Sunday, January 18, 2015

William Lane Craig and ruling out an evil creator on the basis of observation

Here is a post for the philosophers of religion amongst you. Can we rule out an evil god on the grounds that the world is not nearly evil enough? Of course we can. But then why can’t we similarly rule out a good god on the grounds that the world isn’t nearly good enough?
Back in 2011 I debated philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig on the existence of God (link). I presented the evidential problem of evil as my main argument against the existence of God. In particular, I pointed out that, for almost the entire two hundred thousand year sweep of human history, one third to a half of each generation died, usually horribly, before reaching their fifth birthday. This caused immense suffering to both all those kids and also their parents who had to watch helpless as their children were killed on an industrial scale.
That evil is certainly ‘inscrutable’ in the sense that we can see no good reason why God would allow it. This and much of the other evil we see around us strikes many of us as ‘gratuitous’: we suppose there is no good God-justifying reason for it. And God, if he exists, won’t allow gratuitous evils. So it seems to me we can reasonably rule out an all-powerful all-good God on the grounds that the world just ain’t good enough. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

CFI UK events at Oxford Literary Festival 2015

CFI UK events at Oxford Literary Festival 2015 (March)

Saturday 21 March
Christopher French
Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience
2pm / Oxford Martin School: Lecture Theatre / £12
Psychology professor Christopher French explains why some people think they have been abducted by aliens or that they have seen a ghost. He looks at the reasons why belief in the paranormal has been reported in every known society since the dawn of time, and wonders whether there is any room for superstition in modern science. Reports of ghosts and alien encounters grab the headlines, but French says the science behind those claims can be even more fascinating.
French is professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and co-author of Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience with Anna Stone, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of East London.

'Does Humanism Need God?' - on Unbelievable? podcast now up.

My discussion with Angus Ritchie about 'Does Humanism Need God?' is now up on the Unbelievable? podcast on itunes (Premier Christian Radio, Justin Brierley presents). Also broadcast 2pm.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's the point of lampooning religion? To upset the religious?

Here is my latest blog post over at CFI: link.
In the wake of the horrific massacre at Charlie Hebdo, debate has focused on the issue of causing of offence to religious people. Is that the point of lampooning religion? Is causing offence to Muslims the aim of someone who draws a cartoon of Mohammad? No, usually it's not (though this point is usually lost on the offended).