nothing is mere

Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Should secularists have man-free events?

This is a shorter version of a Center for Inquiry blog post. Inspired by UNIFI and other campus groups’ activities, the Secular Alliance at Indiana University has been debating the advantages and the risks of hosting women-only events. I think some of the arguments raised by both sides will be useful and relevant to other groups seeking to reach out …

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Is “Islamophobia” real?

This is a shorter version of an April 8 Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog post. My previous post on the Sam Harris / Glenn Greenwald clusterfuffle was mostly procedural. I restricted myself to assessing the authenticity of Murtaza Hussain’s citations, barely touching on the deeper issues of substance he and Greenwald raised. But now that we’re on the topic, this …

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Greenwald and Hussain on Sam Harris and racism

This April 3 post first appeared on the Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog. I know of no living public intellectual whose views get caricatured and misrepresented quite as routinely as do Sam Harris‘. What’s disheartening isn’t that people disagree with Harris. It’s that they haven’t taken the time to understand what’s there to disagree with! I don’t know whether Harris …

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Evolution: Six myths

MYTH 1: Evolution is just a theory, not a fact. When I say I have a theory, it means that I have a guess, a conjecture. But when a scientist says she has a theory, it means that she has a working explanation for a large set of facts. When we confuse these two senses …

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What is a self?

This is a revised version of an IU Philosophical Society blog post. At the Philosophical Society’s first spring meeting, I opened with a methodological point: Semantics matters. Misunderstanding is everywhere, and it is dangerous. If we don’t clarify what we mean, then we’ll never pinpoint where exactly we non-verbally disagree. But the importance of semantics doesn’t mean we …

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What can we reasonably concede to unreason?

This post first appeared on the Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog. In October, SAIU members headed up to Indianapolis for the Center for Inquiry‘s “Defending Science: Challenges and Strategies” workshop. Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef, co-hosts of the podcast Rationally Speaking, spoke about natural deficits in reasoning, while Jason Rodriguez and John Shook focused on deliberate attempts to …

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Three challenges for Atheism+

This is an excerpt of a Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog post. From the beginning, when atheos meant ‘impious’ or ‘profane’, atheism has been about more than just whether you happen to believe in gods. Both the godly and the not-so-godly seem drawn to viewing atheism as something of much deeper import. Hence few are surprised when …

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Why I oppose capital punishment

This post first appeared on the Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog. Why do we punish criminals? We punish as prevention — to keep the criminal from causing further harm, or to deter potential offenders. We punish as rehabilitation — to heal the criminal’s psyche, or to make him a functional member of society. And we punish …

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Why are we so bad at talking to each other?

This is a revised version of a Friendly Atheist post. Whether the secular movement flourishes will depend on how well it can carry on a dialogue with its religious friends and foes. It’s through conversation that we will change our public image, negotiate political gains, and form alliances on specific issues. It’s conversation that will …

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Ends

═══════════════════════════ Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is “mere.” I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye …

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