Michael Shermer Calls Me A Skeptic!

In a recent article for The Huffington Post, Michael Shermer, the founder of The Skeptics Society, called me a skeptic! Admittedly, he didn’t use my name, but he did define my position. Here’s how he defines skepticism:

In principle, skeptics are neither closed-minded nor cynical. We are curious but cautious. Or, I often hear, “Oh, you’re a skeptic, so you don’t believe anything?” No, I believe lots of things, as long as there is reason and evidence to believe.

Being a skeptic just means being rational and empirical: thinking and seeing before believing.

Skepticism is the rigorous application of science and reason to test the validity of any and all claims.

Read more

Lessons from the Alex Rosenberg – William Lane Craig Debate

On February 1, Purdue University, in partnership with Biola University, hosted a debate between Dr. Alex Rosenberg and Dr. William Lane Craig, on the topic “Is Faith in God Reasonable?” You can already find audio of the debate and a summary of the debate online. The video can be watched at the bottom of this post.

I think there are a few valuable lessons from the debate:

Apologetics Is Important

Throughout the debate, Dr. Rosenberg presented a wide variety of terrible arguments.

Read more

Why I Love Being Wrong

One of the most common phrases I hear about research scientists is that they love to be wrong. Why? Because when they are wrong, it means there’s a good chance they have discovered something new. This new data, which does not fit the current paradigms, can lead them to a breakthrough discovery. So being wrong can quite literally lead to fame and fortune.

By contrast, of course, the common perception seems to be that Christians absolutely hate to be wrong. Rather, Christians (especially conservative, evangelical, or fundamentalist ones) appear to have a high need for certainty that they are right.

Think about it: don’t these words all seem to go together?

Read more

Can I Believe in God Because of Personal Experience?

In this post I want to explore a very specific objection: is it delusional to believe in God on the basis of personal experience?

First, what does it feel like to have personal experience of God?

This experience may vary widely, but I think the internal thought process goes something like this:

Read more

Physicalism and Reason

Dr. Matt Dickerson, a professor of computer science at Middlebury College, recently gave a lecture at MIT on the relationship between physicalism and reason. The lecture was based on the fourth chapter of his book The Mind and the Machine. After developing an account of human identity on physicalism, and developing an account of what a logical reasoning process requires, he concluded that physicalism is unable to support the ability of humans to reason. In this post I will largely build off of his remarks at the lecture.

Read more

Tactics by Greg Koukl – A Book Review

Want more friends? Better conversations? Frequent, life-changing spiritual encounters? But wait, there’s more! What if you could also avoid dead-end discussions, pointless arguments, and go-nowhere debates? Then you should be interested in Tactics, a book by Greg Koukl, the President of Stand to Reason Ministries.

The fact is that many Christians feel intimidated by evangelism. Many atheists are frustrated with the same old cliches being read to them from the same pre-packaged scripts.  We all need a new way forward if we’re going to have important but respectful conversations about what really matters.

Tactics is an outstanding book for three main reasons:

Read more

Moral Clarity and the RDFRS Community

Earlier this week I posted “Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins,”which was then reposted and discussed at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science website. My first response to the comment thread pointed out the frequent logical fallacies (and incivility) in the comment thread.

Today I want to continue an effort to raise the bar of dialogue with the RDFRS community. My goal in this post is to address the more substantive comments at their site. Before doing so, a brief recap of the original argument is in order.

In “Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins” I offered the metaphor of a house with a foundation, main floor, and a roof. The foundation is the meta-ethical theory, the main floor is our ethical theory, and the roof is our behavior. I then looked at Richard Dawkins’ overall ‘moral house’ to see how well his meta-ethical theory supports his ethical system and behavior.

Read more

The Hypocrisy of Richard Dawkins

At yesterday’s Reason Rally, the acknowledged headline speaker was the famous Richard Dawkins. And Dawkins, true to form, managed to display both hypocrisy and irrationality in the course of his fifteen minute speech.

To set the stage, let’s remember the promise the Reason Rally organizers made to us on their website:

Read more

The Reason Rally and the Westboro Invitation

A few days ago, as a formal sponsor of the Reason Rally, Jim Klawon of the National Atheist Party sent a formal invitation to the Westboro Baptist Church. This is interesting because Westboro is classified as a hate group by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Legal Center. As the Southern Poverty Legal Center explains, “Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America. The group is basically a family-based cult of personality built around its patriarch, Fred Phelps.” Nevertheless, Mr. Klawon invited them to participate in The Reason Rally. You can read the letter here. This letter was subsequently given a positive mention at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science website and Twitter account.

Read more

The Reason Rally

On March 24th, Richard Dawkins and other atheists plan to host a “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C. As their website explains, “The Reason Rally is an event sponsored by many of the country’s largest and most influential secular organizations.” The list of speakers includes P.Z. Myers, Dan Barker, Lawrence Krauss, David Silverman, and U.S. House Representative Pete Stark.

As “the largest secular event in world history”, they hope to deliver a unique message of “good news,” namely, “We’re huge, we’re everywhere, and we’re growing.” As part of this theme, they’ve promised to keep the experience positive, celebrate secular values, and avoid trashing religion.

As the event itself unfolds, we will see how well the organizers and participants keep to these promises.

Read more