Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Do Christians have a persecution complex?


Science, God, and specialization

Why are some questions philosophical rather than scientific? If someone, such as Keith Parsons, affirms this, is it because of philosophical snobbery?

I don't think so. Science is not a general field. It is divided between physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, economics, etc. Even then, scientists are even more specialized than that. But the question of God does not fall within any specialized science, so it cannot be a scientific question.

Monday, April 25, 2016

An early memory

I grew up in a United Methodist church in Phoenix. In the early 1960s, a local fundamentalist pastor was gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would have prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools.

This is something of a contrast with “equal time” laws that were developed subsequently, according to which school had to teach creationism alongside evolution. No, he wanted to re-enact something like the law Scopes violated in Tennessee.

Our pastor's response  was to publicly criticize this effort. Dr. Long thought that a battle with the theory of evolution was ill-advised, and said so from the pulpit. The Huntley-Brinkley report, then NBC’s big competitor with Walter Cronkite on CBS, picked up the story, and an excerpt from Dr. Long’s sermon was on the national news. 


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Can atheist advocacy be limited by the Establishment Clause.

The question is whether open or implied atheist advocacy in public school can violate the establishment clause. The whole basis for the Dover decision was the idea that ID content has to be kept out of the public school classroom because those who supported it were motivated by a desire to promote religious belief. In a court case it was successfully argued that you atheism is protected by the free exercise clause, in a case where an atheist prisoner was granted access to atheist materials. 


Now, in the Constitution, the free exercise clause and the establishment clause go together. Heck, they're in the same sentence. Atheists can't help themselves to the free exercise clause, but when accused of violating the Establishment Clause on behalf of atheism, fall back on the "not collecting stamps" argument. That's cheating. 

So, as I keep saying, the main argument in the Dover case, which was an Establishment Clause case, only works if you assume the religious neutrality of evolutionary biology. That is the official NCSE position on the compatibility of religion and evolutionary biology that people like Dawkins, Myers, and Coyne are hell-bent on attacking. 

Given the constitutional context here, the fact that atheism is not a religion in the popular sense is irrelevant. If you want Free Exercise protections, you have to live with Establishment Clause limitations. It's the American way.

Who was he talking about?

From a commentator at Debunking Christianity. How can a professor say something so moronic as: "... philosophical questions, like the existence of God". WTF? This guy is NOT a professor but a bible thumping religionist.

This is a statement about

a) Victor Reppert
b) Alvin Plantinga
c) William Lane Craig
d) Keith Parsons

What if evolution really provides an argument for atheism?

Some people think it does. Suppose teachers and textbook writers were eager to draw out the atheistic implications of evolution, and did so in public schools. (Some seem to). 

Does that mean that the teaching of evolution in school also violates the establishment clause, since it supports the religion of atheism? 

Would this mean that evolution, as well as creationism or intelligent design, could not be taught in the public schools, since it would undermine the religious neutrality of government institutions? 

The fine-tuning of the universe

1. If the initial explosion of the big bang had differed in strength by as little as one part in 10\60, the universe would have either quickly collapsed back on itself, or
expanded rapidly for stars to form. In either case, life would be impossible.
2. (An accuracy of one part in 10 to the 60th power can be compared to firing a bullet at a one-inch target on the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light years away, and hitting the target.)
3. Calculations indicate that if the strong nuclear force, the force that binds protons and neutrons together in an atom, had been stronger or weaker by as little as five percent, life would be impossible.
4. If gravity had been stronger or weaker by one part in 10\40, then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist. This would most likely make life impossible.
5. If the neutron were not about 1.001 times the mass of the proton, all protons would have decayed into neutrons or all neutrons would have decayed into protons, and thus life would not be possible.
6. If the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or weaker, life would be
impossible, for a variety of different reasons.
7. Either this is an accident, or a design. Or perhaps there is a multiverse, and we just happen to be in the universe that has life in it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

From the Catholic Encyclopedia on Fideism


As against these views, it must be noted that authority, even the authority of God, cannot be the supreme criterion of certitude, and an act of faith cannot be the primary form of knowledge. This authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God, we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, but logically ruins faith itself.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Even treating some issues as debatable is considered offensive by some

Here's a report from a cancelled debate from last February sponsored by the Oregon State Socratic Club:

We are sorry to have to inform you that the debate on Thursday, February 25th on the topic "Is Gender a Choice?" has been canceled. Our debaters were informed that some students on campus are offended by the topic of the debate and may plan to protest the event as transphobic, despite the fact that we had both sides fully represented. Because of this one of our speakers did not feel comfortable proceeding with the event. We are disappointed, but understand.
We hope you'll keep up to date with us as we continue onward.

The idea seems to be that the mere presentation of both sides of some issues is considered offensive.