The philosophical rejection of the notion of Free Will comes first and foremost out of the scientific belief in determinism: that all events, attitudes, background conditions, have a cause, and that therefore it does not make sense to take “credit” or “blame” for our attitudes, our level of intelligence, or, in the extreme, our actions.
In 2012 author, philosopher and neuroscience theorist Sam Harris published his book Free Will and reinvigorated the debate about the extent to which people can be thought to be “responsible” for their thoughts, motivations and actions. The idea that humans have “free will” (or perhaps we should say “Free Will” with big F and W)
The most interesting technology developments of the last decade or so, at least from the perspective of the average consumer, have been in computer, internet and telecommunications. These areas of development have come together with great fanfare and significant impact in the development of mobile networks and powerful “smartphones” – essentially portable computers. I follow
There is an inherent conflict within Christianity between the urge to preach and convert, and the attitude of tolerance that says “live and let live”. We think we know where the urge to preach comes from. It is supposedly from the “Great Commission” where followers of Jesus are told “Therefore go and make disciples of
In his book Breaking The Spell, philosopher and noted atheist Daniel Dennett discusses (at some length) the difference between “belief in God” and “belief in belief in God”. This may sound like some philosopher’s tedious exercise in hair-splitting, but the fact is, this is actually an interesting and important distinction. Over the years I have
This is pretty commonly heard in debates (or conversations) about religion. One person will be stating why she doesn’t believe in god(s), and someone else will say “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” This is meant to be a clever way of saying: “Atheists bug me. They’re so cock sure they’re right.
I live just down the street from a major Blackberry office complex, and Blackberry employs thousands of people in this local (Waterloo) area, so I have a natural interest in how the company is trying to resurrect itself. If Blackberry succeeds in remaking itself it will be because they finally adopted a realistic, workable strategy.
I regularly pass a sign in front of a local church that says “Our God answers prayer.” I must admit, it gets the intended response from me. I look and think “Hmmm, answers prayers, eh?” So, there’s no doubt, as a piece of marketing the sign does its job. But are we really supposed to
Let’s pretend organized religion fell seriously out of favour and there were no churches. Would we be missing anything? I suspect there are many people who would be nostalgic for some of the things we get from religion. But it is more than nostalgia. I’m sure church provides members with practical benefits as well. What
I spent a few minutes in a coffee shop this morning reading a short book by atheist author D. Cameron Web called Despicable Meme – The Absurdity and Immorality of Modern Religion. This is Web’s first book so I guess he can be excused for his unusually zealous attack of religion. He takes a no
Some things I’ve been reading recently have led me to look again at my previous posts about morality (here and here) and attempt to clarify some of the ideas presented there. “Morality” is a confusing topic, debated for centuries by philosophers and theologians, (and not seriously thought about by me for the last thirty years)
All religious claims to be authoritative in some important sense rely on the concept of revelation. By its very nature, religion assumes it is dealing with phenomena that are essentially different from “ordinary” experience. As I have pointed out in previous posts, this claim that religious experience cannot be dealt with the way we deal
In a world where we increasingly rely on scientific investigation to answer important questions about the world around us, the use of special documents called “scripture” by religious leaders and their billions of followers is puzzling. Religious people just assume scriptures have some special (dare I say, magical) powers that ordinary writings don’t have. But
If you’ve ever had a discussion about religion with a zealous believer you will invariably be told religious beliefs are supported by some sort of “revelation”. The favorite among Christians is “It’s in the Bible”. For Moslems it’s the Koran. For Mormons it’s the Book of Mormon, and on it goes. Every religion has it’s
Even a casual viewing of a television show like 100 Huntley Street gives the impression that religion (or belief in god) is almost all about feeling good. People sit around telling each other about their personal experiences. There’s a tremendous amount of smiling, punctuated with earnest empathizing. Often these experiences involve some personal crisis –
Morality is the set of behaviour-regulating principles that guide our activities within our communities. We can think of these communities as a web of relationships. For most of us the focus is on the immediate community, but this local web is inevitably part of other, larger webs, and it is the interaction with other parts
It is surprising how many people believe that without a god to offer an objective basis for morality, there can simply be no trustworthy right or wrong. This has both a positive side and a negative one, and both are confused and confusing. On the positive side is the assumption that god’s existence somehow legitimizes
Not surprisingly, many believers think there are convincing “proofs” of the existence of god. These are almost without exception versions of arguments that have been advanced by theologians and philosophers for at least 2000 years. It is unlikely that even religious believers are actually convinced by these arguments. They are much more influenced by moral
In my previous post we briefly looked at David Wolpe’s claim that a some aspects of experience cannot be properly captured in a “scientific” analysis of the sort most skeptics are talking about when they say religious claims lack “evidence”. According to Wolpe, and others who share his opinion, looking for evidence of God’s existence
There is an interesting debate on Youtube between Sam Harris and David Wolpe where they discuss the importance of religion and the role of religious experience as it bears on faith, morality and politics. Sam Harris is a well known anti-religious speaker and author whose fairly simple message is that religious discourse should be subjected