Archive for January, 2006

spiked-essays | Essay | The curious rise of anti-religious hysteria

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

In spiked-essays | Essay | The curious rise of anti-religious hysteria, Frank Furedi makes the “final point” that “Morality marketed by people who do not necessarily ‘believe in such things’ is unlikely to set the world on fire.” It would be nice if this were true, but it is contradicted by many historical examples – including the rise of most politically dominant religions.

spiked-science | Article | The root of all anti-science?

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Now here is a much more sensible response to Dawkins. I haven’t seen the shows (The Root of all Evil?), but I suspect from reading reviews that Dawkins went over the top by implying that the answer applied to religion is “yes”. (Personally I do believe that if “evil” has any meaning, then religion is fundamentally evil – in the sense that it has unremovable “evil” aspects and produces no “good” that could not be produced without it, but sadly also that the human capacity for “evil” is not limited to what comes from religion.)

spiked-culture | Article | Is religion the root of all evil?

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

A fuzzy-thinking response to Dawkins’ absolute antitheism
(in ‘Spiked’). Author Neil Davenport says:

“religion expresses kernels of humanism that sometimes appear progressive compared to contemporary thinking. For example, the major religions recognise that as humans are capable of making moral choices, we are fundamentally different from animals. How many secularists share such views today?”

But I suspect that a morality based on “recognising” a falsehood may be less robust than one based on a truer understanding of our probable position in the universe.

Dennett in The Chronicle

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Daniel Dennett provides an article
summarising ideas from his new book.

Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~

EdTechPost: Reports from the CETIS Vocabularies Project

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Scott Leslie comments on progress (or not) in the development of controlled vocabularies for paedagogical resources.

The Myth about Online Course Development

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Stephen Downes comments
on an Educause Review article

Wiki on a stick – Meta

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

I’ll have to check whether I can really install this in “under ten minutes”.

Light in the Darkness

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Light in the Darkness

Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~

Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~

Wil McCarthy’s HACKING MATTER

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Wil McCarthy’s HACKING MATTER

Philosophy Talk: The Blog: Self-Deception and the Problem with Religious Belief Formation

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Philosophy Talk: The Blog: Self-Deception and the Problem with Religious Belief Formation
I have two comments on this posting.
First, unlike Mr Van Leeuwen, although I probably qualify as an unbeliever, I am not threatened by the admonition that the communicant “who eats the bread and drinks the cup with an unbelieving heart eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” Indeed if ‘God’ fails to cast judgement on such a hypocrite then I might be happy to step in as ‘his’ surrogate. But actually as I interpret the passage that won’t be necessary, because I suspect that the threat is correct in that the false communicant stands judged more in his own heart than by either ‘God’ or man.

Of course this is not to deny that the religious “belief formation process” is often tainted by threat – if not of damnation then at least of social penalties. And in fact that mechanism (of social pressure to engage in hypocritical behaviour which then brings moral pressure to rationalize belief with that behaviour) may be little more than a variation on the theme that is being put forward by Mr Van Leeuwen.

However, I do not believe it is fair to say that the religious belief formation process is *always* so tainted, and in fact, rather than use the means to unjustify the end, I would suggest that it is the end – namely beliefs that lack “Responsiveness to reality” which is the main problem.

And to that end, my second comment is perhaps more relevant.

Mr Van Leeuwen states that “We all have beliefs, which have to get there somehow.” But if by “beliefs” he means anything similar to religious beliefs in strength (and imperviousness to reality), then I believe (in the weaker sense) that he is wrong.

Philosophy Talk: The Blog

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Philosophy Talk: The Blog

DANGEROUS IDEAS

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

THE WORLD QUESTION CENTER 2006