Posted by: Dan | December 18, 2007

Brief Philosophical Links

Lately, I’ve been hosting a spirited discussion over the nature of my disbeliefs. I’d enjoy to discuss some issues much more extensively, but life has me preoccupied. So, a few links to useful and informative essays might be useful:

Karl Popper – While Popper was a philosopher of science, his thoughts on proof and logic might apply to determining the rationality (or lack thereof) of theism and atheism.

The Tenets of Naturalism *change below* – As my position might also be called philosophical naturalism, the Center for Naturalism’s website might be interesting to those theists interested in understanding the nature of my disbelief. I might change a couple details here and there, especially on the other pages involving New Age beliefs, but largely that website and the linked essay in particular explain my positions.

Reflections, Ideas, and Dreams – Of my blogging acquaintances, I think that I like Jacob’s essays on the mythology of science and related topics on the philosophy of science. Mythologies, or cultural narratives, are foundational to our psyches.

And some more below the fold:

Agency and Theory of Mind – On the neurological basis of the god inference.

Theology and Falsification – There’s no distinguishable difference between the existence of gods and the non-existence of gods; the parsimonious explanation is therefore the latter.

Religion and Ethnocentrism – On the authoritarian and ethnocentric aspects of religion, and why they’re plausible as partial explanations for there being religion at all.

And, although I haven’t blogged on it, there is strong evidence for Links between religious thoughts and fear of death. – Anxieties relating to our existence and inevitable demise one day are another plausible partial explanation for there being religion.

Then there are scholarly works worth reading as well:

Atran, Scott (2002) In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion.

Boyer, Pascal (2001) Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought.

Campbell, Joseph (1949) Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Dennett, Daniel C. (2006) Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.

James, William (1901) Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature.

Lorenz, Konrad (1952) King Solomon’s Ring: New Light on Animals’ Ways.

Pirsig, Robert M. (1974) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values.

Popper, Karl (1934) The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

Sagan, Carl (1994) Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

Sagan, Carl (Ann Druyan, ed.) (2006) The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God.

Addendum: Looking over the Tenets of Naturalism site some more, the emphasis there on Free Will does bother me a little. Not that I believe in Free Will, as I’m too familiar with cell biology (where the standard model is stochastic, but not random; almost deterministic in a sense) to ascribe to randomness in the choices we make. So I agree with the site, but on a second look, it is not illustrating the issues that I’d like to emphasize.

As a better reference, I found this article: Metaphysical (philosophical) Naturalism vs. Methodological Naturalism, a review of a 1998 debate between Will Provine and Eugenie Scott. There’s also a collection of essays at, and an entry in the Skeptics’ Dictionary. But perhaps the reflections on the Provine-Scott debate are the best illustration of my positions (I side with Provine, generally).



  1. Thanks for the link, Dan. I’m glad you enjoy that essay.


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