March 13, 2013
Quote of the Day: Enns on Religious Fear of Evolution
At present there is a lot of fear about the implications of bringing evolution and Christianity together, and this fear needs to be addressed head-on. Many fear that we are on a slippery slope, to use the hackneyed expression. Perhaps the way forward is not to resist the slide so much as to stop struggling, look around, and realize that we may have been on the wrong hill altogether.
- Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, p. 145
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September 29, 2010
Evolution and Teleological Arguments
Much of Sobel's chapter on teleological (design) arguments is devoted to Hume interpretation and to explaining Bayesianism. The latter seems to be one of several places where Sobel has not decided whether he is writing a textbook or a monograph. As for the former, the 'analogical' version of the teleological argument is, I think, not the strongest version and, although I haven't conducted a survey of the various treatments, I would be surprised if Hume's version turned out to be the best. After all, Hume is at most a half-hearted supporter of the argument; even he doesn't think his argument...
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Existence of God
Jordan Howard Sobel
Philosophy of Religion
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January 3, 2008
Quote of the Day: Some People Will Believe Anything
Sometimes the claims invented to support a theory in trouble are just rationalizations. I recently met a lively group of people standing in the aisle on a flight from London to Toronto. They said hello and asked me where I was coming from, and when I told them I was returning from a cosmology conference, they immediately asked my view on evolution. "Oh no," I thought, and proceeded to tell them that natural selection had been proved true beyond a doubt. They introduced themselves as members of a Bible college on the way back from a mission to Africa, one...
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March 2, 2006
Dennett v. Swinburne on the Origin of Religion and the Existence of God
Prospect Magazine has published a series of letters between Richard Swinburne and Daniel Dennett regarding the existence of God and the historical origin of religious belief, following the publication of Dennett's new book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Dennett's book argues that an evolutionary explanation for religious belief exists, and that religion can and should be examined empirically by science with the initial presumption of "methodological naturalism" (i.e. we must assume for the sake of argument that God does not exist in order to take on this investigation). Swinburne argues that no such investigation can be adequately...
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January 13, 2006
Can High School Students Handle Philosophy?
Brian Leiter, a philosophy professor at the University of Texas Austin, points to an LA Times article about a lawsuit against a California public school district over an attempt to introduce an elective course entitled "philosophy of design." The suit charges that the course is about promoting a particular religion, rather than looking at the issue in the sort of balanced way a permissible "comparative relgion" course would. Now, if the charge is true and the course teaches only one viewpoint and seeks to convince students of that viewpoint, then it is a bad philosophy class (the constitutional issue is,...
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September 27, 2005
The Right Way to Introduce Intelligent Design to Public Schools ...
is by teaching philosophy of science. Metaphysics and philosophy of science, no matter what anyone says, are "ontically prior" to experimental science. What that means is that you must have at least a working philosophy of science (with some difficult conceptual work it is possible to abstract away the metaphysics in most cases) in order to interpret the results of observations and experiments. Remember that "scientific method" thing you learned in high school (or, hopefully, middle school)? Scientists hold to a philosophical - not scientific - theory states that that method works. The details of this philosophical position will determine...
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August 28, 2005
Dennett: "Intelligent Design" Obscures Real Objections to Evolution
Daniel Dennet, a brilliant philosopher at Tufts University, known (to me) for his work on personal identity and philosophy of mind, is an avowed atheist. In today's New York Times, Dennet joins the "intelligent design" controversy with a lengthy Op-Ed
. The article is four pages long, but I just want to focus on one thing he says and the conclusions he draws from it:
The focus on intelligent design has, paradoxically, obscured something else: genuine scientific controversies about evolution that abound. In just about every field there are challenges to one established theory or another. The legitimate way to stir up such a storm is to come up with an alternative theory that makes a prediction that is crisply denied by the reigning theory - but that turns out to be true, or that explains something that has been baffling defenders of the status quo, or that unifies two distant theories at the cost of some element of the currently accepted view.
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