I do this for my exercise and personal training blog, I figure, considering I have far more articles (and perhaps more interest) in the religion debate/topic, I might as well put something together semi regularly on what is being put out by all whose blogs I frequent.
This was worth a re-post on FB, I liked the definition: “atheist: One for whom god is an unnecessary explanatory concept.” as I could agree with that, and it clears up some of the agnosticism, “lack of belief” drama. I had Sam Mulvey from “Ask an Atheist” comment saying he liked the room for discussion in the standard definitions of atheism (belief/action) and agnosticism (knowledge) and being able to be an “agnostic in evidence, atheist in action” and while I agreed in principle I thought it left too much room for theists to play rhetorical games to attempt to nullify your position. Having said that, I have no problem labelling myself an atheist in the “lack of belief” sense either, or having discussions about what that means, it would be nice, however to have a definition theists didn’t have so much of a problem with (I guess who’s not to say they won’t have a problem with the above re-definition).
You’d have to be pretty silly not to respect Reppert’s intelligence, and I respect him as Keith Parsons has described him: “a scholar and a gentleman“, he’s the first to keep the language civil on his blog (something John Loftus does not do in his posts about Reppert or his blog in general, see here for an example), and he keeps his posts relatively high brow. He has however been getting into it pretty heavily with Loftus about the “Outsider Test for Faith” and to agree with and quote Parsons again I think it’s been generating “more heat than light“. I was actually hoping they’d work together to produce a book, actually pool their collective talents into something useful, something that would address both sides concerns.
Here P.Z Myers (and Coyne) discuss some recent findings and some creationists response to such.
And then you have Ray Comfort…
Except that the moment of conception actually takes up to 24 hours and the life of the individual doesn’t “begin” for up to 14 days, as Peter Singer describes in his book Re-thinking Life and Death:
“There is no ‘moment’ of conception. Conception in human beings is a process that lasts about twenty-fours hours. It begins when a sperm works its way through the outer layer of the egg. This outer layer then locks up, so that other sperm cannot enter. At this point however, the genetic material is not evenly distributed throughout the egg but concentrated in what is called a ‘pronucleus’, which is surrounded by a soupy material that fills the egg.. After the sp[em enters the egg, it’s tail disappears and its head forms another pronucleus. The two pronuclei, at first like two islands floating in the soupy fluid, gradually draw together, but the genetic material does not merge until about twenty-two hours after the sperm first came into the egg, at a stage known as syngamy. Since i tis the merging of the genetic material that forms the genetic constitution of the new individual (or individuals of identical twins will emerge), it seems reasonable to say that conception is a process that is not complete until syngamy has taken place” (Singer, Pp-95, 1994)
As far as the life of the individual beginning after 14 days, Singer continues:
“Father Norman Ford of Melbourne’s Catholic Theological College, was troubled by the fact that for some time after fertilization, the embryo could split into identical twins. This suggested that during this early period the embryo was a cluster of cells, rather than an individual being. Ford has a point. If we think of the embryo as an individual from the moment of conception – let’s call her Marion- then what happens to Marion if the embryo splits? Are the newly formed twins Marion and new twin, say, Ruth? Or are they two new twins, say, Ruth and Esther?
Both answers give rise to paradoxes. If Marion still exists, which one of the twins is she? There is no basis for saying that one of them is more closely linked to the original Marion than the other. But if neither of the new twins is Marion, what has happened to her? Has she vanished? Should we regret the loss of a human individual, as I would regret the disappearance of one of my daughters, even if she was replaced by tow others? Ford concluded that as long as twinning is still a possibility the cluster of cells doesn ot constitute an individual organism. Therefore the life of a human individual does not begin at conception, but about fourteen days later, when the possibility of twinning is lost. His view has not been endorsed by the official church body, but it has also not been condemned.” (Singer, Pp-94, 1994)
As always Ray is taken to task in the comments section.
Luke’s a smart dude, over at Common Sense Atheism, unfortunately much of what he posts on, fails to pique my interest, but as you can see from this blog, right or wrong, he takes this stuff seriously (take the time to really check out the site, he does a philosophy and morality podcast, that have a great number of guests and serious content).
J.W Wartick is a really smart Christian (for examples, see here and here and here), but I think he works best when discussing Christian theology (as he is a MA student in Christian apologetics), his discussions on atheism (and particularly below) are not at the level I would expect of someone of his clear intelligence.
J.W Wartick has made some noise on his blog lately about atheists need for evidence (which is seemingly a precursor to charging them with Logical Positivism), and that atheists seem to deny there are any a priori proofs (he used the term “philosophical proofs“, in the comments section here). Here we see an anylsis and indeed the problems with one a priori proof for the existence of a god or gods (sorry to Wartick if I’ve misrepresented his position).
There has obviously been a big push back from some of the religious organisations in and around New York due to the legalisation of gay marriage, here Great Christina, discusses religious believers and their thoughts on atheism.
And here we see more response to the church’s response to the New York legislation, in a more virulent tone.
In case anyone wanted to say, all atheists look to the “Gnu Atheists” or the “Four Horsemen” as their sole role models for all things atheism, and accept their words uncritically, here we see some disagreements (you can see Coyne’s response to Harris’ response here). Coyne’s an interesting voice, and his book (Why Evolution is True) is well worth the read (whatever you religious views are). His site also contains much of the supposed evidence for evolution, that apparently doesn’t exist.
I think this blog shows why I try not to debate too much anymore, it is a lot of work, to rarely change a mind, still, I’m glad others aren’t as defeatist as me!
What is “belief” and how do we get around rhetorical tricks? It seems we may not be able, it seems more is more in this discussion.
As I don’t live in America I’m not sure if this pure coincidence or whether some issues is being discussed there, but here we have another piece on whether the word “belief” applies to evolution.
The free will/Determinism debate is always a good one, generally with theists landing in some form of a Cartesian dualist position (with Libertarian free will) and atheists, naturalists, materialists, skeptics etc landing somewhere in the Deterministic position (with Compatibalist free will). This debate I fear will continue until we start to understand the mind more and the causal effects of reality on it.
As if to completely contradict my point, J.W Wartick has this post, which I think this goes well with Coyne’s discussion on determinism (above).
What’s the harm in homeopathy, and general CAM treatments? Here we see some numbers.
Seems to be, at its core, discussing Gould’s NOMA (Non Overlapping Magesteria).
As far as soundbites go, I thought this one was worth a chuckle.
Some interesting data here, of course statistics always fall prey to the problem of “correlation versus causation” but regardless, some things to think about in regards to how the religious view atheists.
Also interesting if not directly related ot matters of theism/atheism (though often discussed by both).
Dan Rodger’s a really smart former atheist (but we won’t hold that against him, heh), and I pretty much agree with much in this post.
I really like Eric MacDonald, I wish he’d put out a book already, but here we see him discuss Karen Armstrong, someone I have not read personally, but have certainly seen her books around.
Singer P., (1994). Re-thinking Life and Death . New York, New York. The Text Publishing Company. Pp- 94-5.