The Atheist Afterlife: p37-56

So I’ve had plenty of time to read over the past five days, and I figured it’s time to do another installment on The Atheist Afterlife, by philosopher David Staume.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I really admire and respect Staume for the approach he took with his work. Sure, there are areas I think could use improvement, but by and large, David adheres to the majority of the rules. He tends to state claims conservatively. He lets his reader know when he’s making assumptions or operating off speculation. He doesn’t overstate his case. I could go on, but, let’s just get to it. We begin in Chapter 5, titled, The Geometry of Space and Time.

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Just What I Needed To Hear

I’ve got a whole heap of posts brewing right now, but none of them are quite ready to pour. So, seeing as how I’ll be undergoing surgery Friday and probably unable to post until next week, I figured I’d at least throw something out there for readers to digest in the meantime.

A few weeks back, Matt left this comment, which contained a link to Victor Reppert’s blog, Dangerous Idea. I had seen the name around, but hadn’t spent any time on the blog. Since the link in Matt’s comment was directly related to our Responding To Universalism discussion, I had to investigate. What I found was one of the better Christian philosophy blogs around. I added it to my links sidebar, and have made a habit to check in semi-regularly. In a nutshell, I’m a fan of Victor’s approach: he has a tendency to parse through the details and clarify things, and—more importantly—he tends to let the reader think for themselves. Victor’s style is more, “having an intelligent discussion with oneself,” than, “let me interpret the facts for you then belittle you if you disagree,” the latter being unfortunately prominent amongst (a)theist blogs.

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Why You Should Be Skeptical Of John W. Loftus

A few months ago, John Loftus claimed that science debunks Christianity.

I’m not a fan of these types of claims, which are essentially sweeping generalizations that contain what I’ve referred to in the past as “the precision of 2×4.” Of course, any (a)theist who’s spent even in a minute in the trenches knows that both science and Christianity are often emotionally charged keywords that carry more baggage than a bellman at Luxor Grand. The author’s choice of words literally begs the reader to plunge headlong into a frenzy of racing and polarized analysis, fueled on reaction determined by the color of one’s glasses. Talk about fodder for the culture wars!

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Random Links & Snippets #1

I’ve been doing some housecleaning around here, and noticed quite a few random links and snippets in my notes, so I figured, why not share them as I find them? Hence, new category on the blog: Miscellaneous. This will be where I post, well… random links and snippets.

While doing a little research on the writing requirements for peer-reviewed submissions, I found the following list of journals. Here is another one.

Other links I had laying around included, Journal of Applied Philosophy, Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology, and Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers. Perhaps of some interest to you, perhaps not.

A while back, I read this paper titled The Law of Cause & Effect: The Dominant Principle of Classical Physics, by David L. Bergman and Glen C. Collins. Note the authors’ use of the phrase — wait for it — Common Sense Science. It makes some points pertinent to the natural / supernatural dilemma that comes up time and again in (a)theist discussion.

The Problem Of Death: Jesus & His Kingdom, I

This series is an ongoing review of Jesus and His Kingdom: The Biblical Case For Everyone Going To Heaven, by Mike Gantt.

For the most part, Chapter One is basically a really well-written and thought-provoking summary on death: what it means, why we react to it the way we do, the apparent fact of its universality, etc. As might be expected from the first chapter in any book, the author merely lays the groundwork for the discussion that is to come.

I like Mike’s writing, so far. I like that he asks questions, and appears more to be having a critical thinking session with himself than preaching down his nose at all of us in the congregation.

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Mind, Or Brain?

Today’s post is simply a set of questions, for any atheist, or any theist who would care to temporarily think like an atheist. In this post at CSA, our host asks:

What tools do you use when you think philosophically about God or morality or other subjects? Among other tools, you use your mind. Knowing how the mind works can help you do philosophy better, just as knowing how a camera works can make you a better photographer.

If you are an atheist, do you think it’s accurate to use the term mind? I understand that it sufficiently conveys the point in everyday conversation, but, epistemically–shouldn’t an atheist limit themselves to belief in brains only?

I often attempt to envision the positions I’d hold if I were an atheist. As regards mind, if I were an atheist, I would probably categorize it with soul as an equally non-existent entity. In my experience, many an atheist has asked, “What does it mean to say one has a soul? Where is the evidence for the soul? What type of entity is the soul?” Similarly, what does it mean to say that one has a mind? Where is the evidence for the mind? What type of entity is the mind?

Jesus & His Kingdom: Introduction

When I asked readers to suggest writing topics for 2011, Matt and Garren both suggested sticking with book reviews. Matt also alluded to my previously stated interest in developing content that explores what the Bible actually says about various topics.

A few weeks ago at CSA, I began to notice several intelligent and well-reasoned comments from a believer named Mike Gantt, who caught my attention with the following :

…the heaven-or-hell theory of afterlife promulgated today largely by evangelical Christianity… is not biblical. The Bible actually teaches that everyone is going to heaven and everyone is judged for their sins. Therefore, whether you believe in this or not, you will go to heaven when you die. However, the degree of enjoyment you have with that life there will be based in large part on morality with which you lived your life on earth (including the kindness you showed others who were less fortunate). [Mike Gantt]

As is the case whenever anybody makes a claim I’m skeptical of, my initial reaction was to ask Mike for the evidence that he felt justified his position. He replied with links to a book he’s written on the subject, titled Jesus and His Kingdom: The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven. I gave his links a perfunctory read, decided I couldn’t agree based on what I’d seen, then figured that would be the end of it. A week later, Mike left a comment here that contained the same claim: everybody goes to heaven. For some reason, this time, I felt the need to reply.

So, perhaps you can see where all of this is going: Responding To Universalism will be one of TWIM’s new book review series’ for 2011.

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There Just Might Be Roller Coasters In Heaven

Atheists often remark that they would find traditional concepts of the afterlife boring and unsatisfying. I tend to sympathize with them: I would, too. You might think that’s an odd thing for a believer to say, but, allow me to explain.

In a recent discussion on William Lane Craig’s argument that life without God is absurd, Polymeron described heaven thus:

Bliss that is eternal and irreversible. To me, personally, this still lacks something; I don’t know that heaven is something that I could feel I am working toward, so it does not really qualify for what I consider purpose.

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The James Randi Foundation On Eusapia Palladino: Can Standards Get Any Lower?

I often chuckle at the lengths some skeptics stoop to in order to preserve their confirmation bias. On Eusapia Palladino, the James Randi Foundation writes:

Born in southern Italy, spirit medium Palladino was accepted by many scientists, particularly those like Charles Richet and Schrenck-Notzing, who were devout believers in all spiritualistic claims. She specialized in levitation of tables.

A cantankerous, vain, difficult person, she became an international celebrity, and sometimes sat for tests, though she was often caught cheating on these occasions and on other non-controlled sittings as well. The prominent investigator Hereward Carrington (né Hubert Lavington, 1880-1958) brought her to America, became her manager, and took her on tour. In America she continued to be caught cheating, and Carrington came to the conclusion that she sometimes cheated (when she was caught), but that the rest of her performance (when she was not caught) was genuine.

Part of her success was probably due to her petulant attitude, which she used to discourage proper examination of her performances. As with others in her trade, she needed to control the circumstances around her and managed to do so very effectively, throwing temper tantrums and walking out of tests when things were not to her liking. She was also noted among investigators for her seeming lack of acquaintance with soap-and-water, being the source of a heavy variety of unpleasant body odors, especially in the closed séance room. She provided her examiners with plentiful reasons to regret having taken on such a formidable woman.

In spite of all this, and her repeated exposures, Carrington remained thoroughly convinced for the rest of his life that Palladino was genuinely in touch with Summerland.

Really? Really?? The article lists no author, only a link to Randi’s book, so I’m going to presume Randi wrote the article. If I’m wrong, let me know and I’ll correct this.

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Suggestions Anyone?

2011 is here, in full swing. I had a great year in 2010. If you didn’t, I hope this year will be better for you.

As is customary at year’s end around these parts, I’ve been questioning which direction to head in this new year. I’ve been blogging since May of 2007, and each year, I’ve striven for a different focus. In 2008 I spent most of my posts in rebuttal to arguments made on Daylight Atheism, before Ebonmuse banned me. In 2009, I wrote and debated almost exclusively about epistemology. In 2010, I decided to tackle morality since it was at that time my most underdeveloped area of argumentation, not to mention a topic of serious concern for many atheists. I spent almost the entire year of 2010 debating and writing about morality, desirism in particular. Frankly, I’m over it.

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