Wyatt's Blog (39)

The Moral Machinery

How does morality evolve? We are social animals. We have language, reason, and empathy. Of course, empathy can also be found in other animals such as bonobo chimpanzees. What makes humans different from other animals is language, abstract reasoning, and the ability to plan for the future. How would a hypothetical group of humans with language, reason, and empathy plan a society? How would they need to conduct themselves to get along peaceably with one another? Before long, they will have… Continue

Added by Wyatt on March 7, 2014 at 1:55pm — 3 Comments

Good Without God is 0?

"Good Without God is 0?"



Theism as constraint on humans murdering other humans stands refuted. You could of course add the proviso that the deity in question is a "good" deity, but here is the paradox. Who defines what is good? If you are a theist, god defines what is good. The followers of Huitzilopochtli were following the good according to their deity. Who are we to judge them if we say that theism is the best grounding for objective morals? But if you don't believe all religions… Continue

Added by Wyatt on February 26, 2014 at 6:00pm — 2 Comments

How Do We Distinguish Fact from Fiction?

The scientific method has been vastly more successful at telling us what's real than the methods of religions. The reason being that imagining how the universe should be, or armchair philosophy, is no substitute for going out and taking a look at how the world is. There are a billion things I can conceive of in my imagination, but I have no reason to suppose that all or any of those things is real.



The point is that if science doesn't have any hope of ever answering a given question… Continue

Added by Wyatt on February 16, 2014 at 6:59pm — 3 Comments

Debunking God and Christianity: Unfalsifiable Hypotheses

I have said in earlier posts that one of the criteria that distinguishes science from religion and pseudoscience is falsifiability. Scientific hypotheses should be falsifiable. There should be some evidence that could theoretically disprove a given hypothesis if it were false (See Karl Popper's "Conjectures and Refutations").



The god hypothesis is unfalsifiable. There is no theoretical test that could show that the god hypothesis is false. One cannot prove the non-existence of God…

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Added by Wyatt on February 7, 2014 at 1:53am — 6 Comments

The Naturalist

       Mathematician and Christian apologist Blaise Pascal famously wrote of those who were so made that they could not believe in God.  He developed his ultimately flawed "wager" to address these non-believers.  

       There are many who simply can not bring themselves to believe in the supernatural.  They can not believe in something without evidence.  Such people could be referred to as "naturalists."  But this is not to say that they necessarily adhere to the philosophy of…

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Added by Wyatt on January 30, 2014 at 1:26pm — 1 Comment

Atheism is not a system of values

Atheism is not a system of values

Atheism doesn't tell you what you "ought" to do. It is simply a lack of belief. Naturalism on the other hand is an epistemological position, i.e. "I don't see evidence for the supernatural, which includes gods"

One can be an atheist and be a great humanitarian or a mass murderer. Atheism is not a system of values. My lack of belief does not inform my values in any way.

But then I am not merely an atheist any more than a Christian is…

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Added by Wyatt on January 29, 2014 at 11:23am — 4 Comments

Of Tu Quoque and Atheist Stalin

Of Tu Quoque and Atheism as a Motivation for Mass Murder

The church has a long tradition of killing free-thinkers specifically for religious reasons. Pointing the finger at others will not erase this fact. But let's consider the claim that atheists "did it too." Let's consider the popular example, Stalin. Is the religious apologist's tu quoque that atheist Stalin was motivated to kill by his atheism valid? Was Stalin driven by atheism to kill not just Christians but to conduct the…

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Added by Wyatt on January 29, 2014 at 8:55am — 4 Comments

Proofs of God and William Lane Craig's Failure of Imagination

The stock arguments do not prove that god exists. Recall that the conclusion of a deductively valid argument necessarily follows from the premises, but for an argument to be sound, the premises must be true. Even WLC's Kalam makes assumptions that cannot be verified. He makes several assumptions that take advantage of our cognitive biases and limited intuitions, but the history of science shows us (doesn't it?) that our middle-world intuitions are sometimes false. Galileo demonstrated that…

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Added by Wyatt on January 22, 2014 at 4:29pm — 1 Comment

William Lane Craig's Armchair Philosophy (Ontological Argument)

This is a response to "Does God Exist," a debate between Dr. Victor Stenger and William Lane Craig, which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjOs62PJciI&sns=em

        I am frankly amazed that Craig decided to use the thoroughly debunked ontological argument right off the bat.  At the…

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Added by Wyatt on January 22, 2014 at 2:31pm — No Comments

The Cosmological Argument

Christian apologist William Lane Craig sets up a false dilemma--given the Big Bang, either (1) the universe came out of nothing or (2) the universe had a cause, which Craig believes must be God. As the argument goes, for something to come out of nothing is a logical contradiction; therefore, something caused the universe, something timeless, spaceless, immaterial. Keep in mind that we don't know enough about cosmology to make these kinds of assertions. The Big Bang theory applies to the…

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Added by Wyatt on January 22, 2014 at 2:26pm — 6 Comments

What is Religious Faith?

Believing certain propositions (God exists, Jesus was resurrected, etc) on faith is what every good Christian at a minimum is required to do.



How can we define "faith" in the context of religion?



There are two meanings of faith:



1.

"complete trust or confidence in someone or something."

Example: "this restores one's faith in politicians"



2.

strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than… Continue

Added by Wyatt on January 22, 2014 at 10:34am — 1 Comment

The Nature of Scientific Inquiry

I am not so much interested in scientific facts as the scientific way of thinking. I try to approach problems with an attitude of scientific inquiry. I believe that when new data come in, one should revise one's opinions accordingly. The results of scientific research do not require our uncritical acceptance. We can and should look at methods employed, sample sizes, margin of error, etc when evaluating new research. Nothing should be accepted uncritically. The concept of fallibility is an… Continue

Added by Wyatt on September 16, 2013 at 7:55am — 3 Comments

A Response to Cognitive Relativism

Cognitive relativists hold that facts about the world are not absolute, but are relative to the individual. In other words, they assert that the truth is relative. At the same time, relativists attempt to claim objectivity for their position. But this is absurd. The relativist position is self-refuting. And beyond the philosophical argument, it is clear that there are facts about the world that apply to all of us. Gravity doesn't care who you are or what you believe; if you drop an apple, it… Continue

Added by Wyatt on September 16, 2013 at 5:30am — 3 Comments

For Good People to Do Evil

Christian apologists will sometimes claim that not believing in God amounts to a belief system, and even go so far as to say that atheism may lead to immoral behavior.  But this is a logical non sequitur.  There are perhaps millions of gods whose names I have never heard of and whose worship I am not familiar with.  Does my absence of belief in all the countless gods that people have worshiped over the millennia motivate me to do good or evil?  Of course not.  That would be absurd.  When… Continue

Added by Wyatt on September 16, 2013 at 5:23am — 2 Comments

Rational Skepticism

I've often thought about the connection between the rational skepticism scientists employ (as opposed to the universal and self-refuting brand of skepticism postmodernists employ) and atheism. Atheism does not necessarily imply an analytical mindset, there are atheists who believe in the supernatural or pseudoscience, but it would be true to say that atheism is a corollary of an analytical mindset combined with a driving need for evidence.

In short, rational skepticism as a premise implies… Continue

Added by Wyatt on May 30, 2013 at 3:10am — No Comments

Theists, Cargo Cults, and Logic

So tired of religious apologists asking me to show evidence for the non-existence of their particular god. I've asked them how they would go about showing evidence for the non-existence of the dragon in Carl Sagan's garage or Russell's celestial teapot. They assert that the analogy is false, but don't explain how. They use words like 'logic' or 'inference' as if they were magic charms without fully understanding what these words mean. It's not unlike superstitious primitives from a cargo cult… Continue

Added by Wyatt on May 22, 2013 at 9:42am — 2 Comments

Atheism

        Just what does it mean to be an atheist?  Richard Dawkins proposed a sliding scale of theistic probability:

  1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: "I do not believe, I know."
  2. De Facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. "I don't know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is…
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Added by Wyatt on December 18, 2012 at 1:04pm — 17 Comments

Philosophy and Science Revisited

One often hears that philosophy deals with "why" questions, whereas science deals with "how."  Some philosophers will say that science can never answer why we exist or why the universe came into being.          

        But "why" questions are often in reality "how" questions.  Futhermore, not all "why" questions are meaningful in that they presuppose "purpose" that may not exist.  It is meaningless to pick up a rock and ask, "why is this rock?".   Most "why" questions can be broken down… Continue

Added by Wyatt on December 11, 2012 at 8:03am — 4 Comments

Mathematical Deep Structuralism

In the last chapter of "Galileo's Finger," Professor Peter Atkins invites us to consider the view that mathematics is a product of the mind, but also a reflection of the underlying structure of the universe.  Mathematics is hard-wired into the brain, because we are the products of a logically self-consistent universe.  Thus mathematics maps so neatly onto the universe because our internal logic is an expression of the deeper structure.  

       On the deep structuralist view, the universe… Continue

Added by Wyatt on November 30, 2012 at 8:10am — 3 Comments

Translating Senator Marco Rubio

When asked about the age of the Earth in an interview for GQ magazine, senator Marco Rubio gave a rather confusing reply.  I've taken the liberty of translating his statement (think of it as facilitated communication).  Here is the original:

GQ: How old do you think the Earth is? 

Marco Rubio: I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with… Continue

Added by Wyatt on November 20, 2012 at 11:02am — 1 Comment

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