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May 1, 2023

Added Christian vs. Survivalist Apologetics (2023) by Keith Augustine to the Empirical Arguments section of the Life after Death/Immortality page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

In a 2022 critique of the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies essay competition on the “best” evidence for life after death (“the survival of human consciousness”) and in replies to two commentaries on it, Keith Augustine made passing reference to the parallels between the arguments provided by survival researchers—psychical researchers ostensibly investigating evidence for an afterlife using scientific best practices—and the well-worn fallacies repeatedly committed by creationists and other Christian apologists. In this essay, Augustine highlights several parallel fallacious arguments found among both those at the forefront of “scientific” research into an afterlife and those engaged in Christian apologetics.

New in the Kiosk: Does God Exist? A Definitive Biblical Case (2023) by John W. Loftus

Atheist philosophers of religion try to disprove the existence of the Christian God by arguing against the philosophical proofs put forth for it. This is okay as it goes, but it overlooks the fact that Christians will just come up with different conceptions of “God” in response, despite the fact that these new conceptions are foreign to the gods we find in the Bible.

In this essay atheist John Loftus argues that there is a better approach, one that changed his own mind back when he was a Christian apologist himself. This (shockingly novel) approach involves simply taking the Bible seriously. When we take the Bible at its word, we find that the Judeo-Christian God had a complex evolution over the centuries from Elohim, to Yahweh, to Jesus, and then finally to the god of the philosophers, without the original gods having been credited with any merit.

Recommended reading: Dark Data: Why What You Don’t Know Matters (2022) by David J. Hand

In the era of big data, it is easy to imagine that we have all the information we need to make good decisions. But in fact the data we have are never complete, and may be only the tip of the iceberg. Just as much of the universe is composed of dark matter, invisible to us but nonetheless present, the universe of information is full of dark data that we overlook at our peril. In Dark Data, data expert David Hand takes us on a fascinating and enlightening journey into the world of the data that we don’t see. Dark Data explores the many ways in which we can be blind to missing data and how that can lead us to conclusions and actions that are mistaken, dangerous, or even disastrous. Examining a wealth of real-life examples, from the Challenger shuttle explosion to complex financial frauds, Hand gives us a practical taxonomy of the types of dark data that exist and the situations in which they can arise, so that we can learn to recognize and control for them. In doing so, he teaches us not only to be alert to the problems presented by the things we don’t know, but also shows how dark data can be used to our advantage, leading to greater understanding and better decisions. We all make decisions using data. Dark Data shows us all how to reduce the risk of making bad ones.

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