At a time when brutal leaders ruled according to the divine right of kings and serfs approximated slaves, intolerance fostered by the union of church and state led to the execution or jailing of heretics representing a threat to state power. But more than three centuries ago, chiefly in England and France, an epoch now known as the Enlightenment broke forth, spawning ideas that later grew into what we now call modern liberalism. The Enlightenment roused a new way of thinking: a sense that all people should have some control over their lives, a voice in their own destiny. Absolute power of authorities—either on the throne or in the cathedral—was challenged. Reformers sought to improve society and benefit nearly everyone using human reason and the scientific method. It is from this Enlightment spirit that the freedoms enjoyed across modern liberal democracies today sprouted, projecting a model for humane, safe, and fair treatment.
In this paper John Loftus aims to expose the special pleading inherent in William Lane Craig's psychic (or spirit-guided) epistemology. After questioning the need for apologetics and warning about the monumental challenges to it, Loftus urges Christian apologists to become honest life-long seekers of the truth, to get a good education in a good field of study, to accept nothing less than sufficient objective evidence, and especially to determine how to know which religion to defend. He then goes on to sharply contrast these recommendations with the modus operandi of today's Christian apologists.
René Descartes searched for certain knowledge, a goal that was long ago abandoned by most philosophers. But a lack of certainty does little to undercut the need for sufficient evidence before accepting a proposition about the nature of our experience in this world. All we need to do is think inductively rather than deductively, think exclusively in terms of probabilities, and understand that when speaking of sufficient evidence what is meant is evidence plus reasoning based on that evidence. I know as sure as I can know anything that there is a material world and that I can reasonably trust my senses. I conclude that the scientific method is our only sure way for assessing truth claims.
A popular advocacy video on YouTube attempting to rebut arguments from evil has been disseminating among Christian religious organizations for about a decade. In an attempt to show that arguments from evil for the nonexistence of God fail, the video likens them to arguments from (human) longhairs to the nonexistence of barbers. In this article, James R. Henderson refutes the suggested theodicy that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good God allows apparently gratuitous evils to occur because God wants more human beings to come to Him of their own free will.
Ritual is one of the most universally enjoyed human experiences, but it is often tangled up in supernatural claims that are insulting to our intelligence. Hiram Crespo, founder of the Society of Friends of Epicurus, discusses how the contractarian theory of Epicurean philosophy may be applied to the creation of rites of passage that retain their utility while being purged from superstition.
In this article explaining why he self-identifies as a humanist, Leslie Allan first explains what he found attractive enough about humanism to adopt its label. Then he outlines what he takes to be humanism's three guiding principles. Finally, he explores a humanist view of what gives our lives meaning and purpose.
We unsure people are doomed to be seekers, always searching for a meaning to life, but never quite finding one. Both the cosmos and our biosphere seem utterly indifferent to humanity, caring not a whit whether we live or die. Only a monster would arrange the monstrosities too often found in our world, and do nothing to save the victims. So common sense proves that the beneficent modern God is a fantasy who doesn't exist. We who are not orthodox religious believers can't find any underlying reason for existence. And we know that death looms ahead. So we must make the interval as enjoyable as possible, while we're here.
Monotheists believe that a purposeful being (God) created the universe. But why did he create it? In this essay Michael D. Reynolds aims to show that there is no plausible answer, and that there are cogent reasons why God would not have desired to make a universe.
Is life meaningless without God and a divine plan? In this essay, Chege tackles the age-old question of whether the apparent lack of a divine plan for mankind necessarily leads to nihilism. He argues that man-made goals are capable of fulfilling the same role as the belief in a divine plan, but by promising a greater life in this world rather than in the next.
Hiram Crespo discusses "The Four Cures" which are at the heart of the doctrine of Epicurus of Samos. He invites you to study Epicurus, and to engage yourself and others in philosophical discourse. He promises that your life will be enriched as a result.
Over the centuries, secular philosophers and humanist psychologists have been laying the foundations of secular ethics and humanist philosophy. In the 21st century, people have a choice: to follow the traditions of monotheistic religions or adopt the secular traditions of modern science and psychology, medicine and philosophy.
"This is what I know. God is man-made. The Bible is composite literature composed by superstitious men. Religion is a human construct. This does not mean that I do not understand mankind's need to invent God or god(s) and religion. I can comprehend the human psychology of spirituality and the need for an ultimate reality. In Wittgenstein's words the concept of God and religion is a language game."
We humans have long been haunted by the awareness of our own mortality. In the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, the alewife Siduri warns Gilgamesh that his quest for eternal life is certain to end in failure. In a similar vein to Siduri, Albert Camus the famous French-Algerian existentialist thinker and author, depicted human existence as a futile labour of Sisyphus. In our view, the philosophy of Siduri and Camus is a philosophy of despair and surrender which is based on a view of human existence as a closed circle. We believe that the human journey is an open-ended and not a closed-ended affair, and that there's a good chance that the fate of our species lies not in the hands of the gods but in our own hands!
Does reality include a supernatural realm, inhabited by God and, perhaps, other spiritual beings? Or is the familiar natural world all there is to it? If there is a supernatural world, how do we relate to it? Are we composite creatures with souls as well as bodies? Is it possible that our souls live on after our bodies are no more? Or is physical death the end? What is the nature of the free will that we commonly suppose ourselves to enjoy during our sojourn here on earth? Do we in fact have free will? Or are our lives little more than pointless scribbles on the fabric of the universe, as devoid of real significance as scratches on a piece of glaciated rock?
A popular theistic "explanation" for why God would permit even a slim evidential basis for atheism goes something like this: "God does not give us absolute proof because this would work against our free will. He gives us just enough evidence so that we can find Him and just enough to reject His existence if that is our desire." But is this reasonable? Kuchar says not.
"Denying Evolution is about a cultural war that is currently being fought between conservative and progressive worldviews, but this book is not apologetic. It describes the limitations of science as a philosophy and a human endeavor, yet continually stresses that science is a process that has contributed to the quality of life that our society enjoys today. Denying Evolution is an honest, insightful critique about science, its limitations, and the perpetrators of the creation-evolution debate. The book clearly outlines the strategies and motivation of those who seek to destroy science."
Professor Pigliucci describes why a Bayesian description of the scientific enterprise -- while not devoid of problems and critics -- is revealing itself to be a tantalizing tool for both scientists, in their everyday practice, and for philosophers, as a more realistic way of thinking about science as a process.
This essay considers whether life is inherently meaningless if death is the permanent end of our conscious existence and our lives are not part of a higher purpose. If a sentient God existed, Augustine argues, then the value that he would attribute to our lives would not be the same as the value that we find in living and thus would be irrelevant. Therefore, we must create our own meaning for our lives regardless of whether or not our lives serve some higher purpose.
Huddleston questions Still's philosophical assault on the notion of life after death. If one understands this life as a time of soul-making, then our earthly life is neither purposeless nor overshadowed by the afterlife to come.
We tumble into the world without purpose and when we leave it we are gone forever. But I still believe that, rightly examined and understood, we can experience eternal life.