Category: Secular Humanism

Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte by Richard Whately against David Hume and Skepticism

Over the last three hundred years unbounded skepticism has been applied to religion and Christianity especially. Atheist philosopher David Hume was one of the prominent voices calling for stringent criteria in evaluating miracle claims, and the like. Not everyone thought very highly of this criteria. One such person was the Reverend Richard Whately, who skewers Hume’s reasoning by showing how if it were applied consistently, one could not be reasonably certain that Napoleon existed- a public figure that was said to be alive and roaming Europe even as he spoke!

This playful little book is not a treatise by any means, but it provides a glimpse into the conversations of the 1800s and challenges the ‘enlightened’ skeptics to decide: If they won’t apply their principles thoroughly and consistently, but choose only to apply them to certain claims (and how did they choose which ones?), are those principles worth their salt?

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Story and Evidence, a Response

I think it goes to my larger point. Story moves. Yes, Story can move more than evidence. And yet even if that is the case, nowhere do I suggest that I think that is good! Indeed, this whole event illustrates just how unfortunate it can be when evidence is divorced from Story. Oh yes, there is a Story here. There is a Narrative. This Narrative is one that Myers and his many fans are drenched in, so much so none of them actually need evidence to know that me and my stories are [fill in your favorite pejoratives here]. The Narrative fills in the gap. It is the skeptical storyline: Christians, dumb. Christians, blind faith. Skeptics, geniuses. Skeptics, reason and evidence. Nothing more needs to be said because everyone is already agreed on how the story ends, anyway. The ‘evidence’ ends up being just a ‘literary’ flourish that adds little to the accepted Narrative.

This Narrative appears to be driving Dave’s response, though to his credit, he is exceptionally mild and measured compared to many of the other responses I observed.

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PZ Myer’s ‘Reviews’ “Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven”

So, Mr. Myer’s review of my short story is in. Enjoy.

As this is probably the last time for awhile that PZ is going to grace my blog with his presence, I’d like to make a request of him. He is best buds with Dawkins, after all. I’ve been hoping Dawkins would at some point own up to a piece of academic sloppiness on his part, but haven’t cared enough about it to put it in front of his eyes personally. PZ and he are bosom buddies, though, both of whom no doubt are “lovers of truth and reason” and care about academic integrity. Dawkins would no doubt like to be on record admitting he overstepped and set the record straight. He’s a reasonable chap, after all.

I detail the matter here.

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PZ Myers Reviews “Antony Flew Goes to Heaven.”

The brilliant PZ Myers has ‘reviewed’ the second story in my short story collection, “Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa go to Heaven.”

As before, I have no interest in responding in any detail, although I might say some things when he is done. I will say: “PZ, what makes you think Antony awakes in a garden?”

After reading the last review and the comments it spawned it became apparent that a little extra help on my part is needed. There seems to be difficulty understanding the texts in question. Therefore, a reader’s guide for each story has been composed.

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PZ Myers Posts his Review of “Mother Teresa Goes to Heaven.”

PZ Myers posted his review of one of the stories in my recently released short story collection today. This one is of “Mother Teresa Goes to Heaven.” I have no interest in responding to it, though perhaps when he is done may respond to them all. At any rate, if you want to read his ‘review’ for yourself you can check it out.

However, it goes a bit without saying- although, apparently it must be said- there is no way you can possibly know if his review has any merit at all unless you read it for yourself.

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Knights of Contention: Challenges Apologetics Can’t Answer

Tonight, Feb 22nd, at 9:30 p.m. CST we will host our next semi-regular “Knights of Contention” online discussion using voice, video, and chat.

The topic: The 5 Challenges Apologetics Can’t Answer.

Due to the wide scope, this conversation can go anywhere. I have summarized the 5 challenges below with links to each of the 3 parts in which I have detailed them.

To learn more about the “Knights of Contention” click here.

Direct link to the discussion: http://connectpro58388802.na5.acrobat.com/knightcon/

5 Challenges, with summaries

What they all have in common: the belief, or acting as though one believes, that Christianity isn’t actually real. It’s just one’s private faith. No correspondence to reality exists, or is expected. ‘Apologetics’ can’t answer them because they have more to do with attitude or obedience than facts and evidence.

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PZ Myers to Review my Collection of Short Stories on Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa!

I have just been notified that PZ Myers is going to ‘review’ my short story collection, “Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa Go to Heaven.” ! Apparently he stumbled upon my press release announcing my release of this collection.  If you want to check out the collection and follow along for yourself, here’s a […]

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Atheists on Morality: Jumping out of the Bottomless Pit

Atheists have a problem.  Ok, they have lots of problems.  🙂  But this one is a big one:  how to explain morality. Now, for some reason atheists remained confused on some basic aspects of the issue.   It is common to hear from their camp something to the effect, “We do not need God to be […]

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Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven? Short Story

“Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa Go to Heaven…” What sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke is actually the title of a collection of three poignant short stories by author Anthony Horvath. Each story draws from what is publicly known about these three notable persons and places them in the presence of God. Antony Flew famously disputed the existence of such a being, Richard Dawkins- the only one of the three still living- infamously derides the notion, and Mother Teresa wondered at God’s absence- in these three stories they each get a chance to ask their questions and speak their minds. Read this short story, along with two others, on Kindle.

Excerpt from Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven

“You know what sounds like ‘hell’ to me?” Richard asked the accompanying angel, a current of sarcasm carrying the question along.
“I know you’ll tell me,” the angel replied serenely.
“Heaven. Heaven sounds like hell.”

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5 Challenges to Christianity Apologetics Can’t Answer Part 3

If you were looking for a thread that ties all five of these challenges together, it is this: the general view, even among Christians, that there is no objective reality to the areas under dispute. That is, we are all arguing about our own opinions, nothing more. It’s like sitting around having an argument about one’s favorite flavor of ice cream. As such an argument is roundly seen as absurd (and I would agree). Thus- even within the Church- the highest transgression is presenting your favorite ice cream flavor as the absolute best. Now this, paradoxically, I have said is something that apologetics can treat (after saying in 3 parts that it can’t. 😉 ), but read carefully on how precisely.

This is attitude that everything is just subjective is manifested most clearly and dramatically in regards to the marriage and the family. To help understand why, let me provide some anecdotal illustrations.

For example, no doubt many of my readers will be aware of the argument against those who oppose gay marriage that if these people really cherished marriage, they wouldn’t themselves support divorce or have the same level of divorces as those outside that community. I am not here highlighting the apparent hypocrisy involved. I’m talking about something else. Another illustration will perhaps help: “Why won’t God heal Amputees?” You see the argument now: if there is a God, surely he would want to heal people, including amputees. The same reasoning undergirds the absurd but common perception among atheists that a praying people will be healthier, or that in an experiment where one group is prayed for but the other group that isn’t, the group prayed for should show better health. (C. S. Lewis exposed this type of experiment as deeply flawed- who in good conscience, if they cared for the sick people would abstain from praying for one group just to prove a point?!?!?)

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5 Greatest Challenges to Christianity that Apologetics Can’t Answer – Part 1

I have been involved in apologetics for more than fifteen years, coming in almost literally the moment after Al Gore invented the Internet. The following represents some conclusions I’ve drawn during this time. To be clear, when I say the ‘Five Greatest Challenges to Christianity’ I do not mean it as, ‘here are five great challenges among others.’ What I mean is, THESE. ARE. THE. FIVE. GREATEST. CHALLENGES. I do not suggest that they are all that new. I do propose, however, that apologetics has no answer to them. Is that a surrender by a Christian apologist? Let’s find out.

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PZ Myers Should be Fired for Labeling Aborted Babies as ‘Meat’: A Debate

Tomorrow night, Tuesday Feb 1st, for our next Knights of Contention, we will debate the following proposition: PZ Myers Should be Fired!

Click here for information about past Knights of Contention.

His latest incendiary remarks involve dismissing unborn children (he calls them fetuses) as mere ‘meat’ that practical, scientific minded individuals are indifferent to. He also made news for his over the top, foaming at the mouth mockery of the Catholic faith regarding the elements of the eucharist smuggled out by what appeared to be a budding atheist activist. PZ Myer’s frequently visited blog is permeated with crude, rude, crass and sometimes positively fascistic ravings. Oh, and by the way he is professor at the University of Minnesota.

So, the issues to be debated are: Are there limits to academic freedom? Does a person or institution supported by the public dime have an obligation to show a modicum of respect to the public it allegedly serves? Does the public have the right to speak to the values they want their public institutions to transmit- or not? (PZ and his defenders are likely to manifest great hypocrisy on this point and others since they have no problem actively fighting and denouncing proponents of Intelligent Design and Creationism.)

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Why I became a Conservative

When I was in college there was this guy 2 1/2 times larger than me… a philosophy major, as I recall… appropriately named ‘Animal.’ I remember having a debate about pain with him. I argued it was all in our minds- just a brain state- and not real. Animal said, “Come here, and I’ll show you unreal pain.”

While I was of the mindset that there were just “brain states” or just “subjective opinions” or just “one’s political views”, I was a liberal. When my mindset changed, so did my ‘political’ stance. This is a realization that congealed more than ten years after the change had happened. Was it just me? Correlation does not prove causation, and yet I see the same ingredients in the conservatives and liberals I meet. What made my mindset change?

I wouldn’t say it happened over night but there was a singular ‘event’ that proved the catalyst. One should understand that at the time, I was a Christian, an apologist, a Christian religion teacher. But I still entertained many viewpoints we’d call ‘liberal.’ The catalyst arose out of my never ending quest to make sure that when I talk about something, I actually know what I’m talking about. In the general course of that, I read a great many writings of Communists, Nazis, and to a lesser extent, the ‘fascists.’ Here I discovered something frightening: these people were advocating many of the same things I was advocating, and for the same reasons.

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The Courage of Their Convictions: Jared Lee Loughner, James Jay Lee and the Power of Belief

We live in a curious time. Good people who are otherwise sane entertain the notions that Lee and Loughner embraced and acted on. Over against those notions they have some memory of the bloodsport of the 20th century and are keen to avoid it a second go around. What they don’t ask is: “Maybe it isn’t just one particular application of these beliefs that ought to be discredited… maybe the beliefs themselves should be chucked?”

To illustrate.

Let us imagine that someone believed that all people with red hair should be killed because they aren’t really people. You talk to him. He’s a perfectly pleasant fellow. Very sane. “So, you aren’t going to actually kill any red haired people or advocate that others do?” you ask him. “Of course not,” he says. That’s a relief, of course. “Why believe it if you won’t carry it out?” you persist. “That would be horrible. I would feel terrible,” he says. “Hmmm,” you might say, “Perhaps the fact that you are deeply uncomfortable with wiping out those with red hair is because even though you say they aren’t people, in fact, you think they are. Why not then dispense with your belief that they aren’t really people?”

Something very much like this is at the root of much thinking among secular humanists. They don’t really believe what they’re saying. If they did, we’d all be in a lot of trouble and they’d probably go a little nuts.

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