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Is an All-Evil God as Likely as an All-Good God?

In the combox to a post on another subject, reader Eric asked for my opinion of philosopher Stephen Law’s article “The evil-god challenge.” I had not then read the article and did not have time to do so at that moment, but I commented briefly on the summary of Law’s views that Eric provided. To my surprise, Law posted a response to my (somewhat dashed off) comments in the same combox a couple of weeks later. I did not bother to reply, because Law’s remarks seemed themselves obviously... Read More

Dressgate: Is Perception Reality?

Philosophers are a maligned group these days. Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example, suggested that the paradigmatic philosophical question is not “Why is there something rather than nothing?” but “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” (Cute idea, in other words, but let’s not waste our time.) So when the internet exploded into a full-blown panic over whether a dress was white and gold or black and blue, I know philosophers everywhere slept well that night. No one knew, because... Read More

Catholicism and Free Thought

Many people believe that Catholicism, because it is a dogmatic religion, stifles free thought and free speech. “How nice for you,” some will say to a Catholic convert, “Now that you’re a Catholic, you won’t have to think anymore.” Or, “It must be nice to be a Catholic and have such ‘certainty.’” This is said with a snuffling, cynical laugh because by ‘certainty’ they often mean that one has become a mindless robot—a Kool Aid drinking cult member following... Read More

The Galileo Controversy

It is commonly believed that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for abandoning the geocentric (earth-at-the-center) view of the solar system for the heliocentric (sun-at-the-center) view. The Galileo case, for many anti-Catholics, is thought to prove that the Church abhors science, refuses to abandon outdated teachings, and is not infallible. For Catholics, the episode is often an embarrassment. It shouldn’t be. This article provides a brief explanation of what really happened to... Read More

Should children decide their own beliefs?

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Raising Freethinkers

I grew up in a home where my mother and father, both fallen-away Christians, wanted to let my sister and I “decide our own beliefs.” The idea, of course, is that we are blank slates and my parents would not indoctrinate me into a particular religion, thus letting me collect data and inputs over time and eventually grow up and choose my own beliefs or worldview. I can see how someone would think this makes sense. But in fact my sister and I both became agnostics, mirroring the (un)belief... Read More