Recently Published Articles
An embellished and creatively written history of the origins and development of a Canaanite tribe underlies Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. None of the myriad of documents from ancient Egypt ever mention hundreds of thousands of foreign slaves leaving following a series of catastrophes, for example, nor has any archaeological evidence of the movement of a supposed half a million refugees from the Sinai peninsula ever been uncovered. Nevertheless, the Jesus of the Gospels seems to concur with this erroneous version of history, affirming the Genesis creation myth, the existence of the mythological Noah and Abraham, and the historicity of Moses' exodus, among other things. The Qur'an and Islamic exegesis subscribe to the historicity of such people and events no less. The arbitrary selection of Yahweh—the Canaanite god of metallurgy—from the vast Canaanite pantheon of gods over 2,500 years ago has had a profound effect on the belief systems of billions of people who have lived since.
I share with my friend Peter the idea that organized religion and contemporary beliefs about God are not credible, but I think he still possesses some of the elements of a "seeker." He recently expressed excitement after learning about neuroscientist David Eagleman's "possibilianism." After listening to one of Eagleman's talks, it seemed to me that he made an argument from ignorance when he concluded that "our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism." What does "ignorance of the cosmos" have to do with atheism? I think he does not understand what atheists actually think. Simply stated, we think that there is no evidence to support the supernatural in general or God in particular. It seems that Dr. Eagleman has created a straw man, but unfortunately many people, including my dear friends, are impressed with his presentation. Nothing about the astronomical information he cites refutes the idea that there is no evidence for God or the supernatural. Indeed, if anything, that information reinforces that science and reason offer the only possible hope that we will ever understand the cosmos.
As far as we know, the natural world is all there is. If there are realms that we cannot know, then there is no use in speculating upon them. Weak naturalism limits itself to what we know. Just as a weak atheist simply disbelieves in God given the lack of evidence, weak naturalism disavows the supernatural for the same reason.
In only asserting the existence of the natural world, the burden of proof is transferred to the "supernaturalist." Proposing weak naturalism does not require positive evidence showing why it's probable that nothing transcends nature. Rather, it appeals to the lack of evidence for anything supernatural, period. It's not scientism to expect knowledge-claims to be verifiable or testable. The scientific method has become the accepted method for ascertaining which empirical claims are true or not for a reason.
Christianity has brought many people to believe that those who behave badly face permanent torture in the afterlife. In this article, Robert Shaw argues that the historical Jesus envisaged a rather different fate for such individuals, and that the very idea of Hell as pictured by many Christians today was in fact an invention of the later Church.