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.)