Category Archives: Uncategorized

Metaethics & Moral Realism w/ Michael Huemer



Dr. Michael Huemer joins me to discuss moral realism vs. antirealism, ethical intuitionism, phenomenal conservatism, moral disagreement, and much else in moral philosophy. (This aired originally on YouTube and Walden Pod.)

/ The Five Metaethical Positions /

Noncognitivism/expressivism: Moral statements are neither true nor false. Evaluative predicates do not even

purportedly refer to any sort of property, nor do evaluative statements assert propositions.

Error theory/nihilism: Moral statements (that imply that something has an evaluative property) are all false.

Subjectivism: Some moral statements are true, but not objectively. For a thing to be good is for some individual or group to (be disposed to) take some attitude towards it.
Moral Naturalism: There are objective moral properties, but they are reducible.
Evaluative truths are reducible to descriptive truths. Additionally, moral statements can be justified empirically.

Moral Non-Naturalism/Intuitionism: There are objective moral properties, and they are irreducible. Evaluative truths are not reducible to descriptive truths. Additionally, at least some moral truths are known intuitively.

 

/ Timestamps /
00:00 Introduction
01:05 Objective vs. Subjective
06:45 Five Metaethical Views
36:45 Fictionalism
50:40 Phenomenal Conservatism, Scientism, Skepticism
1:15:00 Moral Disagreement
1:25:00 Theism and Moral Realism
1:41:00 Companions in Innocence
1:46:30 Evolutionary Debunking Arguments
2:00:00 Huemer’s soul is not in Colorado nor is it in Michigan

CA105 Responding to Trent Horn’s “5 Atheist Double Standards”



This is my response to Catholic apologist Trent Horn’s recent video entitled “5 Atheist Double Standards.” (The first minute is a cold open. It makes more sense if you’re watching the video version.)
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Timestamps:
00:00 Coming Up
01:00 Introduction
01:48 Trent’s Introduction (No disagreement!)
03:13 Ancient Historical Documents (Double Standard 1)
05:36 God is evil, nothing is evil (Double Standard 2a)
19:43 Divine Command Theory
25:18 Moral Realism vs. Atheism (Double Standard 2b)
36:35 Bad Christians vs. Bad Atheists (Double Standard 3)
42:17 Ridiculing Christian censorship while excommunicating atheist heretics (Double Standard 4)
47:49 Atheists refuse to criticize Islam (Double Standard 5)
55:39 Outro

Debate Breakdown w/ Ben Burgis: Christopher Hitchens vs. David Berlinski



This is my appearance on Ben Burgis’s channel. Ben and I listen to and comment on a debate between Christopher Hitchens and David Berlinkski over the motion “Atheism poisons everything.”

The video

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CA104 How did religion evolve? w/ Naturalism Next



Naturalism Next joins me to discuss “the cognitive science argument against theism.” We talk about the psychology of religion, hyperactive agency detection, signaling theory, and more on the evolutionary origins of religious belief. Crucially, theories from modern cognitive science of religion are antecedently more likely on naturalism than on theism, and so provide good evidence against theism.
We have plausible natural mechanisms that account for religious belief and practice – how they form and how they spread. The persistence and prevalence of religious belief can be understood through the framework of evolutionary theory and cognitive science of religion, providing us an answer to the question, “If God doesn’t exist, why does nearly everyone believe in God?”
The first half of this episode is about the cognitive science of religion, and the latter half is on why the cognitive science of religion is evidence favoring naturalism over theism. Something for the psychology of religion nerds and philosophy of religion nerds alike.
Music by ichika Nito & Whalers. Used with permission.
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Bonus: The Fall – w/ Christian Idealism & Invoking Theism



I’m joined by Christian Idealism and Invoking Theism to discuss how they see the Fall as non-young earth creationists. This was an impromptu recording in my hotel room at the Capturing Christianity conference in Houston. (You also might recognize the introductions from the previous episode.) 

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CA103 Defeat, Evil, & Hell – w/ Christian Idealism & Invoking Theism



I’m joined by Christian Idealism and Invoking Theism to discuss the problem of evil, the defeat condition, eternal conscious torment, alternative models of the afterlife, and whether we can have sex in hell. We’re also joined on mic by John Buck for a few minutes. This was an impromptu recording in my hotel room at the Capturing Christianity conference in Houston.

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CA102 The Most Plausible Form of Christianity



I outline a version of Christianity that doesn’t suffer from some of the problems that I find the most troubling. Universalism, in conjunction with a handful of other views, seems capable of smoothing over some of my biggest reasons for rejecting theism.
This is a clip from a longer interview on Adherent Apologetics. We didn’t plan on covering this subject, but I was asked near the end of the interview about what I considered to be the most viable form of Christianity. Universalism has been on my mind a lot in the past month or so, and this seemed like a good way of kicking off the exploration on this podcast. If we’re to steelman Christianity and attack it at its best, this is to my mind the version that deserves our attention.
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CA101 Five Arguments Against God w/ Jonathan MS Pearce



I’m joined by the author of “30 Arguments Against The Existence of ‘God’: Heaven, Hell, Satan, and Divine Design” to discuss five arguments raised in his new book.

Watch the interview on YouTube here

Jonathan’s column on OnlySky

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CA100 A Catholic and an Atheist Debate God



Emerson Green defends the motion “God probably does not exist” against John Buck. Moderated by the Non-Alchemist.

YouTube: A Catholic and an Atheism Debate God and Religion

Transcript of Emerson’s opening statement

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Roadmap:

Introduction (2 min)

John’s Opening Statement (20 min)

First Cross-Examination (5 min)

Emerson’s Opening Statement (20 min)

Second Cross-Exam (5 min)

John’s Rebuttal (12 min)

Emerson’s Rebuttal (12 min)

John’s Closing Statement (5 min)

Emerson’s Closing Statement (5 min)

Audience Q&A


CA99 Teleological Evil



There are many famous examples of unintelligent design in nature, but what about malevolent design? Some natural systems are aimed at producing suffering: they cause suffering by acting in accordance with their natural purpose, function, or design plan. Why would we infer a benevolent, omnipotent designer from malevolent design?

The fact that predation – a striking example of teleological evil – is a prominent feature of the biological order is very surprising on theism. Predation isn’t a feature of the biological order because animals are acting against their design plan – exactly the opposite. The fact that animals must savagely kill and devour each other in order to survive is strong evidence against the hypothesis that nature was designed, directly or indirectly, by an unsurpassably great being of perfect love and goodness.

The Problem of Teleological Evil – Felipe Leon [exapologist]

An Atheological Argument from Evil Natural Laws – Quentin Smith [infidels]

Justin Schieber of Real Atheology interviews Quentin Smith (2017) [YouTube]

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CA98 Religious Experience & Conclusion (Devil’s Advocate pt. 3)



We conclude our Devil’s Advocate series with religious experience, a summary of the arguments we’ve discussed, and why I’m still an atheist. I also offer a few thoughts on the debate between atheists and theists.

The Full Series

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CA97 Widespread Theistic Belief & Religious Disagreement (Devil’s Advocate pt. 2)



I recently participated in a “devil’s advocate” debate on God’s existence. Today, we continue to take a closer look at the arguments I raised. We discuss the common consent argument, epistemic authorities, soteriology, universalism, eternal conscious torment, religious diversity, and divine hiddenness.

This is part two of a three-part series. The full series is available now for patrons AND on YouTube for subscribers to the channel: https://youtu.be/qzV3E5NcDTA

00:00 Introduction & the argument from widespread theistic belief

11:00 The consensus of experts

15:57 Religious disagreement (diversity, discord, confusion, etc.)

37:06 Divine Hiddenness

47:02 A few more thoughts on religious disagreement

52:03 The value of disagreement

55:33 Final Thoughts

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Transcript of my Opening Statement

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CA96 Debunking Myself on God (pt. 1)



I recently participated in a “devil’s advocate” debate on God’s existence. Today, we take a closer look at the arguments I raised. We talk about the general approach of building a cumulative case for naturalism and theism, the argument from the existence of consciousness, and the argument from psychophysical harmony.

This is part one of a three-part series. The full series is available now for patrons AND on YouTube for subscribers to the channel: https://youtu.be/qzV3E5NcDTA

00:00 Introduction

01:08 Models of God

03:19 Methodology

08:27 The Existence of Consciousness – Is this understated evidence?

21:49 Psychophysical Harmony

33:17 Final Thoughts

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Transcript of my Opening Statement

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CA95 The Argument from Psychophysical Harmony w/ Dustin Crummett



Dr. Dustin Crummett joins me to discuss a new argument from consciousness for theism. Though psychophysical harmony is evidence for theism, it may be equally good evidence for non-theistic hypotheses that I find interesting, like axiarchism and natural teleology.

**In the initial presentation of the argument (the first ten minutes or so), we assume that epiphenomenalism—the idea that consciousness has no physical effects—is true, but this is just for convenience, as psychophysical harmony is a puzzle for all (or nearly all) metaphysical views of the mind.

Psychophysical Harmony: A New Argument for Theism (Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion) 

Philip Goff & Joshua Rasmussen – The Nature of the Cosmic Mind 

Philip Goff – Axiarchism, cosmopsychism, the fine-tuning problem (Aeon) 

A Christian Philosopher Answers Common Objections to Same-Sex Marriage – Dustin Crummett 

In Defense of Socialism | Dr. Dustin Crummett 

Applied Ethics: Abortion & Gun Control | Dr. Dustin Crummett 

dustincrummett.com

/  /  /

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CA94 Logical Fallacies?



Take a look at nearly any book on critical thinking and you’ll come across a list of fallacies: ad hominem, argument from ignorance, appeal to emotion, appeal to authority, post hoc ergo propter hoc, god of the gaps, and so on. The problem is that many of these “fallacies” closely resemble good lines of reasoning. Overreliance on fallacy lists – common practice in the skeptic community – fosters shallow criticism, distracts from the substance of an issue, and doesn’t even accomplish the ostensible purpose of demarcating good and bad reasoning.

I’m hard on skeptics in this episode, but that’s because I used to lean on this crutch myself. Over time, the usefulness of this approach struck me as less and less credible, and talk about fallacies tapered off. Fortunately, philosophers like Maarten Boudry and Michael Huemer, whose work you can find below, explained in clear terms what is so unhelpful about this mode of thinking. “Fallacy theory,” as Boudry calls it, is only one feature of a shallow, facile mode of philosophizing, one which isn’t very conducive to a genuine search for truth. I would suggest that one way of improving the quality of our discourse would be to lay off the fallacy accusations a bit. It would lead to a more fruitful search for knowledge and understanding.

After the first five minutes or so of big picture criticism, the bulk of the episode is dedicated to concrete examples, focusing on the ad hominem fallacy, ad populum, “correlation does not imply causation” – the post hoc ergo propter hoc (or cum hoc) fallacy – and begging the question.

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The Fallacy Fork: Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Fallacy Theory – Maarten Boudry

Playing Fallacy “Gotcha!” – Maarten Boudry

Knowledge, Reality, and Value: A Mostly Common Sense Guide to Philosophy – Michael Huemer

The Fake, the Flimsy, and the Fallacious: Demarcating Arguments in Real LifeMaarten Boudry, Fabio Paglieri & Massimo Pigliucci 

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Transcript

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Meager Moral Fruits Discussion – Guest Appearance on Jonathan MS Pearce’s Show



Jonathan MS Pearce is an author, speaker, and columnist who recently wrote an article on the meager moral fruits argument. Jonathan invited me on his YouTube channel, A Tippling Philosopher, to speak about the argument and a few common criticisms offered in response to it. We also discuss state atheism, liberalism, favorite books, and open theism.

The interview on YouTube

My version of the argument

Jonathan’s article

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CA93 Is Mormonism the Best Version of Christianity? — with Tarik D. LaCour



Tarik D. LaCour is a Ph.D. student in philosophy and an M.S. student in psychology. He is a philosopher and cognitive scientist whose primary research interests are in the philosophy of psychology, cognitive science, and bioethics. He also writes about politics “from a conservative point of view,” and also on religion, from his perspective as a member of the LDS Church. Here’s an excerpt from a profile in Public Square Magazine entitled “A Latter-day Saint Empiricist”:

“LaCour is a growing figure in the Latter-day Saint intellectual community, no doubt largely due to the unexpected nature of his takes on almost everything. His social media leaps from brooding observations on science and philosophy to deadpan quips about politics and sports. In fact, the way LaCour evades easy categorization is surely part of his draw. He’s pessimistic, but not cynical. He cares about social justice but frequently deviates from popular narratives. … He’s a devout member of the Church, but openly embraces scientism (his Twitter handle is @realscientistic).”

Tarik and I discuss the LDS worldview and how it differs from other forms of Christianity. Mormons have deep disagreements with other Christians about the nature of God, soteriology, the afterlife, and much else. Further, these differences may provide philosophical advantages that favor Mormonism relative to other versions of Christianity. Tarik and I also discuss his scientism, empiricism, and eliminativism, and how these views intersect with his Mormonism.

Watch on YouTube here

The Scientistic Stance 

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A few thoughts on Mormonism

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CA92 The Meager Moral Fruits Argument



Does Christianity bear the kind of fruit one might expect if it were true? Does naturalism or Christian theism better predict the moral fruits and lack thereof that we actually observe? Naturalists would expect Christianity to produce a mixed bag, like any other man-made institution. Christianity leads one to form loftier expectations.

There’s much more to say about this argument than we cover today, but we manage to lay out the essential core of the argument: a Theological Premise, an Empirical Premise, and a Moral Premise. The Theological Premise is, roughly speaking, the claim that Christianity should bear appreciable moral fruit, and that Christian theism and naturalism make different predictions: they lead us to form different expectations about the world. The Empirical Premise is meant to establish some relevant fact about the world. The Moral Premise affirms a moral fact or normative judgment. We defend each of these premises and work the meager moral fruits argument into a cumulative case for naturalism.

I might believe in the Redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed.” – Nietzsche 

For a discussion of Paul Draper’s original argument from meager moral fruits, see my video on Draper’s Case for Naturalism

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Transcript

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Is Free Will An Illusion? with Theoretical Bullshit



I’m joined by Scott Clifton (Theoretical Bullshit) to discuss free will skepticism, compatibilism, moral responsibility, revenge, and killing coyotes.
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CA91 Why won’t God heal amputees?



For the believer who advances the argument from miracles, the question of why God won’t heal amputees can be a thorn in the side. If God is willing to perform healing miracles – miracles that should convince anyone – why hasn’t God restored the lost limbs of amputees?

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Transcript 

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CA90 Hell: Eternal Conscious Torment



I argue that the notion of eternal conscious torment (ECT) leads to absurdities, and that theists can easily avoid these absurdities by abandoning ECT. For example, a believer in ECT must defend the following proposition: “A perfectly good, merciful, just, and loving God superintends the eternal conscious torment of human beings.” This proposition is incoherent simply in virtue of the meaning of those words. (The word “superintend” implies responsibility without suggesting that God is directly involved in the minutia of operations.) If a being oversees the eternal torment of humans, that being is not perfectly loving, good, merciful, or just. But these divine attributes are far more central to theism than ECT. Since ECT leads to conflicts with core aspects of theism, and since ECT is not itself a core aspect of theism, theists should not believe ECT.

So, either God doesn’t exist, and there isn’t anything to worry about; or God exists, and we shouldn’t fear eternal conscious torment precisely because the God of theism exists. If God’s nature is anything like theists have traditionally affirmed – good, merciful, just, and loving – eternal conscious torment is not a feature of the world.

Whether atheists or theists are right, there is no reason to be afraid of eternal conscious torment.

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Glenn Peoples vs. Ben Watkins on Hell, Annihilationism, and Universalism

Ben Watkins – Brief on Hell 

Transcript 

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CA89 Why I don’t spend more time on contingency arguments



Arguments from contingency are widely considered to be among the strongest offered in defense of God. The results of the 2020 PhilPapers Survey have cosmological arguments ranked as the strongest family of arguments for theism. So why don’t I spend more time worrying about cosmological and contingency arguments?

Even those unfamiliar with cosmological arguments will have encountered the perennial “Why is there something rather than nothing” out in the wild. If a theist wants to know why there is something rather than nothing, then, for the sake of argument, I’ll say that however they explain the existence of God, that’s how I explain the existence of nature.

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What is Naturalism? – Walden Pod



Naturalists, according to David Papinau, author of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on naturalism, urge “that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing ‘supernatural’.” Naturalism “has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy” beyond this, along with an emphasis on science as a means to understand the natural world.
Naturalism is the view that there is only the natural world. I defend this simple conception of naturalism, ward off a few criticisms, and argue that there’s a kind of parity between the terms “theism” and “naturalism.” In other words, if you don’t have a problem with the term “theism,” you shouldn’t have a problem with “naturalism.”
Is God the Best Explanation of Things? A Dialogue – Joshua Rasmussen & Felipe Leon (this wasn’t mentioned in the episode, but Leon does a wonderful job fleshing out “liberal naturalism”
/ / /

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/ / /
a few elaborations of naturalism…
“By ‘naturalism’ I mean the view that the world contains a single basic type of stuff, whose behavior is governed by a single set of simple, general laws, and that these laws are those revealed by science. The most common version of naturalism among contemporary philosophers is physicalism, the view that the world is entirely made up of matter, and matter is exhaustively described by physics. But some philosophers reject physicalism, even while accepting naturalism, holding that matter is not exhaustively described by physics—there are fundamental aspects of matter that physics is blind to. In particular (they tend to say), there are certain things each of us can know about matter, such as that one particular portion of matter (the one between our ears) sometimes feels and thinks and experiences, which go beyond both what physics itself says and what can be deduced from any physical description, no matter how detailed. Because facts about my consciousness are left out by any purely physical descriptions, these ‘naturalistic anti-physicalists’ infer that consciousness must be itself a fundamental feature of reality, no more derivable from physical properties than mass is derivable from charge.”
Luke Roelofs
“Naturalism is a philosophy according to which there is only one world — the natural world, which exhibits unbroken patterns (the laws of nature), and which we can learn about through hypothesis testing and observation. In particular, there is no supernatural world — no gods, no spirits, no transcendent meanings. I like to talk about a particular approach to naturalism, which can be thought of as Poetic. By that I mean to emphasize that, while there is only one world, there are many ways of talking about the world. “Ways of talking” shouldn’t be underestimated; they can otherwise be labeled “theories” or “models” or “vocabularies” or “stories,” and if a particular way of talking turns out to be sufficiently accurate and useful, the elements in its corresponding vocabulary deserve to be called real.”
Sean Carroll
“Naturalism says that causal reality is natural reality: the domain of causes is nothing more nor less than the natural world. Atheism says that there are no gods; in consequence, atheism says that there is no God. Naturalism entails atheism: if causal reality is natural reality, then there is no (supernatural) cause of natural reality, and, in particular, there is no God. But atheism does not entail naturalism: to deny that there are gods is not to insist that causal reality is natural reality. . . . Supernaturalism says that causal reality outstrips natural reality: there are supernatural causes. . . . This ‘minimal’ conception of naturalism relies on a prior understanding of the distinction between the natural and the supernatural (as did our ‘minimal’ conception of theism). We shall proceed on the assumption that we do understand this distinction well enough. If we come to have doubts about whether we do understand this distinction well enough, then we can return to give it more careful consideration. ‘Minimal naturalism’ admits of elaboration in many different – mutually inconsistent – ways. Any suitably elaborated naturalism will hold that some features of the natural world are primitive – not susceptible of further explanation – whereas other features of the natural world are fully explained in terms of those primitive features. Thus, for example, some naturalists suppose that all of the primitive features of the natural world are physical features – i.e. features that lie in the proper domain of the discipline of physics. Other naturalists suppose that there are features of the natural world . . . that cannot be fully explained in terms of the fundamental physical properties. The key point to note is that all naturalists suppose that there are no supernatural causal properties…”
Graham Oppy

CA88 ID Theorist Accidentally Produces Evidence Against Intelligent Design



The Discovery Institute, an ID thinktank, has a list of “Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design.” On this list is an article authored by Michael Behe, alleging to prove the irreducible complexity of certain protein binding sites. However, his experiment demonstrated the exact opposite point as intended. He had to rig his study to an incredible degree, only to fall short nonetheless.

Watch it on YouTube here: Intelligent Design Theorist Accidentally Produces Scientific Evidence Against Intelligent Design

Behe’s article, “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues”

For more on intelligent design, irreducible complexity, and evolutionary biology, check out my Biology and Design playlist

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7 Questions for Christians



watch the video version here

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Transcript 

Linktree

Answers in Reason – Ten Questions for Theists

Braxton Hunter – Ten Questions for Atheists

my responses to Braxton

and here are links to a few of the arguments I mentioned in Question 7:
Schellenberg’s argument from hiddenness

CA87 God & Evolution



We’ll be exploring what the discovery of evolution potentially means for religion. Is evolution evidence against theism? If so, why? Is it incompatible with Christianity, as some Christians maintain? What is the conceptual landscape vis-à-vis evolution and theism—as in, what is the range of potential options available to a religious believer when it comes to evolution? We also briefly discuss evolutionary evil as evidence against God’s existence, and argue that the acceptance of evolution does not dissolve all the problems that arise between evolution and theism. Accepting evolution doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.

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Transcript (and further links)

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Joe Schmid & Micah Edvenson on Evolutionary Evil

Joe Schmid & Non-Alchemist on Evolutionary Evil


CA86 The Argument from Scale



Human beings seem cosmically unimportant. Though certainly from God’s perspective, we are more important than stars, rocks, vast stretches of empty space and time, and other things that don’t seem to possess any value in and of themselves, the latter group seems to have been afforded the lion’s share of the cosmos. Human beings, presumably the jewel of God’s creation, don’t seem to be the main event. So, does this favor naturalism or theism? Is the unimaginable vastness of time and space, and the lack of human centrality therein more probable on naturalism, or on theism?

If the universe is indifferent to human life, it’s no surprise that humans seem cosmically unimportant, not occupying a position of centrality or significance in an incomprehensibly vast ocean of space. The reality of our situation is sharply contrasted with the one our ancestors imagined themselves to be in. As William Lane Craig put it, “on the cozy, pre-Copernican cosmology—what C. S. Lewis called ‘the discarded image’ of the cosmos—theism seemed vastly more probable than atheism. Like a Fabergé egg, the little universe centered on the Earth, with the spheres of the planets and fixed stars revolving about it, cried out for an explanation in terms of a Cosmic Designer.”

We also discuss the “symmetry of evidence” and get a bit into the weeds of Bayes’ theorem.

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/ / / 

On likelihoodism observation O is evidence for hypothesis H over ¬H iff P(O|H) > P(O|¬H). 

Since P(O|H) + P(¬O|H) = 1 and P(O|¬H) + P(¬O|¬H) = 1, we can insert it into the prior formula to get an interesting result:

1 – P(¬O|H) > 1 – P(¬O|¬H)

P(¬O|¬H) > P(¬O|H)

So, in English, O is evidence for H over ¬H iff ¬O is evidence for ¬H over H. The means that you can have evidence for a hypothesis iff you can have evidence against a hypothesis.

Two other ways of expressing the same point that “O is evidence for H over ¬H iff ¬O is evidence for ¬H over H”:

P(h|e) > P(h) iff P(h|~e) < P(h)

E being evidence for H entails that ~E is evidence for ~H

Read more here from Hugh Jidiette

or here from Michael Huemer

William Lane Craig – Does the Vastness of the Universe Support Naturalism?

Emily Thomas – Does the size of the universe prove God doesn’t exist?

Carl Sagan – The Cosmic Calendar

After 350 Years, Vatican Says Galileo Was Right – NYT

New Scientist – Vatican admits Galileo was right

Arguments from Scale – Tim Mulgan


CA85 Conversation with The Non-Alchemist: Deconversion, Atheism, and Apologetics



Today, I’m speaking with The Non-Alchemist about the trials and tribulations of deconversion, reasons for being an atheist, lacktheism, Calvinism, Christian double-standards regarding testimonial evidence, the state of apologetics, what stuff is real, and more. Here’s this interview on YouTube with video (this episode was recorded on Streamyard and originally posted on YouTube).

NA’s channel

Emerson’s appearance on NA’s channel

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Debate: Is evil strong evidence against God?



Here’s my debate with Zac of Adherent Apologetics on the problem of evil, hosted by the NonAlchemist. I focus on the problem of animal suffering and defend an argument called the teleological argument from evil.

Video of the debate here

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CA84 Why I Am An Atheist



There are five reasons, broadly, why I’m an atheist: 

I. We don’t need God to explain anything.

II. There are few phenomena that are better explained by theistic models than by atheistic models.

III. There are many phenomena that are better explained by atheistic models than by theistic models.

IV. Theism is more metaphysically profligate than naturalism as an explanation.

V. Theism suffers from various internal problems.

We discuss each of these reasons, abductive atheology, and several issues related to atheism.

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YouTube

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Transcript 

/ / / 

Abductive Atheology – Timothy Perrine & Stephen Wykstra

Paul Draper’s Case for Naturalism (with transcript)

Graham Oppy explains “The Best Argument Against God”

Richard Swinburne on building a cumulative case

A few thoughts on what it means to be an atheist

On Atheism’s Intuitive Appeal:

100,000 Years

God’s Checklist

The “Good News”


CA83 Hume on the Argument from Design



Today we discuss the evergreen critique of the design argument from David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
Hume’s skepticism is aimed at the inference to a designer on the basis of our observations of natural objects and their analogy to human artifacts. When two objects are similar effects – say a house and another house – we’re on solid footing when we infer a similar cause. To the extent that two objects are similar effects, we have grounds for inferring a similar cause. But as Hume points out, human artifacts and natural objects are not similar effects. Their dissimilarities vastly outnumber any similarities. So, we don’t actually have much ground for inferring a similar cause. Further, inferring a “similar cause” would not lead one to the orthodoxly conceived monotheistic god. We’d be led to an imperfect designer (or designers), finite in their power, knowledge, and goodness.
Hume on the Design Argument [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Condemn the Architect: Hume’s Answer to Skeptical Theists (Bonus Episode)



Happy birthday, David Hume! I thought I’d share Hume (or more accurately, Philo) casually destroying skeptical theism in Part XI of Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. His analogy of an architect and a poorly constructed house arose in a discussion of the problem of evil between Philo and Cleanthes, two of Hume’s fictional characters in the Dialogues.
Skeptical theism is no excuse for the poor final result, even if skeptical theists (correctly) claim that making adjustments here or there would affect the causal web negatively overall. If the architect had skill and good intentions, they could’ve constructed a different causal web that didn’t suffer from these problems. Skeptical theism will never be satisfying, since a designer infinite in knowledge and power would have been able to construct a different web entirely, one that wasn’t interconnected in such a way that the prevention of terrible suffering would somehow lead to goods being prevented or worse evils coming to be.
Transcript to this episode: emersongreenblog.wordpress.com/2021/05/07/condemn-the-architect-david-humes-answer-to-skeptical-theists/

CA82 What the ‘agnostic atheist’ graph gets wrong



Can you be an “agnostic atheist,” or are those terms mutually exclusive? I try to explain how the famous four quadrant graph misunderstands the nature of belief, knowledge, and agnosticism.

the chart in question

Joe Schmid on Agnosticism and Justification [YouTube]

Gettier and knowledge with Kane B and Cole Nasrallah [YouTube]

What is knowledge? [SEP]

The Analysis of Knowledge [SEP]

Graham Oppy – Atheism: The Basics [Amazon]

Transcript for this episode

twitter.com/waldenpod (@waldenpod)

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Debate: Is evil evidence against God? Emerson Green vs. Dr. Khaldoun Aziz Sweis



Here’s the audio from my recent debate hosted by Adherent Apologetics on the problem of evil. I argue that with respect to suffering, the world looks about as we’d expect it to look if god did not exist. Atheists can do a much better job explaining the kinds, degree, and distribution of suffering we observe in our world. Specifically, I appealed to three lines of evidence: The biological role of pain and pleasure, gratuitous suffering, and divine silence during tragedies.

(note – I accidentally said “When I was an atheist,” near the beginning when I meant to say, “When I first became an atheist.”)

/ / /

A few recent appearances on other channels:

Consciousness and Atheism with John Buck and Craig Reed TCR

Tjump and Emerson Green on Panpsychism – The Right to Reason Podcast

Deconversion and Atheism with The Non-Alchemist

 

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CA81 Skeptical Theism



We discuss several reasons to doubt skeptical theism, including Paul Draper’s objection, phenomenal conservatism, divine silence during tragedies, Pandora’s box, and moral paralysis.
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/ / /
 
/ / /
 
S = some facts about suffering
I = the hypothesis of indifference
T = the hypothesis of theism
 
(1) Pr(S/I) = quite high
(2) Pr(S/T) = quite low
(3) Therefore, Pr(S/I) > Pr(S/T)
(4) Therefore, S is evidence is that favors indifference over theism
 
/ / /
 
00:00-03:32 Evidential arguments from evil
03:33-06:38 The theological premise
06:39-08:59 Skeptical theism
09:00-13:32 Concrete examples of gratuitous suffering
13:33-15:31 Draper’s objection
15:32-17:28 Phenomenal conservatism
17:29-21:02 Moral unintelligibility
21:03-22:59 Divine silence during tragedies
23:00-30:25 Pandora’s box, reliable cognitive faculties, & moral paralysis
30:26-36:12 Conclusion

CA80 Secular Christianity with Philip Goff



Non-believing Christian Philip Goff joins us to discuss religious fictionalism, literalism, religious language, Jordan Peterson, the resurrection, the spread of Christianity, the transcendent, and Christianity without theism.
After the interview, I try to work through my thoughts on secular Christianity. I reflect on antitheism, fundamentalism, and what replaces religion after the death of god.
Philip is a philosopher who teaches at Durham University. He is the author of Galileo’s Error and Consciousness and Fundamental Reality. He’s published more than forty academic papers, and his writing has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian and The Times Literary Supplement.
You can follow Goff on Twitter @Philip_Goff and Emerson @waldenpod
Sean Carrolls Speech (begins at 1:23:13) [YouTube]
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Music by Whalers. Additional music by ichika Nito. Both were used with permission.

CA79 Paul Draper’s Case for Naturalism



In his 1997 debate with William Lane Craig, Paul Draper considers seven lines of evidence and asks if they are more expected on theism or on naturalism. He argues that the meager moral fruits of theism, mind-brain dependence, evolution, the biological role of pain and pleasure, tragedies, divine silence during tragedies, and religious confusion are not what we would expect to find if theism were true. The world looks about as one would expect it to look if god did not exist.
Christians and atheists are both capable of accounting for what we observe. Certainty is not on the table. So what are we to do? According to Draper, we should ask: Is this fact likely given naturalism? Or is it surprising given naturalism? Is that datum to be expected on theism? Or is it not exactly what we would expect? Then we should survey the total evidence and see which worldview fares better overall.
Paul Draper [Infidels.org]
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The Atheism & Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft



This Halloween, we’ll be discussing the life and work of the great horror author, H.P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft’s atheism 00:00 – 07:38

Biographical details 07:39 – 12:50

Lovecraft’s reanimation and influence on culture 12:51 – 18:02

Lovecraft and the unknown 18:03 – 20:22

Forbidden knowledge and a New Dark Age 20:23 – 26:14

Fast zombies 26:15 – 27:27

More on the Lovecraftian mythos 27:28 – 29:13

Lovecraft’s writing style 29:14 – 38:54

Lovecraft’s racism 38:55 – 43:19

The Old Church Lady and art 43:20 – 45:46

Horror and its critics 45:47 – 48:20

/ / / 

FREE LOVECRAFT AUDIOBOOKS

Dagon

The Rats in the Walls

The Shadow Out Of Time

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

At the Mountains of Madness

The Call of Cthulhu

/ / / 

MORE LOVECRAFT PODCASTS

Chapo Trap House on Lovecraft [YouTube]

Lovecraft Literary Podcast [HP Podcraft]

Patton Oswalt [HP Podcraft]

Patton Oswalt with Chapo Trap House [Patreon]

/ / / 

READINGS ABOUT LOVECRAFT

hplovecraft.com

Emma Stefansky – Primer on the works of HP Lovecraft [Polygon]

HP Lovecraft’s 125th Birthday [The Atlantic]

Nnedi Okorafor – Lovecraft Award [blogspot]

Criticism of Lovecraft’s Writing Style [The Guardian]  

Criticism/Praise for Lovecraft [The Guardian]

The Philosophy of Horror – Noel Carroll [PhilPapers]

Against Religion – HP Lovecraft [Amazon]

The Portable Atheist – Christopher Hitchens [Amazon] 

Complete List of Lovecraft’s Short Stories [hplovecraft]

/ / / 

Transcripts available at emersongreenblog.wordpress.com

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Dark Lofi (outro music) [YouTube]

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My Top 25 Horror Movies [Letterboxd]

Check out my review of Hereditary, the most overrated horror film in cinematic history, over on Walden Pod.

/ / / 

 


Bonus: The EA Show – Interview with Emerson Green



This is the audio from my appearance on The Empathetic Atheist YouTube show. Justin & Andy ask me what I take to be the best argument against god and what I take to be the worst argument for god. I apologize for the audio (as well as the video) quality. I don’t know how to properly stream and my internet is terrible!

The EA Show – Interview with Emerson Green: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f59q8x1yqSY


CA78 Young Earth Creationism & the Distant Starlight Problem



Young earth creationists believe that the earth, humankind, and the universe are approximately six-thousand years old. Scientifically, this is a fringe view, not taken seriously by anyone outside religious circles. However, the majority of Christians in the United States are young earthers.

Today, we discuss one particular problem for young earth cosmologies: the distant starlight problem. We can see stars that are millions and millions of light years away. If it’s true that the universe is only a few thousand years old, then why can we see stars more than a few thousand light years away?

40% of Americans Believe in Creationism [Gallup]

William Lane Craig on young earth creationism [YouTube]

Ken Ham on young earth creationism [YouTube]

Light-In-Transit and Anisotropic Synchrony Convention – Jason Lisle [AiG]

Jason Lisle – The Speed of Light and the ASC [YouTube]

The One-Way Speed of Light [YouTube]

Conventionality of Simultaneity [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Starlight and Time – Russell Humphreys [GoogleBooks]

William Lane Craig on the Kalam & Theories of Time [YouTube]

Kalam & the A Theory – Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (pgs. 183-184) [PDF]

PBS – How we know the universe is ancient [YouTube]

PBS – How we know the earth is ancient [YouTube]

The Age of the Universe – Sixty Symbols [YouTube]

/ / / 

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CA77 Since Matter First Writhed: The Mystery of Abiogenesis



Abiogenesis is the process by which life arises from non-living matter. Though life’s origin is an open question, abiogenesis research is a thriving interdisciplinary enterprise. In spite of this, many apologists have argued that it’s unlikely we will ever have a scientific explanation of abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is so improbable on naturalism, they say, that we should be open to supernatural explanations. I argue that abiogenesis is not improbable on naturalism, and also attempt to unravel the numerous errors creationists make when discussing the origins of life.

Astrobiologist Stuart Bartlett on What “Life” Means [Mindscape Podcast]

Astrobiology at NASA – Defining and Detecting Life [NASA]

Darwin’s Warm Little Pond Revisited: From Molecules to the Origin of Life – Hartmut Follmann & Carol Brownson [PubMed]

Michael Russell on Alkaline Hydrothermal Vents [JPL]

Clay may have been birthplace of life on Earth [ScienceDaily]

Michael Russell on Emergent Structures in Nature [YouTube]

Meteorites Reveal Another Way to Make Life’s Components [NASA]

The Origins of Life [GreatCourses]

The Elemental Ingredients of Life are Common [wiki]

Jackson Wheat – A Few Ideas in Abiogenesis Research [YouTube]

The Replicators (Chp. 2 of The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins) [text]

Why Abiogenesis is Impossible – Creation Research Society Quarterly [PDF]

Intelligent Design, Abiogenesis, and Learning from History: A Reply to Stephen Meyer – Dennis R. Venema [PDF]

Peanut Butter – The Atheist’s Worst Nightmare [YouTube]

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@waldenpod

“We left the last hint of polar land behind us, and thanked heaven that we were clear of a haunted, accursed realm where life and death, space and time, have made black and blasphemous alliances in the unknown epochs since matter first writhed and swam on the planet’s scarce-cooled crust.”

— H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness


CA76 The Incoherence of God (pt. III)



We complete our trilogy on igtheism and discuss epistemic questions about god’s attributes, the historical development of god’s nature, the experience of god, god’s relationship with logical truths, absence of evidence, and address the inevitable retreat into transcendence.

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Music by Whalers and ichika Nito and was used with permission.

. . . 

Unintelligible God – Reasonable Doubts [Podchaser]

Bart Ehrman on the Origins of the Trinity [YouTube]

Ozymandias Ramses II on Logical Truth and Omnipotence [YouTube]

Logical Truth and Omnipotence [Reasonable Faith]

YouTube Playlist on Igtheism [YouTube]

Atheism: A Philosophical Justification – Michael Martin [Amazon]


CA75 The Incoherence of God (pt. II)



We define our terms, address Graham Oppy’s claim that igtheism is self-defeating, discuss logical positivism and its relationship with igtheism, and present an igtheist divine hiddenness argument.

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Music by ichika Nito and was used with permission.

. . . 

Ozymandias Ramses II on Theological Noncognitivism – Steve McRae Show [YouTube]

Unintelligible God – Reasonable Doubts [Podchaser]

Rabbi Sherwin Wine coins the term ‘ignostic’ [New York Times]

Atheism: A Philosophical Justification – Michael Martin [Amazon]

Response to Matt Dillahunty’s Criticism of Igtheism [YouTube]

TMM on Igtheism [YouTube]

YouTube Playlist on Igtheism [YouTube]

Atheism: The Case Against God – George Smith [Google Books]

A Disproof of God’s Existence – Colin McGinn [Skeptic]

/ A Note on Terminology /

I use my terminology in a consistent way throughout. As I mentioned, there is no widely recognized standard usage, so it’s important for one to define at the start words like igtheist, incoherent, meaningless, etc. I’m using the terms igtheist, ignostic, and theological noncognitivist as interchangeable, since many already treat them as interchangeable, for better or worse. Trying to establish one as strictly referring to incoherence and another as strictly referring to meaninglessness seems like a hopeless struggle to me, but I apologize for any confusion that resulted from the use of ‘theological noncognitivist’. I only insist on distinguishing two branches of thought that are too often conflated: the related but distinct views that god’s attributes are meaningless and god’s attributes are incoherent. Respectively, one means god talk is without content and the other means god’s attributes don’t cohere, which assumes some content. I’m primarily interested in the latter.

 


CA74 The Incoherence of God (pt. I)



Can we make any sense of the idea of god? God is supposed to be an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, timeless, spaceless, immutable, disembodied conscious mind. We begin our series on igtheism by discussing several problems with these divine attributes. Is god unintelligible? Is this episode unintelligible? You’ll have to be the judge.

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Music by ichika Nito and was used with permission.

/ Resources on Igtheism /

Atheism: A Philosophical Justification – Michael Martin [Amazon]

Ozymandias Ramses II on Theological Noncognitivism – Steve McRae Show [YouTube]

Response to Matt Dillahunty’s Criticism of Igtheism [YouTube]

TMM on Igtheism [YouTube]

YouTube Playlist on Igtheism [YouTube]

Atheism: The Case Against God – George Smith [Google Books]

A Disproof of God’s Existence – Colin McGinn [Skeptic]


CA73 Why Was Jesus Killed?



Why did the Romans kill Jesus? When I was a Christian, I was taught that the Jews were primarily responsible for the death of Jesus. The Romans may have carried it out, but it was ultimately motivated by Jesus’s conflict with Jewish authorities over his transgressions of Jewish law (calling himself god, blasphemy, etc.). Crucifixion, however, was a Roman punishment carried out by the Roman government for violating Roman laws — not a Jewish punishment carried out by Jewish authorities for violating Jewish laws. If Jesus was crucified, it was because he ran afoul of the Romans, not the Jews. So why did the Roman authorities want to execute Jesus?

We also discuss the historical Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, human sacrifice, and the bad faith of William Lane Craig.

This week I’ll also be appearing on Embrace the Void with Aaron Rabinowitz and The Right to Reason with Robert Stanley.

Past Easter episodes:

CA48 William Lane Craig’s Four Facts about the Resurrection

CA26 The Spread of Christianity

CA25 “Who would die for a lie?”

CA24 The Resurrection of Jesus

Is there historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? (This is where Craig repeatedly lies about Joseph of Arimathea) [Reasonable Faith]

Why Was Jesus Killed? [Bart Ehrman Blog]

Anti-Judaism in the Gospels [Ehrman Blog]

Jesus Smuggling – Rationality Rules [YouTube]

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CA72 Moral Luck and Free Will Skepticism with Aaron Rabinowitz



I’m joined by Aaron Rabinowitz of Embrace the Void and Philosophers in Space to discuss moral luck, moral judgement, and whether it’s ever justified to hate a person.

Our first discussion on The Right to Reason Podcast: https://therighttoreason.podbean.com/e/panpsychism-debate/

Thomas Nagel – Moral Luck [PDF]

Galen Strawson – Things That Bother Me [Amazon]

Moral Luck [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

You can listen to Aaron on Embrace the Void here and Philosophers in Space here

Follow Aaron on Twitter @ETVpod and Emerson @waldenpod

Free Will – Counter Apologetics (2017) [YouTube]

“Tumors all the way down” [Very Bad Wizards]

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CA71 Leibniz’s Argument from Contingency



We discuss Occam’s Razor and simplicity, the principle of sufficient reason, and brute facts.

Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): The principle that everything must have an explanation, reason, cause, or ground.

Brute fact: Something with no further explanation.

*Edit* I used “brute fact” to simply mean “explanatory termination” in this episode. A brute fact, however, even if it’s the place where our explanations ultimately come to an end, may not be true in all possible worlds. If it was true in all possible worlds, we wouldn’t call it a brute fact; we would call it a metaphysical necessity. In other words, if x is brute, x may not have been.

/ Leibniz’s Contingency Argument /

  1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).
  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God (a necessary being).
  3. The universe exists.
  4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence.
  5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

I reject the principle of sufficient reason (the first premise) because I think there must be at least one brute fact, and because the PSR is arguably self-refuting. I also don’t think the universe needs an explanation for its existence, assuming we’re defining universe in the broadest possible sense. I need to add that caveat because what has previously been called “the universe” may in fact only be a part of everything that exists. In the same way that scientists prematurely named certain particles “atoms,” only to find out later they were not in fact atoms, we may have prematurely named a part of the universe, “the universe.” Apologists will sometimes burn a lot of fuel arguing that “the universe” has an explanation, when they’re not really talking about everything that exists, ever has existed and ever will exist. If this all-encompassing whole is not “an arbitrary act of the mind,” then it could be a brute fact. And to be fair, if god existed, god could be a brute fact. But on grounds of simplicity alone, without even touching all the problems with the notion of god, nature or some aspect of nature is a better candidate than god as the place where our explanations ultimately come to an end.

William Lane Craig on Leibniz’s Contingency Argument [Reasonable Faith]

Leibnizian Contingency Argument – InspiringPhilosophy [YouTube]

Contingency Argument [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Principle of Sufficient Reason [SEP]

. . . 

New music used with permission from ichika Nito

ichika Nito’s YouTube channel

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CA70 Why I Am Not A Christian (pt. II)



In 1927, Bertrand Russell delivered a now-famous address entitled ‘Why I Am Not A Christian’. We examine Russell’s contribution to one of the most important questions you can ask yourself: should I be a Christian? Today we discuss the argument from design, the fine-tuning argument, the problem of evil, and the Euthyphro dilemma.
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. . . . This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”
. . .
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CA69 Why I Am Not A Christian (pt. I)



In 1927, Bertrand Russell delivered a now-famous address entitled ‘Why I Am Not A Christian’. We examine Russell’s contribution to one of the most important questions you can ask yourself: should I be a Christian? Today we discuss who counts as a Christian, the first cause argument (as well as a couple other arguments in the same family), and the natural law argument.
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. . . . This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”

CA68 Do Atheists Need Faith? with Ozymandias Ramses II



Ozy and I discuss whether atheists have faith, and whether it’s naive for atheists to hold a reflexively anti-faith position. We also discuss Hume’s problem of induction, external world skepticism, solipsism, properly basic beliefs, certainty, Alvin Plantinga’s Reformed foundationalism, reliabilism and our belief-forming mechanisms, presuppositionalism, movement atheism, and other various issues in epistemology.

You can subscribe to Ozy’s channel here [YouTube]

Ozy, Alex Malpass, and Matt Dillahunty [YouTube]

Ozy and Matt Dillahunty [YouTube]

Ozy on Real Atheology [YouTube]

. . . 

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CA67 Kalam Cosmological Argument: The Nature of Time



We discuss the A and B theories of time and how they relate to the kalam cosmological argument.

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. . . . . 

A and B Theory of Time and the Kalam Argument – William Lane Craig [YouTube]

Why William Lane Craig Thinks Einstein Was Wrong – TMM [YouTube]

Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (pgs. 183-184) [PDF]

Brian Greene on the B-Theory of Time [YouTube]

Sean Carroll on Eternalism vs. Presentism [YouTube]

Sean Carroll on the KCA [YouTube]

NOVA – How an eclipse proved Einstein right [YouTube]

Complete solution to the Twins Paradox – minutephysics [YouTube]


CA66 Materialism, Consciousness, and Atheism



We discuss the relationship between atheism, consciousness, and materialism after debunking arguments from consciousness formulated by Peter Kreeft and William Lane Craig. We also discuss why it’s important for naturalists to think carefully about these issues. I suspect that seemingly unrelated problems arise from our lack of a convincing story about consciousness. Consciousness and related phenomena, like morality and meaning, seem to be a major source of resistance to physicalism, naturalism, and atheism.

[Edit] Based on some of the feedback I’ve received, I feel the need to reiterate a major thesis of this episode: there is no incompatibility between atheism and any explanation of consciousness on offer. Atheism is not mutually exclusive to materialism, idealism, dualism, panpsychism, or any other solution to the mind-body problem. There is nothing one could say about the mind-body problem or the hard problem of consciousness that would count as a strike against atheism.

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. . . . . 

Alvin Plantinga – Against Materialism [PDF]

William Lane Craig – Argument from Intentionality [Reasonable Faith]5

Does consciousness point to God? – Unbelievable [YouTube]

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ben Shapiro [YouTube]

Thomas Nagel – Mind and Cosmos [Amazon]

Arguments from Consciousness [wiki]

 

Here are modern atheist philosophers who hold very different views on consciousness:

Martine Nida-Rümelin, Atheist and Substance Dualist

Galen Strawson, Atheist and Panpsychist

Dan Dennett, Atheist and Materialist

Thomas Nagel, Atheist and Neutral Monist

(Young) Bertrand Russell, Atheist and Idealist

Keith Ward, Christian Idealist

Sharon Dirckx, Christian Substance Dualist

Peter van Inwagen, Christian Materialist


CA65 God and Objective Morality — with Ben Watkins of Real Atheology



Ben Watkins joins me to discuss the moral argument for god’s existence, objective moral truth, the is/ought gap, meta-ethics, and other related topics.

You can listen to Ben’s podcast, Real Atheology, here

Moral Non-Naturalism [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

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H.P. Lovecraft – Halloween Special



This Halloween, we’ll be discussing the life and work of the great horror author, H.P. Lovecraft. 

Lovecraft’s atheism 00:00 – 07:38

Biography 07:39 – 12:50

Lovecraft’s reanimation and influence on culture 12:51 – 18:02

Lovecraft and the unknown 18:03 – 20:22

Forbidden knowledge and a New Dark Age 20:23 – 26:14

Fast zombies 26:15 – 27:27

More on the Lovecraftian mythos 27:28 – 29:13

Lovecraft’s writing style 29:14 – 38:54

Lovecraft’s racism 38:55 – 43:19

Art and the Old Church Lady 43:20 – 45:46

Horror and its critics 45:47 – 48:20

. . . . .

Dagon – HP Lovecraft [YouTube] 

The Call of Cthulhu – HP Lovecraft [YouTube]

The Shadow Out Of Time – HP Lovecraft [YouTube]

The Rats in the Walls [YouTube]

Lovecraft Literary Podcast [HP Podcraft]

Against Religion – HP Lovecraft [Amazon]

The Portable Atheist – Christopher Hitchens [Amazon]

Emma Stefansky – Primer on the works of HP Lovecraft [Polygon]

HP Lovecraft’s 125th Birthday [The Atlantic]

Nnedi Okorafor – Lovecraft Award [blogspot]

Criticism of Lovecraft’s Writing Style [The Guardian]  

Criticism/Praise for Lovecraft [The Guardian]

The Philosophy of Horror – Noel Carroll [PhilPapers]

Dark Lofi (outro song) [YouTube] 

Patton Oswalt [HP Podcraft]

Patton Oswalt with Chapo Trap House [Patreon]

Chapo Trap House – H.P. Lovecraft [YouTube]

. . . . . 

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CA64 Exorcism and the Rise in Demonic Possession



Why is the demand for exorcism on the rise? We discuss the belief in demonic possession, the concurrent rise of anti-science attitudes, the cultural role of religious psychology, and the evolutionary origins of demons. 

Tracie Harris of The Atheist Experience – Exorcisms and Anthropology [YouTube]

Vatican to hold exorcist training course after ‘rise in possessions’ [The Guardian] 

Exorcisms are on the rise [Atlantic] 

A man drowned his 6-year-old son while trying to cast out a demon, police say [Washington Post]

‘Like being raped’: three claims of coerced exorcism in the UK [The Guardian] 

Demonic Possessions – Here and How Podcast [Stitchr] 

. . . . . 

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CA63 Slavery in the Bible



Slavery, the practice of owning people as property, is never condemned in the Holy Bible. In fact, it’s endorsed by God personally in Leviticus 25. We discuss the character of Biblical slavery, and respond to seven common apologetics in defense of the slavery in the Bible. 

Nonstampcollector – Context [YouTube]

Matt Dillahunty – Biblical Slavery [YouTube]

Sam Harris and Ben Shapiro [YouTube] 

Christopher Hitchens and Alister McGrath [YouTube]

Rationality Rules – Biblical Slavery [YouTube]

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CA62 Reformed Epistemology, the Sequel



We discuss relativism, Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith,” the argument from personal experience, certainty, and how it all relates to Plantinga’s Reformed epistemology. 

To those of you who may be wondering why we’re covering Reformed epistemology: Alvin Plantinga is one of the most respected Christian philosophers alive. He once served as the president of the American Philosophical Association, and he’s been awarded the Templeton Prize. Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion renamed its Distinguished Scholar Fellowship the Alvin Plantinga Fellowship. And in 2012, the University of Pittsburgh’s Philosophy Department, History and Philosophy of Science Department, and the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science co-awarded Plantinga the Nicholas Rescher Prize for Systematic Philosophy. William Lane Craig has described Reformed epistemology as “one of the most significant developments in contemporary religious epistemology.” 

What I’m trying to convey is that Plantinga is a Sophisticated Apologist™ and is taken very seriously by the religious and non-religious alike. According to many apologists and theologians, he’s the best they have. We should take the time to attempt to debunk their best offerings. Even though these two episodes have been comparatively dense to the usual CA episode, I think they were undoubtedly worth it. If for no other reason than to see how underwhelming the best they have turns out to be. As Jerry Coyne put it, “I’m starting to realize that there is no sophisticated theology; there are merely evasions and fancy language to get around the problematic lack of evidence for God and the palpably immoral statements in scripture.”

. . . . . 

Atheism: A Philosophical Justification – Michael Martin (pgs. 266-278) [Amazon]

Tyler McNabb vs. Stephen Law on Reformed Epistemology [Unbelievable?] 

William “In my heart” Craig [YouTube] 

Daniel Hill on Reformed Epistemology [Panpsycast]

Alvin Plantinga – Is Belief in God Properly Basic? [PDF] 

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CA61 Reformed Epistemology



We discuss Alvin Plantinga’s reformed epistemology, and ask whether belief in god is “properly basic.” We also discuss Cartesian skepticism, the notion of a divine sense or “sensus divinitatis,” and which beliefs should be considered properly basic. We also spend some time on the age-old question of “What is the difference between god and trees?” We discuss various types of trees, and which trees are the most reasonable to believe in, and why I don’t appear to have a sensus ghostatis. 
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CA42 The Argument From Personal Experience could be a supplement to this episode.
. . . . . 

To those of you who may be wondering why we’re covering Reformed epistemology: Alvin Plantinga is one of the most respected Christian philosophers alive. William Lane Craig described Reformed epistemology as “one of the most significant developments in contemporary religious epistemology.” Plantinga once served as the president of the American Philosophical Association. In 2017, he was awarded the Templeton Prize. The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion renamed its Distinguished Scholar Fellowship as the Alvin Plantinga Fellowship. In 2012, the University of Pittsburgh’s Philosophy Department, History and Philosophy of Science Department, and the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science co-awarded Plantinga the Nicholas Rescher Prize for Systematic Philosophy. 

I’m trying to convey that Plantinga is a Sophisticated Apologist™ and is taken very seriously by the religious and non-religious alike. According to many apologists and theologians, he’s the best they have. We should take the time to attempt to debunk their best offerings. Even though these two episodes have been comparatively dense to the usual CA episode, I think it was worthwhile for many reasons. To quote Jerry Coyne, “I’m starting to realize that there is no sophisticated theology; there are merely evasions and fancy language to get around the problematic lack of evidence for God and the palpably immoral statements in scripture.”


CA60 Christianity vs. Climate Change



Does Christianity, and religion generally, naturally lead to skepticism and apathy towards climate change? We discuss the apocalypticism, otherworldliness, and the just-world belief of Christianity, and their effects on our priorities and beliefs. 

Blinded by Eschatological Light – William Bradford Nichols [Humanist]

Climate Change and Religion (Special Issue) – Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture [PDF]

Climate Change Skepticism and Denial – Riley Dunlap [PDF]

​​The Politics of Climate Change in the U.S. [Pew Research] 

GOP rep: If climate change is real, God will ‘take care of it’ [TheHill]

Jesus Christ’s Return to Earth [Pew Research]

Predictions and claims for the Second Coming of Christ [wiki]

Trump will start the end of the world, claim Evangelicals who support him [Newsweek] 

Charles MacKay – Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds [PDF]

Nietzsche and the Other World [YouTube] 

Philosophize This – Nietzsche and Otherworldliness [YouTube]

Potholer54 – Climate Change Playlist [YouTube]

. . . . . 

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. . . . . 

Though this episode focuses on the religious contribution to climate denial, that focus shouldn’t obscure the political and economic causes. My position is that Christianity, by its very nature, is fertile soil for climate denial, and that it makes the potential destruction of human life on earth seem like no big deal. The religion, by its various doctrines and dogmas, naturally leads to apathy, and to disbelief towards anything like climate change. However, I think climate change and our insane reaction to it so far is first and foremost a result of our political and economic system. You can’t disentangle religion from our political and economic system, and it deserves to be singled out because it does play a consequential role in the story that’s too often overlooked. If we weren’t so religious, I think we would be in significantly better shape regarding climate change. 

“Dark Money” Funds Climate Change Denial Effort [ScientificAmerican]

Following the Money that Undermines Climate Science [NYT] 


CA59 Irreducible Complexity Revisited



We discuss Michael Behe’s persistent misunderstanding of exaptation and natural selection, and read a defense of the notion of irreducible complexity.
Some resources on natural selection:

CA58 NDEs pt. II



Today we continue our discussion of near-death experiences. The debate over how to interpret NDEs, on some level, is an argument over substance dualism. As best we can tell, you do not have a brain — you are a brain. The way believers want to interpret these experiences hinges on a particular understanding of mind and body — one that happens to be completely at odds with science.
. . . . .

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CA57 NDEs (Near-Death Experiences) pt. I



Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) have received much attention in recent years. Are they evidence of an afterlife or merely evidence of our fear of death?

*UPDATE* A version of the out-of-body experiment I mentioned around 13:00 has been run. The results were negative. Unique photos were placed on high shelves, and not a single person was able to report what was on the shelves. The researchers brushed these unwelcome results under the rug, despite the fact that this part of the study was emphasized when the project was announced years earlier. Here are the results, and here’s a discussion of those results from Steven Novella. We’ll be discussing this study in Part II. 🙂

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. . . . .

Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris — Afterlife Debate [YouTube]

Sean Carroll and Steven Novella vs. Eben Alexander and Raymond Moody — Intelligence Squared Debate [YouTube]

Neurologica — Steven Novella’s Excellent Blog [Neurologica]

DMT and NDEs [Wired]

HowStuffWorks – NDEs [HowStuffWorks]

Why People Have OBEs [Atlantic]

Susan Blackmore — NDEs [The Guardian]


CA56 The Flat Earth and Creationism



There seems to be significant overlap between the flat earth and young earth communities. One explanation for this is that those with poor judgement and critical faculties are drawn into multiple conspiracies, hoaxes, and pseudo-scientific beliefs. However, the connection between flat-eartherism and young-eartherism runs much deeper than that. The history reveals the Biblical roots of the modern flat earth movement, and the parallels between flat-eartherism and young-eartherism are striking. We discuss the literalist origins of flat earth belief, and the two Christian founders of the modern flat earth movement — Samuel Rowbotham and Elizabeth Blount — who took the Bible at its word.
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. . .

CA55 Separation of Church and State



We discuss secularism, liberalism, and the wall of separation between church and state. Secularism, in a political context, is the principle of separating religious institutions and government, and it’s the best way – maybe the only way – to guarantee freedom of belief. Secularism is the only serious game in town for anyone trying to ensure freedom of religion.
By the way, did you know it never says the words “wall of separation between church and state” in the Constitution? I’ve been listening to a lot of David Barton lately.
Secularism [wiki]
JFK and Catholicism [JFK Library]
. . . . .
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I made this kinda last minute, hope that doesn’t show too much. I thought July 4th was a nice excuse to talk a little about secularism.
Happy Independence Day to all the American listeners! And to all the non-American listeners…America, Fuck Yeah

CA54 Three Things Christians Should Stop Saying



“You were never a true Christian.”  “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

Atheists Before Darwin [AtheistRepublic]

No True Scotsman [YourLogicalFallacyIs] 

Michael Gungor Interview [Nomad] 

(I can’t find the one I heard a year or two ago, which was just Michael without his wife. You can read more about him on Patheos here)

Origins of “Love the sinner, hate the sin” [Catholic] 

“It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” – Noah Lugeons and Heath Enwright [YouTube] 

I hate religion, and Jesus too – Amazing Atheist [YouTube] 

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus – Jefferson Bethke [YouTube] 

Matt Dillahunty – Appeals to Personal Experience [YouTube] 

End religious tax exemptions, get $80 billion a year [BigThink] 

. . . . . 

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CA53 Darwin Devolves (pt. II)



We continue our discussion of Michael Behe’s latest case for intelligent design. Not only does his “First Rule of Adaptive Evolution” betray his lack of understanding of natural selection, it also conflicts with empirical data. In his attempt to respond to these empirical difficulties, he creates even more problems for himself. We also discuss the creationist fixation on “randomness” in evolution and a naturalistic universe.
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. . .
Behes 2010 Paper [Quarterly Review of Biology]

CA52 Darwin Devolves: Michael Behe’s Case for Intelligent Design (pt. I)



Michael Behe recently published his latest case against naturalistic evolution and in favor of intelligent design: Darwin Devolves. Behe also authored Darwin’s Black Box, a creationist favorite, coined the term “irreducible complexity,” and was a key part of the famous Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in Pennsylvania. He’s also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a conservative think-tank that engineered the “Teach the Controversy” campaign aimed at smuggling creationism into biology education.

In his latest book, he argues that natural selection causes “devolution,” not evolution; and that random mutations will almost never “build or create anything at the genetic level.” Natural processes are unable, he argues, to generate the adaptive gains of genetic function that would be required to explain macroevolution or the biological complexity we observe.

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. . .

Michael Behe and Eric Metaxes – Darwin Devolves [YouTube]

Michael Behe – Darwin Devolves Summary [YouTube]

All of Behe’s Responses to Criticism [DarwinDevolves]

Richard Lenski – Does Behe’s “First Rule” Really Show That Evolutionary Biology has a Big Problem? [TelliamedRevisited]

Richard Lenski – On Damaged Genes and Polar Bears[TelliamedRevisited]

Jerry Coyne – Intelligent Design Gets Even Dumber [WaPo]

Nathan Lents – Behe’s Last Stand [Skeptic]

Nathan Lents et al. Criticize Darwin Devolves [ScienceMag]

Behe Summarizes “Central argument of the book” [EvolutionNews]

Jerry Coyne Responds to Behe’s EN Post [Whyevolutionistrue]

Behe’s Colleagues Criticize Darwin Devolves – Gregory Lang, Amber Rice [Wiley Online Library]

Behe’s 2010 Paper [Quarterly Review of Biology]

Jerry Coyne’s Response to Behe’s 2010 Paper [Whyevolutionistrue]

Darwin Devolves – Michael Behe [Amazon]


CA51 Irreducible Complexity



Irreducible complexity (IC) has become one of the most popular arguments in favor of intelligent design, if not the most popular. The biochemist and ID proponent Michael Behe coined the term in his book Darwin’s Black Box, bringing the notion of IC to prominence. Certain biological systems, the argument goes, cannot have evolved by small changes through natural selection. If it could be demonstrated that there are irreducibly complex structures in nature, we would have a serious challenge to evolution by natural selection. Darwin wrote, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” However, Darwin’s next sentence was, “But I can find out no such case.” Not only has no such case been found out, there are deeper conceptual problems with irreducible complexity that we’ll explore.

I have an episode forthcoming on Darwin Devolves, Behe’s new book, but it was necessary to talk about IC first. I would also plug Richard Dawkins’s books if you’re looking to inoculate yourself against creationist nonsense generally. Climbing Mount Improbable, which came out in 1996, and The Blind Watchmaker, which came out in 1986, are both decisive smackdowns of the concept of intelligent design generally and IC specifically, since neither of those ideas are actually new; and the God Delusion deals with those subjects the most directly.

Though the term ‘irreducible complexity’ was coined by Behe in 1996, the underlying idea is an old and familiar one. As P.Z. Myers aptly explained, the creationist argument is and always has been some version of: “‘Complexity, complexity, complexity complexity. Oh look, there’s a pathway — it’s very complicated. Complexity! Complexity, complexity complexity — complexity. And did you know that cells are really, really complicated? But we’re not done — complexity! Complexity (complexity complexity). And you’re gonna be blown away by the bacterial flagellum — it’s like a little machine! And it’s really, really complicated! Complexity-complexity complexity. Complexity. We need more cells, they’re really complicated. You just get blown away by these things, they are just so amazingly complicated. Complexity. Therefore; design.’ You’ve heard it all now.”

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. . .

Irreducible Complexity [wiki]

Nathan Lents – Darwin Devolves [Science Mag]

Exaptation 101 [LiveScience]

Irreducible Complexity – Rationality Rules [YouTube]

Francis Collins – The Language of God [Amazon]

Kenneth Miller – Finding Darwin’s God [Amazon]

Richard Dawkins – Climbing Mount Improbable [Amazon]

Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker [Amazon]

Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion [Amazon]

Michael Behe – Darwin’s Black Box [Amazon]

Homunculus Argument [wiki]


CA50 “If there’s no god, why not rape and murder?”



We discuss the moral argument for god’s existence, religious fictionalism, anti-theism, 20th century atrocities, and being good without god.

The discussion of Craig’s moral argument isn’t a comprehensive treatment, but I had to get him in there if we were going to address the question posed in the title. Craig has stated that on naturalism, there’s no reason to not literally eat our young, so I thought he should be included.

“We get our morality from our parents, peers, mentors, teachers, books, and culture, and we listen to that still small voice within—our moral conscience. Morality is in our nature. We are moral beings, with real moral emotions that we can reason about.” – Michael Shermer

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. . .

William Lane Craig – objective morality [YouTube]

Hitchens on anti-theism [YouTube]

Hitchens on faith-based morality [YouTube]

Hitchens on innate morality [YouTube]

Penn Jillette on rape and murder [YouTube]

Tales of the Hasidim (source of Jewish story about atheists) [Wiki] 

Slavoj Žižek – “If there is a god, everything is permitted.” [YouTube]


CA49 Science vs. the Supernatural: the Failure of NOMA and the Triumph of Naturalism



The biologist Stephen J. Gould proposed a solution to the apparent friction between religion and science: rather than being in outright conflict, science and religion each preside over distinct, non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA). Science can tell us nothing of the supernatural, and religion can only give us values, meaning, morality, and purpose. We discuss the utter failure of this conciliatory approach and point out the obvious: there is a zero-sum conflict between science and religion. We also discuss Carl Sagan’s garage-dwelling dragon, Bayesian reasoning, the triumph of naturalism, the definition of supernatural, the one-sided function of NOMA, and the inseparability of what is and what matters.

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​​. . .

​​Sean Carroll – The Case for Naturalism [YouTube]​​
Stephen Jay Gould on NOMA [SJG Archive]​​​​NOMA [Rationalwiki]

NOMA [Conservapedia – the only encyclopedia I trust]

Evolution [Pew]

Evolution II [Pew]

Catholic Church Admits Galileo was Right [New Scientist]

Carl Sagan – The Demon Haunted World [Amazon]

The Dragon in my Garage – Reading [YouTube]

Bart Ehrman – Anachronistic Camels [EhrmanBlog]

The Case for Religious Studies – William Gruen [InsideHigherEd]
​​
​​Sam Harris – Religions are failed sciences [YouTube]

Jerry Coyne – NOMA [Whyevolutionistrue]
​​Noah Lugeons – NOMA Diatribe [YouTube]

TMM – NOMA [YouTube]


CA48 William Lane Craig’s Four Facts about the Resurrection



“Any responsible historian, then, who seeks to give an account of the matter, must deal with these four independently established facts.” William Lane Craig has four non-negotiable, “established facts” that we apparently need to explain as non-believers.

(1) Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in the tomb.

(2) On the Sunday following his crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.

(3) On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.

(4) The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

All four of these claims are possible to dispute. In fact, they’re not that hard to cast doubt on. But does it even matter? These four facts don’t go a long way. If we grant all four of Craig’s facts for the sake of argument, a resurrection is not the best explanation for them.
​​I assume a certain level of background knowledge about the resurrection today; and if I didn’t say it in this episode, it’s probably somewhere in CA24-26. Check those out for some more Easter stuff that wasn’t covered today 🙂

I primarily worked off the transcript of Bart Ehrman’s Debate with William Lane Craig on the Resurrection. I also occasionally referenced my notes from Ehrman’s work, usually from How Jesus Became God.

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​​CA47 Ten Contradictions in the Bible



If god cannot err, and the Bible is the word of god, shouldn’t we expect the Bible to be inerrant? And yet, we can find plenty of examples of the Bible making mistakes and even contradicting itself, and this would seem to imply that the Bible is not the word of god. Apologists have answered that the “original text” of the Bible has no errors, even if our passed-down manuscripts have a few. Of course, we have no access to this “original Bible” so their claim is unfalsifiable. Additionally, the presence of errors means that god, if he exists, doesn’t care very much about the contents of the Bible. Which is more likely: that god created a perfect word and didn’t care to preserve it? Or that god just didn’t have anything to do with the Bible? God easily could have made our Bibles inerrant; in fact, it’s what we would expect. This tells us something important about how much god, if he exists, cares about what’s in the Bible.

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​​. . . . .
​​
​​The Big Book of Bible Difficulties [Amazon]

Bart Ehrman with Sam Harris [YouTube]

Self-Contradictions of the Bible – William Henry Burr [PDF link]

​​Matt Dillahunty – Primer on Scriptural Contradictions [YouTube]

​​Nonstampcollector – Bible Contradictions Quiz Show [YouTube]


CA46 Is Religion the Opium of the People? — Marx and Religion



“[Religion] is the opium of the people,” said Karl Marx. This remark has been widely quoted and often misunderstood. While religion is an illusion that provides escape from the real world, it emerges from conditions that require illusions. There’s a well-established inverse correlation between societal health and religiosity, lending some credence to Marx’s view. But religion isn’t just an opiate. Marx’s speculations on the social function of religion discuss why it emerges, what it provides to adherents, and how religion prevents the improvement of the material world around us. 
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Read transcripts of the podcast at the Counter Apologetics Blog
. . . . . 

Evangelical Christianity — Bonus



What is Evangelical Christianity? Why is anyone surprised that Evangelicals love the president? We discuss the characteristics of Evangelical Christianity, speculate about its future, and wonder how everyone isn’t an anti-theist at this point.

Eviction – Whalers [YouTube]

Secular Talk – Franklin Graham [YouTube]

Robert Wright Show – Sarah Posner [YouTube]

Chapo Trap House [iTunes]

Matt Walsh – Why Christianity Is Declining [YouTube]

Michael Shermer – The Moral Arc [YouTube]

The best anti-Evangelical tract in my opinion is Letter To A Christian Nation by Sam Harris. Definitely check it out if you’ve never read it.


CA45 Heaven, pt. II



We discuss how we’re supposed to get to heaven in the first place, substance dualism, emergence, the population demographics of heaven, religious epistemology, and dying as a naturalist. 

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Lofi 1 and Lofi 2

DarkMatter2525 — The Afterlife is meaningless without an Afterafterlife [YouTube]

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself — Sean Carroll [Amazon]

Valorie Tarico on Heaven [Salon]

Greg S. Paul on Abortion and Heaven [PDF]

On dying as a naturalist — The Five Invitations [Waking Up] 


CA43 Biblical Prophecy and the Birth of Christ



The Christmas narratives in Matthew and Luke are supposed to contain fulfilled prophecies. However, these two Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth are not only discrepant, but conflict with our historical knowledge. Biblical prophecies are commonly invoked as compelling evidence for us to consider, so we examine the Christmas story and the prophecies believers claim were fulfilled. 

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. . . . . 

Historian Bart Ehrman’s excellent blog [Ehrmanblog] 

Christmas lofi [YouTube] 

“We have a whole religion based on a woman who really stuck to her story.” -Greg Giraldo 


Russell Conjugation — Bonus



We examine a concept vital to the project of being a skeptic. We’re not perfectly rational beings, and we have to learn about our cognitive biases if we want to overcome them. This was originally released as Patron bonus episode #8.

Russell Conjugation [Edge.org]


CA42 Argument From Personal Experience



One of the weakest and most common arguments encountered, the argument from personal experience comes to us in many forms. Near death experiences, “feeling that there’s something more,” feeling god in worship or prayer, “just knowing,” and dozens of other commonplace mantras from believers all employ the argument from personal experience. Recognizing this kind of reasoning in the wild is extremely useful to nonbelievers. 
I recorded parts of this when I was a little under the weather so I apologize for the intermittent frog in my throat.

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. . . . .

Epistemology [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
Epistemology of Religion [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
Reformed Epistemology [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

CA41 Argument From Biblical Confusion



The existence of Biblical, Koranic, or Talmudic confusion is not easy to square with an omni-god who inspired, dictated, or otherwise controlled the contents of a holy book. The Bible is long, vague, contradictory, ambiguous, and has no obvious message. There are about as many interpretations of the Bible as there are readers of the Bible, but why should this be the case? Wouldn’t god want to make her message as clear as possible, especially since these issues are literally life and death? If god is omniscient and omnipotent, she would know exactly how to make her message impossible to misunderstand, leaving no room for misinterpretation or confusion. In her omniscience, she would see all the strife, bloodshed, and damnation that would result from her lack of clarity; if she was omni-benevolent, she would want to avoid this and make her message clear. How is it possible that two sincere believers, approaching god’s word in good faith, can come away with clashing interpretations of god’s message that leaves one of them destined to burn for all eternity?

The argument from biblical confusion against Christianity — Jonathan Garner [Philosophy of Religion blog]

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CA40 Speaking in Tongues / Glossolalia



Glossolalia [Wiki]

Heather Kavan — Linguistics of Glossolalia [PDF]

William Samarin — Linguistics of Glossolalia [Amazon]

Andrew Newberg — Glossolalia Neuroimaging Study [PDF]

Wired — Glossolalia Neuroimaging Study [Wired]

Glossolalia – OWN [YouTube]

Dan Barker – Tongue Speaking [YouTube]

Anti-Glossolalia Christian Writer [GotQuestions]

Patheos — Non-Christian Glossolalia [Patheos]

Bart Ehrman — Tongue Speaking and Snake Handling in Mark [EhrmanBlog]

Prank Calling Joel Osteen’s Prayer Line [YouTube]

/ Clips of glossolalia /

Crazy hat lady

Totally normal

nothing to see here

Jesus Camp — excerpt

ABC segment

/ / /

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CA39 The Story of God — Conversation with Chris Matheson



Chris Matheson is a screenwriter and author whose credits include Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Rapture-palooza, The Story of God, and The Trouble with God.

You can buy The Story of God here and The Trouble with God here [Amazon] 

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“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


CA38 The Evil God Challenge



Stephen Law’s Evil God presents a challenge to theists: Explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent god should be considered significantly more reasonable than an omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-malevolent god. Many of the most popular arguments for god’s existence (first cause, intelligent design, fine-tuning) don’t give us any indication of god’s moral orientation. So is there any way to render Good God significantly more reasonable to believe in than Evil God?

Sorry again about the cold if it hurt the quality.

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The Evil God Challenge — Stephen Law [Cambridge University Press]

Stephen Law — Evil God Challenge [The Panpsycast]

Evil God Challenge — CFI UK [YouTube]


CA37 The God of Jordan Peterson, Pt. II



We discuss the utility of fiction, the future of Christianity, and psychonautic Shaman biologists.

I’m still getting over a cold, hopefully it didn’t come through that much.

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Jordan Peterson on DNA, psychedelics, ancient humans [YouTube]

Rationality Rules — Atheists Are Not Murderers [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson — Waking Up [YouTube]

Matt Dillahunty / Jordan Peterson Debate [YouTube]

Game Theory — Playlist [YouTube]

Robert Wright — “Non-zero-sumness” [YouTube]

F*ck 12 — Chapo Trap House [YouTube]


CA36 The God of Jordan Peterson, Pt. I



Jordan Peterson is an unusual Christian apologist. Beyond a few of the standard apologetic tropes he spouts (we need god to be moral, atheists aren’t really atheists, Judeo-Christian values created Western civilization, atheism leads to communism), he defends god by adopting a pragmatic conception of truth that allows him to circumvent traditional arguments surrounding god’s existence. He claims to be a Christian, but his Christianity is not one most Christians would recognize. And yet, many have tried to claim him as their own. We explore Peterson’s notion of Jesus, god, and truth, and touch on his belief that atheism is corrosive to civilization and to morality itself.

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Rationality Rules — Peterson’s Truth [YouTube]

Rationality Rules — JP Is Not A Christian [YouTube]

Matt Dillahunty / Jordan Peterson Debate [YouTube]

Bret Weinstein on Metaphorical Truth [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson on Truth — Transliminal Interview [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson on Truth — Waking Up [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson — Gawd [YouTube]


CA35 The Gruesome History of Christian Torture



Christianity has a long and romantic relationship with torture. The primary symbol of the religion is a torture device, God’s chosen method of providing salvation was a grisly act of public torture, and hell has been an object of fascination for Christian artists, writers, and church fathers since the beginning. As the religious scholar Karen King puts it, there are “torturous narratives at Christianity’s foundations.” Obsession with torture, though not unique to Christianity by any means, has always been in Christianity’s DNA. We also discuss the witch craze, the theologically-induced mass hysteria that led to gruesome acts against “witches” for centuries.

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Christopher Hitchens [YouTube]

Skeptical Examination of Torture [YouTube]

The Moral Arc – Michael Shermer [Amazon]

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – Charles MacKay [Amazon]

The End of Faith – Sam Harris [Amazon]

Triumph of Christianity – Bart Ehrman [Amazon]


CA34 Women v. Religion — Conversation with Karen Garst



Author Karen Garst joins me to discuss a range of topics, including the high level of religiosity among women, the influence of mythology, abortion, and her upcoming debate at Mythcon. She has recently released a book entitled Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith and for Freedom, which is the primary subject of our conversation today.

Women v. Religion [Amazon] 

If you’d like to hear Karen speak at Mythcon, you can buy tickets here.

Faithless Feminist Blog

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CA33 Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)



The discovery of evolution by natural selection arguably did more to reinforce naturalism than any other single discovery in science. However, not everyone agrees that Darwinian evolution was a blow against god. In fact, Alvin Plantinga, a Christian apologist, thinks that you can’t believe both in Darwinism and naturalism simultaneously — they’re incompatible. We discuss his famous argument and also wonder why god is such an incompetent engineer.

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Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism [wiki]

Alvin Plantinga on EAAN [YouTube]

Warrant and Proper Function – Alvin Plantinga (Excerpt) [Google Books]

rd23 Plantinga Schmantinga [Reasonable Doubts Podcast]

Massimo Pigliucci on EAAN [Rationally Speaking Blog]

List of Cognitive Biases [wiki]

A Critique of Plantinga’s Probabilities in EAAN [PDF]

(I didn’t cover this part of the argument, but I would’ve pointed out that in Plantinga’s Bayesian reasoning, he sets his priors absurdly low.)

Richard Dawkins on Evolution [YouTube]


CA32 Does Christianity Make Sense? — Conversation with Evan Davids



Author Evan Davids joins me to discuss why there is something rather than nothing, evolution, biblical literalism, whether Evan is really an atheist, the Fall, hell, abortion, and other topics.

Christianity No Longer Makes Sense – Evan Davids [Amazon]

EvanDavids.com

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CA31 The Ethics of Abortion



Can abortion be morally justified? We know that Christians generally think it’s abhorrent. But once we’ve left religion behind, how should we draw a conclusion about such a contentious moral issue? Independent moral reasoning is something atheists, naturalists, and skeptics can’t avoid, so we shouldn’t shy away from intra-group discussion about one of the most important moral issues of our time.

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2014 Abortion Data [cdc.gov]

Fetal Pain: A Systematic, Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence [Journal of the American Medical Association]

Can Fetuses Feel Pain? [British Medical Journal]

Utilitarianism [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime — Donohue-Levitt Hypothesis [PDF – Quarterly Journal of Economics]

Freakonomics — Abortion and Crime [Freakonomics]

The Trolley Problem — Massimo Pigliucci [YouTube]

“But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” — J.S. Mill


CA30 “Western Values Are Based on Judeo-Christian Values”



Is western civilization a product of Judeo-Christian values? Apologists claim that Judeo-Christian values influenced the thinkers of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment so greatly as to deserve credit as the foundation of western values. So even if Christian beliefs are entirely untrue, could the mythology still be a useful fiction that created the west as we know it?

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Magic Tricks by Whalers

Rationality Rules – Western Civilization is Based on Judeo-Christian Values [YouTube]

Nonstampcollector – Ten Commandments [YouTube]

The Basis of Western Civilization – Jordan Peterson [YouTube]

Western Civilization – Ben Shapiro [YouTube]

Richard Dawkins – Militant Atheism [YouTube]

Ben Shapiro – Ten Commandments [YouTube]

Sam Harris – Ten Commandments [YouTube]

Hitchens on Morality [YouTube]

Stephen Fry on Ten Commandments [YouTube]

Yaron Brook on Judeo-Christian Values [YouTube]

Sam Harris vs. Ben Shapiro [YouTube]

Ben Shapiro vs. Sam Harris — TMM [YouTube]

TMM on Ben Shapiro [YouTube]

Bible Verses on Obeying Governments [KnowingJesus]

The Myth of the Jewish Origins of the Renaissance [PDF]

Bertrand Russell — Why I Am Not a Christian [Amazon]


CA29 Science vs. The Soul



Are we just electrified meat, or is there a ghost in the machine? Believers claim that naturalism cannot account for the phenomenal properties of consciousness, and tend to hold the position that the mind is more than the biological activity of the brain. We examine the conventional idea of the soul and how it conflicts with science.

*Update* I’ve since made a new and improved episode arguing against substance and property dualism here (Episode 23 – Is property dualism any better off than substance dualism?): https://audioboom.com/channels/4990493

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Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

Steven Novella’s Excellent Blog [NeurologicaBlog]

The Neuroscience of Consciousness — Anil Seth [YouTube]

Consciousness – Anil Seth and Sam Harris [YouTube]

Crash Course Philosophy – Philosophy of Mind [YouTube]

Steven Novella and Sean Carroll – Intelligence Squared [IQ^2]

Causation and Emergence – Sean Carroll [PreposterousUniverse]

Sean Carroll – Zombies and the Hard Problem [Nautilus]

Substance Dualism – QualiaSoup [YouTube]

Richard Feynman – Science [YouTube]

The Interaction Problem – TMM [YouTube]

Mind-Brain Interaction and the Violation of Physical Laws – DL Wilson [PDF]


CA28 State Atheism



Christian apologists, citing a few twentieth-century regimes, often try to conflate atheism and authoritarianism. They ignore the fact that most atheists are secularists and don’t advocate for any form of state atheism. They also ignore the fact that the policies of the atheist states they cite, most frequently North Korea and the Soviet Union, were transparently motivated by a totalitarian desire to control their populations. We discuss secularism, freedom of belief, religious toleration, Christian communism, and separation of church and state.

Part two of the consciousness series is taking a little longer than expected, so I thought I’d continue the atheism and the 20th-century series back from episodes eight and nine.

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Christopher Hitchens on Stalin [YouTube]

Church-State Separation — Christopher Hitchens [YouTube]

Michael Shermer — Intelligence Squared U.S. [YouTube]

The Gulag Archipelago — Alekandr Solzhenitsyn [Amazon]


CA27 Argument from Consciousness



Can consciousness only be explained on a theistic worldview? Christians often appeal to the phenomenon of consciousness and argue that it’s unlikely or impossible on naturalism. We discuss substance dualism, the hard problem of consciousness, identity, intentionality, and the unclear role the material realm plays in theism.

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Christianity No Longer Makes Sense — Evan Davids [Amazon]

Evan Davids’ Official Website

The Neuroscience of Consciousness — Anil Seth [YouTube]

Consciousness – Anil Seth and Sam Harris [YouTube]

Thomas Nagel – What is it like to be a bat? [PDF]

Sean Carroll – Zombies and the Hard Problem [Nautilus]

Crash Course Philosophy – Philosophy of Mind [YouTube]

Rationality Rules – Argument From Consciousness [YouTube]

William Lane Craig on the Soul [YouTube]

Consciousness – Steven Pinker [YouTube]


CA26 The Spread of Christianity



A forbidden religion, originally composed of only a few devoted followers, eventually swept the western world. Believers think that the rise of Christianity was so unusual to suggest it was miraculous, and they argue that the stunning growth and eventual size of their religion is evidence that God really is on their side. We explore the historical causes behind the spread of Christianity and try not to sound condescending as we explain that the popularity of a belief isn’t evidence.

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The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World — Bart Ehrman [Amazon]

Bart Ehrman Interview [NPR]

Christopher Hitchens [YouTube]

2015 Religious Demographics [Pew]

How Many Anatomically Modern Humans Have Lived on Earth? [PRB]

Your Logical Fallacy Is…