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What's New on the Secular Web?

See also: Events & The News Wire

November 27, 2004

Added "Nonreligious Now America's Second Largest Life Stance Group" (2000) (Off Site) by Tom Flynn.

In a new study, more than 11% of survey respondents--equivalent to 24 million Americans--report no religious preference. That would make irreligion the nation's second-largest life stance, outnumbering members of any sect or denomination except Roman Catholics.

Added "Matthew vs Luke: Whoever Wins, Coherence Loses" (2004) (Off Site) by Tom Flynn

So steeped in pagan lore are the dueling accounts of Matthew and Luke, so reflective of the politics of the early Church rather than of any possible history, and so wholly contradictory in their details, that when it comes to the Nativity, Christianity's foremost sources tell us quite literally nothing at all.

Added a link from Brandon Fitelson's author page to "How Not to Detect Design," a review of The Design Inference by William Dembski (1999)

Added links to numerous critiques of creationism by Taner Edis to his author page.

Edis is currently assistant professor of physics at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO.

November 26, 2004

Added "Editor's Introduction" by John Warwick Montgomery (Off Site)

This a reply to Richard Packham's rebuttal to Boyd Pehrson. The topic is Packham's critique of Montgomery's "Legal Evidences for Christianity."

Added a link from "The Trilemma--Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?" by Jim Perry to Was Jesus Mad, Bad, or God? ... Or Merely Mistaken? (2004) by Daniel Howard-Snyder (Off Site)

A popular argument for the divinity of Jesus goes like this. Jesus claimed to be divine, but if his claim was false, then either he was insane (mad) or lying (bad), both of which are very unlikely; so, he was divine. I present two objections to this argument. The first, the dwindling probabilities objection, contends that even if we make generous probability assignments to the relevant pieces of evidence for Jesus' divinity, the probability calculus tell us to suspend judgement on the matter. The second, and more telling objection in my opinion, the merely mistaken objection, contends that it is no less plausible to suppose that Jesus was neither mad nor bad but merely mistaken than that he was divine.

Added a link from Richard Carrier's author page to "Were the Miracles of Jesus invented by the Disciples/Evangelists?" (2002) by Glenn Miller (Off Site)

Miller rebuts the belief that the pervasive gullibility of the ancient world reduces the credibility of ancient miracle accounts to virtually nil.

November 25, 2004

Added a link from Robby Berry's author page to "What About 'The Fivefold Challenge'?" (1998) by Glenn Miller (Off Site)

Glenn Miller wrote a critique of Berry's essay in 1998, but it was apparently not announced at the time.

November 24, 2004

Updated the "Call for Papers."

We have updated the "Book Reviews" section of the Call for Papers, including What Is Atheism?: A Short Introduction by Doug Krueger, Nonbelief and Evil: Two Arguments for the Nonexistence of God by Theodore Drange, Tales of the Rational by Massimo Pigliucci, The Ghost in the Universe by Taner Edis, and The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins.

November 20, 2004

Updated the "Call for Papers."

We have updated the "atheism" section of the Call for Papers. First, we have revised the request for a paper on evolution as evidence for atheism by including a syllogism that summarizes Paul Draper's argument to that effect. Second, we have added a new request for a paper on Nicholas Everitt's argument from scale.

November 19, 2004

Added (albeit in June 2003, but apparently not announced at the time) "Reply to Martin on Atheism and Morality" (2003) by Jeffery J. Lowder to the Modern Library.

Lowder responds to Michael Martin's reply to Lowder's review of Martin's book, Atheism, Morality and Meaning, answering Martin's objections.

November 15, 2004

Added "Review of Viable Values" (2004) by Stephen Parrish to the Modern Library.

In Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality, Tara Smith attempts to give Ayn Rand's Objectivist ethics a rigorous statement and defense. In this review Stephen Parrish argues that although Smith's book has virtues, it also has major deficiencies. These deficiencies include virtually ignoring important alternative ethical theories like utilitarianism and Kantianism, disregarding extended critiques of Objectivist ethics by contemporary philosophers, and most of all, failing to refute the implication that actions like lying, stealing, and murdering would be considered morally acceptable (indeed, even obligatory) on Objectivist ethics if they furthered one's own interests.

November 14, 2004

Updated the "Evidential Argument from Evolution" page in the Arguments for Atheism section of the Modern Library.

An introduction has been added to this page summarizing Paul Draper's evidential argument from evolution for atheism.

Updated the "Argument from Reasonable Nonbelief and Argument from Nonbelief" page in the Arguments for Atheism section of the Modern Library.

An introduction has been added to this page clarifying the distinction between Schellenberg's argument from reasonable nonbelief and Drange's argument from nonbelief. In addition, several links to related essays have been added.

Updated the "Call for Papers."

Added requests for additional book reviews, including Creationism's Trojan Horse by Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross, Logic and Theism: Arguments for and Against Belief in God by Jordan Howard Sobel, and Atheism: A Very Short Introduction by Julian Baggini.

November 13, 2004

Updated the "Argument from Evolution" page in the Arguments for Atheism section of the Modern Library.

This page has been updated to provide a sketch of philosopher of religion Paul Draper's evolution argument for naturalism.

Updated the "Call for Papers."

Added requests for reviews of several new books, including Nicholas Everitt's The Non-Existence of God, Gerd Lüdemann's The Resurrection of Christ, G.A. Wells's Can We Trust the New Testament?, and Michael Martin's and Ricki Monnier's The Impossibility of God.

Added "Moral Realism and Infinite Spacetime Imply Moral Nihilism" (2003) (Off Site) by Quentin Smith to the "Logical Arguments for Atheism" subject index in the Modern Library.

Smith argues that if the future is infinite, as contemporary astronomers believe it is, then moral nihilism is true if both moral realism and aggregative value theory is true. He then argues that this conclusion implies that God does not exist. Thus, Smith's argument may be reasonably classified as a logical argument from moral nihilism to atheism.

Added "A Sound Logical Argument from Evil" (1997) (Off Site) by Quentin Smith to the "Logical Arguments from Evil" subject index in the Modern Library.

Smith argues that "There is evil" is logically incompatible with "God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good." In other words, Smith defends a logical argument from evil. He argues that Plantinga's free will defense does not defeat this argument.

Completely reorganized the "Arguments from Evil" subject index in the Arguments for Atheism section of the Modern Library.

The old "Arguments from Evil" subject index has been reorganized into three pages: "Evidential Arguments from Evil" (replaces the index), "Logical Arguments from Evil" (a new index), and "Reviews of Books about Arguments from Evil" (another new index).

November 7, 2004

Completely reorganized and updated the Arguments for Atheism section of the Modern Library, including all subordinate pages.

All of the arguments for atheism discussed in the Secular Web's Modern Library are linked from this section. The newly revamped section introduces the distinction between logical and evidential arguments for atheism, and classifies all of the arguments into this framework.

November 6, 2004

Added "The Kalam Cosmological Argument as Amended: The Question of the Metaphysical Possibility of an Infinite Temporal Series of Finite Duration" by Arnold T. Guminski to the Modern Documents section of the Library.

In this third paper about the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA), Guminski shows how William Lane Craig has developed a mutated form of the argument such that it presupposes the metaphysical possibility of an infinite temporal series of finite duration. The Kalam Cosmological Argument As Amended (KCAAA) thus contradicts a key component of the KCA: that any infinite temporal series is metaphysically impossible. The KCAAA relies upon the Standard Big Bang Model as providing the supposed factual basis for concluding that the universe has a finite but indefinite past, thus involving an infinite temporal series of finite duration. Guminski argues why there is good reason to hold that any infinite temporal series of finite duration is metaphysically impossible given the A-theory of time, absolute simultaneity, and some complementary doctrines--assumptions that Craig accepts. Given these assumptions, however, the KCAAA fails.

November 4, 2004

Added "'Atheist' Scare-Quotes Original" by Nevyn O'Kane, to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"'Atheist.' You can almost hear the thunder rolling in the background. Just in the last few days, I've seen 'atheist' written in ways that indicate that the word represents a menacing entity--or even something supernatural. This seems to tell me that 'atheist' and 'atheism' are not only terms commonly misunderstood, but also words outside normal, acceptable, rational speech."

November 1, 2004

Feature article: "Jewish Law, the Burial of Jesus, and the Third Day," by Richard Carrier.

Carrier discusses several Jewish laws regarding burial in first century Palestine that illuminate the Gospel stories, revealing that perhaps, by law, Jesus had to be taken down Friday night, and had to be buried in a special graveyard reserved for criminals Saturday night. Also discussed are some examples of the "third day" motif in Jewish law and tradition.

Book-of-the-Month: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, by Sam Harris.

An impassioned plea for reason in a world divided by faith--a startling analysis of the clash of faith and reason in today's world. Harris offers a vivid historical tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behavior and sometimes heinous crimes. He asserts that in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, we can no longer tolerate views that pit one true god against another. He argues that we cannot afford moderate lip service to religion--an accommodation that only blinds us to the real perils of fundamentalism.

Video-of-the-Month: On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Carrier-Licona Debate.

Richard C. Carrier, atheist, historian, and editor emeritus of the Secular Web, defends his latest theories of how Christianity began, with slide shows and new evidence from the Bible, arguing that visions began a belief in a kind of spiritual resurrection, and the empty tomb was a later legend. Christian scholar and author Michael Licona argues against him, drawing on the arguments of his mentor, Gary Habermas.

See "What's New? " for past months and years.