All entries by this author

Our strong intuition

Feb 26th, 2009 12:37 pm | By

What is ‘God’? Nicholas Beale offers one answer:

On the loving bit, philosophically I’m inclined to offer “Loving Ultimate Creator” as a defintion of God. That is clearly fundamental to Christianity and I think broadly consonant with Islam & Judaism. It offers a philosophical explanations for Anthropic Fine-tuning the intelligibility of the universe, the existence of objective morality and beauty, and our strong intuition that love is the most important and fundamental aspect of the universe.

Whose strong intuition that love is the most important and fundamental aspect of the universe? Who is the we in that ‘our’? Beale and Polkinghorne? Theists? Human beings in general?

I don’t know, but I know I have no such intuition. My intuition … Read the rest

Philosophy’s Great Experiment *

Feb 26th, 2009 | Filed by

X-phi wants to kick down the walls of recent philosophy and place experimentation back at its centre. … Read the rest

Baggini on Polkinghorne on Science and Religion *

Feb 26th, 2009 | Filed by

Polkinghorne and Beale often use God to plug the spaces left by science’s incompleteness.… Read the rest

Michael Ignatieff: an Intellectual in Politics *

Feb 26th, 2009 | Filed by

How does a liberal intellectual face up to the dilemmas of liberalism during a war on terror?… Read the rest

Nigel Warburton on God and the Buses *

Feb 26th, 2009 | Filed by

There probably isn’t, there definitely is; the epistemology of advertising.… Read the rest

Questions of Truth *

Feb 26th, 2009 | Filed by

The god of the gaps was grandfathered in; discuss.… Read the rest

Looking at pictures

Feb 26th, 2009 11:58 am | By

There are no atheists in CAT scanners – or are there.

Katja Wiech is a cheerful young German researcher who is fascinated by pain. She’s discovered many things—for example, when devout Catholics are given electric shocks while looking at a picture of the Virgin Mary they feel less pain than atheists do when administered the same unpleasant treatment.

Mary; that’s interesting. Not Jesus, not God. (Showing people pictures of God is a little tricky of course. There are a few – that Michelangelo one of course, where God and Adam attempt to do a fist bump, and some medieval ones where God wears a mitre and looks eminently unSpiritual – but not so many that there’s a stock visual ‘God’ … Read the rest

Carl Zimmer Fact-checks George Will *

Feb 25th, 2009 | Filed by

The fact-checker doesn’t rely on press releases or blog posts, but calls scientists up to get the best information.… Read the rest

Darwin Was Agnostic and Nontheist and Antitheist *

Feb 25th, 2009 | Filed by

Rick Weiss and Matt Nisbet are using a misrepresentation of Darwin to make a case against New Atheists.… Read the rest

Are Christians Persecuted in the UK? *

Feb 25th, 2009 | Filed by

If a teachers tells a child not to tell her friends they are going to hell, is that persecution?… Read the rest

Saudi Underwear Panic *

Feb 25th, 2009 | Filed by

No fitting rooms! Jobs are for men! These are too small! Daily life in a theocracy.… Read the rest

Aaronovitch Notes: All Theocracies Are Coercive *

Feb 25th, 2009 | Filed by

Crooke’s failure to see that theocracy is unlikely to lead to a world of ‘compassion and justice’ is stunning. … Read the rest

There is a part that is dangerous and ugly

Feb 25th, 2009 11:23 am | By

David Aaaronovitch heard ‘one of those fashionable voices that calls for more understanding of political Islamism and less confrontation’ on Start the Week on Monday.

The former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke, who has become a kind of Dr Dolittle of Islamist movements, was discussing his new book, Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution with Andrew Marr. Crooke’s point seemed to be that we in the West could learn a lot from Islamism, since it was, in some ways, morally superior to our fly-blown, materialist, individualist societies…Islamists wanted “a society based on compassion and justice”.

Oh do they. Then why is it that the first thing Islamists do is to kick girls out of school or tell women to ‘cover … Read the rest

Homeopathy: the Opposite of Science *

Feb 24th, 2009 | Filed by

BSc courses in homeopathy are closing. Yessss!… Read the rest

Andrew Sullivan on Defending Blasphemy *

Feb 24th, 2009 | Filed by

Hari’s article is a classic piece of political polemic, the kind of thing that no free society should ever suppress. … Read the rest

Katha Pollitt on Freedom of Speech, Round 5,425 *

Feb 24th, 2009 | Filed by

Women can’t point out sexism in the Bible or Koran but clerics can use those texts to declare women inferior?… Read the rest

Are ‘Honor’ Killings Simply Domestic Violence? *

Feb 24th, 2009 | Filed by

Denial is rife.… Read the rest

Theocracy and the Death of the Critical Intellect *

Feb 24th, 2009 | Filed by

I must exorcise the temptation to choose against the divinely sanctioned authority of the church.… Read the rest

Globalized, fluid, culturally impure

Feb 24th, 2009 11:57 am | By

Katha Pollitt read Johann Hari’s article.

[I]t would be nice to say that the world has learned what happens when freedom of speech and thought is subordinated to religious authority. In fact, the lesson seems to be the opposite: careful, you might hurt the feelings of the faithful. Oh, and they might kill you.

And, as Katha doesn’t go on to say but could have, since you hurt their feelings, it would be your fault if they did kill you.

Here on the American left we tend to see these incidents as gratuitous provocations by insensitive Westerners, and there’s something to that…The problem with that argument is that the same spirit of religious dogmatism backed by violence that shaped

Read the rest

IHEU on Durban II and Freedom of Expression *

Feb 23rd, 2009 | Filed by

Defamation of Religion is a concept that has no place in Human Rights discourse.… Read the rest