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I’m going to break up the articles this week into ‘theosophy” (theology/philosophy) and “news“, enjoy!

News

I recently discovered the “Cochrane Collaboration” one of the worlds leading groups that systematically meta-analyize all the studies being produced to help the lay person understand what the literature says, here’s what the literature (with the best trial methodology) says on intercessory prayer.

Cochrane on the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs.

Psalms 14:1 comes to mind. More here.

More on this topic here.

A victory for reason?

(More on this story here) The loaded, sensationalist terminology used in the first sentence: “Prayer has come under fire“,as Silverman says: “Perry has the right to pray all he wants, he doesn’t have the right to use his office to push a multi million dollar prayer event for a specific church.” More separation of church state violation here.

Not my government but as it’s one of the most powerful in the world, I pay attention to it (more here).

A pretty tragic story, the authors over at Triablogue have some interesting evidence too, I’ll leave it to you to decide how damning either pieces of information are in regards to P.Z’s article (and something from John Loftus too and Blag Hag and The Freethinker here and Atheist Revolution here).

An interesting topic, teaching the science on evolution and the age of the earth and how that offends people’s religious rights, not an easy one to fix.

A study by the CDC showing what negative attitudes and homophobia in general do to homosexual health.

Genetic determinates to homosexuality? To me the issue of homosexuality being about choice or biology is irrelevant, freedom is a basic human right, but it seems it’s a mainstay issue. So gay rights will have to be demonstrated by science? And people wonder why we’re called Positivists, it’s where we’re forced to go to business done?

McDowell speaks out (more from Jacob Fortin here,  J.P Holding here, and Loftus here, P.Z here) and everyone seems to be on the slam McDowell train.

Charming.

Theosophy

Tracie Harris from the Atheist Experience had this to say on this subject (on her FB page), and it seems to perfectly encapsulate a response to this:

Viewer Mailer asks how to deal with this statement: “Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence—the same facts…The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts…we start with different presuppositions…

I would say I start with presuppositions that (1) cannot be avoided and (2) are demonstrated facts. The Christian begins with presuppositions that are not supported by facts and not demonstrated realities. Things that do not exist cannot be the cause of other things. When you posit nature as an explanation for any event, you’re starting with something that exists. When you begin with god, you now have to demonstrate god exists before you can move forward with “what god does.” We can test to see what nature does/can do. But how does the Christian propose we examine god in order to see if god is a thing that could/would produce animals–for example?For the Christian who presupposes god exists, he cannot move to “what god does” before he finds some way to confirm his god exists and to test for what god can/does do.For the naturalist, the cause is already demonstrably existent and can be tested to determine if it’s capable of doing what we’re trying to explain.I could be a brain in a vat–but even in that case, the “reality” I’m presented with is unavoidable. And beyond that, the Christian is right. We have the same facts. But he then MAKES UP additional facts that are not demonstrated to exist. And he cannot proceed until he meets his obligation to show his “cause” exists. If he can’t even reasonably assert his cause exists, how can he tell me what it does?I compared this once to a cryptozoologist telling me Big Foot families live in groups of 20-30 individuals and normally rear young for 10 to 12 years before they reach maturity. If these animals can’t even be said to exist–how on Earth can he present anything reasonable about what they do? Before he can proceed to describing the social metrics of Big Foot society–he needs to show there even ARE such a thing as Big Foot societies. Otherwise, he’s put his cart before his horse.The Christian who is arguing “god does”–has proceeded _prematurely_. He cannot get to “does” until he has established his supposed cause even exists.I hope that helps.” (Harris 2011)
Part 4 of the in-depth analysis of what it is to be an atheist/agnostic (parts 1,2 and 3 inside).

And a little more on this subject

A little more.

Why P.Z doesn’t believe in a god or gods. It demonstrates the huge gap in what theists have accepted as true, and how they subsequently view the world, and what atheists accept as true and how they subsequently see the world. And never the two shall meet it seems. Read any apologetical book about atheism and you’ll see them completely miss the point, as I’m sure theists feel about atheist literature on them. It’s all so post-modernistic and relative, that makes me sad sometimes, how’s this debate ever going to end?

A really interesting article by Christina that is trying to solve the aformentioned gap.

A great article from MacDonald on the issue of atheism, the “New Apologists” and their supposed forays into what they called”‘atheism“.  Pretty much agreed with most of this article.

Feser Fizzing Filosofically

The war continues (with Feser’s post here).

The war looks to be sliding ever more into ad hominem, I wonder where all this ends (links to Rosenhouse’s post inside)?

As if on call MacDonald addresses a very similar situation in Darwinism which really begs the question, do religious opponents try to make everything a religion?

Some cheeky examples from Bradyn on why atheism isn’t the cause of anything.

Hmm interesting, obviously not conclusive, but still, someting to think about (more here).

This article makes a good point, some theists argue that there is objective morality (I’m not necessarily an opponent of the idea) and that this objective morality comes from God (his essentially good nature), the problem is, this doesn’t fly with what the Bible says, in the sense that, God commands the murder of people and whole nations, if we are to accept that God is the arbiter of morals, why can he not stick to his own? If he can’t, that makes morals arbitrary and subjective. Aside from this, even if God is the ultimate standard for morality we still need to choose whether we stick to it, which means we form an independent moral standard, effictevly making God as the objective creator of morality, useless (for more discussion on Wiliam Lane Craig’s argument for this position see the Reasonable Doubts podcast here). Food for thought I guess.

It’s not just religion, as the author of this article discusses in the comments section, that’s the problem,  it’s any worldview, or methodology that doesn’t work on the evidence provided by reality, thereby making conclusions from such, who prefer to work the other way around (starting with conclusions and finding evidence to fit). Alternative medicine, some religious practices, pseudoscience etc, these things can cause harm (as I discuss here and here), and we need to be aware of that.

You really only see this kind of rhetoric from people who go up against the scientific mainstream,  anti-evolutionists, alternative medicine proponents, quacks,  people of this ilk .

This post, and it’s sister post here, are largely ad hominem attacks (which isn’t to say there aren’t good criticisms within), without much substantiation, but I figured my religious readers might enjoy a nice roasting of atheists (I refer you to the comments section of part 2 where a theist actually has the un-PC balls to come flat-out and say atheists aren’t moral, bravo! Check out the rest of the comment thread for some other charming dialogue).

Instances that anti-evolutionists say haven’t happened.

And more.

Here we have a scientific view on M theory and below Blackford’s view. They’re not really related in content, but still.

Blackford joins in on the discussion.

A couple of important articles for those interested in a support for naturalism from Tom Stark (and below).

Let’s hope whoever got this tattoo isn’t a Christian: “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:28.

From Intelligent Design to BioLogos, Part 1: Early years

In contrast to the above site, just goes to show, you can be a Christian and accept science.

Thomas Aquinas: Saint of Evolutionary Psychologists?

Apparently Aquinas was an evolutionist? I doubt this is gonna go down well.

Reference

Harris T., (2011). Re-printed off Facebook. 20/07/2011.

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