Dec 02 2012

It’s a wrap

Eschaton is over. I just had a long conversation with Eric in the doorway of the larger of the two rooms where it was held, until he had to leave for the airport. It’s been wonderful to meet him and talk to him.

Udo Schuklenk gave a great talk on secular ethics this morning. I kept wishing some of the sciencey types who think philosophy is useless could have been present. He based it on three of the myths in his forthcoming book with Russell Blackford on 50 myths about atheism. He used three Jesus and Mo toons to illustrate his analysis of three of the myths – no morality without god; no-god robs life of purpose and meaning; denial of the sanctity of human life.

One of the observations I liked – the validity of laws ultimately depends on their acceptability to a given population. The same applies to god. Goddy types think you have to choose between nihilism or goddy absolutes, but really god too depends on acceptability.

Ian Cromwell also gave a great talk. Zombies. Racism. Then we had a panel discussion on godless ethics. Eric and Udo and I had lunch together last thing before Udo left.

Heina Dadabhoy told me she tweeted the last line of my talk yesterday, that along with separation of church and state we need separation of church and health care, and it got 42 (or was it 46?) RTs. All right! We can do this, people. And we need to.

CFI is protesting at the Ugandan embassy (or consulate?) tomorrow, and I get to go.


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  1. 1

    You missed the best part of about 18 of us singing folk songs (my self very badly). Good good fun ^.^ lots of stan rogers. I feel I should also mention Ania Bula who gave a great talk.

  2. 2
    Argle Bargle

    lots of stan rogers.

    That’s appropriate for a function held in Ottawa.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    See I wouldn’t have known the songs.

  4. 4

    That’s part of why I sang them badly ;p. They had a handful of songbooks so you could sing from them.

  5. 5
    AJ Milne

    I’m going to try to bend spacetime a bit further still, make the Uganda thing, too. Guess we’ll see how that goes. I’m on a roll so far, anyway.

    Repeating: it was truly great to meet you, Ophelia.

    (/And anyone else who happens in here who was there, likewise, too… I expect I’ll do a longer online thing about the whole thing at some point, but it might be a bit. Recovery time, stuff neglected to catch up to, you know.)

  6. 6
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I can’t believe I never thought about separation of church and health care. As demonstrated by Savita Halappanavar’s death, such separation is more than justified.

  7. 7

    Since Uganda and Canada are both members of the Commonwealth I think it would be High Commission.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes I think you’re right. I thought embassy wasn’t what I’d heard but I couldn’t think of the right one. I just went past the Ghana High Commission though, so there you are.

  9. 9

    Will any of these talks find their way to you tube? I’d love to see yours and Shucklenk’s. I’m a scientist myself, but I’m completely with you about scientists who think that the scientific method covers ethics. It’s actually my biggest problem with the most visible face of the gnu atheists. And I suppose what PZ would call science atheism. It’s not that evidence and logic aren’t important– it’s just that they’re not the only things that are important. I see people claim in the comments sections of FTB that one make a rational argument for ethics, but it seems to me that they all stem from assumptions that are statements of values, not logic.

  10. 10


    The talks were being filmed so they might indeed be posted later on (though I don’t know the details). I’m honestly not sure how much Udo’s talk will meet your desires but hopefully you can see it at some point.

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