Ross Douthat is a conservative American writer whose recent opinion piece in the New York Times constitutes a digest of present-day Christian apologetics, one written by a respected layman and published on the front page of a major newspaper. As such, that piece cries out for a reply. This essay thus constitutes Michael Reynolds' response to and analysis of the common apologetic themes that Douthat parrots.
Atheism is not a worldview and provides no understanding of the nature of the universe; it is simply a denial of the existence of God and it is essentially useless as a contribution to our understanding of the world. So, the question arises—if there is no God, what is the nature of the universe and how can we understand it and our place in it?
Daniel C. Dennett has provided a valuable insight into the operation of the conscious mind in his book, Consciousness Explained. This work demolishes the fallacy of the Cartesian Theater and replaces it with a scientifically verifiable Multiple Drafts model. Dennett disqualifies the mystery of qualia but conspicuously neglects the much greater mystery of sentience. Most interestingly, he not only acknowledges sentience in his later book, Kinds of Minds, but also admits to both its great moral implications and lack of present explanation. This discussion is not intended as a book review but rather as a critique of Dennett's claim that anything fitting his Multiple Drafts model is conscious in the fullest sense.
Is God smiling on you? It is evident by how prosperous you have been in the world. According to some believers, God grants material rewards to the faithful. No material rewards? Then that's your own fault.
Could a materialist believe in a Heaven and a Hell? Greenblatt argues that an infinity of unspeakable torment and an infinity of amazing happiness can be deduced strictly from materialist cosmology.