Once more into the fray, dear agnostics

I like Larry Moran. More than any other scientist, he has educated me on the standard (and occasionally nonstandard) theories of evolution, biochemistry (of which I know little, but what I do know is largely due to him), and even a bit of other stuff like information theory (he won’t recall that, from the talk.origins Read More…

Positivism about agnosticism

Following up from my last post on the logical and semantic aspects of agnosticism, I wish to make a comment regarding this ill-tempered piece by Jennifer Michael Hecht. It seems that one may not be an agnostic if one is a secularist or skeptic. Why? Because: Agnositicsm points this excellent truth about all epistomology, at Read More…

Agnostic versus atheist chess

See Larry’s post on atheists versus theists here. See Brandon’s rejoinder here.

Atheism, agnosticism and theism 6: Conclusion

Previous posts in this series: One, Two, Three, Four and Five. With all this apparatus in hand, let’s review. Every nonreligious person has a set of commitments based on the two major axes of knowledge claims and existence claims, and on the basis of what they count as contrary to theism, are one of a number of kinds or Read More…

Atheism, agnosticism and theism 5: Scope and indexing

Previous posts in this series: One, Two, Three and Four. As soon as you say in a public forum that you are agnostic, somebody will rejoin smugly, “Are you also agnostic about fairies?” as I said last post. Obviously I am not. I am also not agnostic about many claims that are undemonstrable but which are unlikely given our present Read More…

Atheism, agnosticism and theism 4: Existence claims

Previous posts in this series: One, Two and Three. There are basically three kinds of philosophical questions. Given that philosophy is what you do when you have a question that can’t be resolved by facts, these are: 1. What is there? [Metaphysics and Ontology] 2. How do we know? [Epistemology] 3. What is it worth? Read More…

Atheism, agnosticism and theism 3: Knowledge claims about gods

Previous posts in this series: One and Two . In an influential book, W. V. O. Quine, one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century, wrote with his student: It is important to distinguish between disbelief and nonbelief – between believing a sentence false and merely not believing it true. Disbelief is a case of Read More…

Atheism, agnosticism and theism 2: What it is to have a belief

Previous posts in this series: One. We talk a lot about believing this or that, and about faith and the content of faith, but we are often a little bit vague on what that actually entails and why. Philosophers, however, have a range of senses of “belief”, often shared by psychologists and artificial life researchers. For Read More…

Atheism, agnosticism and theism: the landscape, part 1

In the Socrates Café (Sydney) talk based on my paper “Could God have set up Darwinian Accidents?”, I addressed about 70 people, only a couple of whom were philosophers (hi Rachel, hi Tim). I like doing these talks, because they allow me to make what is otherwise fairly dry technical material relevant to folks. It’s Read More…

Is the soul something we should be agnostic about?

In a piece on the Scientific American guest blog, the day before mine, Sean Carroll made an interesting argument: Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there’s no way Read More…