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What's New on the Secular Web?



See also: Events & The News Wire




January 29, 2005

Added "Tsunami Prompts Lawsuit Against God" by Gary Sloan to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"Galvanized by a tsunami that wrought incalculable devastation to villages, homes, and resorts, and claimed more than 160,000 lives when it swamped the coastlands of southern Asia, a multinational consortium of renegade theists has filed a class-action lawsuit against God."


January 28, 2005

Richard Carrier emended his article "Kooks and Quacks of the Roman Empire: A Look into the World of the Gospels" (1997)

Changes were made in response to criticism from Glenn Miller: some of the vocabulary in the essay was changed so as not to give the wrong impression regarding the number of capable skeptics in the ancient world, and a brief comment on Miller's critique was added.

Richard Carrier updated his article "General Case for Spiritual Resurrection," Chapter 3 of "Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story" (5th ed., 2004)

Due to confusion over the use of the word "physical" every relevant such use has been replaced with the correct terminology so as to reflect what the 5th edition originally stated, which is that Jesus "was resurrected by being given a new body, one not made of flesh or physical matter as we know it, but of some kind of ethereal, spiritual material" such that "the distinction is not between bodily and nonbodily resurrection, but between a resurrection of a corpse vs. resurrection of a person into a superior body."

Richard Carrier added a notice to his article "Are the Odds Against the Origin of Life Too Great to Accept?" (2000):

Seven general claims addressed throughout this article online have now been more officially and formally refuted in Richard Carrier, "The Argument from Biogenesis: Probabilities against a Natural Origin of Life," Biology & Philosophy 19.5 (November, 2004), pp. 739-64. In addition, new and important breakthroughs are continuing in the area of biogenesis that must be taken into account. For example, see: Graciela Flores, "Volcano Gas, Amino Acids Make Peptides," The Scientist 8 October 2004.


January 27, 2005

Added a link to "Flew's Flawed Science" (2005) (Off Site) by Victor Stenger, on his author page, the Physics and Religion page, and the Science and Religion page in the Modern Library.

In addressing well-known atheist Antony Flew's recent "conversion" to a form of deism, ostensibly based on recent scientific discoveries, Stenger takes a look at such works as The Science of God, by Gerald Schroeder, Darwin's Black Box, by Michael Behe, and The Design Inference, by William Dembski--works that were, in part, responsible for Flew's change of heart.


January 22, 2005

Added a link to "Moral Arguments for the Existence of God" (2004) (Off Site) by Peter Byrne, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, on the Moral Argument and Divine Command Theory page in the Theism : Arguments for the Existence of a God section of the Modern Library.

Moral arguments for God's existence may be defined as that family of arguments in the history of western philosophical theology having claims about the character of moral thought and experience in their premises and affirmations of the existence of God in their conclusions.

Added links to four articles on Biblical Criticism, Archaeology, & History in the Ebla Forum Library (Off Site) by Joel Ng to the Secular Web Reference Desk

"Introduction to Biblical Archaeology 1: Archaeological History and Method" (2003)
"Introduction to Biblical Archaeology 2: From Stone to Bronze" (2003)
"Introduction to Biblical Archaeology 3: The Rise of Some People or Other" (2004)
"Introduction to Biblical Archaeology 4: Ascendance and Decline" (2004)


January 21, 2005

Added "Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism: Clarifying the Connection" (2000) by Barbara Forrest to her author page, as well as to the Naturalism index page in the Nontheism section of the Modern Library

Forrest argues that philosophical (or metaphysical) naturalism is supported by (1) the demonstrated success of methodological naturalism; (2) the massive amount of knowledge gained by methodological naturalism; (3) the lack of a method or epistemology for knowing the supernatural; and (4) the subsequent lack of evidence for the supernatural.

Added a link to "The Newest Evolution of Creationism" (2002) (Off Site) by Barbara Forrest to her author page, as well as to the Creationism index page in the Science & Religion section of the Modern Library

Forrest argues that intelligent design creationism is an attempt to ground social institutions in evangelical religion, allowing proponents to align with more literalist creationists in "defeating naturalism and its consequences," and to transform science itself in a theistic endeavor designed to promote faith rather than science.


January 19, 2005

Added an entire section, Nontheist vs. Nontheist Debates, to the Call for Papers.

We're interested in publishing back-and-forth Internet debates between nontheists on such topics as housewives, population growth, home schooling, and naturalistic explanations for religious belief.

Added "Suffer The Little Children" by Harvey Freilich to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"As a Rationalist, one of my objectives is to create images and arguments justifying my Atheism. I attempt to do this by expounding upon viewpoints and experiences which substantiate the tenets upon which Rationalists and Atheists base their "belief" (or nonbelief) system. Here, then, a few thoughts about children who have helped me to see more clearly that the concept of God is what it has always been to me: a myth!"


January 17, 2005

Added "The Problem of Evil: Too Much Suffering" (2004) (Off Site) by Bruce Russell to his author page

Because there is so much relevant evidence, it is hard to be certain that the best explanation of so much horrible suffering and some remarkable and beneficial events is that there is no God but people are sometimes lucky. But such an explanation seems better than one that says that God intervenes and sometimes helps bring about good outcomes and other times allows bad outcomes for reasons beyond our ken. That theistic explanation has two strikes against it in that we cannot understand how an immaterial being can act on the material world, and it posits the existence of hidden reasons, those beyond our ken. Whether it has three strikes against it depends on whether luck is an adequate explanation of events like the saving of the nine miners in Pennsylvania, the so-called Quecreek Miracle.


January 16, 2005

Added "Review of The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Acharya S" (2001) (Off Site) by Robert M. Price to his author page

Added "Response to Free Inquiry" (2005) by Acharya S (Off Site)

A reply by Acharya S to Price's review of her book.

Added "Review of Paul the Founder of Christianity by Gerd Lüdemann" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Robert M. Price to his author page

Added "Review of Glenn Miller's Were the Gospel Miracles Invented by the New Testament Authors?" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Robert M. Price to his author page

Added "Review of Gary R. Habermas's "The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus"" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Robert M. Price to his author page

Added "Review of James Patrick Holding's The Impossible Faith or, How Not to Start an Ancient Religion" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Robert M. Price to his author page

Added "Review of The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright" (2004) (Off Site) by Robert M. Price to his author page

Added "Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown" (2004) (Off Site) by Robert M. Price to his author page

Added "How Does the Memory Research of Elizabeth Loftus on Eyewitness Testimony Affect the Credibility of NT Documents?" (1997) by Glenn Miller (Off Site) to the contents page for Beyond Born Again by Robert M. Price

Miller concludes that most of the material in Loftus's book are "simply inapplicable to the NT situation." Moreover, for the few items that do or might apply to the NT, they support its reliability for accuracy. This is relevant to Beyond Born Again, insofar as Price argues in chapter five, using Loftus as one of his sources, that "Studies have shown that eyewitness testimony is often remarkably unreliable, most especially when it is testimony of a surprising and remarkable event."

Added "Do the Resurrection Accounts Hopelessly Contradict One Another?" (1997) by Glenn Miller (Off Site) to the contents page for Beyond Born Again by Robert M. Price

Miller argues that the N.T. resurrection accounts do not hopelessly contradict one another. This is relevant to Beyond Born Again, insofar as Price argues just the opposite.

Added "Grasping At Greasy Straws" (n.d.) by Robert Turkel (Off Site) to the contents page for Beyond Born Again by Robert M. Price

Turkel's review of Beyond Born Again. Turkel challenges Price on five main points: time needed to build legends, the alleged secrecy of Jesus, Sabbatai Sevi and other messianic pretenders, the reliability of eyewitness testimony, and the reliability of oral transmission.

Added "Answering Michael Martin's 'Atheism, Christian Theism, and Rape'" (n.d.) by Rev. Ralph Allen Smith (Off Site) to Michael Martin's author page

Smith's article is a rebuttal to Martin's essay, "Atheism, Christian Theism, and Rape." Smith defends three main points regarding Martin's article. First, on Martin's view of ethics, Martin himself faces Euthyphro's Dilemma. Second, Euthyphro's Dilemma is probably not what it seems on the surface to be. Third, Christians do have an answer to Euthyphro.

Updated the Separation of Church and State index page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

The page was updated to repair numerous broken links to offsite sites. Subheadings under the Church-State separation heading include such topics as: School Prayer, School vouchers, Supreme Court Decisions, as well as a listing of Related Sites.


January 11, 2005

Added "Review of The Ghost in the Universe (2002) by Taner Edis" by Anthony Campbell

Campbell reviews Taner Edis' The Ghost in the Universe, concluding that although the book is not likely to persuade readers to change their views on the implications of scientific findings for traditional religion, it nevertheless is "one of the best books on its subject to have appeared in recent years."

Added "Review of Darwin and Design (2003) by Michael Ruse" by Anthony Campbell

Campbell reviews Michael Ruse's Darwin and Design, which considers whether biological evolution has any purpose or direction. Ruse concludes that despite the attempts of theistic evolutionists to reconcile evolution and traditional monotheism, "Darwinism is a major challenge to religious belief" because evolutionary processes seem to leave no room for divine purpose.

Added "Gay Activists Should Turn the Gun on the Enemy" (instead of repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot) by J. Blunt to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"Homosexuals, God bless 'em, keep shooting themselves in the foot politically. They seem bound and determined to wipe out any chance of getting what they want out of 'marriage' because they are hung up on the word 'marriage,' with all its attached religious and legal implications."


January 10, 2005

Added "Dembski's 'Explanatory Filter' and the Design Inference: Neither an Explanation, nor an Inference" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

My four conclusions are a death blow to Dembski's argument, and additional problems can easily be found with The Design Inference, if one simply pokes a little bit beyond the smoking and mirrors of mathematical jargon that the author erects. If this is the best that creationism can do, it has a long way to go if it wishes to leave the realm of pseudoscience.

Added "Design Yes, Intelligent No: a Critique of Intelligent Design 'Theory'" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Behe's, Dembski's, and other creationists' claims that science should be opened to supernatural explanations and that these should be allowed in academic as well as public school curricula is unfounded and based on a misunderstanding of both design in nature and of what the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is all about.

Added "Review of Why God Won't go Away: Brain Science & the Biology of Belief (2001) by A. Newberg and E. D'Aquili" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Added "Review of Icons of Evolution: Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong (2000) by Jonathan Wells" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Added "Review of Sleeping with Extraterrestrials: the Rise of Irrationalism and the Perils of Piety (2000) by Wendy Kaminer" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Added "Review of Skeptics and True Believers: the Exhilarating Connection Between Science and Religion (1998) by Chet Raymo" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Added "Review of How We Believe: the Search for God in an Age of Science (1999) by Michael Shermer" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Added "Review of Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (1997) by Phillip Johnson" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Added "Review of The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read (1993) by T.C. Leedom" (n.d.) (Off Site) by Massimo Pigliucci

Added Ontological Arguments and Belief in God (1996) by Graham Oppy to the Secular Web Bookstore

This book is a unique contribution to the philosophy of religion. It offers a comprehensive discussion of one of the most famous arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument. The author provides and analyzes a critical taxonomy of those versions of the argument that have been advanced in recent philosophical literature, as well as of those historically important versions found in the work of St. Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel and others.

Added "A Criticism of My Church" (1996) (Off Site) by Gerd Lüdemann

This chapter is above all a critical contribution to the discussion which has begun in Germany about the legitimacy of radical historical criticism in the framework of academic theology and the church. But it may also be of interest to English readers, since in the Anglo-Saxon world, too, the question of the relationship between history, faith, church and theology has still not been clarified.


January 9, 2005

The Separation of Church and State index page in the Modern Library was updated to bring the information up to date and repair a number of broken links.

The Biographies and Archives index page in the Historical Library was updated to bring the information up to date and repair a number of broken links.


January 8, 2005

Added "On Defending Atheism" (2005) by Theodore M. Drange to his author page and to the Atheistic Outreach page.

Drange explains why atheists should defend their atheism.

Added a link to "Not a Very Big Bang About Genesis" (2001) (Off Site), by Mark Perakh, from the Theistic Arguments: Reviews/Critiques index page, the Creationist Book Reviews index page, and the Physics and Religion index page in the Secular Web Modern Library.

This article critically discusses three books by Gerald L. Schroeder, books which have gained a substantial popularity and have often been acclaimed as very successful clarifications of how to reconcile biblical stories with scientific data: Big Bang and Genesis : The discovery of the harmony between modern science and the Bible, The Science of God : The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom, and The Hidden Face of God : How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth.


January 7, 2005

Added "Tsunamis and The Mystery of God's Love" by Ryan Hendricks to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

A poem which asks: "Why still His Love, the masses seek?"

Added a link from Jan Narveson's author page to his biography (Off Site)

Jan Narveson is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo. He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University.

Added a link from the Mysticism and the Paranormal index page and from Paul O'Brien's author page to his article "The Seven Critical Questions about Deepak Chopra" (1996) (Off Site)

This is a critique of Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. The purpose of this critique is to articulate exactly how and why Deepak Chopra's ideas may be questionable.

Added Curriculum Vitae for Keith McKendree Parsons (PDF) to his author page.

Parsons earned his first Ph.D. in philosophy from Queen's University in 1986 and his second Ph.D. in philosophy of science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1996. He is the author of several books and articles, and was the the founding editor of Philo, the official journal of the Society of Humanist Philosophers.

The E-mail Lists page in the Electronic Resources index was updated to bring the information up to date and repair a number of broken links.


January 6, 2005

Internet Infidels donates to SHARE for tsunami relief.

In the wake of the international tragedy caused by a tsunami originating from the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004, the Internet Infidels have donated $500 to the Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE). SHARE is pooling the resources of the freethought community to assist relief efforts for this unprecedented natural disaster. If you would like to make your own online contribution to SHARE, please click here.

A list of major relief agencies for the tsunami can be found here.

Added "Atheism" (1993) (Off Site) by Michael Martin to the Atheism section of his author page.

This is the text of the "Atheism" article that appears in Microsoft Encarta 98 encyclopedia.

Added a link to Secular Coalition for America (1999) on the Coalitions page under the larger Organizations category.


January 5, 2005

Richard Carrier has updated his article "Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of" with new information direct from well-known nontheist philosopher Antony Flew regarding his consideration of the possibility that there might be a God.

In a letter to Carrier dated 29 December 2004, Flew states that he was "misled" and "mistaught." He concedes that he made a mistake, for example, with regard to protobiological science, and he has retracted his false statement about the current state of protobiological science. in response to theists citing him in their favor, Flew strangely calls his "recent very modest defection from my previous unbelief" a "more radical form of unbelief," and implies that the concept of God might actually be self-refuting.

Updated the Mysticism and the Paranormal page in the Secular Web Library with the addition of a link to "Electronic Voice Phenomena" by James E. Alcock, PhD (Off Site).

Voices of the dead?


January 4, 2005

Added "Secular Considerations" by Harvey Freilich to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"I don't understand. I want to understand. Why do human beings require gods and prophets as explanations for their existence?"

The Argument from Nonbelief page and the author page for Theodore Drange in the Secular Web Library were updated with the addition of a link to "A Bit of Undigested Beef : Does the Existence of Non-Belief Prove God's Non-Existence?" (Off Site) by William Kesatie, J.D.

Kesatie contends that the "Argument from Nonbelief" (ANB) for the nonexistence of God presented by Theodore Drange in his article "The Arguments From Evil and Nonbelief" raises an interesting challenge to Christianity, but that Drange's argument is not particularly compelling or even "sound."


January 2, 2005

Jim Lippard has updated his article "The Fabulous Prophecies of the Messiah" with the addition of a "postscript" section.

"The Fabulous Prophecies of the Messiah" debunks specific claims regarding the fulfillment of alleged prophecy in the life of Jesus. In this postscript, Lippard responds to specific criticisms which have been published around the Internet in various critiques of his article.

Added "A Word or Two" by Eric Berglund to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"God didn't make a mistake. He is the mistake."


January 1, 2005

Current Feature: "Teach 'Intelligent' Design? Absolutely!" by Nevyn O'Kane.

What better to teach, in a science class, than the science of "intelligent" design? What better way is there to expose the fraud of ID than to begin by enlightening our children to its factual emptiness? What educator would not relish this opportunity to inform?

Book-of-the-Month: Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, by Matt Young and Taner Edis.

Is Darwinian evolution established fact, or a dogma ready to be overtaken by the next scientific revolution, "intelligent design"? The intelligent design movement argues the latter. Here, a team of physicists, biologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, and archaeologists examine "intelligent design" from a scientific perspective and conclude that its grandiose claims are without merit.

Special Feature: Design Yes, Intelligent No: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory and Neo-Creationism, by Massimo Pigliucci.

Dr. Massimo Pigliucci challenges creationism on all fronts, including the latest brand of intelligent design theory. Referring specifically to the work of William Dembski and Michael Behe, the author highlights the fatal flaws in the ID arguments and renders a crushing blow to the pseudoscience that underlies creationist claims.

 


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

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