January 2006

Self-Deception and the Problem with Religious Belief Formation

A quote: “He who eats the bread and drinks the cup with an unbelieving heart eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” This line is from the communion liturgy of the Church I grew up in—the Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The word “judgment” in the quote is a way of saying "damnation to Hell". The word “unbelieving” refers to disbelief in the core metaphysical doctrines of the Church. The effect of regular repetition of lines like this in the service is to strike fear in the person who may be questioning such doctrines.

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Legislating Values: A Reprise

I don’t think the legislature is morally or rationally obligated to advance legislation only on the basis of public reasons. One can, though, read the non-establishment clause of the constitution as requiring legislation to have a basis in public reason. But whatever the precise legalities, I think there are very strong practical reasons for the legislature to refrain from adopting any narrowly sectarian rationale for its laws.

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Science: The Big Kahuna

I have to admit that I mostly applaud the scientific overthrow of cultutral formations based on illusion, superstition, error, authority and the like. Still, I think that the "destructive" side of science is too often overlooked or greeted with a shrug by those like me who fully and completely endorse the canons of scientific rationality. It is not obvious to me that our ability to reform our culture and society can keep pace with the ability to undermine archaic forms.

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The Best of Philosophy Talk Podcast

You now have three ways  to listen to past episodes of Philosophy Talk.  As always,  we will continue to archive each episode in a streamable format.  On our archive pages,  you will find not just our past shows but a plethora of helpful links that make each archive page a valuable resource.

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The Nature of Science and the ID Debate

The question "what is science?" always becomes more pressing when debates about evolution and creationism are going on. Even though the question is actually a bit of a mess, it suddenly becomes tempting to try to offer a short, concise description of science that can be used to guide decisions about what should and should not go onto high school curricula. Often, the first thing people draw on is Karl Popper's account of science, based on the idea of falsifiability.

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The First Ever Online Philosophy Conference

We would like to take this opportunity to announce the 1st Annual On-line Philosophy Conference (OPC), which is tentatively to begin on Friday, April 7th (2006). The first installment of OPC will be hosted on the newly created On-line Philosophy Conference Blog and will include invited papers by some of today's top junior and senior philosophers, such as Stephen Stich, Jonathan Kvanvig, John Martin Fischer, Alfred Mele, Julia Driver, Terence Horgan, Graham Priest, R.A.

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God, Design and Science

Traditionally, in philosophy, the question of intelligent design is connected to the "Argument from Design." This is mentioned by many philosophers, including Saint Thomas, but the two discussions that are the most famous are William Paley's and David Hume's. I've been discussing Hume's Dialogues on Natural Relgion, where he discusses the argument from design and the problem of evil, in classes for about forty years, so I guess I am in favor of mentioning and discussing the theory of intelligent design in classrooms --- but not biology classrooms, unless the biology teacher wants to.

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