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

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?

What are your philosophical positions?

Tina at Diotima's Ladder put up a very cool entry: What’s Your Philosophy? | Diotima's Ladder. BLOGGING EVENT! Tell the world. Don’t be shy. Yes, we’re used to piggy-backing off the famous philosophers, and that’s why I came up with this prompt. Those well-versed in philosophy will appreciate a grassroots approach, even those who spend every … Continue reading What are your philosophical positions?

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why would there be nothing?

Amanda Gefter has an interesting article at Nautilus looking at a somewhat perennial question: How can something come from nothing? The Bridge From Nowhere - Issue 16: Nothingness - Nautilus. In science, explanations are built of cause and effect. But if nothing is truly nothing, it lacks the power to cause. It’s not simply that we … Continue reading Why is there something rather than nothing? Why would there be nothing?

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?

Michael Dowd on the personification of reality

Michael Dowd is one of the few people with the title of "Reverend" whose views on reality I find interesting.  His motto is, "reality is my God, evidence is my scripture." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QeTWVw9Fm4 The other day, I did a post asking what religion is, and wondering whether science wasn't itself a religion.  It's hard to listen to … Continue reading Michael Dowd on the personification of reality