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June 28, 2007
Does the Koran really call for war against non-Muslims? Does it really sanction domestic violence and say women have to obey men? Are Muslim men really promised virgins and wine in paradise? Does it mandate public flogging, cutting off hands and stoning to death? Even though radical Islam is spreading, not much is known about the Koran in Western countries, and there seems to be an unwillingness to have a closer look at the book. Yet without this, informed discussion is not possible, and what debate does take place is no more than an exchange of opinion and ignorance.
June 25, 2007
Added A Response to Richard Carrier's Review of C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea (2007) by Darek Barefoot to the Argument from Reason page under the Arguments for the Existence of a God page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.
C. S. Lewis's argument from reason (AfR) claims that the process of inference by which consideration of premises causes us to adopt a conclusion cannot be coherently conceived of in terms of physical cause-and-effect alone. In C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea, Victor Reppert maintains that the argument still poses a strong challenge to naturalism. However, Richard Carrier has attempted to refute Reppert's version of the AfR by invoking developments in cognitive science and computational theory. In this essay Darek Barefoot argues that advances in cognitive science do not affect the AfR since there is an absolute conceptual divide between rational mental causes and physical computational ones. Furthermore, if the AfR is successful, it reveals that rationality is fundamental to the universe, not simply a by-product of physical cause-and-effect; and this, in turn, is readily explicable on theism, but problematic for naturalism.
June 23, 2007
Added The Ten Commandments Are Not Part of Our Secular Legal Heritage (2007) by Mike Davis to the Secular Web Kiosk.
"Controversies over the display of the Ten Commandments on public property generally do not focus on religious issues. More often, the justification is based on the supposed role of the Ten Commandments in the secular development of Western, and specifically American, legal principles. But did the Ten Commandments really play any role in the founding principles of our legal system? The obvious conclusion is that the Ten Commandments of the Hebrew Bible do not form any part of our Western legal heritage."
June 19, 2007
Added Review of Warranted Christian Belief (2002) by Tyler Wunder to the Alvin Plantinga section of the Christian Apologetics and Apologists page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.
Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief is the capstone to the latest stage in his views on the intellectual credibility of theism in general, and Christian theism in particular. While Plantinga's stature in the community of Christian philosophers alone makes gaining familiarity with this text a good idea for contemporary analytic philosophers of religion, its vigorous, innovative defense of specifically Christian theism and daring suggestions for renovating the landscape of analytic philosophy of religion merit serious consideration. I aim to provide a useful introduction to the book's contents and critique some of its main claims.
June 17, 2007
In Atheism in the Third Millennium, Kim Walker argues that atheism would benefit from having its own culture, its own songs, stories, heroes, celebrations, rituals, sanctuaries, symbols and monuments reflecting the atheist lifestyle. Walker says that a "lack of cultural depth" holds atheists back, despite the intellectual merits of atheism itself. Kuchar thinks this view of atheism rests on some confusions, that whether a culture is called atheistic isn't nearly as important as whether the culture is in fact a counterpart of atheism.
June 10, 2007
Added Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2007) by Daniel C. Dennett to the Secular Web Bookstore.
Dennett hopes that this book will be read not just by atheists and agnostics but by the religiously faithful--and that they will come to see the wisdom of analyzing their deepest beliefs scientifically, weeding out the harmful from the good. The spell he hopes to break, he suggests, is not religious belief itself but the conviction that its details are off-limits to scientific inquiry, taboo. "I appreciate that many readers will be profoundly distrustful of the tack I am taking here," he writes. "They will see me as just another liberal professor trying to cajole them out of some of their convictions, and they are dead right about that--that's what I am, and that's exactly what I am trying to do."
June 5, 2007
"Scriptures were written in the context of a particular preexisting language and culture; only if we appreciate those linguistic and cultural traditions can we understand their scriptures as part of their mythology. I think that when humanity reaches the stage of mental growth and cultural evolution when most people can understand scriptures as folklore and not as divine revelations, can view them as mythology rather than stories, and can differentiate facts from fiction, there might be more wisdom and peace and fewer conflicts and holy wars in this world." - Khalid Sohail
June 1, 2007
The Left, unashamedly, allies itself with Islamists in North America in the name of politically correct cultural relativism that says that the social and moral values of immigrants should be interpreted in the terms of the culture they have migrated from. It is quite ironic that the Left that is in constant struggle against the Christian Right on issues like abortion, gay marriage, teaching evolution in public schools, etc. is engaged in this unholy alliance with Islamists who have an identical social agenda as the Christian Right.
In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West. Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali's story tells how a bright little girl evolved out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no story could be timelier or more significant.
From the Library: Review of Hector Avalos' Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2006) by Kenneth Krause
Hector Avalos' Fighting Words adds organization, scholarly research, and coherent theory to the phenomenon of religiously inspired violence. Analyzing religious violence in terms of "scarce resource theory," Avalos argues that sacred spaces and authoritative scriptures constitute scarce resources accessible to, controlled by, or interpreted by only a few. Competition for these resources, or for group privilege and salvation, inevitably leads to violence which is only that much more tragic because of the unverifiability of the very existence of such resources. Failure to recognize the authority of, or correctly interpret or observe, a particular sacred text creates the potential for bloodshed; and Judaism, Christianity, and Islam's soteriological justifications for violence only exacerbate its realization.