating that way? And why does this make them culpable and deserving of Hell?

I don’t think the atheist version (i.e. Rey’s or Whyte’s) has the same problem, because there are plenty of examples of Christians who don’t act like there’s a God.

Over on Ask Metafilter, there’s a question about hope in a godless universe. Here’s a response I just posted (the original poster’s text is in italics):



Like where I could tell myself to turn it over to God or let things go and he will guide me and/or keep me from harm. This is so comforting to me



Suppose you “turned things over to God” or “let go and let God” in the past and things worked out. You now grasp there is no God, or at least, no God that makes any difference (gods that are identified with the good that is, in a very real sense, within us all; or with the universe; or any other gods which don’t cause you to anticipate the world being any different are gods which make no difference in this sense). But this didn’t become true at the moment you realised it, it has always been true! God did not in fact guide you or keep you from harm in the past, and you survived anyway.



What is true is already so.

Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse.

Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away.

And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with.

Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived.

People can stand what is true,

for they are already enduring it.

Eugene Gendlin



Can this feeling ever be replicated? What can I do to help guide myself through difficult times? I’ve tried to “act as if” there is a God (since I am in the camp that thinks we can never really know) but it seems empty and fraudulent.



When I was a child, I thought that my parents could make it all right and that nothing could truly harm me. It seems like your concept of God was a bit like that. Other people have suggested you can come to a kind of acceptance of the world as it is, a thread which seems common to the Buddhism and existentialism that people have been mentioning. In the real world, what hope there is must be tentative rather than sure, but I don’t see why that means there must be no hope.



There are plenty of de-conversion stories on the web where people similar feelings to yours: depending on how much you’d invested in your beliefs, it can be very unsettling to lose them. Maybe reading some of those stories would help.



But, as Gendlin says, the world is as it as always been, and you survived it before. At the end of my de-conversion story, there’s a longer quote along similar lines: there is no abyss.

How to resolve poor battery life & battery issues on Android | Ken’s Tech Tips
There’s an app for that.
(tags: battery android)
Cognitive Biases – A Visual Study Guide
Presentation on cognitive biases.
(tags: cognitive brain bias psychology)
Banned from the buses
mattghg is the source of my bus farrago links, so here’s a link to his post, where he argues that ex-gay therapy might work and that there are free speech concerns with Boris banning the ads.
(tags: mattghg ex-gay adverts advertising bus religion homosexuality)
Spitzer Retracts his 2001 Paper – Kind Of… | An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy
Peter Ould again, this time on the retraction of the main paper people quote as evidence that homosexuals can change orientation.
(tags: science ex-gay psychology homosexuality peter-ould)
Ex-Gay Adverts on London Buses | An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy
Peter Ould, who identifies as “post-gay”, has some interesting comments on the bus advertisement farrago.
(tags: ex-gay adverts bus christianity peter-ould religion homosexuality)
On Spitzer’s “Change” « Limning the Psyche
“People are asking me about Robert Spitzer’s reported desire to retract his study of 200 people who claimed to have experience change of their sexual orientation. “
(tags: homosexuality psychology)
If Atheists Talked Like Christians… (A Contest)
Reversing some popular Christian sayings. Kind of fun.
(tags: parody funny atheism christianity religion)

What Nonbelievers Believe | Psychology Today
“Common sense, not complex philosophy, often drives religious skepticism.”
(tags: belief psychology atheism science humanism religion)
Without a pack of lies to back them up, Christian claims of persecution fall flat on their face
“So these two women, again with the help of the evangelical activists who are seeking special privilege for Christians, have gone to the European Court of Human Rights claiming that the equality law is wrong and should be changed. The Government has argued that the court’s decisions were right and that the law has been correctly applied in both cases. The National Secular Society has made the same argument in an intervention in the case, the only intervener to do so.

This could hardly be more different from arguing that the Christian cross must never be seen in the workplace again, as the newspaper headlines imply.”
(tags: politics uk religion christianity)

deconversion | Black, White and Gray
Some Christian sociologists did some research into why people leave, by looking at 50 de-conversion “testimonies”. Results: intellectual problems (hell, suffering, reliability of the Bible); God’s failure to answer prayer; other Christians responding to doubt in trite or unhelpful ways. Contact with unbelievers wasn’t often cited as a cause of de-conversion.
(tags: psychology de-conversion christianity religion sociology)
I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave | Mother Jones
“My brief, backbreaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the online-shipping machine.”
(tags: economics work warehouse poverty shopping shipping online amazon)
Why Richard Dawkins is still an atheist – Guest Voices – The Washington Post
Paula Kirby on the recent “Dawkins admits he’s an agnostic!” stories following his debate with Cuddly Rowan Bear. “Religious commentators have become so excited at the thought of his conversion that I almost don’t have the heart to break it to them that he said nothing in Thursday’s discussion that he hadn’t already said six years ago in “The God Delusion””
(tags: the god delusion religion agnosticism paula-kirby richard-dawkins dawkins atheism)

What is the proper place for religion in Britain’s public life? | World news | The Observer
An exchange between Dawkins and Will Hutton. D: “That doesn’t mean religious people shouldn’t advocate their religion. So long as they are not granted privileged power to do so (which at present they are) of course they should. And the rest of us should be free to argue against them. But of all arguments out there, arguments against religion are almost uniquely branded “intolerant”. When you put a cogent and trenchant argument against the government’s economic policy, nobody would call you “intolerant” of the Tories. But when an atheist does the same against a religion, that’s intolerance. Why the double standard? Do you really want to privilege religious ideas by granting them unique immunity against reasoned argument?”
(tags: uk secularism politics religion dawkins richard-dawkins will-hutton)
The Sins of the Fathers – Richard Dawkins – RichardDawkins.net – RichardDawkins.net
Dawkins sez: “Yesterday evening I was telephoned by a reporter who announced himself as Adam Lusher from the Sunday Telegraph. At the end of a week of successfully rattling cages, I was ready for yet another smear or diversionary tactic of some kind, but in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined the surreal form this one was to take. I obviously can’t repeat what was said word-for-word (my poor recall of long strings of words has this week been highly advertised), and I may get the order of the points wrong, but this is approximately how the conversation went.” Lusher says Dawkins’s ancestors owned slaves and wonders whether D will make reparations. Bizarre and desperate.
(tags: adam-lusher slavery dawkins richard-dawkins journalism newspapers telegraph)
Stephen Law vs. William Lane Craig Debate: Argument map » » The Polemical MedicThe Polemical Medic
“there’s lots of debate over who won the Law/Craig debate. Instead of joining that, I though I’d do something niftier: I’ve mapped the whole of the debate in argument form, to give a more intuitive way of seeing how all the arguments and objections interact”. This is excellent stuff.
(tags: religion theodicy philosophy christianity atheism debate william-lane-craig stephen-law)
Evangelism, disbelief, and being ‘without excuse’ » » The Polemical MedicThe Polemical Medic
“Christians who indulge in evangelism and apologetics often hold to a thesis of disbelief as epistemic pathology – that disbelief is the result of some culpable error of judgment. Such an attitude is a poor fit for the facts and counter productive to the cause of evangelism. Ironically, the urge of these people to pathologize disagreement is diagnostic of their own epistemic pathology.” I’ve mentioned this attitude (inspired by Romans 1) before: Thrasymachus neatly dissects it.
(tags: philosophy epistemology christianity religion apologetics evangelicalism evangelism)

Hegemonic Heterosexuality
“hegemonic heterosexuality is the vast cultural conspiracy to describe all heterosexual relationships as the unending war between stupid people and crazy people.” Good observation of the view of the world promoted by TV and film. Via auntysarah.
(tags: psychology relationships sex)
The Apologist’s Turnstile
“the idea that no particular level of knowledge is needed to assent to a religion, but an impossibly, unattainably high level of knowledge and expertise is needed to deny it. In the minds of many believers, the entrance to their religion is like a subway turnstile: a barrier that only allows people to pass through in one direction.”
(tags: apologist epistemology religion atheism)
Cancer is just as deadly as it was 50 years ago. Here’s why that’s about to change.
“We spoke to cancer experts to find out why the death rate from cancer hasn’t changed in the past 50 years — and we learned how genetic therapies could transform cancer treatments tomorrow.”
(tags: medicine biology science genetics cancer)
How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism – Maarten Boudry
“In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science. (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative.”
(tags: creationism intelligent-design religion science naturalism philosophy)

Unexpurgated atheist FAQ

At last, it can be told! Via andrewducker.
(tags: faq funny religion atheism parody)

synecdochic: the Megaupload indictment, in detail; or, a crash course in the DMCA and why they’re totally fucked

Why Megaupload are doomed, and some interesting stuff about the DMCA. Via andrewducker.
(tags: internet law DMCA copyright megaupload)

YCRFS 9: Kill Hollywood

“Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.” Y Combinator requests that startups come up with ways to kill Hollywood.
(tags: internet startups technology sopa hollywood ycombinator)

A Positive Account of Property Rights

Vladmir M on Lesswrong linked to this as a good explanation of what Schelling points are. It’s also an interesting theory about how property rights could arise out of a Hobbesian state of nature, although I’m not familiar enough with the literature to know whether that part of it makes any obvious errors.
(tags: game theory philosophy Hobbes Schelling politics Friedman economics)

Alex Gabriel // LSE’s student union copy UCL’s

More on the LSE nonsense: “Essentially, a large of group of Muslim students felt offended that there were pictures of Mohammed on the facebook group. As a result, they felt that our facebook group was no longer a ‘safe space’ for Muslims.” Alex Gabriel points out that the Facebook group in question is a closed one, and certainly not what you’d expect to be a “safe space” for Muslims. It would certainly be crass for a student atheist group to put that cartoon on posters, say, but complaining about a closed Facebook group is just whining for the sake of it.
(tags: lse university freedom religion politics islam)

LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society say giving offence is no crime

More student unions and offended Muslims vs atheists, this time at LSE. “Ms Bartle commented, ‘There has been too much conflation recently of being offended and being intimidated, with the implication being that they are equivalent. Such an assumption is a potential threat to free speech and free debate, and we are concerned to address this underlying problem in the long term.’”

This time, it’s about the LSE atheists putting a cartoon on their Facebook page. Again, why are the Muslims looking at it? Very strange.

Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in America : The New Yorker

Astonishing (and worrying that it’s apparently so easy for British people to be extradited to the US).
(tags: america law crime politics prison)

The New French Hacker-Artist Underground | Magazine

“There is no law in France, it turns out, against the improvement of clocks.” Fascinating stuff. Via mefi.
(tags: restoration tunnels underground activism france paris pantheon)