News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 20, 2010 in News

Benoit Mandelbrot has died.

Mark Linsenmayer on Who’s Qualified to Speak about Religion?

Shocking! Christine O’Donnell is ignorant in politics.

NYT writes up the recent humanism conference in L.A.

Damn I wish I could go! If you’re near Cincinnati, you should totally check out Owen Flanagan, David Papineau, Elliot Sober, Penelope Maddy, and others at the Naturalism and the Nature of Philosophy colloquium at the University of Cincinnati.

Tom Clark on Metaphysical Naturalism as an Empirically Plausible Conjecture.

Christopher Hitchens still going strong.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Reginald Selkirk October 20, 2010 at 9:25 am

If you’re near Cincinnati, you should totally check out Owen Flanagan, David Papineau, Elliot Sober, Penelope Maddy, and others at the Naturalism and the Nature of Philosophy colloquium at the University of Cincinnati.

And you could top it off with a visit to the Museum of Creation!

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Reginald Selkirk October 20, 2010 at 9:32 am

Thanks For Atheists
By Mark T. Winters
But the fact that he (Christopher Hitchens), and many atheists throughout history, have spoken out about the dangers of religious hegemony is important to note. I, as a Christian, would like to thank Mr. Hitchens and his fellow non-believers, for speaking their minds.

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Reginald Selkirk October 20, 2010 at 9:41 am

Gay debate sparks church exodus
Helsinki – More than 25 000 Finns quit the state church in the week following a televised debate on gay rights, in a spontaneous protest movement against the church’s conservative stance…

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Juho October 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Gay debate sparks church exodus
Helsinki – More than 25 000 Finns quit the state church in the week following a televised debate on gay rights, in a spontaneous protest movement against the church’s conservative stance…  

On the other hand the Christian Democratic party gained members as a result of this. The comments made by CDP chairwoman were one of the big reasons for the exodus, so this thing had an effect both ways. Leader of the state church said homosexuality is not a sin, but the church is balancing on thin robe now. If the church takes any stand for or against gay marriage it will loose members. I could quote sources for these but I read them in Finnish.

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Yair October 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm

As always when the nature of naturalism comes up, I would mention that I hold that Naturalism should be seen as having great uniformity in nature. The supernatural is special pleading – the idea that some parts of existence are Special. Tom Clark comes close to this in his article, but doesn’t phrase it clearly and ultimately shies away from it (saying anything that we can subsume under a description isn’t really supernatural).

My most detailed defense is here
http://www.freeratio.org/showpost.php?p=5878710&postcount=27
Or, in Hebrew, here
https://sites.google.com/site/bahiril/foundations/naturalism-as-uniformity-and-its-justification

Neither is my best work, but I think they’re solid enough.

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Mazen Abdallah October 20, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Yeah, uh, Hitch isn’t meant for debate. He doesn’t have a ‘debate mode’. He’s so slow and he seems to be constructing a poetic piece instead of arguing. And he wastes time with basic fucking concepts. Like, when Bill Maher had him on in the wake of the pope hiding child molestors scandal. He just sits there for 10 minutes and – i’m not joking- explains just how horrible child molestation is. Like we needed his moral perspective to determine whether or not child rape is a bad thing, like the jury’s out on it. Seriously, it’s more like every time his opponents commit a heinous act he just sits there basking in it gloriously instead of putting forward any ideas. He actually spoke at AUB once and i was excited until he started and he didn’t even bother preparing a speech, he just said whatever he could to piss people off. Oh and he’s a neocon fuckbag, so that too.

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Hermes October 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Mazen Abdallah, I have my own criticisms and concerns about Hitchens, yet I don’t see the merit of many of the comments you made about him.

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kt45 October 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

If anyone is interested here is an article by richard carrier where he defines supernaturalism vs naturalism.

http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2007/01/defining-supernatural.html

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Hermes October 20, 2010 at 8:10 pm

On Mandelbrot, it would be fitting if his ashes were spread in a field of ferns and pine trees, or among the clouds to seed a snow fall.

[Note: I don't see where details of his burial/cremation/funeral/... were mentioned. I'm poetically speculating in the above comment.]

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Mo October 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Is Hitchens sick? He could just be trying out a new style but he looks a bit pale too. Should I be worried?

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Hermes October 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

An update …

A No-Brainer

It’s been a week since I issued A Challenge to Theists and their Accommodationist Supporters.

This brings me to my challenge. I challenge all theists and all their accommodationist friends to post their very best 21st century, sophisticated (or not), arguments for the existence of God. They can put them in the comments section of this posting, or on any of the other atheist blogs, or on their own blogs and websites. Just send me the link.

Try and make it concise and to the point. It would be nice if it’s less than 100 years old. Keep in mind that there are over 1000 different gods so it would be helpful to explain just which gods the argument applies to.

There have been over 500 comments on that posting and dozens of attempts to meet the challenge, ranging from the fact that Babylon hasn’t been re-built to variations of the old Cosmological and Ontological Arguments that have been around for centuries.

I think it’s fair to say that nobody came up with anything that even remotely resembles a modern “sophisticated” argument that the Gnu Atheists are ignoring. Therefore, I declare victory.

From now on, whenever any accommdationist or theist accuses me of not having studied philosophy or theology I’ll point them to my post and remind them that the Emperor really doesn’t have any clothes. That includes a few people who sent me email messages explaining why they wouldn’t lower themselves to post a comment on my blog. They implied that they still had some really good arguments for the existence of God but they aren’t going to reveal them to me because I wouldn’t understand them.

Source: http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2010/10/no-brainer.html

The above comment was posted on October 3rd. Since the 3rd, there have been over 100 comments. Of those 100 comments, none have provided new sophisticated arguments as requested in the original challenge.

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Hermes October 20, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Is Hitchens sick?

Dying. Cancer. Probably will kill him sooner than later. He’s attempting to push that date out as far as possible, but he admits that it does not look good.

A sample of his comments: http://www.google.com/search?&q=hitchens+cancer+site%3Avanityfair.com

Specifically: Tumortown

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lukeprog October 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Hitchens has cancer.

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Mazen Abdallah October 21, 2010 at 10:11 am

Mazen Abdallah, I have my own criticisms and concerns about Hitchens, yet I don’t see the merit of many of the comments you made about him.  

Could you be more specific? I don’t address his ideas so much as his public speaking technique, which i find to be odd to say the least. He’s often slow and focuses on certain ideas far too much. Thus he simply doesn’t have a ‘public speaking’ mode to be more specific. He writes well but speech is not a good medium for him.

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Mazen Abdallah October 21, 2010 at 10:13 am

Also the neocon thing is more my own emotional knee-jerk. He can hate Al Qaeda all he wants as long as he doesn’t throw his hat in with the white equivalent.

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Hermes October 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

Mazen, as a debater and public speaker his focus on specific issues is by practice and is not at all unusual. The same criticism would be applied to anyone who practices their craft, but I doubt few of them would be at his level. As for his his lack of speed, I’m just not seeing it. Yes, he has had a few rare off days, but for the most part he’s quite quick for what he provides.

Now, if you want to go over my own criticism of Mr. Hitchens, that’s a different topic. Those criticisms are almost entirely on his perspective and conclusions on specific narrow issues.

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