Ask five people for a definition of faith and you’ll get seven answers. If only everyone could agree on one definition! Consequently, when someone says “faith is irrational,” discussing the claim is tricky because we may be taking about two … Continue reading What Is Faith?
One thing I hear frequently is, “Well, God is beyond logic.” This move helps struggling Christians who don’t like where the logic is headed in a conversation. But it is a bad move to make. One reason Christians say this … Continue reading Stuff Christians Say . . .
Atheists literally surrounded me. On a cool evening in October, during the 2016 “SASHACON” (an atheist conference where I was doing a debate), speakers and participants enjoyed dinner together on the roof of the Heidelberg restaurant, a favorite student haunt … Continue reading The “Outsider Test for Faith”
Your keys are missing. Suppose I said that they were probably stolen by “key gnomes” in your house. You: I’ve never seen any key gnomes in my house.Me: Well . . . that’s because key gnomes are invisible.You: Why are … Continue reading What Is ‘Ad Hoc?’
How should a society decide what to do on the big questions? Questions like, “should abortion be legal?”, “should same-sex marriage be legal?”, or “should we build a wall?” I think there are really just two choices. We can decide … Continue reading The Importance of Civil Discourse
In the iconic film, Star Wars, (Episode IV) Ben Kenobi begins to instruct young Luke Skywalker in the intuitive ways of the force while traveling on the Milennium Falcon. Watch the clip and notice the language about how a Jedi … Continue reading Star Wars Epistemology
In the classic film, Back To the Future, Marty McFly walks into Lou’s cafe and orders a Pepsi Free. Two aspects of this make me laugh. First, the brand “Pepsi Free” is a caffeine-free relic from the 80’s that lasted just 5 years (1982-87). Second, Marty, a time-traveler from 1985, was ordering in 1955. The guy behind the counter, clearly confused, replied, “You want a Pepsi, pal, you’re gonna pay for it.” This is an anachronism, which is “a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other.” Sometimes, anachronisms make us laugh or entertain us, as with the Society for … Continue reading The McFly Fallacy
People feel so skeptical these days. We eye science, medicine, and even history with suspicion. “History is written by the victors,” as they say. It is true that sometimes our great institutions of knowledge let us down. But how much … Continue reading Can We Trust History?
I often hear people talk about what you “choose to believe,” or saying “I choose to believe” such and such. It typically happens in religious or political conversations. People say these things when they think you’re wrong about something, or sometimes when you present evidence against their view and they retreat into “that’s just my opinion” territory. It’s kind of a conversation stopper. As if, once a person has “chosen” certain beliefs, that’s the end of the matter. But can we even choose our beliefs? I don’t think that’s how it happens. There are some beliefs we simply cannot choose … Continue reading Choosing Our Beliefs?
I’ve played the lottery once in my life. I was living in California, and a friend thought it would be fun if we all bought a ticket for the next drawing. And guess what? I didn’t win. This came as no surprise, because I expected not to win. In fact, any rational person who buys a lottery ticket should believe that her ticket is a loser. But oddly, this rational belief leads us into believing a contradiction. Maybe this tells us something about the limits of rationality. Winner, Winner? Here’s principle of rationality #1:If something is 99.99% probable to be … Continue reading Lotteries and the Limits of Rationality