In my neck of the woods, there’s been a lot of talk about the recent protests in St. Louis. The protests concern the decision of the St. Louis Circuit Court to acquit police officer Jason Stockley in the 2011 shooting death of black driver Anthony Lamar Smith. What should the rest of us think about the protests? Should we “take sides?” Should we remain neutral? From the perspective of an epistemologist, there seem to be several ways your thinking might go. Here are four possibilities: You might simply form an automatic opinion based on your previous sympathies for either protesters … Continue reading Thinking About the St. Louis Protests
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
What should we think about miracles? Have you ever witnessed one? Most people haven’t, but they are willing to rely on the testimony of others. On the other hand, lots of people will insist that with all we know about the way the world works, we should discard our belief in miracles and dismiss testimony of them. I found this short article to be very fair in its presentation. Philosopher Tim McGrew briefly presents a way of thinking about miracle claims that gives consideration to both skeptics and believers. If you think he wasn’t fair, or omitted some crucial perspective, … Continue reading Hitchens, Hume, and Miracles
My friend Ellie is transgender. When Ellie and I had coffee a while back, she told me that ever since she was little, she just knew that she was a girl. This wasn’t based on any medical or scientific evidence—it was based on simply turning inward and examining her own sense of self. Some of you will sympathize, others will scoff, but both Ellie and I appeal to the evidence of experience and introspection to support deeply held beliefs. How do we evaluate such claims? Ways of Knowing Well, consider first that everyone relies on introspection as a source of … Continue reading Evidence, Gender and God
Arrogance stinks. I’ve been accused of it, sometimes guilty of it. And I’ve seen the effects of it—even in my relationship with my dad. A year before he died, we attended our first and only baseball game together. My father loved baseball. When he offered to show me how to “keep score,” I scoffed, informing him that I wasn’t stupid and knew how to keep score. He tried to explain, but I had felt my intelligence insulted and wouldn’t have it. He didn’t force the issue. Years later, after he was gone, I realized what he was saying. I still … Continue reading Is It Arrogant to Think You’re Right?
I came across this article about Blaise Pascal’s persuasion “trick” a few months ago and loved it. (The title is a bit click-baity, but the principle is sound.) Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic theologian. (Check out his wiki here.) An impressive fellow, to say the least. I won’t try to summarize the article, but if you enjoy engaging in lively discussions about important things with people who disagree with you (and actually hope to persuade), then this is worth a read! Groundbelief.com exists to help people learn how to communicate with each other about religion, politics, etc. … Continue reading Changing People’s Minds