What's New on the Secular Web?
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April 13, 2014
Christian leaders teach that the Bible is inerrant and authoritative, often referring to it as "The Good Book." They encourage us to read it, but they evidently realize that most of us will only read the recommended passages, accompanied by a good dose of interpretation, and that only a few of us will ever read it from cover to cover, and then form our own opinions about what it actually says. If all of us were to sit down and read the Bible straight through--and then actually put into practice what it admonishes us to do--civilization would be dealt a devastating blow from which it might never recover. That may seem to be a surprising conclusion, but the author makes a convincing case for it simply by looking at what the Bible itself actually says.
Think you know the details regarding the New Testament Empty Tomb and Resurrection stories? Check your knowledge with this short, twenty-two question quiz. The answers may surprise you! You will likely find that the details are so inconsistent from one biblical source to the next that the picture that we are typically given of the events surrounding the alleged Resurrection is necessarily a composite of carefully selected verses which exclude other verses where the details significantly differ.
March 16, 2014
New in the Kiosk: Arguing the Problem of Evil with Ordinary Believers (2014) by C.V.H.
"This is a short piece about my lessons from discussing the existence of God mainly with evangelical Christian believers. I lay out the version of the problem of evil that I think is more effective with ordinary believers and as jargon-free as possible. I start by pointing out the fallacy of confirmation bias in religious belief. I then entertain some objections to the problem of evil and my responses."
March 6, 2014
Added David Chalmers' Principle of Organizational Invariance and the Personal Soul (2014) by Clifford Greenblatt to the Immortality page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.
David Chalmers argues that conscious experience is a real but nonphysical feature of nature. However, he also believes that all particular facts about any conscious experience supervene (naturally, but not logically) on physical facts, such that physical facts fully determine any conscious experience. His principle of organizational invariance goes even further to claim that fine-grained functional organization fully determines any conscious experience (naturally, but not logically). This principle has powerful implications for artificial intelligence, allowing for the possibility of fully conscious digital computers. But the principle of organizational invariance is not compatible with the concept of a personal soul. This paper does not attempt to prove or disprove the existence of a personal soul, but defends its conceptual coherence against the challenge presented by Chalmers' principle of organizational invariance.
February 24, 2014
What authority can we trust to provide good answers to life's big questions? For questions about the physical world--how it got here, how it works, where we came from--the discoveries of science give us honest and reliable answers. But science does not claim to know the answers to moral and social issues, which are of utmost importance because they determine how well we can live together. Religions do claim to have the answers in this area, but how good are their teachings? A careful look at moral issues addressed by religions can tell us a lot, and maybe even provide a guide to validating our own moral choices.