Archive for ‘religion’

October 5, 2012

On the religion front

by Neil Rickert

A few comments and links on families, atheism and abortion.

August 5, 2012

Why I am not anti-theist

by Neil Rickert

It is almost 50 years since I dumped religion.  Yet, somehow, I don’t have any urge to be anti-theist.  Take this statement from a recent blog post:

My faith is important to me. My faith is beautiful and meaningful to me. Christian community is important to me.

How can I object to that?  It is the sincere view of “Former Conservative”, the moniker used by the blogger.  I support freedom of speech, and I support freedom of people to make their own choices for their lives.  There is nothing there for me to be “anti”.

July 26, 2012

Answering some questions posed to athiests

by Neil Rickert

Yesterday, I responded to a series of questions for theists, answering as I would have back when I was a theist with growing doubt.  This post responds to some recent questions that matt (over at the Well Spent Journey blog) has posed for atheists: “Twelve Questions to Ask an Atheist.”  Some of these questions are actually relevant to the kind of issue that I often discuss here.  As before, I will quote the question or perhaps an abridged version, before answering.  I suggest that you also visit matt’s original post where he poses the questions.

July 25, 2012

Answering the theist challenge

by Neil Rickert

A while ago, M. Rodriguez posted a series of questions to ask Christians (theists).  He/she had previously posted questions for atheists.

I am no longer a theist, so perhaps I shouldn’t answer.  I will respond based on how I believe I would have responded back when I was a theist.  Note, however, that was a long time ago.  I will quote the questions before answering.  But I may quote in an abbreviated form.  For the full original question, please see the original post: “The Christian (Theist) Challenge.”

July 20, 2012

Quantum mechanics and God

by Neil Rickert

Does QM have anything to do with God?  Physicist Stephen Barr apparently thinks it does, and expresses that view in “Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God?” at the BQO site.  Personally, I think he is talking nonsense.

Barr even admits to some difficulties with arguing what his title says:

Not in any direct way. That is, it doesn’t provide an argument for the existence of God.  But it does so indirectly, by providing an argument against the philosophy called materialism (or “physicalism”), which is the main intellectual opponent of belief in God in today’s world.

June 27, 2012

Science and the supernatural

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post, Jerry Coyne claims that science can test the supernatural.  I disagree, and this post will be a response to that claim.  In my view, what Jerry is really talking about, is testing the claims about the natural world that are made by some supernaturalists.  And, for sure we can, at least in principle, test claims about the natural world.  But testing claims about the natural world is not testing the supernatural.

June 12, 2012

Sophisticated arguments for God

by Neil Rickert

Over at his website (which most of us call a blog), Jerry Coyne has been discussing sophisticated theology and illustrating this with reference to a book (“Questions of Truth”) by Polkinghorne and Beale.  As part of that discussion, Jerry has compiled a list of arguments that are often presented as evidence for God:

  1. The Big Bang: what got it started in the first place? After all a quantum vacuum isn’t nothing.
  2. Why is science possible at all?  The human ability to apprehend truth must be a gift from God, since it couldn’t have evolved (see Plantinga)
  3. The “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” proves that God designed the universe
  4. Ditto for the existence of physical “laws”
  5. Only God could have give us the “innate” human sense or morality (see Francis Collins)
  6. The “fine-tuning” of the universe (that is, the values of physical constants) is evidence for God
  7. The appearance of humanoid creatures on the planet—creatures capable of apprehending and worshiping a God—is evidence of His handiwork.
    read more »

June 12, 2012

Morning musings

by Neil Rickert

I wandered over to R. Joseph Hoffman’s blog this morning, and saw on the front page:

I have come to the following conclusion: Scholarship devoted to the question of the historicity of Jesus, while not a total waste of time, could be better spent gardening.

Great.  However, I came to that conclusion several decades ago.  When I read the arguments, it looks to me as if one side (the historicists) are arguing that the glass is half full, while the other side (the mythicists) are arguing that the glass is half empty.

Apparently, Hoffman did not just come to this conclusion.  He was reblogging his own post from two years earlier.

May 21, 2012

On criticizing religion

by Neil Rickert

I don’t comment much on religion.  However, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with such criticism.  Daz addressed the topic in his recent post “For People Who Don’t Believe In God, You Atheists Sure Do Talk About Him A Lot” and I think he made his point very clearly and succinctly.

I particularly liked his final line:

I certainly respect your right to your private belief. And when that belief truly is private, I’ll shut up.

I recommend that you read his entire post.

May 15, 2012

Science and the supernatural

by Neil Rickert

Victor Stenger has written about science and the supernatural in a Huffington Post blog, and Jerry Coyne has further commented at his site.  Toward the end of his piece, Stenger says:

So, scientists and science organizations are being disingenuous when they say science can say nothing about the supernatural.

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