What's New Archive ● 2017 ● August
What's New on the Secular Web?
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August 25, 2017
Added A Sympathetic Critique of a Socratic Argument for Atheism (2017) by Stephen Sullivan to the Logical Arguments for Atheism page under Arguments for Atheism, as well as the Moral Arguments and Divine Command Theory pages under Arguments for the Existence of a God in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.
Does God command what is morally right because it is right, or is it right because God commands it? If God commands what is right because it is right, then rightness appears to be determined by moral standards that are independent of God's commands, and that God himself is morally required to obey, calling into question his status as Supreme Being. On the other hand, if what is right is right because God commands it, then there are no moral constraints on what God commands, rendering morality completely arbitrary: even horrific actions would be deemed right. This modernized Euthyphro dilemma can be converted into an argument against the existence of the God of traditional monotheism, a sovereign creator. Although this Socratic argument does not refute God's existence as a Supreme Being, it nevertheless underscores a serious challenge to theists who argue that morality requires the truth of theism.
"The Anthropic Principle: Too Clever by Half" argues that Christians' effort to fall back on the anthropic principle to defend their concept of God falls short not only on scientific grounds, as Victor Stenger and others have pointed out, but on moral grounds as well.
Recommended reading from the Bookstore: The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us (2011) by Victor J. Stenger.
Drawing on the findings of modern physics and cosmology, numerous authors have argued that it would have taken only slight changes to some of the universe's physical parameters to make life, as we know it, extremely unlikely or even impossible. But does the seemingly "fine-tuned" nature of the universe also suggest that there must be a creator god who intentionally calibrated the initial conditions of the universe to assure that life on Earth and the evolution of humanity would inevitably emerge? Some influential scientists, such as National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, think so. Others go even further, asserting that science "has found God." But physicist Victor J. Stenger looks at the same body of evidence and comes to the opposite conclusion. After many years of research in particle physics and cosmology and careful thought about their implications, he finds that the observations of science and our naked senses not only show no evidence for God, they provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that God does not exist.
August 3, 2017
Added Hume's Maxim: How a "Trivial Truth" is Too Strong for Christian Apologetics (2017) by Aron Lucas to the Argument from Miracles and Resurrection pages, as well as the William Lane Craig, Stephen T. Davis, and J. P. Moreland pages under Criticisms of Christian Apologetics and Apologists in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.
In Hume's Abject Failure, philosopher John Earman argues that David Hume's famous maxim that no testimony is sufficient to establish that a miracle has occurred unless its falsehood would be more miraculous than the miracle itself is just a trivial tautology, namely that we should not believe a miracle claim unless the evidence makes it more probable than not. But even if this interpretation is correct, contemporary Christian apologists fail to satisfy Hume's purportedly obvious condition that it must be more probable that a miracle occurred than that it did not occur when they argue that the miraculous resurrection of Jesus probably occurred.
Recommended reading from the Bookstore: Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn't Need a Miracle to Succeed (2009) by Richard Carrier.
Not the Impossible Faith is a tour de force, dissecting and refuting the oft-repeated claim that Christianity could not have succeeded in the ancient world unless it were true. Dr. Carrier surveys a whole range of topics regarding the origin of Christianity and its cultural context, demonstrating that its success has entirely natural explanations and nothing to do with whether its supernatural claims were true. Written with occasional humor and an easy style, thoroughly referenced, and with many entertaining "gotcha!" moments, Not the Impossible Faith is a must-read for anyone interested in the origins of Christianity.