Friday, April 30, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: Affirming the Consequent

We left off at our examination of premise A-5 (See here to read the argument stated completely).

The conclusion of Syllogism A follows necessarily from the previous premises, so we won't bother disputing it.

The first premise of Syllogism B is: "Theories which predict a very specific state of affairs (which would otherwise have a low probability of occurring) gain probability for themselves when this state of affairs is verified." Those who are not scientific realists may wish to dispute this. They would say that this premise is the fallacy of affirming the consequent. The fallacy occurs when someone reasons that "If A occurred, we should observe B. We observe B. Therefore, A occurred." Put in less abstract terms, we could see this type of argument as follows: "If Ryan won the lottery, he should have a brand new car (we know that one of the first things Ryan would do if he won the lottery is buy a new car). Ryan has a new car. Therefore, Ryan won the lottery." The problem is that the cause of Ryan's new car could be a lot of things besides winning the lottery. Maybe he won a new car from a contest held by a local radio station. Maybe he simply went out and bought it, in spite of the financial pain it would cause him. And so on and so on.

Here's a comment I left on commonsense atheism which explains my views on this:

I don’t think affirming the consequent is always fallacious. On page 207 of “29 Evidences for MacroEvolution” Douglas Theobald states:

“all scientific conclusions rely upon the fallacy of affirming the consequent, and in doing so they rely upon inductive extrapolation.”

But of course it would be absurd to say that scientific conclusions are therefore untrustworthy.
You know, I’ve read that Bayes’ Theorem logically proves “that a hypothesis is confirmed by any body of data that its truth renders probable”

But the problem is that even if when we take all the theories that we are aware of and see which one renders the evidence we have most probable, in most cases it will not be possible to become aware of all the logically possible theories that could explain the evidence, and therefore we can’t know if there is a better theory that we have yet to think of.

A good example is the alleged “fine tuning” of the laws of physics. It is quite concievable that tomorrow someone will come up with a new account of the fine tuning that no one else thought of. Especially in light of the fact that so many accounts of the fine-tuning — Like Smolin’s cosmological natural selection and Paul Davies’ observer selection conjecture — wouldn’t have been the kind of things I would have ever concieved of before I had heard of them.
So, even if we were able to say that Cosmological Natural Selection (for example) was the most probable explanation for the fine-tuning, we’d have to keep in mind that it is only the most probable KNOWN explanation, because there maybe another theory that is even more probable which we are not yet aware of.

So, how can we be justified in believing scientific conclusions? Are we justified in believing them at all? I think so. I define a belief as a proposition which one thinks and acts as if true. A belief is a proposition which you RELY UPON to be true. And what better proposition to rely upon than the best known explanation [of whatever phenomenon]?

If you’re in a position where you need to choose a theory to rely on (as scientists are, often times) then why not rely on the best explanation found to date? That’s my solution to the problem.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Noah's Ark Discovered Again

Livescience has a great article about the latest attempt to claim concrete proof for the mythical sea vessel.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Creationists on Apes and Humans

Panda's Thumb has a really good blog post about creationists' attempts to classify new transitional fossils as 'completely ape' or 'completely human'. Must read here:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: The Principle of Indifference

This is the sixth installment of my blog series "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument" in which I take a look at the notorious Principle of Indifference and how important it is to the argument.

If you take a look at The Argument Stated, you'll see that the premises stated up to this point (if they are valid, but I've shown already that there are doubts about that, see here) establish that only a small set of the different combinations of possible values for the laws of physics make life possible. Picture each physical constant as a dial (like on a radio). The physical constants of the universe can be thought of as dials which can be set to different values. Out of all the concievable dial settings, only a few dial settings make the universe life friendly. But does that mean that a life friendly universe is improbable?

That depends on whether or not we believe the Principle of Indifference (PI) is valid. What is PI? The PI basically states that when we should assign all possibilities an equal probability unless we have evidence/argument to show that the probability assignment should be different. I find this principle highly intuitive, and I also think that it can be shown to be logically valid: If we feel that we should raise the assigned probability of some outcome to a higher (or lower) level when we have evidence that it is more (or less) likely to occur than other possibilities, then the converse of that is the principal of indifference: when we do NOT have evidence that some outcome is more/less likely to occur than others, we do NOT assign it a higher/lower probability than other outcomes, which means that we can only assign it an equal probability.

Now, some have tried to disprove PI by arguing that its application leads to contradictory probability assignments. For example, suppose that I own a square tile making factory. I ask you to guess the length of the side and the area of my tiles. I help you out by telling you that the square tiles have a side length between 1 and 3 inches and an area between 1 and 9 square inches. Applying PI, you realize that there is a 50% chance of the side length being between 1 and 2 inches, which would mean that there is a 50% chance of the area being between 1 and 4 square inches. But wait a minute: if you had applied PI to the area of the square (between 1 and 9 inches) you would have found that there was a 50% chance the area was between 1 and 4.5 inches. So the PI leads to contradictory probability assignments: in this case, it leads you to assign a 50% to square area between 1 and 4 and also a 50% chance to square area between 1 and 4.5. So should we reject PI?

I don't think so. As I've stated before on this blog, I think Ofra Magidor got it right when he characterized the PoI as an action guiding principle and said of it:

"It seems to me perfectly reasonable that an action guiding principle will give me some recommendation as to how to act. It may not suggest a unique course of action, nor does it have to be the only action guiding principle I am using."

Exactly. Using inductive reasoning can lead us to contradictory conclusions too, but we know better than to reject it. For example, someone may reason inductively that the sun always rises and always will rise, because it always has in the past. But we know (from laws of physics that we discovered inductively, through repeated observation) that one day the sun will cease to rise, for it will have burned out. Now, you may argue that elementary physical laws have been observed more than the sun's rising, and therefore there is a stronger case to be made that physical laws are constant. I'd agree with you, but you should concede the point that it is possible, at least in principle, for induction to lead to contradictory conclusions, since we might have an equal amount of inductive evidence in favor of two different, contradictory scenarios.

But there are other problems with the alleged 'disproof' of PI. I won't go into them here, perhaps I will in a later blog post.

Another question that must be asked is, "must the fine-tuning argument assume PI in order to be valid?" One answer is that the fine-tuning argument might appeal to a more well-developed version of PI than the crude version I presented here. Several philosophers have formulated versions of PI designed to avoid paradoxes like the one I described above [1].

Another answer is that the argument could simply say something like "Theism gives us reason to expect a life-friendly universe as much, much more probable than any other. Atheism does not give us a reason to think a life-friendly universe is probable. Therefore, it seems reasonable to suppose that fine-tuning is more probable (to some unknown degree) on theism than on atheism."

I suppose this is reasonable, the reasoning described here doesn't exactly rely on PI. However, it greatly weakens the argument. Most proponents of fine-tuning try to argue that the odds of a life-friendly universe are damn-near zero unless we suppose God exists. But this modified version of the argument only claims to have given the God hypothesis some vague and undetermined degree of support. We can't determine whether fine-tuning adds a neglible amount of support to the God hypothesis or an enormous amount. And that doesn't make the argument look strong at all.

Of course, my conclusion is that the Principle of Indifference is right. Fine-tuning proponents will recieve no complaint from me in their use of it. Besides, it's going to come back and bite them in the ass in a later post. ; )


[1] For example, Paul Castell "A Consistent Restriction of the Principle of Indifference" British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (3):387-395. (1998).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Update your Bookmarks / Site Changes

As many of you know, I have two websites in addition to this blog: a website called AiGbusted (which is NOT the same as this blog, but merely houses a lot of articles I have written over the years) and my GodRiddance website.

Overtime, these websites have gotten less and less views, partially because AiGBusted is just an old housing for some of my classic blog posts and because GodRiddance changed into mostly just a website to promote my book Atheism and Naturalism. GodRiddance used to have lots of articles about the arguments for and against the existence of God, but after I released my book I decided to just take them down. They were nothing but old drafts of the material in Atheism and Naturalism.

Anyway, instead of and, I've decided to just have them hosted through synthasite's free hosting program. So AigB and Godriddance dot com are now found at:


Hope this doesn't cause any inconvenience.

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: A Concern About Methodology

This is the fifth installment of my blog series "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument". For an introduction to what this series is about, see the index here. It is well-worth reading the first two posts listed there before jumping into this one.

UPDATE: I read a series of criticisms of physicist Victor Stenger which reprimanded some of Stenger's criticisms of the argument (which I referenced in my series). Click here to read the first part of those criticisms. Anyway, I believe some of these criticisms of Stenger are valid, not least because Stenger himself seemed to implicitly agree with me when I emailed him about it (in the email Stenger said that his upcoming book The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning would update his criticisms of the argument).

Let us return to premise A-2 in the fine-tuning argument:

"Conceptually changing some constants from their observed values (independently) would make the universe uninhabitable for life as we know it. NOTE: What I mean by changing 'independently' is when someone changes the constant value in their equation without changing the value(s) of any other constants."

The methodology used by many proponents of the fine-tuning argument is to take one constant value and alter its value in the equations while not changing any of the other constant values in the equations. Here's a hypothetical (and simple) example: Let's say that we have five forces (which I will refer to as A, B, C, D, and E). Let's also say that we observe that in our universe the value of each constant is 42. Now, let's say that a scientist comes along and tells us that when he changes force A's value from 42 to 43 (while in his equations keeping the observed value of 42 for forces B, C, D, and E) it makes the universe unfit for life. He observes that changing the force's value to any number between 1 and 100 (while using the observed value of 42 for forces B-E in his equations) makes the universe unfit for life. Would the scientist be correct in asserting that the value of force A is 'fine-tuned' for life and was unlikely to come about by chance?

No. The correct procedure that the scientist should follow, if he is trying to determine what the odds are against a life friendly universe coming about chance are, is this: he should allow the values of all the forces to vary at the same time in his equations. For example, he should randomly plug in different values for the 5 forces, so that his equations would look something like this:

Hypothetical Universe #1
A=23 B=61 C=70 D=99 E=44

Hypothetical Universe #2
A=70 B=5 C=49 D=2 E=28

Hypothetical Universe #3
A=6 B=90 C=51 D=8 E=80

Some scientists (like Victor Stenger) have made this point themselves and carried out studies in which they used the correct methodology I outlined above[1]. Victor Stenger did a study in which he plugged random values into six different physical constants that are responsible for star formation*. He found that nearly 20% of the hypothetical universes in his study were life-friendly. This is still somewhat improbable, but nonetheless this is valuable because it really cuts the odds down to size. Often design proponents will try and argue that the odds against a life friendly universe are less than one in a billion billion billion billion billion (no exaggeration). But in Stenger's study, the odds turn out to be more like one in five. Other studies have come to similar conclusions[2].

Of course, until studies are carried out with all of the different constants claimed to be necessary to life, we won't be able to claim that they will turn out just as those studies have. Nor will proponents of the fine-tuning argument be able to claim that other studies will not turn out like the ones above, at least not until the studies are done and we know for sure. A state of ignorance is not evidence for either side.

Nontheless, these studies are important for the reasons stated above: they really cut the fine-tuning argument down to size by making a life-friendly universe much, much more probable than was expected.

Notes and References

* Life-friendliness is assumed to depend on star formation because star formation is necessary for forming heavy elements and basically for having chemistry in the universe, which I think are reasonable assumptions about what is necessary for life.

[1] See Stenger's webpage on the subject, or chapter 5 of God: The Failed Hypothesis.

[2] For example, See:

A. Aguire, “Cold Big Bang Cosmology as a counterexample to several anthropic arguments”, Phys. Rev. D 64, Issue 8, (2001): 1-13.


Fred C. Adams, "Stars In Other Universes: Stellar structure with different fundamental constants" Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, Issue 08, pp.1-29 (2008).

This article in New Scientist gives a good run-down of what the paper is about.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jerry Coyne Reviews 'Greatest Show' and 'What Darwin Got Wrong'

Especially interesting is pages 3 and 4 of his review.

Also, Richard Carrier posted an article he wrote called "The Twelve Axioms of the Historical Method". Very Interesting read, especially for those eagerly awaiting his upcoming book On The Historicity of Jesus Christ in which he will argue that Jesus is a mythical character.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: Other Forms of Life?

Let us once again look at the first four statements of the fine-tuning argument:

1. It is conceptually possible to change physical laws and constants from observed values.

2. Conceptually changing some constants from their observed values (independently) would make the universe uninhabitable for life as we know it. NOTE: What I mean by changing "independently" is when someone changes the constant value in their equation without changing the value(s) of any other constants.

3. The constants have an extremely large range of conceptually possible values.

4. Therefore, the number of values that permit life is very small.

Obviously, "life as we know it" (Premise 2) is not necessarily the same as life period. After all, there could be very different forms of life in a universe with different constant values. This certainly seems to undercut the vast majority of fine-tuning arguments. However, William Lane Craig, in his debate with Victor Stenger, brings up the point that some of the 'finely tuned' constants have to do with whether chemistry would exist or not (and it is certainly a reasonable assumption that all forms of life will depend on a pre-existent chemistry) and so the 'other forms of life' argument, while weakening the fine-tuning argument considerably, does not quite destroy it, for there is still some fine-tuning to be explained.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: My First Objections

This is the third installment of my blog series "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument" in which I examine the notion that there might just be one type of universe that is mathematically consistent.

Let's take a look at the first four statements of the fine-tuning argument:

1. It is conceptually possible to change physical laws and constants from observed values.

2. Conceptually changing some constants from their observed values (independently) would make the universe uninhabitable for life as we know it. NOTE: What I mean by changing "independently" is when someone changes the constant value in their equation without changing the value(s) of any other constants.

3. The constants have an extremely large range of conceptually possible values.

4. Therefore, the number of values that permit life is very small.

The problem with this argument lies with (4) being drawn from (1), (2), and (3). Although it may be conceptually possible (premise one) to change physical values from their observed values, that does not imply that it is logically (or physically) possible (as stated in premise 4). Here's an example: If I ask you what 1048 plus 69 is, you probably would not know off the top of your head, and so it would seem "possible" in your mind that the correct answer is 1107 when actually the answer is 1117 and could not be otherwise out of mathematical necessity. Likewise, the values of the constants might be what they are out of mathematical necessity (what if there is some fundamental mathematical principle that determines them all?) even though we don't see how. Of course, we have no proof that this is the case, so perhaps it would better to think of what I just stated as the "mathematical necessity" hypothesis (a possible explanation which may or may not be true) and to compare it to the God hypothesis at a later date. Nevertheless, we still have a valid objection to the fine-tuning argument, even if it is somewhat weak, in my opinion.

Robin Collins, a well-known proponent of the fine-tuning argument, has this to say about the above objection:

"[T]he problem with postulating such a law is that it simply moves the improbability of the fine-tuning up one level, to that of the postulated physical law itself. As astrophysicists Bernard Carr and Martin Rees note 'even if all apparently anthropic coincidences could be explained [in terms of some grand unified theory], it would still be remarkable that the relationships dictated by physical theory happened also to be those propitious for life'" (1979, p. 612). [See his paper "God, Design, and Fine Tuning"].

I find this response faulty on several grounds: first, God is improbable, and so attributing the fine-tuning to God also transfers the improbability upwards. So, if the "mathematical necessity" hypothesis suffers from the flaw of not resolving the improbability of the universe, then so does Collins' alternative proposal (God).

Second, we must live in a universe that is logically possible, and so if there is only one kind of universe that is logically possible it would have to be our kind. Why is it that Collins missed this objection? Maybe he is thinking that, if we ignore the fact of our own existence momentarily, then it would seem improbable that any one type of universe is logically (or mathematically) necessary (as long as we have no mathematical proofs that one type of universe actually is necessary). The a priori probability of our universe being the only mathematically possible one does indeed seem low. However, the fact that we know our universe exists means that it must be completely logically and mathematically consistent. We do not know this about the other "universes" scientists might describe in their equations. If we grant the hypothesis that only kind of universe is consistent, then our universe must be of that kind. So the only question of probability is this: what are the odds that only one kind of universe is mathematically consistent? I cannot for the life of me think of how probable or improbable this proposal is, or even how to go about putting a probability on this hypothesis. So, in my eyes, the mathematical necessity hypothesis has an unknown initial probability.

Another point against Collins' objection is that if there is some mathematically necessary way that the universe must be, then not even God could have any leeway in altering that fact, since logically impossible and mathematically impossible feats cannot be done, period (this, by the way, is conceded by most theologians nowadays). So "transferring the improbability" to a mathematically necessary principle is not something that theists can use to their advantage, since God could not explain the percieved improbability of this anyway.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: A Simple Break-Down

This is the second installment of my blog series "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument" in which I try to give a simple, common-sense breakdown of the argument.

The idea behind it is this: Physicists know what numbers that they should plug in to their equations to describe certain physical laws and forces. But no one knows why our universe had to have the numbers it does and not some other numbers. For example, why does light have to travel at 186,000 miles per second rather than 200,000 miles per second or 50,000 miles per second (or any other number we can imagine)? What's more is that, when physicists change some of the numbers that they use in their equations (even to a very small degree), it appears that the universe described in their equations would not support life as we know it. It seems that out of all the logically possible universes, very few would support life (as we know it, anyway). How do we explain that? Many believers argue that God is the explanation. I suppose they believe that God would have wanted life to exist, and so if God exists there is a 100% chance that our universe will exist with all the laws of physics having values that will allow life to exist. However, if chance is behind the laws of the universe, then our existence would be very, very improbable. Of course, many will object that chance is not the only alternative to God, and they are right. In later blog posts I will discuss the alternatives. But for now, suffice it to say that believers tend to argue that the alternative explanations are contrived or in some way not as good as the theisitic explanation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument: The Argument Stated

This is the first installment of my blog series "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument" in which I state my version of the argument and compare it to othe statements of the argument that I have seen and why I believe my statement is better.

I was warned by a fellow blogger that stating the argument my way might get me into trouble. However, I believe that my argument is clear, fair, and I am more than willing to consider revising it if someone thinks differently. Moreover, I believe that the following three syllogisms are a clearer and more valid exposition of the argument than has been seen to date. Take William Lane Craig's version: The fine tuning is due to chance, necessity, or design. It is not due to chance or necessity. Therefore, it is due to design. This syllogism does not spell out the reasoning of why design must be inferred. It does not even attempt to argue that the fine-tuner is God. Anyway, I am spelling out the argument and I will consider how proponents could support the premises in further installments:

(A) 1. It is conceptually possible to change physical laws and constants from observed values.

2. Conceptually changing some constants from their observed values (independently) would make the universe uninhabitable for life as we know it. NOTE: What I mean by changing "independently" is when someone changes the constant value in their equation without changing the value(s) of any other constants.

3. The constants have an extremely large range of conceptually possible values.

4. Therefore, the number of values that permit life is very small.

5. Applying the principle of indifference (assigning equal probabilities to possibilities which, as far as we can tell, are equal) leads us to conclude that any one particular value for these constants only had a small probability of occurring in our universe, because there are so many possibilities.

6. Since any one specific value has a low probability, and life friendly values are limited to one or a few possibilities out of all the possibilities, the probability of a life-friendly universe is extremely small (since we are assigning all possibilities an equal probability).

(B) 1. Theories which predict a very specific state of affairs (which would otherwise have a low probability of occurring) gain probability for themselves when this state of affairs is verified.

2. The hypothesis that God exists predicts a life-friendly universe.

3. A life friendly universe is an improbable state of affairs.

4. Therefore the God hypothesis predicts an improbable state of affairs.

5. A life-friendly universe exists.

6. Since the God hypothesis predicts an improbable state of affairs (a life friendly universe) (4) which has been verified to exist (5), this increases the probability that the God hypothesis is correct (1).

(C) 1. When multiple hypotheses predict the same state of affairs, we judge them by other criteria, such as simplicity, explanatory scope, explanatory power, etc. If there is a hypothesis that outstrips its competitors in these criteria, then we judge that it is probably correct.

2. There are multiple hypotheses that explain fine-tuning, but the God hypothesis outstrips them all.

3. Therefore, the God hypothesis is probably correct.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Zachary Moore - Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot

Luke over at Common Sense Atheism has recently done a really good interview with Zachary Moore about Evolution and Creationism:

Check it out!

By the way, Philosopher Antony Flew has passed away. It's ashame that he was not as sharp in the past few years as he was throughout most of his life. The christian apologists who took advantage of him and used him to market their religion were a real disrespect to atheists generally (because Flew was so influential). I reviewed "Flew's" book (which he may not have written much of, see here) a year and a half ago, but if you reall want to honor his memory, I suggest reading one or two of his excellent papers on philsophy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Books that I Want

So many good books have come out lately that I am having a very difficult time choosing the ones I want. Here are the ones I want:

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails- Even though I've read a ton of books criticizing Christianity, this book looks really good. I have a feeling this might be a kind of end-all for critiques of Christianity; that is, that this might be the greatest critique of Christianity ever compiled.

The Case Against the Case for Christ by Robert M. Price. Robert Price is an excellent writer, and I'd love to read his criticism of Lee Strobel's infamous book.

The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligenceby Paul Davies. The title says it all. Looks fascinating.

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time- I've been very curious about the nature of time lately, and I think this would fit the bill. I'd also be interested in reading a philosophical book on the nature of time, so if anyone has any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good Summary of an Interesting Theory

Over at the secular web there is an interesting summary of Julian Jaynes' work on consciousness and the human mind:

I have no idea whether the theory is correct (and in fact, I suspect it isn't) nevertheless it is still interesting and worth a read.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument

I'm thinking about starting a series. Luke Muelhauser over at Common Sense Atheism has been running a series called "Mapping the Kalam". I'm thinking about doing a similar series: "Mapping the Fine-Tuning Argument".

The idea would be to start out with purely logical/philosophical objections to the argument and then work our way into objections that have more to do with physics.

I'm aware of the multiverse objections (including Lee Smolin's cosmological natural selection hypothesis). I've also made a short laundry list of various other objections I know about it. But until I get the series up and running, I'd like my readers to post (in the comments) all the objections you know of, and preferably include a source for who argued the claim (a philosophical paper, book, etc.).

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Human Fossil Creates More Gaps in the Fossil Record

A new human fossil has been discovered which is transitional between later Australopithicenes and early Homonids. Very cool find, but I can't help but be disappointed because we all know that finding this transitional fossil creates two more gaps in the fossil record. Now there's a gap between earlier Australo's and this fossil, and between later Homo's and this fossil. Here's the link:

; )

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

William Lane Craig Q & A

A questioner wrote to Christian Apologist William Lane Craig and asked:
“[Some Atheists] say that the only reason you really have an upper-hand in a majority of the debates is not because your facts are right, but because you are such a great speaker and debater.”

And Craig replied:

“Boo hoo! Poor atheists! Big, bad Bill Craig has debate training, and that’s why they can’t even mount a decent response to the same five arguments I’ve been putting out there for 20 years!

“Seriously, Cris, while debate training (especially knowing how to manage the clock) is undoubtedly a great help in winning a debate, that’s just not a sufficient explanation for the impotence of atheists to offer refutations of these arguments - or to present a case of their own for atheism. Keep in mind that my oral debates are actually a relatively minor part of my work. Most of my work is published by scholarly presses and in peer-reviewed professional journals, where I have been very forthcoming in responding to critics such as Mackie, Grünbaum, Smith, Oppy, Sobel, Morriston, et al.”

Craig’s attitude is half-right. First, he writes as if he has won every debate he’s had in the last ten or fifteen years. That is plainly not true. Although he has won most of his debates, Craig had his clock cleaned by Paul Draper, Arif Ahmed, Shelley Kagan and Antony Flew, to name a few of the debates I have heard in which he has fared poorly.

Secondly, Craig does employ a lot of rhetorical tricks that he surely ought to know better than to use. An example: he’ll claim that even if all the arguments for God fail, one is left with agnosticism unless positive arguments are presented against God. While this is (technically) true, as a trained philosopher Craig ought to know that Occam’s razor implies that we must conclude there is probably not a God if we have no reason to postulate one.

Thirdly, Craig has been adequately responded to on all five of his main arguments in debates, philosophical literature, and books responding specifically to certain arguments (i.e. Kris Komarnitsky’s book Doubting Jesus' Resurrectionexhaustively rebuts the case for the resurrection of Jesus). His arguments are bad and the problems with them could be summed up pretty briefly I think, it’s simply that few of his opponents have done so.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Atheism and Naturalism is Back and Better than Ever

I know that some thought it would never get done, but... Today I finally finished up revising my book: Atheism and Naturalism. If you downloaded the book recently, you may be able to go to lulu and download it again to get the revised version. I checked on my sales, and no one has bought the print version this year, so I don't think anyone who bought the print version will feel like they wasted their money after the new edition came out. However, if you did buy the older edition in print and you desperately want to see what has changed in the new edition, you should just purchase the download edition and reread, perhaps skipping over the sections that haven't changed much or at all (hint: the bulk of the modification is in chapter one).

And by the way, Richard Carrier read my book, and he liked it. He's even thinking about reviewing it on his blog.

Last but not least, the book will eventually make it to amazon (in several weeks).

The God Conspiracy

Friday, April 2, 2010


I mostly post on books, but this time I thought I'd let loose and post about my favorite magazines:

Discover - My favorite science mag. I love it even more than Scientific American. $19.95/year through Amazon.

Skeptic - Michael Shermer's skeptical magazine which addresses everything from intelligent design to bigfoot and beyond. A very excellent magazine. $30/year.

Skeptical Inquirer - General debunking magazine, features everything from the shroud of turin to popular medical myths and ghosts. $35/year.

Free Inquiry - Excellent Freethought mag. $35/year.

And signing up for swagbucks is a good way to get the money for these mags. On swagbucks you just use the search engine a few times a day and you earn "swagbucks" which can be traded in for an amazon gift certificate, as well as a number of other prizes. I use it all the time and it has really helped out as far as allowing me to save up enough and then use the prizes to order books. Word. (lol).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Debate's Up

The debate I was having ended. Please have a look and VOTE for whomever you felt performed best: