What's New on the Secular Web?
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November 21, 2012
New in the Kiosk: The Argument from Degrees of Perfection: Less Than Perfect (2012) by James R. Henderson
"Aquinas' Fourth Way of proving god's existence, the Argument from Degrees of Perfection (ADP), has a long history and dates back at least as far as Augustine of Hippo. It's crucial premise, that all sequences that may be ordered are embedded on a scale that has least and greatest elements, is called into question. I argue that this premise is stronger than is necessary for the ADP to carry the day, but even if one grants the truth of it, the ADP goes nowhere in showing that anything like a god as commonly conceived actually exists. Concentration is given to a modern form of the argument given by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli."
November 17, 2012
Former Catholic priest and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll's Practicing Catholic enlightens us about the evolution of Catholic teachings on salvation for non-Catholics, the growing support for progressive Catholic attitudes under Pope John XXIII, and the reactionary backsliding that has occurred under John Paul II and Benedictus XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). But Carroll barely defends his own pro-life stance on abortion and ignores altogether the moderate position that Catholic liberals have defended for decades. In theology, his view that God is unknowable conflicts with his claim that evidence-transcendent faith can count as knowledge, and he never explains (without begging the question) how faith that willfully goes beyond available evidence can be cognitively rational, let alone constitute knowledge. Nevertheless, though his faith is not cognitively rational because it is not well-grounded in evidence, it may well be practically rational to the extent that it plays an important role in his own overall well-being.
November 8, 2012
"Understanding evolution is the key to determining our planet's future." In this persuasive, elegantly written book, research geneticist Daniel J. Fairbanks argues that understanding evolution has never mattered more in human history. Fairbanks not only uses evidence from archaeology, geography, anatomy, biochemistry, radiometric dating, cell biology, chromosomes, and DNA to establish the inescapable conclusion that we evolved and are still evolving, he also explains in detail how health, food production, and human impact on the environment are dependent on our knowledge of evolution. Evolving is essential reading for gaining a fuller appreciation of who we are, our place in the great expanse of life, and the importance of our actions.
November 1, 2012
Once again a news magazine has published an article that "demands an answer." This time a disease-induced hallucination is being propped up on a frame labeled "Science" and sold to the credulous public. Under the guise of science, the article is a regression to the body-mind dualism that since antiquity has distorted humankind's understanding of itself and of the universe. Here, as usual, the chief incentive is the lust for persistence of one's precious ego after death, and the secondary motive is a wish for a gift of unending bliss—both selfish urges.