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Monthly Archive: May 2007

May 16 2007

Philosophy and science

An interesting example of the different ways that scientists and ‘pure’ philosophers view things arose in an exchange I had in the comments of a previous post. Commenter Kenneth brought up an interesting argument that I had not heard before for the existence of the afterlife, an argument that he said had originally been proposed …

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May 15 2007

Alternative realities

One of the things that I have noticed in recent years is the proliferation of what I call ‘alternative realities’. In classical learning theory, it is believed that when someone confronts evidence that runs counter to that person’s prior knowledge, a state of cognitive dissonance occurs in the mind of the learner which only goes …

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May 14 2007

The science-religion debate

The ABC news ‘Face Off”, the ‘great’ debate between religion and atheism, was broadcast on Nightline last week. You can see the video of the program here. (You may be able to find the video of the full debate here.) The side arguing for God’s existence was evangelist Ray “Banana Man” Comfort and his trusty …

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May 11 2007

Respect for religion-5: Are the new atheists practicing bad politics?

There is no doubt that atheists are becoming more outspoken these days and this has led to people asking why these ‘new atheists’ are now so ‘militant’. I do not think ‘militant’ is quite the right word. What has happened is that atheists are undergoing a change of attitude about what is and is not …

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May 10 2007

Respect for religion-4: Religion as Conversation-stopper

I have written in the past about how religion should be kept in the private sphere and out of the public sphere. I have since discovered that philosopher Richard Rorty wrote an interesting essay with the above title on this topic in 1994, that was published in his book Philosophy and Social Hope (1999). In …

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May 09 2007

Respect for religion-3: Challenging the privileged status of religion

It used to be that when religious people said something about their beliefs that you disagreed with, the polite thing to do was to keep quiet, even if you thought it wrong or baseless or just plain silly. What is happening now is that religious-based statements are being seen more and more as on a …

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May 08 2007

Respect for religion-2: What are the limits?

If one wants to see how much privilege is granted to religion in the public sphere, consider what happened last week. The Congress decided to expand the provisions of so-called ‘hate crimes’ legislation. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1592), would “provide federal assistance to states, local jurisdictions and Indian …

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May 07 2007

Respect for religion-1: Are the new atheists rude towards religion?

There are two charges that are often laid at the feet of the ‘new atheists’. One is that they are rude, shrill, angry, and otherwise disrespectful towards religion. The second is that their challenge to religious beliefs in general (as opposed to just the fundamentalist and extreme variants) makes for bad politics, since they are …

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May 04 2007

The new atheism-6: The biological origins of religion and morality

(See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.) You would think that natural selection would work against religion because those individuals who spent their time in prayer and other rituals, and used precious energy and resources in building temples and offering sacrifices, would be at a survival disadvantage when compared to …

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May 03 2007

The new atheism-5: The scientific approach to philosophical questions

(See part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.) The biological sciences approach to the questions of the origins of religious belief and morality is not to ask what the proximate causes are that led to belief in god and the afterlife (for which the answers may be to satisfy curiosity and provide comfort) …

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