The utter relativism of definitions

I'm always surprised how contentious definitions, can be.  How opinions about what are essentially sounds in language become matters of intense debate. When the IAU (International Astronomical Union) redefined the word "planet" to exclude Pluto, which came about due to the discovery of Eris, a similarly sized body, many people reacted with intense emotion, igniting … Continue reading The utter relativism of definitions

Stephen West and Massimo Pigliucci discuss David Hume

Stephen West, on his Philosophize This! podcast, interviews Massimo Pigliucci on David Hume.  This was a big win for me.  Two of my favorite podcasters discussing one of my favorite historical philosophers!  It provides some good insights into Hume's skeptical and empirical philosophy. One of the questions Stephen asks Massimo is what he thinks Hume's … Continue reading Stephen West and Massimo Pigliucci discuss David Hume

Why the Exodus, as commonly understood, probably never happened

At the urging of one of my relatives, I watched Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings'.  This relative, knowing my skeptical nature, thought I might enjoy Scott's naturalistic (mostly) take on the events in the story.  I'm sorry to say that I didn't really enjoy the movie, which is unusual for me because I usually do enjoy … Continue reading Why the Exodus, as commonly understood, probably never happened

Zombies discussing philosophical zombies

Click through for full sized version, and philosophical explanation if you're not familiar with David Chalmer's and Daniel Dennett's positions on philosophical zombies. Philosophy Humans - Existential Comics. I can't say I've ever been too impressed with the idea of a philosophical zombie.  I could see maybe a zombie existing that behaves identically to a … Continue reading Zombies discussing philosophical zombies

Wealth may have driven the rise of moralizing religions

One of the things that a lot of people are often surprised to hear, is that most scholars don't believe that religion was always concerned with morality, that moralizing religion didn't exist to any significant extent before the 'Axial Age' circa 500 BC.  Psychologist Nicolas Baumard has a theory about what may have led to moralizing … Continue reading Wealth may have driven the rise of moralizing religions

Religion in Latin America is strong, except in Uruguay

Pew just released an interesting report on religion in Latin America: Religion in Latin America | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project.  Given our recent discussion on the decline of religion in western societies, I found this report interesting.  Religion and belief in God remains very strong in Latin America, except in one country, Uruguay. … Continue reading Religion in Latin America is strong, except in Uruguay

The decline of religion in western societies

Huffington Post UK has published the results of a survey showing that half of Britain thinks religion does more harm than good, and that you don't need it to be a good person.  This seems to be a trend in Europe that was started in the Scandinavian countries.  It's in contrast to the United States, … Continue reading The decline of religion in western societies

Does the Euthyphro dilemma actually prove anything?

I'm not religious.  I don't think morality comes from God, gods, or any religious precept.  But often, when I see debates on whether or not morality can only come from God or religion, an atheist philosopher will mention the Euthyphro dilemma, state or imply that the question was conclusively handled over 2300 years by this Plato … Continue reading Does the Euthyphro dilemma actually prove anything?

Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion?

In a Skeptical Inquirer article that I'm a bit surprised hasn't received more attention, Scott O. Lilienfeld and Rachel Ammirati take a look at this question: Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion? A Skeptic’s Guide to the Debate - CSI. In this article, we address the overarching question of whether high levels of certitude … Continue reading Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion?