So...What Now?

This will likely be my last post for Skeptic Freethought, at least for the foreseeable future. The past four months have seen considerable changes in my life, especially with regards to my mental health. Over the past few months, I've started taking medication for my depression issues for the first time in my life, and I've adjusted to it enough to know that I'm responding well. This was a major step for me on several levels. I've known I needed medication for a long time, but until recently I've not had access to it. Doing this has allowed me to move forward in my overall treatment plan, and take more charge of my life, which is wonderful. It's also a decision I know I couldn't have made, at least calmly,…Read More

On the intelligibility of human action, moral evil, & God’s omniscience

The Problem of Evil holds that some facts about human suffering are evidence contrary to (or in contradiction with) classical theism. Philosophers distinguish between two kinds of evil (or suffering): moral evil -- the sort caused by human actions (rapes, genocides, etc) -- and natural evil -- the sort that are not caused by human actions (the destruction caused by storms, earthquakes, etc). It is a matter of common philosophical consensus that the latter is more difficult for the theist to explain away than the former. In the case of the former, theists typically cite the fact that God has granted humans libertarian free-will and that it is the free choices humans make -- which God can neither predict nor interfere with -- that explains the existence of moral evil.…Read More

For Objective Morality

Lydia Allan has recently posted her argument opposed moral objectivism and in favor of something that sounds like ethical noncognitivism. I've written a response, available here, arguing against her view.Read More

On The Cosmological Argument and Libertarian Free-Will

Consider the following argument: All things which come to exist have causes. The universe came to exist. Therefore, the universe had a cause. This is one version of the Cosmological Argument (CA). Concluding that the universe had a cause, proponents of CA draw the further inference that God was the only possible cause that the universe could have had. Those who reject CA have replied that atheists can concede that the universe had a cause without conceding the existence of God. Why, for example, should we think that the universe’s cause had a mind? If one cannot conclude that the universe’s cause had a mind, CA proponents will need an additional argument to reach theism. In order to argue that the universe’s cause has a mind, theists may appeal to…Read More

How should one respond to the Argument from Contingency?

Consider the Argument from Contingency: 1. All contingent facts, including the existence of our universe (i.e. the continuous space-time region that we inhabit), have an explanation. 2. The conjunct of all of the contingent facts is itself a contingent fact. 3. Therefore, there is an explanation of the conjunct of all of the contingent facts. 4. The explanation of the conjunct of all of the contingent facts cannot itself be contingent. 5. Therefore, the explanation of the conjunct of all of the contingent facts must be a necessary fact. 6. Therefore, there exists a necessary entity that explains all of the contingent facts, including the existence of our universe. We are supposed to conclude from this that God exists. This is presumably because God, as a necessarily existent being, is…Read More

Thus Spake Matt Sheedy: Analytic Philosophy, Critical Theory, and the Atheism/Theism Discourse

The arguments presented in the film God’s Not Dead – and the sort of Christian apologetics with which it is associated (especially actor Kevin Sorbo’s public comments on Trunews) – are intellectually impotent. It is not difficult to find negative reviews from Christian apologists, who see their own cause undermined by such dreck (Randall Rauser, for example, states that he was “outraged” and that the film is “reprehensible”). I can think of only one reason for engaging with the film or Kevin Sorbo from an intellectual perspective: both Kevin Sorbo and the film express ideas popular among a particular demographic of evangelical Christians. That set of ideas – that atheists secretly know God exists, that secular moral realism is an impossibility, that life without God is meaningless, and that atheists…Read More

Aamer Rahman describes what reverse racism would actually look like More

Depression and David Hume

According to David Hume, previous thinkers had misunderstood the relationship between action and emotion (or what he called 'passion'). While previous thinkers declared that logic and rationality alone can compel action (we can act rationally), Hume argued that only the passions were intrinsically motivating (so that, as he famously declared, reason is the slave of the passions). You can recognize the truth of any proposition whatsoever, but it will never compel you to action. Hume would tell us that Vulcans -- people without any emotions whatsoever -- would never actually be compelled to action. There would be no motivation to learn more, to be more logical, to suppress one's emotions, to help others, to explore, to discover new things, or to do anything at all because an individual void of…Read More

Guest Post: "Memes and Cultural Evolution" by Simon Frankel Pratt

This post originally appeared on Simon Said. Many people are familiar with the concept of the ‘meme': units of cultural material that are transmitted throughout populations and evolve in a manner somewhat analogous to genes. Richard Dawkins coined the term and the general idea [1], prompting some measure of scientific activity, including a journal [2], devoted to the study of memetics. However, memes and memetics never gained much traction amongst social scientists and philosophers, and ‘meme theory’ currently enjoys essentially no credibility as a scientific theory. In this post, I will explain why that is, and I will point to some alternative, sounder approaches to thinking about and studying the way knowledge and practice diffuse and evolve throughout societies . Evolutionary epistemology and social science seem to go well together.…Read More

Ideology, Culture, and Old Habits

In my previous post, I discussed briefly how the evangelical focus on conversion experiences can cause problems for post-evangelicals when they try to join other groups.  An additional difficulty with this transition is that so much of evangelicalism is based on persuasion.  People who grow up in this culture are taught from a young age that a major part of their faith entails persuading others to join it.  Often, the ability, or at least attempt, to perform this type of persuasion is used as a litmus test of one’s spiritual health or sincerity.  Apart from the psychological effect of being in a group that has a singular goal and polices commitment to that goal, this also causes people in this culture to build their idea of social responsibility and even…Read More