Category Archives: morality

University of Virginia students and faculty object to the University President using quotes by its founder, Thomas Jefferson

It was only a matter of time before one of the greatest Presidents and statesmen this country ever had, Thomas Jefferson, came under the Knife of Offense because he owned slaves.  And indeed, that was a terrible form of oppression, one that caused Jefferson himself some cognitive dissonance, but he kept his slaves till he died, […]

Proof that the scriptures are man-made and don’t convey God’s word

When you read this I’ll be over—or, if something goes wrong, in—the Atlantic. If all goes well, Grania will have done the Hili dialogue; please her a hand for repeatedly filling in for me when I’m traveling. I woke up about 2 a.m. in the Warsaw airport hotel and this idea suddenly popped into my head. […]

Reader beefs at reader

On my recent post, “Is there a ‘meaning to life’ for nonbelievers“?, there was some good discussion, but a goddie tried to interpolate him/herself into the discussion in response to the comments. First, reader jblilie said this: Posted April 12, 2016 at 10:08 am I think I agree [with] all that you said. The things I […]

The Princeton dilemma: what do we do about Woodrow Wilson?

If you’ve followed these pages, you’ll know that, among the welter of college protests, student activists at Princeton have asked for expunging the name of a Princeton icon, Woodrow Wilson, from its infrastructure. Wilson was not only president of Princeton, but President of the United States, and apparently a progressive one. But he was regressive […]

Moral, religious and free-will fictionalism: how dangerous are they?

At its philosophy website The Stone, the New York Times finally published an article that sparked my interest, though of course I don’t completely agree with it. It’s called “How to live a lie,” and it’s by William Irwin, a philosopher at King’s College in Pennsylvania. By “living a lie,” Irwin refers to three forms of “fictionalism”: […]

A sad end to a woodpecker

by Matthew Cobb A great spotted woodpecker's final resting place, a rather sad find on a my morning walk. pic.twitter.com/4k7tRMErCM — Miles Richardson (@findingnature) October 30, 2015 This macabre photo illustrates how birds are able to sleep while they roost – their claws are adapted to grasp when the muscles are relaxed. So even though […]

The disutility of utilitarianism

From Zach Weinersmith’s strip SMBC, via Matthew Cobb: Matthew is of course a Brit, and his email of this link to me was headed “Ouch!” But of course one problem with this argument is that by voicing your own views on morality, you might improve society. That, after all, is the reason why civil rights, […]

Michael Shermer’s “review” of Faith versus Fact

I put “review” in quotes above, because Michael Shermer’s precis of Faith versus Fact in the latest Scientific American isn’t really a review at all, but a further plumping for his claim that—as Sam Harris also espouses—science can hand us objective moral truths. (See Shermer’s new book, The Moral Arc, for a fuller exposition.) The full Sci Am piece is behind […]

Michael Ruse: Proud to be an accommodationist

It’s been a while since we discussed the philosopher Michael Ruse, but he’s suddenly surfaced in the pages of Zygon, “The Journal of Religion and Science,” with a very strange article called “Why I am an accommodationist and proud of it” (reference and possible free link below). I found this article because Jason Rosenhouse sent it […]

Morality proves God, take #197

I’ve written before about National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins’s claim that “the Moral Law”—that is, the instinctive feelings of right and wrong we experience when, say, we see a drowning child or a cheater—are evidence for God. For, claims Collins, there’s no way to explain such instinctive feelings by evolution or other naturalistic processes. […]