Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sam Harris sees our faculties as a "kind of miracle"

See the discussion here. 

Well, so do I. The kind of reliability our reason possesses is not what we should expect given naturalism, Reason does not emerge from irrational (or if you insist) nonrational causes.

There is just the fact that within the Darwinian conception of how we got here, there's no reason to believe that our cognitive faculties have evolved to put us in error free contact with reality. That's not how they evolved. We did not evolve to be perfect mathematcians, or perfect logical operators, or perfect conceivers of scientific reality at the very small subatomic level or the very large cosmic level or the very old cosmological level. We are designed, by the happenstance of evolution, to function within a very narrow band of light intensities and physical parameters. The things we are designed to do very well are to recognize the facial expressions of apes just like ourselves and to throw objects in parabolic arcs within 100 meters and all of that. The fact that we are able to succeed to the degree that we have been in creating a vision of scientific truth and structure of the cosmos at large, that radically exceeds those narrow parameters, that is a kind of miracle. It's an amazing fact about us that seems not to be true, remotely true, of any other species we know about.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What crucifixion was like


risky business

It does look like a historical fact that the disciples went very quickly from giving up on Jesus to saying he was resurrected. If we are skeptics about the resurrection, do we need an explanation for this? This is very risky behavior, telling people who just got someone crucified that they were wrong, and that God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Shoving your beliefs down someone's throat.

Is it wrong to force someone else to live their lives based on your own religious belief system? Many people were brought up to believe that that is what they ought to do.But maybe that's absolutely wrong.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Is Speciesism Wrong?

This is a presentation of the issues involved in the charge of speciesism. 

All I can tell you is if I see a scorpion in the house, my species comes first.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Faulty assumption

From Manuel Alfonseca's popular science blog

Faced with this situation, Fran├žoise Baylis, an expert on bioethics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, believes that research on human-animal chimeras will eventually be banned because of the faulty assumption that human life is more valuable than that of non-human beings.is And he adds this:
The hope that one can ‘forever’ avoid the tough ethical questions by simply ensuring that the nonhuman animals are not ‘substantively humanized’ is flawed (short-sighted),”

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cui Bono?

What did the witnesses to the resurrection get from lying and proclaiming the resurrection? Did the get successful careers as television evangelists, with lots of Cadillacs to drive, and air conditioned dog houses for their animals?
They were proclaiming that a guy the powers that be were able to execute had risen from the dead. How do you think the powers that be are going to take that? 

From Is Theology Poetry by Lewis

"If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams; I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner; I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world; the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific points of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C. S. Lewis, "Is Theology Poetry?"

The fourth L

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Lewis's argument is that since the reasons for believing that Jesus was a great moral teacher come from the same sources that say that Jesus claimed to be God, accepting the claim that Jesus was a great moral teacher without accepting that idea that he claimed to be God. Lewis then goes on to argue that claiming to be God if you are not God is psychologically incompatible with being a great moral teacher. 
Some people maintain that besides Liar, Lunatic, and Lord, Lewis overlooks Legend. But the legend theory wouldn't support that claim that Jesus was a great moral teacher but not God, it would instead, undermine both claims. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

The minimal facts argument for the Resurrection


These are the minimal facts:

1. Jesus died by crucifixion
2. The disciples of Jesus were sincerely convinced that he rose from the dead and appeared to them
3. Paul (aka Saul of Tarsus), who was a persecutor of the Christians, suddenly changed his beliefs towards Christianity
4. James (brother of Jesus), who was a skeptic of the Christian faith, suddenly changed his beliefs towards Christianity
5. The Tomb of Jesus was found empty three days after the crucifixion of Jesus (Habermas and Licona 2004, 48-76)