Archive for ‘Atheism’

September 13th, 2014

Podcast: What if God Commanded Rape?

by Max Andrews

Podcast Audio

If the Divine Command Theory (DCT) proponent is to defend his position he must demonstrate the necessary falsehood of the counterfactual: If God did command rape then there would be a moral obligation to rape. There will be an assumption of ethical realism since ethical anti-realism is argued for and against in completely different arguments. The ethical realist objector [to DCT] claims that it is possible for God to command rape in some possible world, or in an impossible world close to the actual world, making it obligatory for all moral agents, whereas rape is still morally bad in that same world, thus, making DCT arbitrary and is defeated.

Here are the symbolic references:

(RIGHT) ∀ϕ☐(Rϕ ≣ Cgϕ)
(WRONG) ∀ϕ☐(Wϕ ≣ Cg~ϕ)
(CONTCOM) ∀ϕ[(◊~Cgϕ) ∙ (◊Cgϕ)]

September 3rd, 2014

The Podcast Archive

by Max Andrews

I’ve created an archive to store my Eavesdropping podcasts from SoundCloud and have made them available in the Archive Tab just below the site banner. Once I add a podcast I’ll be updating the archive as to not continuously flood the posts with the podcasts as the podcasts are coming out more frequently than the normal posts.

Eavesdropping is the podcast for Sententias. Eavesdropping is a conversational, informal podcast that is sometimes a monologue, or dialogue with guests, on various topics including philosophy, theology, science, contemporary events, and random meanderings of a philosopher. The primary focuses are, of course, philosophy of science, multiverse scenarios, and Molinism. I’m also an American living abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland so listeners will likewise get to hear about the European/British/Scottish experiences.

All content is copyrighted to Max Andrews with Sententias.org and the music for the podcasts have been used with permission by its composer and creator, Sam Andrews, who is studying music at Longwood University in Virginia, USA.

Please consider donating via my PayPal (also the yellow donate button on the right column) to help me continue my research and online presence. I’m always very grateful. Thank you.

For listening on the go, download the SoundCloud App:

Apple SoundCloud App

Google/Android SoundCloud App

Once you’ve downloaded the app from your respective store (free) then go to then open it up, find the search button and search for “Sententias”. Then you’ll find my podcast page and you can subscribe and listen from there an on the go!

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Below is the episode archive:

Eavesdropping Ep 1: AUG 7 2014

Eavesdropping Ep 2: AUG 8 2014 Affirmations & Denials

Eavesdropping Ep 3: AUG 9 2015 Tyler McNabb on Catholicism

Eavesdropping Ep4: Ignorant People are Often Ignorant of Ignorance

Eavesdropping Ep5: Many Worlds and Modal Realism

Eavesdropping Ep6: Advice to Serious Students

Eavesdropping Ep7: What I Think About Police

Eavesdropping Ep8: Beginner Philosophers

Eavesdropping Ep9: Max Baker-Hytch on Culture and Religious Belief

Eavesdropping Ep10: Science and Pseudoscience

Eavesdropping Ep11: Top Ten Movies from a Philosophical Perspective (or Not)

Eavesdropping Ep12: The Quantum Scale

Eavesdropping Ep13: Scientific Theology and Thomas Torrance

Eavesdropping Ep14: The Relationship Between Philosophy And Science

Eavesdropping Ep15: Escaping the Beginning of the Universe

Eavesdropping Ep16: Constructive Empiricism

Eavesdropping Ep17: What’s A Scientific Theory?

Eavesdropping Ep18: My Position On Creation

Eavesdropping Ep19: Top Ten Podcasts for Your Brain

Eavesdropping Ep20: How To Argue For God’s Existence

Eavesdropping Ep21: The New Moral Argument

Eavesdropping Ep22: The Likelihood Principle

Eavesdropping Ep23: Fine Tuning Lecture

August 5th, 2014

Q&A 42: Cultural Contingency and Religion – Causation or Correlation?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Would you be interested in putting together a blog response to this?

Jonathan D.

Answer:

Jonathan,

I recently listened to a paper on this topic whilst at the Tyndale Conference in Cambridge in July. Although the presenter was approaching this issue of cultural contingency of religion (or God being a “cultural chauvinist”) from a Reformed Epistemologist perspective. The paper is titled “Religious diversity and epistemic luck” by Max Baker-Hytch (PhD Philosophy, Oxford) and was published in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. For a more serious response and approach to the issue please check out Max’s article.

My response, I think, doesn’t let the atheist’s argument to get off the ground. The whole argument in moot, in my opinion. I think Max [Baker-Hytch] is much more charitable, which is needed on certain points.

Before I get to my quick and simple response I wanted to offer a brief commentary on a few irks about the video. At one point a “theist” (even the video maker didn’t get this one right–Hinduism is polytheistic–close but off by a few million). I find it hard not to think that this category error was intentional just to add to the confusion and bickering amongst the theists. It’s just disingenuous or ignorant.

February 26th, 2014

The Atheist Argument from Fine-Tuning is too Coarse

by Max Andrews

Believe it or not an atheist friend of mine has presented an argument from fine-tuning to demonstrate that God doesn’t exist. I think there are several different problem with the argument but I’ll be as charitable as possible to my anonymous friend @SkepticismFirst (SF).

Fine-tuning is something I’ve invested quite a bit of research in. My MA (philosophy) thesis was on the Fine-Tuning of Nomic Behavior in Multiverse Scenarios and I’m continuing that research right now in my PhD (University of Edinburgh). So, I’ve written quite extensively on this issue. Here are a few links to get the fine-tuning argument presented by the proponents of fine-tuning:

February 5th, 2014

Guest Atheist: Why I Engage With Theists

by Max Andrews

I’m often asked why I engage with theists. When I was invited to write this guest post, I thought a lot about what I wanted to say. I think what I want is to focus on an analysis of these words: ‘engage’, ‘theists’, and ‘why’ .

Beyond merely arguing with theists, talking to them, or talking *at* them, I engage with them. To me, this involves two things. The first is civility. Civility is, broadly, a dispositional attitude that permits disagreement while eschewing rudeness. The second is intellectual curiosity. This involves being genuinely interested in what one’s opponent has to say – not just for the purposes of defeating their arguments, but for the purposes of giving them a fair say, and perhaps learning something yourself.

Now on to ‘theists’. I do engage theists in discussion often, but the fact that they’re theists is incidental. The group of people I’m interested in engaging can be described as something like ‘individuals who are interested in academic issues (philosophy, science, politics, history, etc.); and who, like me, place importance on civility and curiosity’. Some members of that group just happen to be thiests, and they’re no different than any other member of that group – they’re capable the civility and curiosity described above. 

November 19th, 2013

Divine Hiddenness and Inculpable Ignorance

by Max Andrews

J.L. Schellenberg is a professor of philosophy at Mount Saint Vincent University. Below is his “divine hiddennes and inculpable ignorance” argument. The hiddenness of God is certainly an interesting issue. I do believe God is quite hidden and he enjoys and has intended for himself to be at an epistemic distance from us but I don’t think this argument succeeds in being an argument against the existence of God.

  1. If there is a God, he is perfectly loving.
  2. If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur.
  3. Reasonable nonbelief occurs.
  4. No perfectly loving God exists.
  5. There is no God.[1]
    read more »

September 8th, 2013

What Does it Mean to Live the “Good Life”?—Counterpoints with PZ Myers

by Max Andrews

Summa TheologicaAtheist biologist PZ Myers recently shared his thoughts on how an atheist is to live the good life. He constructed his opinions as counterpoints to many Christian disciplines and virtues. In the end, the happy atheist is the one who is free from religion, whose ethics are framed around societal responsibilities. Sure, helping and loving one another is good but Myers lacks a purpose or end goal for the good life.

Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are the leading thinkers when it comes to answering the question, “What is the good life?”  Both Aristotle and Thomas agreed that the good life is fulfilling one’s purpose in life but Thomas was the one who grounded the good life in divine love and purpose.

One of the common misconceptions of Christianity is that the goal of human life is happiness.  The chief end of man is to love and know God—fulfilling God’s purposes for each individual. Man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring humanity to it’s intended purpose and end.

September 8th, 2013

New Study Suggesting that Near Death Experiences are Electrical Surges in the Brain Doesn’t Explain Everything

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 1.33.32 AMThe recent paper “The Surge of Neurophysiological Coherence and Connectivity in the Dying Brain” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argued that Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are a result of heightened states of consciousness just before death.

The research doesn’t explain all the data and assumes naturalism in its hypothesis.

The authors reasoned “that if NDE stems from brain activity, neural correlates of consciousness should be identifiable in humans or animals after cessation of cerebral blood flow” (p. 1). This begs the questions in favor of naturalistic mechanisms involved in NDEs. What this hypothesis does demonstrate is the physical correlation between the experiences and the physical mechanisms involved.

August 23rd, 2013

Recent Study Arguing that Atheists are more Intelligent than Religious People is missing Several Key Factors

by Max Andrews

The recent paper “The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity” published in Personality and Social Psychology Review argued that atheists tend to be more intelligent than religious people. The research has frontloaded the study on faulty assumptions and is missing a key factor—a correspondence of worldview to truth.

First and foremost, the research and data gathering is commendable but the assumptions and hidden premises within the study are unsound.

The study associates atheism as non-conformity when stating, “more intelligent people are less likely to conform to religious orthodoxy” (p. 16). This is a category error. If atheism does not conform to the religious majority it still conforms to the non-conformist minority. When this is applied in majority atheist societies, a la Scandinavia, it’s more so dismissed nonchalantly though this criterion is still applied elsewhere in more religious countries (pp. 17, 22). Therefore, non-conformity should not be a measure of intelligence because some societies are religious and others are not; thus, atheism can be either conformist or non-conformist depending on the country, so it can’t be measured that way.

August 15th, 2013

The Secular Outpost Reviews My Recent Debate

by Max Andrews

A friend of mine recently sent me the link to Jeffrey Jay Lowder’s Patheos blog “The Secular Outpost.” I’ve seen the blog a couple times in the past but I’m not familiar with it. I must say, it’s very nice to see a kind review. It was constructive and he demonstrated interaction with my material. That’s so refreshing! I’ve read other reviews from blogs and Mr. Lowder’s stands much higher than, say, John Loftus’ review. Loftus recognized that I was intelligent and that I was a strong opponent in BS. It’s okay if you chuckled there. It’s not offensive when you read where he’s coming from. No hard feelings, it’s just that Mr. Lowder’s is much more substantive.

Anyways, I don’t have much to comment on concerning Lowder’s review. Not many people use abductive arguments and so he found the need to reformulate my arguments [in a manner that he saw worked best, which was nice]. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case but I’ll provide a link to my use and formulation of the arguments. The other thing is that I didn’t defend some premises with much backing from the get-go. That’s a time issue. I wish I could’ve provided more but for my opening I was limited.