Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Estranged Notions: Do Catholics Know Their Theology is Correct?: A Response

Vogt responds to Dillon:

Do Catholics Know Their Theology is Correct?: A Response

Not much here: theologians generally agree on the stuff that they would get marginalized, expelled or excommunicated (or in past centuries, executed) for disagreeing with; “natural theology” (as if people didn't read their preconceptions of God into what they find in nature); etc.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Estranged Notions Omnibus: Dating Jesus' Birth

Conveniently, the posts over the past week have been on a single topic, so I'll collect them together in one thread here:

The 100-Year Old Mistake About the Birth of Jesus

Jesus’ Birth and when Herod the Great *Really* Died

What Year Was Jesus Born? The Answer May Surprise You

Does Luke Contradict Himself on When Jesus Was Born?

The overall summary for these could be phrased as: “any secular source is invalidated by the slightest inconsistency, while any apparent inconsistencies in Christian sources must be explained, regardless of how improbable the source text or the explanation is”.

The fact is, as both secular and many Christian historians would agree, that even assuming Jesus did exist there is simply no reliable evidence for his birth year. The infancy narratives are late, ahistorical, and contradictory (both with each other and with external evidence); the earliest known writers who wrote on the subject are another century later and had no better sources to work from. The most reliable dating evidence is the association with Pilate (whose prefecture ran 26-36 AD), and the fact that Jesus is nowhere portrayed as notably young or old. This easily gives a window of at least 12 years around 1 BC as the likely range, with no strong reason to prefer any specific year over others.

Edited to add: almost all of Akin's claims are comprehensively rebutted in Carrier's article The Date of the Nativity in Luke. H/t to MichaelNewsham in the comments for the reminder.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Scheduling note

I have no idea what schedule, if any, SN will be keeping over the holiday, but I have my own family commitments; so posts may be delayed. (Personally, I mark the winter holiday season as starting on the solstice and ending at perihelion...)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Estranged Notions: Do the “Infancy Narratives” of Matthew and Luke Contradict Each Other?

Oh dear, looks like today is “frantically try and paper over the awkward bits in the Bible” day:

Do the “Infancy Narratives” of Matthew and Luke Contradict Each Other?

This one is so bad it could have come from AIG; Staples' tries to reconcile the question of where Joseph and Mary lived (Luke says Nazareth, with a visit to Bethlehem for the census; Matthew implies they lived at Bethlehem until forced to flee) by arguing that Matthew doesn't actually say that the house where the Magi visited Jesus was in Bethlehem rather than Nazareth. He chooses to ignore:

  • that had Jesus already been living in Nazareth at that time, there would have been no cause to flee to Egypt
  • that on returning from Egypt, Joseph and Mary's first reported intent was to return to Judea, not Galilee, and they have to be warned off that idea
  • when Nazareth is finally mentioned, the context is “he made his home in a town called Nazareth”, using the Greek word κατῴκησεν, ‘settle in’, ‘colonize’

All in all it's absolutely clear that the author of GMatthew did not believe that Jesus and his family had been anywhere but Bethlehem before their flight. (It's also absolutely clear that he cares nothing about facts, since every single step in this story is explicitly stated to “fulfill what had been spoken” in various scraps of Jewish scripture.)

To claim as Staples does that the author of Matthew simply chose not to mention Nazareth earlier is to do violence to the text as written; a classic example of reading into a text something which is not there, with no justification.

Also, of course, this one point barely scratches the surface of the contradictions between Matthew and Luke, the contradictions between both and actual history, and the contradictions between Matthew and Luke's infancy stories and Mark's portrayal of Jesus' family.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Estranged Notions: Debunking One of the Worst Argument Against Atheism

Today's post:

Debunking One of the Worst Argument Against Atheism

While I encourage the idea of theists (or indeed atheists) criticizing the poor arguments of their own side, this particular effort is quite weak. Not because the argument is in fact strong, but because the criticism fails to expose its true weakness.

The argument in question is: in order to know that there is no God, you would have to know everything, i.e. be omniscient yourself.

The true flaw in this argument is this: it mistakes a universal claim for an existential claim. To know with certainty that no black swan exists, you would have to examine every swan in the universe; the negation of the existential claim "there exists a black swan" is the universal claim "all swans are not black". But no statement concerning an omni-attributed god can be simply existential; the claim "there exists an omni-present God" also means "for all places, God is present there" – a universal claim nested inside the existential one.

Accordingly, one does not need to survey the whole of spacetime to disprove an omni-present God; it suffices to show one single place which lacks a God (according to the theist's definition of God). Similarly, an omni-benevolent God is refuted by a single unnecessary evil.

Beaumont's argument is that we can refute the existential claim with logic, which is fine as far as it goes, but notice that this results in devaluing the significance of the evidence against God. Beaumont is obviously a Rationalist in the sense I attack in Against Rationalism; he apparently hasn't considered that we can have strong inductive evidence against the nested universal claim, even if we have no deductive proof of impossibility.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Estranged Notions: What Racism Reveals About God and Man

Belated link to yesterday's post:

What Racism Reveals About God and Man

As usual, there is no actual attempt to engage with secular concepts of ethics, just a brute denial that they exist. (Really need an even more disparaging tag than "drivel" for these kinds of posts.)

Monday, 24 November 2014

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Guest Post: Geena Safire's response to “The Dying of the Brights”

This is a guest post; the views expressed are those of the contributor, and not of the site owner.

by Geena Safire

This is a fisking of Matthew Becklo's article at Catholic apologetics site Strange Notions, The Dying of the Brights, posted on 11/21/2014

The crowd, gathered to hear Richard Dawkins debate the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Friday, 31 October 2014

Estranged Notions: What the Media Got Wrong about Pope Francis and Evolution

Inaccurate reporting in mainstream media shocker:

What the Media Got Wrong about Pope Francis and Evolution

Of course this all misses the point of what the real incompatibilities between evolution and Catholicism are: no teleology in nature, no Adam and Eve, no immutable human nature, "soul" as the Aristotelian form of the evolved human is not compatible with the "soul" which is individually specially created by God.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Estranged Notions: Do Atheists Believe in God After All?

Today's post:

Do Atheists Believe in God After All?

A pretty silly study on the whole; the issues of small sample size and high variance have already been pointed out by PBR. Even Horn spots the methodological issue of not using a known-nonexistent deity or similar as a control (to which I'd add, they should also have considered using one from a culture foreign to the study participants).

A possibly more serious issue is the issue of conflation of "believe" and "have an emotional reaction to", the problem with which should be obvious.

Horn also demonstrates his ignorance of the nature of delusions (quoting the idiotic "poached egg" comparison). This is best answered with this piece from Scott Alexander.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Seems we recently passed both the 10,000'th comment and the 100,000'th pageview - milestones of no particular interest to those not committed to decimal arithmetic, but providing me with an excuse to make a new open thread :-)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Monday, 15 September 2014

Estranged Notions: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Today's post, in which Longenecker defends his position in the previous post:

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

His defense is of course hopeless, but I suppose he at least gets credit for trying.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Estranged Notions: Popular News Site Claims Jesus Never Existed

Historicity day! Today's article responds to Valerie Tarico's recent article, which is kind of odd because Tarico is a psychologist, not a historian, and if you want to argue honestly for historicity you should be arguing against the best case (currently Carrier's book), no?

Popular News Site Claims Jesus Never Existed

(Also, using Ehrman's pathetic and overcooked response as your counter-argument is lame.)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Old Testament Historicity

Since it looks like this subject would benefit from its own thread, here it is.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Blatant Physics Errors

In the "everything requires a cause" thread especially, and also to some extent in other threads, there have been some rather egregious comments (many from Flynn, but he's far from the only offender) indicating complete ignorance of particle physics or nuclear physics. This post is for pointing them out in the comments, and supplying corrections (and/or appropriate mockery).

(Errors primarily caused by adherence to Aristotelian physics can go in the other thread.)

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Aristotelian Contradiction Game

Given the boringness of other recent threads, I thought we might try an experiment.

The rules of this game are:

  1. Quote (preferably with link) to some particularly egregious Aristotelian or Thomist claim about cause and effect, formal or final causes, natural law ethics or whatever other obsolete concept shows up. This can be from the SN comments or from any other site.
  2. State a simple counterexample, either in the form of a physical object or process that violates the claimed principle, or in the form of an equally good Aristotelian explanation of why the opposite result should occur instead.
  3. Other commenters can then agree or disagree with the validity of your example.
  4. Please only do one example per top-level comment, and please don't do top-level comments otherwise.

I'll probably do a few to kick off...

Estranged Notions: The Stillbirth of Science in Arabia

Final stop on the Trasancos and Jaki Tour:

The Stillbirth of Science in Arabia

Monday, 4 August 2014

Estranged Notions: Richard Dawkins and the God of the Old Testament

Today's post:

Richard Dawkins and the God of the Old Testament

As usual, the elephant in the room goes unremarked: the Old Testament (specifically the parts under discussion here) is not factual history but propaganda. Evolution may be harsh and amoral, but it really happened; we are the result of hundreds of millions of years of tooth-and-claw survival. But rather than deify evolution and worship its values, we have the option—some would say the only right option on meeting a god—of killing it and taking its powers for our own use.

The Old Testament God has no such excuse. The stories of genocides were almost certainly not told because they actually happened, but rather because the compilers of the OT regarded these genocidal commands as being consistent with the kind of god that they wanted; they embraced the idea of slaughter rather than rejecting it. (Archaeology gives us a history of the Levant which is completely at odds with the OT stories until sometime after the time of Solomon; we obviously can't prove that something didn't happen, but we can establish that the context of the genocide stories does not fit with the historical context of any plausible time at which they could have occurred.)

So what path to choose? Worship of a God whose supposedly inspired literature contains fictional atrocities, or look at the cold facts of evolution and say, “yes, this is where we came from, and we need to understand the legacy it has left us; but it no longer dictates our future”?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Estranged Notions: Can Atheists Defend Abortion Without Defending Infanticide?

Today's post plumbs new lows, even for SN:

Can Atheists Defend Abortion Without Defending Infanticide?

I can defend abortion without defending infanticide using only four words: “bodily autonomy” and “Schelling fence”A Schelling fence is a highly salient stopping point on what might otherwise be a slippery slope. Even leaving aside the medical evidence that there is a step change in a newborn's level of consciousness at the point where they start to breathe air, there is the completely undeniable fact that after birth is the first point at which medical decisions can be made independently for mother and child (which is an important qualitative change). Then, the fact that this question is even being asked highlights the fact that birth—even more than ‘viability’—is the most salient point in the whole process of child development.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Estranged Notions: Why Everything Must Have a Reason for Its Existence

Today's post:

Why Everything Must Have a Reason for Its Existence

I think this one can be summed up as “don't try to learn Bayesian reasoning from William Lane Craig”.

References page

I've added a page, which I hope to extend over time, of links to reference material which might be relevant or useful.

Any suggestions, comments, etc. can go here (I want to keep comments disabled on that page).

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The “New Apologetics” thread

General questions and discussion involving the “New Apologetics” group can go here; the open thread is getting a bit cluttered.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Estranged Notions: Demons, Playing Cards, and Telescopes

Today's post:

Demons, Playing Cards, and Telescopes

Heschmeyer does not seem to acknowledge that his initial point cuts both ways — being primed to believe in the existence of demons is actually even more analogous to having previously learned to associate the shapes and colours of playing cards.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Estranged Notions: How an Imperfect World Produces Unconditional Love

Today's post:

How an Imperfect World Produces Unconditional Love

Against Rationalism

By “Rationalism” in this article I mean the philosophical position, opposed to Empiricism and Skepticism, that knowledge can be acquired by reason alone, rather than from observation and experience (Empiricism) or not at all (Skepticism). To distinguish “Rationalism” from other terms (such as “rational”), I'll stick to capitalizing it.

Hume's Fork

If we take in our hand any volume—of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance—let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Estranged Notions: Pascal in “The Rum Diary”

Today's post:

Pascal in “The Rum Diary”

Second only to the concept of hell, I think the idea that we are somehow “fallen” or “broken” is one of the most pernicious of Christian beliefs.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Estranged Notions: Why Virtue Requires an Imperfect World

Today's post:

Why Virtue Requires an Imperfect World

More problem of evil silliness.

Initial reaction to “On the Historicity of Jesus”

Just finished a first reading of Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus.

The short summary is that I think the book succeeds in its goal of establishing what the case is that needs to be answered by the historicists; it presents a detailed Bayesian argument (and thereby avoids being sucked into the morass of dubious methodology) covering every category of evidence (not focusing solely on nitpicking over individual details in Paul or Josephus) and referencing its points in some detail (it's very footnote-heavy).

I do expect, unfortunately, that it'll get a lot of response that doesn't really respect the Bayesian logic but just points to isolated factors (such as the aforesaid individual details in Paul). The real test, though, will be whether it gets any useful responses from experts; for which I guess we'll have to wait and see. (It goes without saying that a large contingent of Christian apologists will reject the book without making any attempt to make valid arguments against it.)

Monday, 16 June 2014

Monday, 9 June 2014

Estranged Notions: Varieties of (Non)Belief

Today's post:

Varieties of (Non)Belief

For all that this is from Paul Rimmer rather than one of the usual suspects, it still earns the drivel tag honestly.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Estranged Notions: An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Today's post:

An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

I've been following a time-saving policy for the last 5 or so months of not bothering to read or engage significantly with historicist posts, because with Carrier's book completed (and due for publication this month), it is unlikely that any recent argument from the historicist side actually adds anything useful to the debate. Any arguments that might be valid would be better addressed after the book is out.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Estranged Notions: Do ‘Religiously Knowledgeable’ Atheists Believe in God?

Today's post:

Do ‘Religiously Knowledgeable’ Atheists Believe in God?

Short version: survey statistics are not worth much, especially in fringe small-N subcategories of larger surveys. (A proportion — sometimes a nontrivial one — of any survey sample are people giving a purely random or maliciously hostile response; for unpopular or socially marginalized beliefs this can easily skew the results. It has also been found that Americans overstate their religious observance and beliefs to pollsters.)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Estranged Notions: What is an ad hominem fallacy?

Today's post is an especially pointless contribution (taken) from Feser:

What is an ad hominem fallacy?

Good content getting hard to find perhaps?

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Contingency and the Fallacy of Composition

(Intended to be part 1 of a short series on contingency arguments)

The Argument from Contingency

Sketched out, the Argument from Contingency is along these lines:

  1. Things are either logically necessary or contingent.
  2. Contingent things require an explanation, which must ultimately lead to a necessary thing (rather than a loop of contingent things or an infinite regress).
  3. Contingent things exist.
  4. Therefore at least one necessary thing exists.
  5. Everything in the physical universe is contingent.
  6. Therefore the physical universe itself is also contingent.
  7. Therefore the necessary thing is separate from the physical universe, and the theist then asserts it to be God.

Every step of this argument is open to serious criticism, but for the purposes of this post I'm going to focus on steps 5 and 6.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Estranged Notions: From Atheism to Catholicism: An Interview with Jennifer Fulwiler (Video)

Today's post:

From Atheism to Catholicism: An Interview with Jennifer Fulwiler (Video)

Haven't watched the video myself. I almost never do in these cases; it takes ten times as long to convey the same amount of information as a transcript or text interview would, and I don't find it a worthwhile use of time.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Estranged Notions: The Five-Fold Argument for the Resurrection

Today's post chooses an obvious theme, given the date:

The Five-Fold Argument for the Resurrection

Drivel from start to end; pretty much summed up by “if we uncritically assume the accuracy of the gospels and Acts, even the bits that textual critics tell us are interpolations (such as the bit about sweating blood), then it's obvious that the resurrection was real”. Duh.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Estranged Notions: Why Our Unique Solar System Points to God

Today's post:

Why Our Unique Solar System Points to God

Summary: junk astrophysics from someone with no apparent qualifications in the subject, whose source is Lee Strobel's garbage (and outdated) apologetics rather than real science.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Guest Post: David Hume on Miracles

This is a guest post; the views expressed are those of the contributor, and not of the site owner.

by Fr. Sean

David Hume was one of the most brilliant Scottish philosophers of the 18th century.  Among his many works, he wrote a book entitled:  An Enquiry into Human Understanding.  In chapter ten of the book, he establishes a framework for entertaining the possibility of a miracle.  If by chance you aren’t familiar with it, read part 1 and part 2;

Estranged Notions: Nothing’s the Matter with Atheistic Materialism

Today's post:

Nothing’s the Matter with Atheistic Materialism

More abuse of metaphysics.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Monday, 24 March 2014

Estranged Notions: How Should We Define ‘Atheism’?

Today's post discusses the definition of the word "atheism". Yawn.

How Should We Define ‘Atheism’?

That said, I find Ruse (an arch-accomodationist atheist who also identifies as agnostic) and Bullivant (a Catholic) to be rather odd choices to edit the "Oxford Handbook of Atheism". Ruse has spent years engaging in unwarranted and unjustified attacks on other atheists (see for example Rosenhouse here and here or Coyne here). Anyone read the book or seen a useful review?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Book Reviews Thread

A thread for reviews, comments, recommendations etc. of books related to atheism or religion.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Estranged Notions: Detectives of Despair

Today's post:

Detectives of Despair

I guess this is more of the "wah, wah, materialism = meaninglessness" drivel, but I'm somewhat hampered by not actually having heard of the TV show in question.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Estranged Notions: Picasso’s Sublime Tragedy

Today's post is very much in the "WTF is this doing here" category:

Picasso’s Sublime Tragedy

Biblical scholarship vs. tradition

Periodically on SN the issue comes up of the “traditional” authorship and dating of the gospels, as opposed to the modern scholarly conclusions. The latest advocate of the traditional position is one “Irenaeus of New York” (one wonders what happened to the real-names policy), who endorses not only Matthean priority but also the idea that Matthew was originally written in a Semitic language (Hebrew or Aramaic).

So I thought a post reviewing the evidence and some resources would be useful.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Estranged Notions: Adam and Eve and Ted and Alice

Oh dear. Today we have a reprint of Flynn's ridiculous blogpost on Adam and Eve from some time ago, which has probably been linked over a dozen times from the SN comments:

Adam and Eve and Ted and Alice

The poisoning of academic study of religion

From the Guardian Higher Ed., via Ophelia:

Teaching religion: my students are trying to run my course

The author is an anonymous atheist academic at a major UK university. Excerpt:

[At] my institution, the fee-paying culture has given rise to a predominantly white, economically-privileged, middle class student body, in which any diversity of religious or non-religious students has been overpowered by a particularly influential form of evangelical Christianity. It is a belief system that is uncomfortable with the academic study of religion, and which will often explicitly resist it.

Students' membership of this society is flattening the dynamics of lectures. Buying into the current claim that Christians suffer persecution in the UK, many appear compelled to resist the academic critique of the traditions and texts they hold dear. Recently, a group of students in a lecture refused to undertake the work set because they didn't want to apply postmodern perspectives to what for them was a sacred text.

A female colleague was accused of being "stupid" and "lacking authority" by those who believe a woman has no right to teach others about religious texts.

Other colleagues have been marked out as heretics in lectures. Of the students who remain outside this group – identifying as atheist, agnostic, Catholic or Jewish – a number have confided they feel intimidated or silenced by the louder, assertively evangelical students in the class.

Academic rigour, research-inspired teaching and independent, critical thinking are the hallmarks of today's university culture. And yet many of us have found ourselves diluting or softening the topics of our modules, and the intellectual and critical content of our lectures, for fear of poor student feedback (which is carefully monitored by the university). And to take account of the personal preferences of our evangelical students.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Estranged Notions: Cosmology and Creation: Contrasting Notions

Today's post is the response to Paul Rimmer's:

Cosmology and Creation: Contrasting Notions

Rosenhouse on Plait on Ham/Nye

Jason Rosenhouse (author of Among The Creationists, which I highly recommend), responded to Phil Plait's response to the Ham/Nye debate:

It’s Not Just Fundamentalist Religion That Has A Problem With Evolution

Rosenhouse's viewpoint is that evolution really is incompatible with many religious positions—not just the crazy Genesis-1-literalist ones espoused by Ham and the YECs, but much more. Key paragraphs:

So, after all, that, let us return to Plait’s argument. He tells us that the problem is too many people perceiving evolution as a threat to their religious beliefs. Indeed, but why do they perceive it that way? Is it a failure of messaging on the part of scientists? Is it because Richard Dawkins or P. Z. Myers make snide remarks about religion? No, those are not the reasons.

It is because these people have noticed all the same problems the scholars of Darwin’s time were writing about. It is because evolution really does conflict with their religious beliefs, but not because of an overly idiosyncratic interpretation of one part of the Bible. It is because the version of evolution that so worried the religious scholars of Darwin’s time, that of a savage, non-teleological process that produced humanity only as an afterthought, is precisely the version that has triumphed among modern scientists. And it is because the objections raised to that version of evolution in the nineteenth century have not lost any of their force today.

So I think the issue is just a tad more complex than Plait suggests. It manifestly is not the case that only the most narrow of fundamentalists has a problem with evolution. Evolution challenges the Bible, refutes the argument from design, exacerbates the problem of evil, and strongly challenges any notion that humanity plays a central role in creation. These are not small points, and Plait needs to acknowledge them.

(Do read the whole thing; quite a bit of it is Catholic-related)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Role of Philosophy

Having bashed philosophy a bit, time for a slightly different viewpoint.

Dawkins (who should probably stay away from Twitter) tweeted:

PZ replies.

I think there's a couple of things going on here. One is the historical trend which has separated "philosophy" from "science". Some philosophers, but only a few scientists that I've seen, seem to be fighting against this trend and trying to reclaim the position that science is a branch of philosophy.

Plantinga and the weak EAAN

While looking up the subject of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) I found this exchange of posts in 2012 between John Wilkins and Plantinga himself. But my interest was mainly in this form of Plantinga's argument:

The argument has at least two forms, one with a stronger conclusion and one with a weaker. [...] The weaker argument has the conclusion that one who accepts N&E has a defeater for any philosophical or metaphysical beliefs he has—beliefs such as that Plato was right (or wrong) about the forms, or that there is (or isn’t) such a thing as objective right and wrong, or that there is no such person as God, or (Darwin’s example) that “the Universe is not the result of chance”—or naturalism itself. These beliefs are of such a sort that it doesn’t seem to matter, for fitness, for survival and reproduction, whether you hold the belief.

For reasons which will become obvious, I won't discuss the validity of the argument. Instead, let's see where the possible conclusions take us:

Plantinga on "Is Atheism Irrational"

(An original post by me for a change.)

For all the Catholic blog-verse's infatuation with Feser's work, in terms of his significance as a serious academic philosopher of religion Feser is pretty much nobody. The top dog in that particular kennel is generally considered to be Alvin Plantinga, who was just interviewed on the NYT's Opinionator blog by Gary Gutting under the title "Is Atheism Irrational?".

(No prizes for guessing Plantinga's answer to that one.)

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

New (I think) Disqus feature

Disqus apparently updated the "dashboard" page, and one thing I noticed is that you can now find your old posts on it even if they were deleted from the original discussion. (Though it only seems to go back about 3 months.)

It also shows when a post was marked as spam.

(I'm declaring this the new open thread, since the old one is getting a bit long.)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Estranged Notions: Come, Let Us Do Science Together

An old post from back in July, linked here by request:

Come, Let Us Do Science Together

The Denial of Relativity and/or QM thread

This post is for discussing or objecting to the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics (including the standard model of particle physics).

On posts other than this one, it is acceptable to discuss the predictions or interpretations of relativity or QM to the extent that they bear on the original post under discussion, but it is not acceptable to raise new or unrelated objections to those theories anywhere other than in this single post. This will be enforced as stringently as required.

A post limit on this thread may be set in the future if it seems desirable to eliminate repetition.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Upcoming Events: Jan/Feb 2014

By request, a list of some upcoming events of interest; feel free to mention more in the comments, and I'll add discussion pages for any of them on request or at my own whim.

Jan 31 - Feb 2: FTBConscience2 (free online conference; long list of speakers including Richard Carrier and Chana Messinger, both of whom contributed atheist articles to SN)

Feb 4: Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate

Feb 21: Carroll v. Craig debate

Estranged Notions: Is God Pro-Life or Pro-Death?

Today's post:

Is God Pro-Life or Pro-Death?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Moderation Actions Thread

Moderation actions (other than those done with the permission of affected users) will be recorded here.

NOTE: This thread is for actions taken here on this site; to discuss events on the Strange Notions site, go to The "Strange Notions" Débâcle.

Estranged Notions: Did Jesus Exist? An Alternate Approach

This is an older post (about 6 months) from SN, which I didn't comment on at the time since it was just after epeeist's banning:

Did Jesus Exist? An Alternate Approach

Friday, 24 January 2014

Estranged Notions: The Road from Atheism: Dr. Edward Feser’s Conversion (Part 2 of 3)

Today's post is just the next part of the series:

The Road from Atheism: Dr. Edward Feser’s Conversion (Part 2 of 3)

The Geocentrism Thread

So this is the place to argue about geocentrism and related topics.

Please do not mention the topic in any other post, even indirectly; this will be enforced by moderation or banning if need be.

Special Notice: This thread will be closed to commenting forever once the geocentrist posters have made 200 comments in it. This is for two reasons: one, to discourage pointlessly repetitive comments; and two, because by that time it will have degenerated into circularity.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Estranged Notions: Faith, Reason, and God: A Socratic Dialogue

Another recent pre-purge article:

Faith, Reason, and God: A Socratic Dialogue

Estranged Notions: How Contemporary Physics Points to God

Another recent article from before the purge:

How Contemporary Physics Points to God

I didn't comment on this one, but there were more than a hundred comments deleted.

Estranged Notions: Does the Catholic Church Hate Women?

The post immediately before the carnage was this one:

Does the Catholic Church Hate Women?

Almost half the comments on that post were deleted (note that the Disqus "this comment was deleted" only shows up where the deleted comment had responses - deleted comments without responses just don't show up at all).

(Notably, one of the banned commenters was on the Catholic side, but accounted for only three posts, all of them absurd ad-hominem screeds.)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Estranged Notions: The Opening of the Scientific Mind

The post that, apparently, was where the carnage started:

The Opening of the Scientific Mind

This article was the latest of many attempts by the Catholic contributors to argue for pre-defined limits on science (a common demand from theists, as though without a proper fence, the ravening science-beast will trample over their territory).

I will repost here some of my more substantive comments, but they are mostly responses to other commenters rather than the article itself.

Estranged Notions: The Road from Atheism: Dr. Edward Feser’s Conversion (Part 1 of 3)

Today's article at Strange Notions is part 1 of a conversion story from philosopher (and notorious blowhard and quote-miner) Ed Feser:

The Road from Atheism: Dr. Edward Feser’s Conversion (Part 1 of 3)

The "Strange Notions" débâcle

So this here is a place to discuss the goings-on at Strange Notions; I've disqus-ified the comments for convenience.

If you're coming here from Strange Notions to continue a specific discussion, please find the "Estranged Notions" post corresponding to the one you were commenting on, and discuss there. If you've had comments deleted from SN then you can likewise repost those on the corresponding pages.

If the corresponding post isn't up yet or you have anything else to ask, do it on this post. General discussion about the incident, moderation policy, and so on can also be done here (if the comment count goes high enough I'll start another open thread).