Ignorance in Prager University’s “Religion and Philosophy” Courses

YouTube suggested this appalling video to me, titled, “Does God Exist? 4 New Arguments.” Nothing new to see here. It’s beyond sad that so much energy goes into rehashing such simplistic thinking.  So I was motivated to comment… These aren’t arguments for God’s existence… All I’ve seen here is evidence that the speaker knows very little about how scientific investigation works. If you honestly want to know more about current reality-based thinking regarding the emergence of increasing complexity, you might start by having a look at the Big History website. The more important problem, though, is that supernaturally-oriented people are … Continue reading →

The Terry Deacon Dilemma

I occasionally run searches on Terrence Deacon to see whether any new essays or videos have become available. Today’s search surfaced an article at InsideHigherEd.com about the plagiarism charges made by Michael Lissack and others through the site TheTerryDeaconAffair.com. So I took the time to post a response, repeated here. I read Deacon’s Symbolic Species several years ago and considered it to be an outstanding work of scholarship… accessible and convincing. So, when I came across Incomplete Nature in a bookstore around the end of 2011, I purchased it immediately. This book turned out to be an extremely … Continue reading →

Contemplating the Crackpot Caucus

Timothy Eagan of the New York Times vents about evidence-challenged members of Congress (all Republicans) in a recent Opnionator blog post. I weighed in with this comment ( It hasn’t appeared after several hours, apparently because the site is having technical problems). The persistence of such primitive attitudes in our country is deplorable, but not surprising. Science and religion (at their best) are both truth seeking endeavors. Yet their champion urges — seeking facts that hold up vs. seeking values that are to be upheld — are clearly at odds. Many of the religiously-motivated, rationality-challenged folks I’ve known … Continue reading →

Response to Anything But Human

Old attitudes die hard, and especially the one about humans beings possessing properties that can’t be explained by biological evolution. A good example appeared recently at “The Stone,” a soap box for distinguished philosophers provided by The New York Times. Richard Polt insists that to be human is to be more than an animal, and certainly not a machine. I’m sympathetic to his latter concern, of course, but decidedly at odds with the first, so I wrote a response. This is the original version, which I cut down to fit within the NYT length limit. (It mentions a … Continue reading →

Dawkins Promotes The Magic of Reality

O’Reilly hosted Richard Dawkins, who’s on a book tour promoting a science primer called “The Magic of Reality.” All the nearby bookstores have closed down, so I haven’t seen the book yet, but I’m aware that each chapter apparently opens with an origin-of-life myth from around the ancient world. Mr. O’Reilly complained that Judeo-Christian creation stories were included. That’s mockery, in his view. They sparred on that a little, but occasionally danced around a topic that deserves much more thoughtful treatment… the question of whether countries led by atheists have done more violence than countries led by religious … Continue reading →

Creationism and American Exceptionalism

Shelby Steele’s recent article on American Exceptionalism snared me into a long thread on Facebook that wandered off to an entirely different point about religiosity and creationism. It’s probably my fault. The link is here, though I can’t be sure who’ll be able to see it. I ended up looking at a video of a lecture by Susan Haack, my favorite modern philosopher. Unfortunately, the sound is horrible. … Continue reading →

Bill Keller Stands for Sanity

Bill Keller, managing editor of the New York Times, took a stand for sanity in an article concerning the importance of asking the current crop of GOP presidential candidates about their professed faith. I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as … Continue reading →

Now for some real science

Reading about the retirement of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple, I learned that he gained a great deal of inspiration and insight from a physicist named Carver Mead. I’m sorry to say I had never heard of Mead before now, or at least I don’t recall reading about him. In any case, Mead is a major figure in modern technology, especially VLSI design. Entrepreneurs and VCs appreciate him for the observation, “Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you.” Here’s a truly intriguing interview with Mead (originally published by American Specatator) about how the Einstein-Bohr … Continue reading →