News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 9, 2010 in News

Christopher Hitchens pwns again.

So true: 29 Semi-Productive Things I Do Online When I’m Trying to Avoid Real Work. Because of my interests, I would add “30. Watch courses on science and religion at the Faraday Institute website.”

I recently updated 20 Most Popular Atheism Blogs.

Finally, a beer for atheists.

Because I criticize some of Richard Dawkins’ arguments, some people think I’m not a Richard Dawkins fan. But it’s worth noting that, for example, I can’t find anything to disagree with in this long interview with Dawkins on religion.

William Lane Craig – “The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God.”

Richard Carrier – “The Argument from Biogenesis.”

Sam Harris on the criticism of his TED talk, some of which I have offered:

Many of my critics fault me for not engaging more directly with the academic literature on moral philosophy. There are two reasons why I haven’t done this: First, while I have read a fair amount of this literature, I did not arrive at my position on the relationship between human values and the rest of human knowledge by reading the work of moral philosophers; I came to it by considering the logical implications of our making continued progress in the sciences of mind. Second, I am convinced that every appearance of terms like “metaethics,” “deontology,” “noncognitivism,” “anti-realism,” “emotivism,” and the like, directly increases the amount of boredom in the universe. My goal, both in speaking at conferences like TED and in writing my book, is to start a conversation that a wider audience can engage with and find helpful. Few things would make this goal harder to achieve than for me to speak and write like an academic philosopher. Of course, some discussion of philosophy is unavoidable, but my approach is to generally make an end run around many of the views and conceptual distinctions that make academic discussions of human values so inaccessible. While this is guaranteed to annoy a few people, the prominent philosophers I’ve consulted seem to understand and support what I am doing.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Taranu May 9, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Craig on steroids. He addressed the new atheists’ arguments before, but it seems that lately he’s become more insistent than ever.

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Beelzebub May 10, 2010 at 1:45 am

You mean “it’s worth noting” I think, but that may be an interesting Freudian slip. You really don’t like Dawkins! :-)

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Alex May 10, 2010 at 5:44 am

O/T: have you considered interviewing Richard Joyce on his response to Stephen Finlay’s paper on error theory?

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Reginald Selkirk May 10, 2010 at 6:32 am

William Lane Craig – “The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God.”

“You are not currently logged in.”

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Silver Bullet May 10, 2010 at 6:53 am

What does “pwns” mean?

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Silver Bullet May 10, 2010 at 6:57 am

Sam Harris: “I am convinced that every appearance of terms like “metaethics,” “deontology,” “noncognitivism,” “anti-realism,” “emotivism,” and the like, directly increases the amount of boredom in the universe.”

Go Sam!

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Josh May 10, 2010 at 8:49 am

Sam Harris is just being a coward imo.

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lukeprog May 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

Alex,

Sure. If you would like to suggest that, please post your suggestion here.

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Erika May 10, 2010 at 10:04 am

-1 for linking sites that require login without noting it.

I would be very happy if someone who has access summarized the gist of Craig’s article.

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poban May 10, 2010 at 10:20 am

I dont know if checking the updates on this website can be called semi productive. And Happy for the mention of gudløs beer. Only very few Danes know that it exists. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the taste of this beer and my friends told me that they had the same experience.

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Justfinethanks May 10, 2010 at 10:23 am

I would be very happy if someone who has access summarized the gist of Craig’s article.

My arguments for God = good.
New Atheist response to arguments = stupid.

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Devlin May 10, 2010 at 10:25 am

Another productive thing to do, watching these great video documentaries on the books of the Bible from the University of Nottingham:
http://www.bibledex.com/index.html

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Erika May 10, 2010 at 10:26 am

Justfinethanks, I was hoping for a bit more detail than that. =)

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Justfinethanks May 10, 2010 at 10:42 am

Here’s a lecture where Craig goes over basically the same material.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EP4JsaLH6Q

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lukeprog May 10, 2010 at 11:39 am

Devlin,

Cool link.

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Ari May 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

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snafu May 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

re. Faraday Inst.

Oh, come on you Luke, you’ve just given me 100+ audio/video items to watch. I don’t have time for this!

Seriously, any notes or tips on what’s really worth downloading? They can’t all be essential listening!

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Sammy May 10, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Hey Luke,

Thanks for your Series Indexes where you summarize and discuss different books as you progress through them.

Question: Ever consider doing a post about your method of reading and note taking? Do you read articles and books once or twice? While underlining? Take notes? Etc.

Thanks, Luke.

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Almost Chris May 10, 2010 at 4:52 pm

It is a bit odd that a leading apologist (WLC) who is trying to evangelize his arguments won’t let you read them without first logging in. Maybe only members can appreciate their brilliance.

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Justfinethanks May 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm

C’mon, people. Making an account at Reasonable Faith takes like two seconds.

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lukeprog May 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Sammy,

I summarize/paraphrase what I read in Notepad. I only know I’ve understood it if I can put it in my own words. But I only bother to do this for some books.

Or, I write a blog post about the chapter. :)

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Erika May 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Justfinethanks, some people do not like to sign up for things unnecessarily. It’s not a matter of effort.

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MarkD May 10, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Speaking beers, Wasatch Beers, deep in the heart of Mormon country, is absolutely brilliant:

http://www.wasatchbeers.com/beers.html

Take some Polygamy Porter home for the wives! Why have just one?

I know I do whenever in Canyonlands or traversing slickrock.

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lukeprog May 11, 2010 at 1:39 am

I’ve never been a beer man but I may have to try Wasatch.

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Hermes May 11, 2010 at 3:01 am

C’mon, people. Making an account at Reasonable Faith takes like two seconds.

Or less;

User: stupidregister
Pass: stupid

Bugmenot users report an 80% success rate.

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matt May 11, 2010 at 10:07 am

Sam Harris: “I am convinced that every appearance of terms like “metaethics,” “deontology,” “noncognitivism,” “anti-realism,” “emotivism,” and the like, directly increases the amount of boredom in the universe.”

Go Sam!

–silver bullet
“When I hear the word “culture” I reach for my gun.”
–Hermann Göring

I know the comparison is a little over the top, but I just want to point out that anti-intellectualism has a pedigree, especially in America. Cheer it if you will, but Sam Harris’ idea that you can get from neuroscience to morality without troubling with all that boring philosophy stuff smells like a kind of appeal to “common sense” that I hope most visitors to this blog don’t have much sympathy with. Luke, for one, always shows a healthy respect for knowing the literature–i.e., not claiming to invent the wheel every time you throw a stone that rolls a little. I don’t think Sam Harris is necessarily a coward, as someone here wrote, but his attitude on this point can at least be called intellectually lazy.

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Hermes May 11, 2010 at 10:34 am

Matt, I didn’t take his jabs to be promoting anti-intellectualism at all. There are boring topics just as there are ones that are deeply interesting and others that should be blasted on the spot (pet peeve: solipsism).

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David May 11, 2010 at 10:48 am

Matt, I didn’t take his jabs to be promoting anti-intellectualism at all.There are boring topics just as there are ones that are deeply interesting and others that should be blasted on the spot (pet peeve: solipsism).  

Would that be in reference to the solipist who called The Atheist Experience this week?

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Hermes May 11, 2010 at 11:34 am

Would that be in reference to the solipist who called The Atheist Experience this week?

Nope, though I reject solipsism for the exact same reasons they do. Well, I take that back. I’ve wasted acres of time in the past on solipsists and now I just have no patience for such nonsense; it’s almost entirely visceral at this point.

FWIW: Matt D. posted a mea culpa about that call, btw. It could have been handled better, even with the technical difficulties.

I do agree that ignoring a solipsist — any solipsist — immediately once they identify themselves is the proper reaction. If they want to talk to themselves, then they can do it without me being there.

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matt May 13, 2010 at 4:19 am

just watched some of the hithens speech. he’s such an unbearably pompous asshole that i don’t even feel like saying a liked parts of what he said, although i did. the prohibition on denying the holocaust in europe, for instance, really is scandalous, imo, even if holocaust deniers are even bigger assholes than christopher hitchens.

just in case anybody got this far, hitchens retells a joke about austria’s “two achievements” being to have convinced the world that beethoven was an austrian and hitler a german without attribution: billy wilder, as far as i know, came up with that, and told it better, too.

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Hermes May 13, 2010 at 5:50 am

Matt, a bit of rambling follows. As a writer, I am a packrat and what I write below is to satisfy myself more than to challenge your comments. Thanks for the attribution reference.

* * *

I bet you have friends and associates that you have acclimated yourself to. Ones that are too timid, ones that are too brazen, too dumb or too smart for their own good. Loud ones and ones that make strange sounds when they laugh or talk. Ones that are a joy to look at and ones that are simply ugly. You accept them for what they are, and realize that some of your friends and associates will likely never get along with each other even though — in their own ways — they are good people.

Here’s my take on it;

Hitchens is not a mere asshole: He is an exemplary asshole. He deserves his arrogance, partially since it draws into sharp resolve the contrast when he refrains from being an arrogant asshole and simply states his opinion.

His charm is that his assholedry is not his basis but a result of who he is and what he knows. Part of what he is, is a writer of both news and opinion pieces. Part of what he is, is a contrarian. His contrarian stance is one that is based based on information and understanding, though. While I disagree with him on many issues, I understand what is driving his opinions and why he takes them to a complete end.

Yet, while I personally would offer him a drink for a few minutes of casual conversation, he is still filling a role in public and should be judged on his success in that role — even if he does not don a mask and he is actually as his public face shows him to be.

In sum: Pompous assholes deserve credit.

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Kyle May 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Would you agree with Dawkins that the historicity of Jesus is less certain than most of the other figures from his time? I’m pretty sure even Bart Ehrman has said that we have more evidence for the existence of Jesus than just about anyone in ancient history today.

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lukeprog May 19, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Kyle,

I take a line between Dawkins and Ehrman. We have much better evidence for a great many people of the ancient world than for Jesus, in particular political figures – especially those for which we have contemporary physical evidence. And yet, we do have better evidence for Jesus than for many people. Certainly, our manuscript evidence is far better than for anyone else I know of in the ancient world, in that our manuscripts about Jesus are closer to his lifetime than our manuscripts about anyone else I know of.

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