News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on January 2, 2011 in News

Common Sense Atheism is back from Christmas Break!

I was a guest on the last three episodes of the Apologia podcast, discussing Sam Harris’ book The Moral Landscape. I’m really happy with what the gang put together; an excellent discussion!

Epiphenom’s summary of 2010 posts on the psychology and sociology of religion. Goldmine!

Making moral progress by denying free will.

Brian Leiter on Jewish Poker Philosophy, ending with a choice quote from Nietzsche: “Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity.  Those who would like to seem profound strive for obscurity.” Also see: Orwell, “Politics and the English Language.”

The U.S. has previously bombed Al Jezeera‘s Iraq and Kabul bureaus, and a leaked memo shows that Bush and Blair discussed bombing their headquarters in Qatar, where 1,000 people work. I’ll say it again: Those in power hate democracy and free speech.

In a few months, William Lane Craig will be debating Lawrence Krauss, and then Sam Harris a week later. Somebody tell the atheists I’m willing to help them not lose.

Video: woman whipped for wearing trousers.

A religious reader responds (briefly) to Theism and Explanation.

This short letter explains the Bayesian revolution of the sciences, and urges everyone to “keep up.” For more detail, see here and here.

Julian Assange and 10 Other Agents of Truth.

Why did I not know that we detonated a nuclear bomb in outer space during the cold war, and took video of it?

Alvin Goldman is, along with Steve Fuller, one of the leading researchers in social epistemology (When should we trust experts? How should we respond to testimony? etc.), and he recently published “The Social Epistemology of Blogging.”

An excellent article on efficient charity and its importance.

God that was a long wait. The Tree of Life trailer has arrived.

Powerful stuff from a 15-year-old speaker. (Context.)

A compact summary of Polanyi on tacit knowledge.

From Twitter:

Best movies I saw for the first time in 2010:

  1. Gummo (1997, Harmony Korine)
  2. Enter the Void (2009, Gaspar Noe)
  3. Inception (2010, Chris Nolan)
  4. Buffalo ’66 (1998, Vincent Gallo)
  5. Coraline (2009, Henry Selick)
  6. The Piano Teacher (2001, Michael Haneke)
  7. The Social Network (2009, David Fincher)
  8. Up in the Air (2009, Jason Reitman)
  9. A Serious Man (2009, Coen Brothers)
  10. Black Swan (2010, Darren Aronofsky)
  11. Fish Tank (2009, Andrea Arnold)
  12. Avatar (2009, James Cameron)

And no, I don’t what I mean by “best.” It’s not identical to “most enjoyed,” but it’s correlated with that.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

MauricXe January 2, 2011 at 10:23 am

I am looking forward to Craig’s debate with Krauss. I’m not sure what to expect from Harris.

You can get in contact with Krauss through facebook. His profile:!/profile.php?id=1304404151


MauricXe January 2, 2011 at 10:39 am

One more thing about Krauss.

I think it would be wise for you to contact him. I’m not so sure he is aware of what kind of debater Craig is. I just visited his page and he says:

“and a debate with rev.William Craig”

“Reverend” William Craig? O noes. Something tells me he too will take this debate lightly. To his credit, Krauss is pretty good on his feet. The topic might play to his strength:

“Has Science eliminated the need for God”

If he can keep the talk on science, he might have a good shot of winning. But I don’t think that will happen. Craig will no doubt talk about intelligent design, the cosmological argument and a personal cause, and then somehow smuggle in the moral argument et al. I hope he understands how seasoned Craig is. Craig will not be easily overwhelmed, if at all, in a debate of science. In this debate, Craig losses one of his strengths; Krauss is equally convincing when he speaks and is aggressive. Craig can be smug and rude; Krauss won’t sit and take it without dishing out some of his shots.

Sam Harris is a good speaker and very “convincing” when he speaks. I hope he does a little better than Hitchens. He certainly very capable of it. I also wonder if he is aware of who Dr. Craig is and that Dr. Craig thinks so “highly” of him.


Chris Hallquist January 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

The Krauss debate sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. The topic – “Has Science Eliminated the Need for God?” – is a silly one because among other things it assumes that there once was a need for God. Craig will focus on insisting on whatever interpretation of the topic is most convenient for him, Krauss won’t think to dispute it, and this will almost guarantee a rhetorical win for Craig. (I don’t know what it would be to win such a silly debate on substance.)

The Harris debate I’m looking forward to. Harris is sharper than a lot of people give him credit for. And Letter to a Christian Nation proved he can make powerful points in a concise manner. If I were called on to give him debate advice, I would limit myself to, “watch some of Craig’s debates, be ready to give the kind of concise responses to his points you gave to common religions talking points in LtaCN.”


Reginald Selkirk January 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm
wissam January 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I hope you study the topic of “God’s relation with other Abstracta (necessary objects)”. Most of the philosophical iterature refers to an inconsistency between Platonism and traditional theism.

A Brief (Bibliography:

A Theistic Argument Against Platonism:

A Demonstration Against Theistic Activism:
(found on many websites)

God and Other Necessary Beings:
(This SEP article also has a bibilography. So take a look at that).

William Lane Craig seems to have a difficult time with Platonism (He defends divine command theory against what he calls “Atheistic Moral Platonism):

Subject: Classifying Immaterial Objects

Subject: God and Abstract Objects
(In this response, he concludes with: “I therefore cannot square Platonism with Christianity.”)


Hermes January 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm
josef johann January 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Can’t wait for the Krauss/Craig debate. If the subject turns to origins, it could be awesome. I’d love to see Craig try to argue for Type A time against Lawrence Krauss.

I can’t wait to see how Krauss treats Craig’s Kalam argument.


josef johann January 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I found Enter The Void to be amazing for the first half hour/45 minutes.

Then, I thought it got very tedious. And it is amazing again toward the end but not enough to rescue the movie. I was really really hoping the entire movie would build on the extreme psychedelic effects you see in the first half our.


Taranu January 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Welcome back Luke!
I’ve read the brief post on Theism and Explanation. Pretty interesting stuff. Definitely deserving of a response once more parts are posted.
Also, Krauss has to be notified. I don’t think he realizes what he’s up against.


MauricXe January 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Luke, you must contact Krauss na0!


Luke Muehlhauser January 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I’m not going to contact Krauss. He will probably only pay attention if several of his fans contact him and point him this way.


Adito January 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

“Powerful stuff from a 15-year-old speaker”

Video has been removed. Here’s another upload.

Good to have you back. Here’s hoping Krauss gets help from someone or (perish the thought) actually does his damn homework.


Luke Muehlhauser January 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm


The link doesn’t work. Could you try again, please?


Zak January 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I just sent Krauss an email, stressing the importance of carefully preparing for a debate with Craig, and giving him a few links (many from here at CSA). He responded within an hour, saying “Thanks very much. My friend Christopher Hitchens has told me about him. However any advice you may offer will be appreciated as well.”


Adito January 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Sorry, I suck at html. Here it is


Taranu January 3, 2011 at 3:27 am

Darn it, I must have been very tired when I read the post on Theism and Explanation since I didn’t realize all parts have been posted. Silly me.


Luke Muehlhauser January 3, 2011 at 6:38 am

thx Adito


Reginald Selkirk January 3, 2011 at 7:18 am


Tshepang Lekhonkhobe January 3, 2011 at 10:21 am

As usual, a wonderful collection of links. Thanks also for the movies. Here’s my 2010 review:


Steven Carr January 4, 2011 at 5:55 am

Paul was also writing to Christian converts who were openly scoffing at the idea of their god choosing to raise corpses.

Paul reminded them that Jesus ‘became a life-giving spirit’, and is unable to produce a single word that this alleged Jesus had allegedly said about there being a resurrection, even to Christian converts scoffing at a god raising corpses.

Nor can Paul give any eyewitness details about the nature of a resurrected body, except to remind his readers that heavenly beings are as different from earthly beings as a fish is different to the Moon. A corpse turning into a heavenly being would be like a fish turning into the Moon…

Paul also believed he had gone to the third Heaven, and that this dead Jesus spoke to him about Paul’s battles with messengers of Satan.

Lunatics do not make convincing witnesses.


Reginald Selkirk January 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

A Philosopher of Religion Calls it Quits
Keith Parsons announces that the “case for theism” is a fraud, and sparks a firestorm.


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