Category Archives: morality

My newest piece in Quillette: Another response to John Staddon

My contretemps in the pages of Quillette continues with the psychobiologist John Staddon. I hope this is the end of it, as it’s no fun to write what I’ve written many times before to criticize a man who’s repeating old and tedious arguments that have been rebutted many times before. But so great is Staddon’s […]

Once again, John Staddon maintains that religious morality is superior to secular morality

John Staddon and I have been having “words” in Quillette. It began with Staddon’s piece “Is Secular Humanism a Religion?“, a question he answered in the affirmative, even though secular humanism violated two of Staddon’s three defining traits of religion. I thus responded both here and then in a rebuttal in Quillette, “Secular Humanism is not a […]

Kate Cohen: Don’t mix religion, morality, and politics

There are two things that most of us have learned about religion and morality: 1.) People don’t really get their morality from religion—or at least most of it. That is, people don’t judge what is moral versus immoral behavior solely from the dictates of their faith, but rather from extra-Biblical sources that are antecedent to […]

The worst article ever to appear in Quillette: Psychologist declares secular humanism a “religion”

In general I like the articles in Quillette: they’re generally left-wing but also critical of the Left’s excesses—a theme that has led some misguided ideologues to call the site “alt-right.” But this time the editors screwed up by accepting a piece that makes very little sense, and arrives at its conclusion by some risibly tortuous […]

Why is Pinker demonized?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a new and longish article by Tom Bartlett about the character, achievements, and demonization of Steve Pinker. Click on the screenshot below to read it. Let me give my own take on Pinker first. It’s no secret that I consider him a friend and admire him hugely. Among all […]

More email from evolution-haters

Well, maybe “evolution hater” is too strong a term for this woman from Virginia, who wrote me an email this morning. She said “there is no need to respond,” but given that she sent me an unsolicited email, I’ll send her the link to this post, along with the comments. Feel free to respond, but […]

Are some truths not worth knowing?

I was listening for the first time to the famous “Four Horseman” video discussion with Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, and noted that, near the end, they discuss the possibility that some scientific facts might not be worth knowing, or even be dangerous to know. (Dan mentions determinism, though he doesn’t […]

The New Yorker once again slams New Atheism

About two weeks ago I dissected an interview at Vox in which Sean Illing talked to John Gray about Gray’s new book, Fifty Shades Seven Types of Atheism, and both interviewer and interviewee embraced each other in their hatred of New Atheism. Their mutual beefs (both are atheists but are “atheist-butters”) include these four: 1.) […]

Free will and moral responsibility: Gregg Caruso vs. Dan Dennett

The Aeon website has a good discussion between Dan Dennett, a free-will compatibilist, and Gregg Caruso, who calls himself a “hard incompatibilist”. (Caruso doesn’t call himself a “hard determinist” because he admits that some behaviors might be influenced by fundamental indeterminism, presumably of the quantum-mechanical sort.) The piece, called “Just deserts: Can we be held […]

Pinker’s latest TED talk: Is the world getting better?

In case you don’t have the moxie to read Steve Pinker’s two latest books—The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now—you can see a summary of both in Steve’s new 18.5-minute TED talk. Posted three days ago, it concisely summarizes his theses that the world is getting better in almost every measurable way, that […]