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Psychology is Not a Science—But Fear Not

In this article, Justin Ykema argues that psychology fails to meet the criteria necessary to qualify as an empirical science. Particularly problematic is how psychology could ever fulfill those criteria centered around the concepts of testability and reproducibility. However, this controversial conclusion should not be taken to imply that psychology has nothing to offer that is worthy of study. On the contrary, Ykema argues, psychology can thrive as a discipline centered on the statistical analysis of the data collected by psychologists, but as more of a mathematical pursuit than a scientific one.

Does God Exist?

Does God exist? Perhaps, if you mean something metaphorical by "God," you might be able to honestly answer in the affirmative. Otherwise, the most we can say is "I don't know." But honest people can go farther and say that the existence of unseen spirits is unlikely. When you get down to it, the only evidence of God's existence is that holy men, past and present, say he exists. But if their assertions about God are as valid as their assertions about witches, their trillion-dollar empires rest on fantasy.

Trust Science

Science's answers to the ultimate mysteries of existence are almost as baffling and logic-defying as the mumbo-jumbo of churches. They can seem nearly as absurd as the miracle claims of religion. But there's a crucial difference: science is honest. Nothing is accepted on blind faith. Every claim is challenged, tested, double-tested, and triple-tested until it fails or survives. New evidence often alters former conclusions. Honest thinkers have little choice but to trust science as the only reliable search for believable answers.

The Nature of Information: A Doorway to a Postreligious World

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?

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Cornerback

"One huge problem I have with football (one that certainly crops up elsewhere in our society) is the preponderance of players and coaches who continually invoke the Almighty as a major force in their lives, and in the progress of their careers. Certainly if they're hell-bent, so to speak, on deluding themselves about the nature of the universe and their place in it, that's their own affair. But at the start of the 2009 season, I noticed yet another reminder about the level many football players (and other athletes, to be sure) are willing to take this nonsense to."

Is Consciousness Emergent? A Test to Prove It

The question is, how does consciousness arise in biological systems? There are at least two theories that account for consciousness. One is the idea that something is added to the body—an élan vital, a soul, or an independent mind (mind/body dualism). The other idea is that complexity (i.e., consciousness) emerges from the interactions of simple parts. Is there a way to choose one of these as being correct? Yes, by hypothesizing an emergent consciousness in a system that is not yet conscious—the computer. If we hypothesize that consciousness will emerge in a computer, given enough component parts, we can determine by rigorous testing if the hypothesis is proved. If the test proves that consciousness emerges in a computer, we will have proved that a soul is not necessary for consciousness—neither in computers nor in humans.

Sentience Not Explained

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.

Moral Relativism and the Catholic Church

Although the church's animosity toward the concept of moral relativism has achieved a great deal of press coverage, there has been reluctance by the media to state the obvious: the Catholic Church has engaged in moral relativism repeatedly throughout its history. Calls for moral absolutism will only slow the increasing sexual and social freedom of women, the recognition of equality for homosexuals, and the advancement of science. If history is any guide, the church will eventually be forced to reinvent itself once more and embrace modern moral judgments regarding these issues. At which point, no doubt, the church will pretend it never believed anything different, and insist that its current moral beliefs are absolute and represent the unchanging truth as given by god.

Predicting Modern Science: Epicurus vs. Mohammed

Michael Corey claimed in a recent debate that the Koran predicted the expanding universe. But did it? Only if you employ a liberal reading of the original text. Carrier uses the same interpretive methods on the poetry of Lucretius to show that Epicurus was a far more amazing prophet of modern science than Mohammed. Yet if Mohammed really had a pipeline to God, surely he would have done better than a mere mortal who used nothing more than human reason and observation.

Review of Massimo Pigliucci’s Denying Evolution

"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."

Animal and Extraterrestrial Artifacts: Intelligently Designed?

The "Intelligent Design" movement claims that the scientific community has neglected the possibility that the features of living things are the product of intelligent design. Although the intelligent-design hypothesis is sometimes viewed as a Trojan horse for introducing certain theological hypotheses into science, intelligent design can be performed by entities that are both nonhuman and nontheological, and the scientific community has actually dealt with several important examples of these.

The Rationalistic Fallacy

In this first column titled "Rationally Speaking", Massimo Pigliucci addresses the allure of pseudoscience. If you insist in thinking that all you need to do is to explain things just a little bit better and people will see the light, you are committing what is knows as the "rationalistic fallacy."