At TWIM we discuss religion, atheism, philosophy, consciousness, logic, evidence, warrant, science, morality, epistemology, computers, technology, blogging and other subjects, but the primary focus is usually philosophy of religion. There’s not much of a political slant here, probably because I qualify as apolitical. In philosophy of mind I’m not gung-ho for either side of the Cartesian split but I do lean towards something like Aristotle’s metaphysic, or transmission theory, and I enjoy engaging the various materialist arguments. Since I believe in God I’m not an atheist, and since I believe in the Bible I’m technically some kind of Christian, but I’m not too big on labels and I advise you not to think I’m just like all the other Christians you’ve known. If you’d like to read more about me and how I came to believe what I believe, the About page goes into these things in a little more detail. This homepage features key selections from the blog and is intended as a general guide to what I’ve written on these subjects:
- The Supernatural
- Promoting Good Thinking
- Aristotle’s Argument From Kinesis
- The Problem of Evil
- Religion & Society
The idea that something “spiritual” or “supernatural” exists has been ubiquitous over time. Indeed, if this “other world” does not exist, it seems most of the world religions reduce to myth and metaphor at best. I don’t think it’s possible to “prove” that a particular deity was the source of an unexplained event. The best a theist can hope for is the skeptic’s concession that the unexplained event is consistent with one or more theist claims and therefore admissible as evidence for theism to some degree. It is reasonable to cite anomalies as evidence for metaphysical claims, and as grounds for questioning conventional explanations. After all, that’s how detectives and scientists work, right? Why is it significant when investigators discredit an alibi? Proving anomalies between reality and testimony is good detective work. Though not flawless, the strategy has an established utility for generating reliable answers to truth questions. For lack of a better word, these “anomalous events” are exactly what we would expect if even a random sampling of religious beliefs were true, and also exactly what we would expect if contemporary metaphysical naturalism is false. At the end of the day, I’m not interested in gaining acceptance from skeptics. I’m interested in explaining reality as it is.
The Video Game Incident — Normally, video games don’t flying around your living room while coincidentally talking about spirits.
Anomalous Mental Phenomena I: The Strange Case of Ingo Swann — Swann was able to remotely acquire significant data on the planet Jupiter, much of which was later confirmed by science.
Anomalous Mental Phenomena II: A Precognitive Reality — This is an odd little personal anecdote in which I appear to see the future moments before it unfolds.
Anomalous Mental Phenomena III: Simultaneous Dreaming — Marianne George received a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Virginia. The following incident occurred in 1979.
Anomalous Mental Phenomena IV: Veridical Dreaming — A deceased shaman supplies an anthropologist with knowledge later confirmed by field work.
Anomalous Mental Phenomena V: The Case of Pam Reynolds — A well-documented instance of NDE/OBE supporting the idea that human consciousness can exist outside the physical body.
Anomalous Mental Phenomena VI: Distant Healing — A randomized, double-blind study suggesting medical and psychological benefits of a distant healing (DH) application in a population with advanced AIDS.
How Would You Define A Miracle? — If you are an atheist, would an isolated miracle persuade you to recant or doubt your atheism, or would you need something more?
How Would You Define A Miracle, Redux — Believers and skeptics can agree as to what Waldo looks like such that we can reliably identify him in a crowd. We need a definition of miracle that shares this luxury.
How Would You Parse This? — A self-described “witch” supplies me with unknown personal details that seem difficult to attribute to cold-reading.
The Case Of Kayla Knight, Pt. I — Kayla’s story is exactly what we would expect if a genuine miracle occurred.
I agree that many theists show a general disdain for sound scientific principle. I also believe too many atheists get a free pass for their bad science. In the following posts, I hope to demonstrate both informed respect and healthy skepticism of science, as well as some of the common pitfalls people make when invoking scientific evidence as support for their claims. Empirical data produced by experiment or observation are prerequisite. Testability involves falsifiability which requires logical counterexamples.
On Falsifiability: What Exactly Is Pseudoscience Anyways? — A statement can fall into three categories: falsifiable and falsified; falsifiable and unfalsified; or unfalsifiable.
Asteroids, Cathode Rays & Requisite Knowledge, I — If we limit ourselves strictly to the body of data Aristotle had access to in his time, could we have justifiedly believed in the existence of asteroids?
Asteroids, Cathode Rays & Requisite Knowledge, II — Would you say there was ever any evidence for cathode rays? Or, would you say there was always just evidence for electrons that was being misinterpreted?
The Big Bang — Nothing in Scripture contradicts the idea that all matter in the universe was once at an ultra-dense singularity.
Are We Alone In The Universe? — Like many questions entangled in religion and metaphysics, the question of humanity’s role in the universe is inevitably muddied by pop culture, mass ignorance of science and ulterior motive.
On Homology — Creatures displaying similarities in skeletal structure do not necessarily keep to their similarities at a genetic level. To me, this suggests that what Darwin viewed as “absolute” homology may be at least partially superficial.
False Arguments #23 & #24: The Sufficiency Of Microevolution Tropes — There is legitimate scientific debate over whether “macroevolution” is just cumulative “microevolution.”
False Argument #3: Appendix Doesn’t Seem To Serve A Function — Miller and Levine’s statement that the appendix “does not seem to serve a function in digestion today” is an inaccurate and misleading claim. Isaac Asimov’s claim that the appendix is “useless” amounts to a work of science fiction.
Scientific Anti-Realism — Model-dependent realism prefers utility over truth. This approach has the bonus of sidestepping seemingly intractable, sophistry-prone debates over what’s “really real.”
Consciousness is a hot topic in philosophy, religion and science, particularly neuroscience. Under the traditional naturalist paradigm, life reduces to an arbitrary dance of molecular activity follow by permanent atomic dispersal. Thoughts, emotions and feelings are mere results of brain activity. This, in essence, are the core principles of what I refer to as cerebro-centric hypothesis (CCH) of consciousness, in which the brain is given ultimate priority as the causal explanation of mind. In these posts, I argue the inability of cerebro-centric consciousness to explain the full range of observed mental phenomena. I also argue for the superiority of a model of consciousness better described as spiritual, waveform or holographic, that can operate irrespective of physical and temporal constraints.
Consciousness Primer — An index to recent posts on the subject of consciousness.
Competing Models Of Consciousness — Without free will, decisions are tantamount to peculiarly well-timed forethoughts.
Emendations Re: Competing Models Of Consciousness — Under both versions of the CCH, consciousness ceases forever after death. wCCH differs from sCCH primarily in the range of phenomena it’s willing to permit.
Phenomena / Consciousness Chart — A chart to help clarify key concepts in our current discussion on consciousness.
More Attempts At Defining Consciousness — While I hesitate to speculate on what consciousness is, I feel fairly confident in asserting what it does, or what its characteristics are.
The Tripartite Model Of Consciousness — Under the TMC, the brain remains an integral part of the equation, but assumes a more symbiotic or integrative function in the overall picture.
Promoting Good Thinking
Different people arrive at different beliefs by different means. In these posts, I attempt to outline some views on reason, rationality and clear thinking.
Principles of Source Criticism — I’ve found Jørgensen and Thurén’s criteria helpful in assessing the credibility of various historical claims.
Popsicles & Sound Science — Stephen J. Gould once commented that orthodoxy can color our interpretation of the facts, and many people subconsciously interpret evidence to prove their desired conclusion.
Proof of God’s Existence — A series of thought experiments exploring justified belief, conservatively stated belief, and thoughts on the nature of evidence.
Surviving Philosophy: Objective vs. Subjective — I offer working definitions of “objective” and “subjective” and state precisely what it means to say a theory is objective.
Asking The Right Questions — The key is to not go overboard. We should avoid the acceptance of unwarranted conclusions, and the denial of warranted ones.
Thoughts on the Nature of Evidence — Genuine or conclusive evidence lends well to incontrovertible conclusions. On the contrary, inconclusive evidence cannot reliably sustain incontrovertible conclusions.
The Instinctive Off-Switch — Examines a common error people make when they are heavily invested in a claim emotionally.
On Full Disclosure & Knee-Jerk Reactions — Advocates evaluating on a case-by-case basis instead of relying on generalizations deduced from categorization.
Death And Blind Faith In Everyday Life — Humans accept all sorts of statements on blind faith every day, and blind faith is by no means an exclusively religious error.
On The Argument From Scientific Foreknowledge — Cautious against overzealous induction regarding “science and the Bible” issues.
Aristotle’s Argument From Kinesis
Considers causal infinite regress, self-contained cause, or an eternal, unmoved mover in response to the question of why there is a universe. The Introduction discusses these three options and encourages the reader to side with one, or offer alternatives. Presuming the reader is unable to offer alternatives, Part II argues that an eternal, unmoved mover is the most parsimonious explanation for explaining the existence of the universe, and more specifically, that such an entity logically entails a set of properties shared with God as described in the Bible.
The Problem of Evil
Also referred to as the Question of Suffering or Epicurean Dilemma, the Problem of Evil is an axiom in philosophical and religious circles which claims the fact of evil existing in our world is incompatible with God as described by most Christians: a God that is at least all-powerful, all-loving and all-knowing, also described as omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient (o^3 or o^4 if omnibenevolence is also considered).
The Problem of Evil — We introduce the argument and explore the various presuppositions often brought to the table.
Biblically Justify The O^4 Claim — We explore the Biblical basis for the claim that God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipresent.
Did I Violate Omnibenevolence? — We use an example from everyday life as a thought experiment to determine whether the allowance of suffering for any duration for any reason is a violation of omnibenevolence.
The Evidential Problem of Evil — A critique of Peter Hurford’s claim that needless suffering exists, ergo atheism is more likely than classical theism.
The Problem of Evil: Where I’m At Today — A summary of my belief that almost all POE arguments reduce to some variation of an argument from personal incredulity.
Moral statements are essentially answers to “should” questions of any sort. Either some objective source of morality exists “out there” in the universe or perhaps beyond, or not. If there are no moral facts, then all “should” statements reduce to opinions of pragmatism. I take the first horn of the Euthyphro dilemma, arguing that God commands the good because it is good. I believe this position can be defended by arguing that moral facts exist, and that an omniscient, omnibenevolent God would have unbridled access to moral facts, and perfect knowledge regarding how to implement them.
Objective Morality: Clarifying The Questions Parses out three similar but distinct questions people often have when discussing so-called “objective morality.”
Can Theistic Morality Be Objective? — As defined by Luke Muehlhauser, objective morality is consistent with a morality decreed by the God of the Bible, typically described as omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and incorruptible.
A Quest For Second Best — Reasoning from the premise that moral facts exist, it follows that a system of morality governed by an omniscient, omnibenevolent God is the best moral system possible.
Exploring My Own Moral Parameters — Euthyphro’s dilemma arises regardless of the source of our morality. For this reason, invoking the dilemma as an argument against any source of morality is meaningless.
Factoring Intelligence Into Assessments Of Morality — A discussion of intelligence and its implications for morality. We explore the relationship between intelligence and reliable moral prescriptions, eventually factoring benevolence into the equation.
Deep South Tragedy: An Analogy For Humanist Ethics — Normally, children can know the right thing to do at any given time by asking their father, who has more experience and intelligence in life than they do. We explore the absence of a macro-intelligent authority, and the unfortunate ramifications thereof.
The Genetics Of Sin — I propose two ramifications that would naturally result from a literal fall of man, as described in Genesis: the first is spiritual, the second biological.
On Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument We discuss the claim that in order to be truly morally responsible for one’s actions, one would have to be causa sui.
These syllogisms attempt to establish shared premises from which I argue the philosophical superiority of theism.
The Argument From Computer Programming
The Argument From The Superiority Of Knowable Claims
The Argument From Probability
The Argument From Justice
Religion & Society
In these posts I address the many ways in which religion touches our everyday lives.
Inherit The Wind: A Primer For Intellectual Polarization — Examines a major battle in the false dichotomy of science vs. religion.
Rethinking Religious Legalism — Suggests that we shouldn’t exalt the letter of the law over the spirit of the law.
My Thoughts On The Olympia Fiasco — Do atheists have the right to insult believers in a government building in a public context of seasonal celebration?
My Response To Jack Waldvogel — I take a stand against what I perceive to be political bullying in Jesus’ name.
The following posts are each pertinent to our ongoing discussion but have yet to be added to the outline.
False Argument #13: The Triumph Of Natural Explanations — Argues that the popular “triumph of natural explanations” argument is a semantic hoax.
Assessing The Value Of Religion
False Argument #12: Atheism Is Scientifically Tenable
Atheism & Theism: Both Logically Flawed
False Argument #22: The Unicorns, Leprechauns & Flying Spaghetti Monster Trope
An Important Point In My Religious History
Jesus Never Pooped — If one is going do an exegesis of scripture, one should do it semi-comprehensively and objectively.
Reason, Intellect, Religion, & Belief