Burden of Proof, Pt. 2

An atheist, an agnostic and a Christian walk into a bar. For real. I sat in the Bird Dog Bar in Lawrence, Kansas with my fellow panelists from the “Beliefs Matter” event at the University of Kansas. Friends of various religious and secular persuasions surrounded our table. The event, completed only an hour earlier, featured three distinct perspectives on meaning, justice and morality. We each presented a short sketch of our view, followed by about an hour of Q&A. Now we continued the conversation over drinks. But what is the take away from all this, and how is it relevant … Continue reading Burden of Proof, Pt. 2

Should We Remain Open to New Evidence?

I filmed a short commentary to respond to something I came across a few weeks ago. Randy Helzerman posted a video response (in 2007) to William Lane Craig’s claim that Bayes’ Theorem can be employed to argue for the resurrection of Jesus. Here’s Helzerman’s video: (if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, maybe try starting around 4:23) I’m not certain that Helzerman is an atheist, but he plays a great Devil’s advocate if not. I’m also not sure whether he’s saying that it’s a psychological fact that atheists cannot entertain new evidence, or that they shouldn’t entertain new … Continue reading Should We Remain Open to New Evidence?

Ground Belief Podcast #2 with Mark Swanson

My first ever attempt at a podcasty thing. I “interviewed” Mark Swanson, Associate Professor in the MU School of Journalism. Mark is also the creator of Feudum, a new table top “Euro” style strategy game. Mark and I talk frequently about how complex board games require and develop critical thinking skills, and that’s the subject of our conversation on this “podcast.”  This is part 2 of the interview — part 1 is here. The audio quality isn’t great, since we recorded the whole thing completely on a whim using my iPhone. If you like board games, nerds, and the psychology of critical … Continue reading Ground Belief Podcast #2 with Mark Swanson

How I Believe

Below are 21 statements that form the basis for my own epistemology: how I believe. I’ve tried to avoid technical, philosophical language wherever possible, but it might still sound clunky to some readers. The sub-points, also numbered, offer something like an example of the claim. (Omitted from this post, for the sake of space, is any discussion about updating beliefs based on new evidence.) If you love this topic and want to go deeper, click the links. Here’s the challenge: Read all the statements, see if you disagree with any of them, then tell me why. Refer to sub-points as … Continue reading How I Believe

3 Reasons Why You Love Click-bait

Click bait. The impossibly enticing headline. We love it the way fish love . . . whatever it is they love. (I’m not a fisherman.) Maybe like proverbial mice love the cheese in the trap. But the allure of click bait isn’t that visceral, like some leftover of evolution. It is intellectual, or at least cognitive. We bite on those juicy stories because they give us something our minds crave. I admit it—I feel the pull of those tabloid headlines when I’m standing in the check-out line, or scrolling to the bottom of a news feed. I think there are … Continue reading 3 Reasons Why You Love Click-bait

How to Lose an Argument

I only hate losing when it comes to things I’m good at. I’m happy to concede a basketball game or a tennis match. But I hate losing arguments. Since childhood, I’ve relished a good adrenaline-surging verbal exchange. It’s probably one part genetic, one part environment. You know how most families have a variety of personality types who complement and balance one another? My parents , me and my sister were all hyper-assertive, stubborn fighters. You adapt to survive. You learn to like it. My wife, on the other hand, hates conflict. So that has been challenging. And just as she … Continue reading How to Lose an Argument