Category Archives: religion

Debating Dr. Hugh Ross

Atheism, philosophy, religion 4 Replies

You know that moment that you discover that something that was lost forever wasn’t? I was just idly checking The Wayback Machine to see if any of the posts from the previous incarnation of this site survived, and lo and behold they did. This makes me happy. I’ll be reposting a few, once I’ve edited them and cleaned them up a little. Here is the first.


So on April 17th [2010], I debated noted Christian Creationist Dr. Hugh Ross. The debate was operated by the Centre For Inquiry in Vancouver, and Dr. Ross’s organisation, Reasons to Believe.

I’m going to embed Dr. Ross’s speech here, and I’m going to analyse his opening in detail under each video. His argument doesn’t actually meet the criteria for ‘an argument’, as he fails to justify his conclusion at every turn. I want to apologise for the quality ahead of time, unfortunately CFI still hasn’t uploaded their video of this to Youtube, so I’m working with what’s available (courtesy of the Crommunist ). My initial presentation can be found on my Portfolio page.

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Implications of Intelligent Design

Atheism, philosophy, religion, science 4 Replies

I’ve gotten involved in a fairly lengthy discussion of Intelligent Design on reddit as a result of posting my review of Darwin’s Doubt there. Most of the discussion has centred around a couple of key points, that my interlocutors seem to insist on repeating, ad nauseum.

The first point is the inherent implausibility of Evolutionary Theory with regards to explaining speciation, and the second is their refusal to accept that Intelligent Design is an implicitly religious argument. These two points are critical problems in their treatment of this argument.

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Review: Darwin’s Doubt

Atheism, Book Review, philosophy, religion, science 7 Replies

An acquaintance suggested I do a review of Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer. My approach here will seem odd to folk who are opposed to creationism Intelligent Design being taught in high schools, as their approach is usually to attack the biology-related claims in the book. And it’s fair to say that there’s a lot of false claims about biology (and Evolution) in the book. But I’m not interested in any of that.

What I am interested is, if we just take all the lies and deceit to be true, whether the whole argument hangs together, or not. The subtitle of this book is “The explosive origin of animal life and the case for intelligent design”. Meyer is, according to his biography, someone with a PhD in Philosophy, who specialised in Philosophy of Science. I intend to meet him on that ground, stipulate to all of his claims, and see if this supports the argument that he ultimately makes.

Short version? No, his argument isn’t supported by his claims at all.

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Evidence For ‘Religion Causes People to do Evil’

Atheism, culture, philosophy, religion, skepticism 4 Replies

I’ve been thinking about religion being the cause of people doing evil a little more recently, and I’ve been trying to think of what would make a more compelling argument. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely anti-religion, but I’m also anti-crappy-argument. (Although some people I’ve discussed this with online have taken my latter stance to mean that I’m actually a religious moderate. Words fail me. Them too, I guess)

Data would make “religion causes people to do evil things” a lot stronger, rather than the typical post-hoc religious arguments that people make. So here’s a sociological observation that would bear that out.

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Religion is the Cause of Terrible Behaviour

ethics, philosophy, psychology, religion 4 Replies

A fairly common theme in many atheist blogs is that religion is a causal factor in the various atrocities committed by people who are religious. JT Eberhard makes that point at the bottom of this post when he says (sarcastically):

But Islam can’t be the cause of this barbaric behavior because the Koran has some beautiful parts.

Now my purpose here is neither to attack nor vilify JT, so let’s not focus overmuch on that post. The key idea is that:

[Religion] is the cause of [general terrible behaviour]

It’s a reasonably popular viewpoint, which should be readily apparent to anyone who frequents atheist blogs. And I think it’s problematic (and wrong) for a number of reasons.

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Single people don’t have a right to have sex

civil rights, ethics, liberalism, philosophy, religion Leave a reply

A good default position to hold is that ‘whatever the Family Research Council says is wrong’. You’ll get a fair bit of mileage out of that, and you’ll generally be on the right side of history as things shake out.

However, in this particular case, I’m going to agree with Pat Fagan, senior member of the aforementioned hate-group: Single people do not have a right to sex.

Here’s hoping I’m not taken out of context…

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Islamophobia, a discussion

culture, freethought community, philosophy, religion 66 Replies

Depending on who you read or listen to, either Islamophobia simply isn’t real, or it’s not as pervasive as people think it is, or sometimes it’s a legitimate criticism, but it’s often used incorrectly to shut down someone legitimately criticising Islam, or else it’s just some word (without any legitimate meaning) that people use to shut down conversations. To which I say: bullshit. I have to grant, of course, that there is possibly some people out there do these things, but I have to admit that I haven’t actually seen any of them. Even in articles where these claims are made, no evidence is provided.

Most often, people who haven’t ‘picked sides’ in this particular debate are left wondering what this term means, exactly. So I’m going to sketch out what I think it means, and how I see it used (which are, oddly enough, the same thing). Note that ‘what the term means’ isn’t the same as ‘what the word is defined as’. Continue reading

The Watchmaker Analogy: not an argument

philosophy, religion, theology 27 Replies

The ‘watchmaker analogy‘ has been around for quite some time (about 209ish years by my count), and it was refuted shortly after it’s explication (in fact, Paley was refuted by Hume before Paley was born). Several folk have gone after it, in a variety of ways but the damned thing just keeps showing up. To be fair, it’s not that the argument won’t die, it’s that people ignorant of it’s failure simply won’t stop trotting it out, as if restating it over and over again somehow means that the previous refutations didn’t happen.

Quite recently, Fazale Rana (a member of Reasons to Believe) directed me to his claim that “Kai ABC Proteins Re-invigorate the Watchmaker Argument for God’s Existence” with the invitation to ‘explain how is reasoning is faulty’.

Ask and thou shalt receive.

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Why people don’t like to answer theistic questions…

philosophy, religion, theology 9 Replies

To readers who prefer short posts, I’d like to apologise in advance: this is not a short post. Unforunately, the nature of this extended argument is such that there’s no easy way to break it into 2 or 3 posts without killing the flow.

In a discussion I’ve been having recently with one particular believer, some ideas have repeatedly surfaced. This is not, however, the first time I’ve come across these particular notions. I want to take some time to fully address these ideas and the problems that are imbedded in the ideas. First I’ll simply quote the statements as written, as a group, break down the problematic/vague parts, then address them individually.

  1. “Can one expect human logic to understand the supernatural realm as easily as it does the natural realm?”
  2. “Are you saying that you reject the existence of the supernatural because people around you can’t agree on the exact nature of God, or of the Creative miracles?”
  3. “My fear, for those who choose that route, is that due to the acceptance of methodological naturalism as the defining limitation to science (defining only what can be proven from within nature itself), those that limit themselves in this way and trust that nature itself is “all there is”, will never have the chance to find out if the supernatural actually exists.”
  4. “Does methodological naturalism include or exclude God?”

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