Tag Archives: Isaac Newton

No gods required

Book Review: Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe by Greg M. Epstein

Price: US$17.15
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (October 27, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061670111
ISBN-13: 978-0061670114

With this title the book is obviously going to discuss morality. Fortunately it quickly disposes of the question of “whether we can be good without God” early in the introduction. As the author, Greg Epstein, says the empirical evidence is irrefutable “Millions and millions of people are, every day. The answer is yes. Period.”

But, of course, he devotes the rest of the book to explaining and recommending how the one billion “non-believers” of the planet are, and can be, good. On how they do and can deal with social organisation in suitable ways.

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The “supernatural” and dogmatism in science

Another post repeated from 18 months ago:

Do scientists ever concern themselves over terms like ‘materialist,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘supernatural’? I don’t think so – at least those scientists working at the coal face. I have never heard any scientist posing the question – “is this phenomenon ‘natural’ or ’supernatural’?” before investigating something.

Yet today science is attacked by some people for limiting itself to only ‘natural’ phenomena. Intelligent design (ID) proponents (and they aren’t the only ones) rail against the ‘materialism’ of science. They demand that science should be changed to include ‘supernatural’ explanations.

These are attempts to introduce dogma into science.

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chickenpopquizI don’t understand those religious apologists who claim purpose as a reason for their beliefs. Or, more precisely, I find their arguments unconvincing.

There is an example in a post by James at the local Catholic apologetics blog Being Frank (see Audacity of faith). Here he describes his purpose:

“God has put me here to discover Him, to choose to follow and love Him, and to show Him to other people.  Simple as that.  My reward for doing these things?  When I die in this life, I get to exist forever with Him in a state of pure supernatural bliss.”

So Frank believes that this is the reason his god created the universe!

But it’s all very vague. Mission statements should be more concrete.

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Human Morality I: Religious confusion

This is the first in a series of posts on morality. They are aimed at countering the usual religious claims for a god-given morality with current scientific understanding of how the morality of our species arose. Also, they attempt to justify a non-theist objective basis for much of the moral decisions we make. This first post outlines what I think are the basic problems with the attempt by religion and theology to understand human morality.

My recent article With God, anything can be permitted? provoked some predictable reaction. In this series I’ll use Matt’s responses on the New Zealand blog MandM (With God Anything can be Permitted: Another Bad Argument against Theistic Morality and Divine Commands and Intuitions: A Response to Ken Perrott). In my mind the basic problem is that Matt’s response are theological rather than scientific. And the problem with theology is that it bases itself on circular argument rather than empirical evidence. This argument can become quite convoluted and confusing. (Have a look at Matt’s posts on Divine Command Theory here and here). I sometimes wonder if this is purposeful. It reminds me of the philosopher who, when told by a reader that she couldn’t understand anything in his new book, responded with a grateful thanks and a proud smile!

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