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there's nothing that is scientifically proven

(A theoretical physicist explains why) Science Is Not About Certainty [more inside]
posted by flex on Aug 5, 2014 - 33 comments

A less intellectually lazy atheism?

Atheist bashing or tough love? A thought-provoking review by Michael Robbins of Nick Spencer's new book on the history of atheism in Slate magazine. It reads like an autopsy of the recently murdered religious/atheist dialogue, with the "intellectually lazy" new atheism atop the list of suspects. [more inside]
posted by cross_impact on Jul 9, 2014 - 369 comments

Does God Exist?

Do we have good reason to think God exists? We do, says William Lane Craig. Craig has debated several high profile atheists, including Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.
posted by shivohum on Jan 15, 2014 - 516 comments

Socrates in his own words

An introduction to Socrates in his own words through Plato by Michael Griffin, Assistant Professor of Greek Philosophy at the University of British Columbia [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 17, 2013 - 20 comments

"There's only one saving grace to this book: it might be right."

Has David Birnbaum solved the mystery of existence?
David Birnbaum made his fortune selling jewellery to movie stars. Now he has published a 'remarkable and profound' investigation into the origins of the universe. Is there any reason to take it seriously?
posted by andoatnp on Oct 20, 2013 - 120 comments

Reason is larger than science.

[Pinker] conflates scientific knowledge with knowledge as such. In his view, anybody who has studied any phenomena that are studied by science has been a scientist...If they were interested in the mind, then they were early versions of brain scientists. If they investigated human nature, then they were social psychologists or behavioral economists avant la lettre. Leon Wieseltier pens a response to Steven Pinker's essay on scientism, both in the pages of the New Republic. Others, including some prominent atheists, have taken issue with Pinker as well.
posted by shivohum on Sep 5, 2013 - 79 comments

The Silence of Animals

The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths. Simon Critchley gives both an overview of philosopher John Gray's thought and reviews Gray's new book.
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks on Jun 13, 2013 - 36 comments

So much talk of the god-shaped hole

"Most of us are introduced to God at about the same time as we hear about Santa Claus, but over the years our views of Santa mature and change, while our notion of God often gets stuck at an infantile level."

The NewStatesman asks "After God: What can atheists learn from believers?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 31, 2013 - 228 comments

Nagel on the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature

Andrew Ferguson explains and defends eminent philosopher Thomas Nagel, who has been stirring up outraged refutations (e.g. here or here) with his new book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Also in the defense column is philosopher Edward Feser's extensive series on Nagel's book.
posted by shivohum on Mar 19, 2013 - 163 comments

Was Wittgenstein Right?

"I want to say here that it can never be our job to reduce anything to anything, or to explain anything. Philosophy really is 'purely descriptive.'" --Wittgenstein. Apart from a small and ignored clique of hard-core supporters the usual view these days is that his writing is self-indulgently obscure and that behind the catchy slogans there is little of intellectual value. But this dismissal disguises what is pretty clearly the real cause of Wittgenstein’s unpopularity within departments of philosophy: namely, his thoroughgoing rejection of the subject as traditionally and currently practiced; his insistence that it can’t give us the kind of knowledge generally regarded as its raison d’être. [more inside]
posted by Golden Eternity on Mar 5, 2013 - 37 comments

Viewing the Earth from orbit changes your perspective

The Overview Effect
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 12, 2013 - 26 comments

"From Karl Marx to Richard Dawkins in 60 seconds"

Six Famous Thought Experiments, Animated in 60 Seconds Each; One-Minute Animated Primers on Major Theories of Religion
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 13, 2012 - 17 comments

Heaven is Real: A Doctor's Experience of the Afterlife

Heaven is Real: A Doctor's Experience of the Afterlife. As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences...In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death.
posted by shivohum on Oct 12, 2012 - 196 comments

Stanley Fish on religion and science

Stanley Fish takes on the similarities and differences between scientific and religious evidence and gets a barrage of responses, to which he replies. Michael K. declares that “the equivalence between the methodological premises of scientific inquiry and those of religious doctrine is simply false.” I agree, but I do not assert it. Neither do I assert that because there are no “impersonal standards and impartial procedures … all standards and procedures are equivalent” (E.). What I do assert is that with respect to a single demand — the demand that the methodological procedures of an enterprise be tethered to the world of fact in a manner unmediated by assumptions — science and religion are in the same condition of not being able to meet it (as are history, anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology and all the rest).
posted by shivohum on Apr 10, 2012 - 259 comments

Sacred text

Meg Hitchcock creates intricate collages out of individual letters from spiritual and philosophical texts (via).
posted by EvaDestruction on Apr 3, 2012 - 7 comments

God, Sex and the Left

"In all other circumstances we praise non-violent activities and when people, for whatever personal reasons, enjoy sexual violence even in a consenting context I think we shouldn't just say “whatever turns you on”. We should say “There's something wrong here”. But people on the left are so terrified of being accused of moralising and therefore of being oppressive that they've abandoned their critical faculties in this area." Clive Hamilton on God, Sex, and the Left (Part 2).
posted by daniel_charms on Dec 26, 2011 - 358 comments

Simone Weil

Some lives are exemplary, others not; and of exemplary lives, there are those which invite us to imitate them, and those which we regard from a distance with a mixture of revulsion, pity, and reverence. It is, roughly, the difference between the hero and the saint (if one may use the latter term in an aesthetic, rather than a religious sense). Such a life, absurd in its exaggerations and degree of self-mutilation — like Kleist’s, like Kierkegaard’s — was Simone Weil’s. - Susan Sontag [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Dec 19, 2011 - 8 comments

One Religion coming up. Would you like God with that?

Varieties of irreligious experience - modern believers "may not accept the idea of God as an actually existing entity, so arguments for atheism will not disturb them"
posted by Gyan on Sep 16, 2011 - 932 comments

What is the title of this post?

92 years young, the delightful Raymond Smullyan is a mathematician, logician, magician, concert pianist, and Taoist philosopher - who also pioneered retrograde chess problems.
posted by Trurl on Jun 26, 2011 - 22 comments

The Dalai Lama at Stanford

The Dalai Lama on changing minds only through compassion and respect. He spent several days at Stanford recently, and this session focuses on the neuroscience of compassion. Watch it in full here.
posted by philipy on Oct 21, 2010 - 56 comments

Ask the atheist

Ask the atheist "Have a question for an atheist? Ever wonder what atheists think about morality, faith, science, etc.? How do atheists live their lives without a god? How do they know right from wrong? Are they just angry at god? Do they really NOT believe?" [more inside]
posted by Paragon on Oct 13, 2010 - 211 comments

Navigating the Post-Secular

John Milbank and Katherine Pickstock are interviewed about Radical Orthodoxy [more inside]
posted by superiorchicken on Jul 4, 2010 - 32 comments

At least we know what we don't know

An Agnostic Manifesto.
posted by homunculus on Jun 28, 2010 - 350 comments

Famous Theist Retires

The man who made philosophy safe for theists again is retiring. The conference in celebration of his impressive academic career is in progress on the campus of Notre Dame University and has brought together many important figures in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. Many of Plantinga's seminal works are available in their entirety online.
posted by MultiplyDrafted on May 21, 2010 - 64 comments

Environmental Discrimination?

Tim Nicholson, a UK former executive, believes he was fired for his environmental views. He has sued his former employer for discrimination on grounds of the Employment Equality act, which states that employees may not be discriminated against for religious or philosophical beliefs. His former employers argue that his views were political, and thus do not fall under the act. [more inside]
posted by mccarty.tim on Nov 3, 2009 - 28 comments

Philosophia Islamica

Meet the Islamic Philosophers. Arabic philosophy sought to reconcile the science and empiricism of Aristotle, the metaphysics of Neoplatonism, and the revelations of the Holy Qur'an. From the first thoughts of Abū Yūsuf Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī, to the 20,000 pages of Abū 'l-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Rushd, the influence of these Muslim polymaths profoundly shaped Western thought. [more inside]
posted by ageispolis on Mar 31, 2009 - 12 comments

Beyond Platitudes

Thought For The World is an alternative to the BBC's much mocked Thought For The Day. [more inside]
posted by ninebelow on Feb 12, 2009 - 4 comments

Roger Williams

The First Founder: The American Revolution of Roger Williams. [Via 3quarksdaily]
posted by homunculus on Aug 31, 2008 - 8 comments

Dignity and Bioethics

The Stupidity of Dignity: Conservative bioethics' latest, most dangerous ploy. Steven Pinker reviews Human Dignity and Bioethics, the latest report from the President's Council on Bioethics. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on May 28, 2008 - 28 comments

The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen: Just in time for holidays, enjoy a pleasant chat between the world's most famous atheists - Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett.
posted by empath on Dec 23, 2007 - 79 comments

free Yale courses online

Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to seven introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University:Astronomy, English, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies: a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video, syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Dec 14, 2007 - 30 comments

In Search Of . . .

Project Pterosaur The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Although, sadly, it may not be real.
posted by geekyguy on Oct 29, 2007 - 20 comments

The most important Evangelical you've never heard of

Christianity is not just a series of truths but Truth -- Truth about all of reality. And the holding to that Truth intellectually... brings forth not only certain personal results, but also governmental and legal results.
When the Religious Right cruised onto the cultural scene in the late 1970s, the road map was drawn by oddball Pennsylvanian Francis Schaeffer. Generally regarded as the first (perhaps only) Evangelical philosopher, Schaeffer's views on the fundamental clash between Christian and secular belief systems became the talking points for a generation of American Christians. The movement's trajectory, though, left many of Schaeffer's more nuanced beliefs by the wayside. His son's recent writings suggest that it didn't take long for the father of the Religious Right to regret what he'd birthed.
posted by verb on Oct 29, 2007 - 40 comments

art with a lot of concept

Fate, Absolute Life and Death, the Aleph, the Zeitgeist, the sinking of the Atlantis, the World Trade Center, the formation of the universe...what more could you want from art? There's probably already been a been a post on this guy, Paul Laffoley, but I should hope more people could get a glance at some of this man's work. Crazy or brilliant, you make your decision. A video from his website.
posted by moonbizcut on Aug 31, 2007 - 24 comments

The Tanner Lectures on Human Values online library

The Tanner Lectures on Human Values are all online for you to peruse. The library consists of around 180 full text PDFs by a wide variety of authors -- Christine Korsgaard, Antonin Scalia, Jared Diamond, John Rawls, Richard Dawkins, Frans de Waal E.O. Wilson, Francis Fukuyama and the previously mentioned Elaine Scarry among them. Lots of interesting reading to be... read. Navigation is to the left. The collection is sorted alphabetically by author.
posted by cog_nate on Apr 25, 2007 - 12 comments

Return Of The Mummy

Modern Mummification. For yourself or your pets. The Summum organization, which incorporates a variety of religious and spiritual philosophies into its belief system, introduced modern mummification in 1975 as a means to "guide one's essence to a greater destination following the death of the body." They even have their own pyramid, in Utah of all places. There are several webpages for the kiddies, even very young ones. One presentation for kids explains that mummification is like "a caterpillar turning into a butterfly." Some people would like to expose the whole thing as a batshitinsane, money-making cult.
posted by amyms on Mar 30, 2007 - 20 comments

It Paines Me

Thomas Paine is sometimes forgotten, but dealt with some modern predicaments. Quotes, letters & essays, and an assortment of his writings.
posted by Gnostic Novelist on Mar 16, 2007 - 7 comments

Principled Toleration of Religion

Why Tolerate Religion? Brian Leiter's new paper on the philosophical and legal justifications for toleration of religion. From the abstract: Religious toleration has long been the paradigm of the liberal ideal of toleration of group differences, as reflected in both the constitutions of the major Western democracies and in the theoretical literature explaining and justifying these practices. While the historical reasons for the special “pride of place” accorded religious toleration are familiar, what is surprising is that no one has been able to articulate a credible principled argument for tolerating religion qua religion: that is, an argument that would explain why, as a matter of moral or other principle, we ought to accord special legal and moral treatment to religious practices. There are, to be sure, principled arguments for why the state ought to tolerate a plethora of private choices, commitments, and practices of its citizenry, but none of these single out religion for anything like the special treatment it is accorded in, for example, American and Canadian constitutional law. So why tolerate religion? Not because of anything that has to do with it being religion as such - or so this paper argues.
posted by monju_bosatsu on May 30, 2006 - 126 comments

The *REAL* Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of life? Answers range from pithy pseudo-psychological to the annoyingly flash based AND pseudo-psychological, the Christian, Muslim, and Sikh and other. Other people think they've figured it out, and their answer is different at least. Some people's answers just get strange and pseudo-scientific. And of course we can't forget Monty Python .
posted by sotonohito on Apr 23, 2006 - 45 comments

Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Prof. Daniel Dennett's (New York University, Philosophy) new book Breaking the Spell appears to have frightened its NYT book reviewer, Leon Wieseltier (The New Republic, Literary Editor). Wieselter claims "The question of the place of science in human life is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical question", and promptly proceeds to demonstrate that he himself knows nothing about philosophy. Dennett responds.
Prof. Brian Leiter (University of Texas, Philosophy) responds that "'The view that science can explain all human conditions and expressions, mental as well as physical' is not a 'superstition' but a reasonable methodological posture to adopt based on the actual evidence, that is, based on the actual expanding success of the sciences . . . during the last hundred years."
b l o g s s and serious reviews.
posted by jeffburdges on Mar 7, 2006 - 142 comments

Atheism in Hinduism

Elements of Atheism in Hindu Thought
posted by Gyan on Mar 2, 2006 - 19 comments

Paul Tillich: the Apostle to the Intellectuals

Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was a German thinker who came to America in 1933 after losing his job for opposing the national socialism movement. Tillich was at once a protestant theologian and an existentialist philosopher and humanist who attempted to intellectualize religion and bring it to contemporary audiences in the age of science. His brilliant writings and speeches would typically weave together biblical passages with discussions of philosophy and science. In this most famous work, The Courage to Be, Tillich laid out his case of how man can resolve the existential crisis of facing non-being. In echoes of Soren Kierkegaard and Freud, Tillich attempted to explain how man could resolve the fear of nothingness with the Courage to Be in the face of Non-being. Throughout his life, Tillich's ultimate concern was to try to help man understand the real value of faith and meaning by divorcing the concepts from the myths and the religious and social dogmas which cramp the mind of modern man.
posted by dios on Feb 2, 2006 - 55 comments

Can a xlqp make a btzl?

Can God make a rock so heavy that he could not lift it?
posted by brownpau on Jan 13, 2006 - 161 comments

get an after-life.

Is there any real possibility of an after-life? Some argue that belief in the after-life is an inherently unfalsifiable proposition. Others argue that science has already ruled out the possibility. Buddhism takes a radically different view, embracing a conception of the after-life far different from any found in the Judeo-Christian faiths. What about the possibility of Eternal Recurrence, as proposed by Nietzsche? Just what do we mean when we speak of the "after-life" anyway?
posted by all-seeing eye dog on Oct 13, 2005 - 129 comments

God's Darwin or Chance's Drawin'?

Did the discovery of evolution lead to Darwin's agnosticism, as claimed? Carl Zimmer wonders. More importantly, can evolution be reconciled with Christianity?
posted by daksya on Aug 11, 2005 - 90 comments

The Gorge

"... Giordano Bruno might have been a pantheist. A pantheist believes that God is everywhere, even in that speck of a fly you see there. You can imagine how satisfying that is—being everywhere is like being nowhere. Well, for Hegel it wasn’t God but the State that had to be everywhere; therefore, he was a Fascist.”
“But didn’t he live more than a hundred years ago?”
“So? Joan of Arc, also a Fascist of the highest order. Fascists have always existed. Since the age of . . . since the age of God. Take God—a Fascist.”
Umberto Eco in the New Yorker
posted by matteo on Feb 28, 2005 - 36 comments

Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life according to various rather famous people (Dennett, Fukuyama, etc). I'm watching the Dennett video at the moment and it starts rather weakly, but, by midway through, is rolling along nicely. With topics like "being good without god" and "the anthropic principle" it struck me as relevant to a couple of recent askmefi threads.
Dennett: [pause] i guess i'll say it again, more slowly...

(oh, and the player interface is rather delicate - give it time to load and click play a few times...)
posted by andrew cooke on Oct 1, 2004 - 17 comments

The wisdom or capriciousness of disgust

Conservatives have been talking about the Wisdom of Disgust for a long time -- most recently with regard to human cloning, but usually, of course, homosexuality. Nussbaum counters at Reason Online. (And Kimball rips her a new one at the New Criterion.)
posted by Tlogmer on Sep 4, 2004 - 12 comments

Pontius Pilate contracted his brows, and his hand rose to his forehead...

"Jesus?" he murmured, "Jesus -- of Nazareth?..." Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea, is the only historical figure named in the Nicene Creed -- Coptic saint or eternally damned, his role in the greatest story ever told has been debated by many of history's greatest minds: St Augustine, Dante Alighieri, Tintoretto, John Ruskin, Mikhail Bulgakov, Monty Python. Unfortunately, there is very little historical evidence about him. His role in the death of a certain charismatic Galilean healer and apocalyptic preacher is still being debated today by theologians and historians alike. He is also, of course, the main character of The Procurator of Judea, the classic short story (complete text in main link) by Anatole France. (France's magnificent story has lately been tragically neglected by publishers, even if the author was one of his era's most acclaimed writers in the world -- he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 over Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, and Proust, and when he died in 1924, hundreds of thousands of people followed his funeral procession through Paris). These last 2,000 years of fascination with Pilatus can be explained, some argue... (more inside, for those unwilling to wash their hands of this post)
posted by matteo on Jun 24, 2004 - 37 comments

The Northern Way

Northvegr: The Northern Way is a site devoted to the practice, promotion and development of the Northern spiritual faith, which we call Hindrvitni or the Northern Way, aka the Norse ancestral faith, though the authors are careful to distinguish this from neopaganism, particularly Odinism and Asatru. Once you're on board, be sure to Buy Heathen!. [more inside]
posted by dhartung on Jun 10, 2003 - 17 comments

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