You know something is important when TED has an entire playlist devoted to it. “The Value of Skepticism” playlist includes talks on statistics, fake news, quack medicine, courtroom persuasion, and one other topic . . . I forget what it … Continue reading How To Be A Skeptic
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?’
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
Our family walked down to Hillsborough Bay, where a spectacular view of the fireworks could be enjoyed. Bayshore Boulevard, with its seemingly ancient stone rail, stretched along the water, just down the street from Grammie’s house. I stood on my … Continue reading Why Are We Afraid To Talk About Our Beliefs?
In October, I started conducting interviews in the “free speech zone” at the University of Missouri. I sit at a table with a sign inviting “Skeptics Only” to come and talk about why they are skeptical about God or religion, … Continue reading Can Atheism Be Justified?
My second “official” podcast (on Stephen Hawking) is now available on iTunes! Here’s the iTunes link. If you don’t have iTunes, you can listen on Sound Cloud. Feedback on the podcast, including production features, is welcome. I continue my interview with Dr. Kenny Boyce, Asst. Prof. of Philosophy at the University of Missouri. This episode focuses on the work of Stephen Hawking, who passed away on March 14, and the implications of his work for philosophy and theology. In part 2, we focus on three main topics, all centered around the epistemology of science. First, we discuss the difference between … Continue reading Stephen Hawking, Philosophy, and Theism, Part 2
Learning about informal logical fallacies turns young philosophy students into gun-slinging logic vigilantes. I love how this comic (courtesy of Existential Comics) portrays the phenomenon. But, as Alexander Pope wrote, “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” In his Essay on Criticism, Pope critiques the critics, warning them of trying to evaluate beyond their skill. The essay (written in verse) holds great wisdom, well-worth the hour it might take to read through. One takeaway is this: if you plan to engage in criticism of a view, be sure you know what you’re talking about. Otherwise your photo may end up on … Continue reading Criticism, Knowledge, and Authority
Ways of Knowing? I have an atheist friend, Anthony, who does interviews on college campuses, asking students about their religious beliefs. He skillfully engages in Socratic dialogue, asking them about why they believe what they do and helping them identify flaws in their reasoning. When people mention “faith,” he frequently asks a question like this, “Do you think faith is a reliable way of coming to know things?” Anthony thinks of faith as a “way of knowing” in contrast to other ways, like science. Science uses evidence derived from observation, experimentation, etc. to test new ideas, where as the “faith-way” … Continue reading Is Science Better than Faith?