bookmark_borderLearning and Grief

In preparing to teach a class for the first time, I’ve been reading past posts on the blog In Socrates’ Wake (which is a great resource!). I came across a posted titled “Learning as a process of grieving”, which quotes a part of the Wikipedia entry on the Kubler-Ross Model:

Studies of epistemology, the process of learning, suggest that the patterns of grief are one way of describing the basic patterns of integrating new information that conflicts with previous beliefs. 

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” said Arthur Schopenhauer of the learning process, which corresponds to the five stages of grief with denial being ridicule, opposition being anger and bargaining, and acceptance being depression and acceptance.

I don’t know that all truth passes through these stages. However, I was struck by how well this description mapped my own deconversion from Christianity, and other major changes to my own philosophical views.

bookmark_borderAdversarial Communications between Theists and Nontheists

I think it’s really unfortunate that some people are adversarial in their exchanges with people who do not share their views. In exchanges between theists and nontheists, I have seen people from both sides do this. Furthermore, the problem seems to be getting worse.

I am not sure what to do about this other than try to raise awareness, especially of behavior that is verbally abusive (see here for categories.). Here are some examples. Feel free to post others in the combox, but please try to anonymize them; I’m really not interested in calling out people by name here.

Mind-Reading and Attributing Negative Motives

Example: “Then he is disingenuous feigning ignorance of “naturalism” when he follows a blog with that title and materialism.”

Example: “Some people like #$$%# are very concerned about X. So they adopt a certain tone for public consumption. It’s part of the sales pitch for X.”

This is a highly abusive statement. It begins with mind-reading: the speaker or author presumes to know another person’s thoughts, motives, etc. To make matters worse, the author attributes negative motives  to the other person.

Name Calling and Other Insults

Example: “No it’s that you are a f!@#$%^ idiot who doesn’t even know about philosophical terms yet you are wasting everyone’s time with your ignorant blather and irrelevant polemics.”

Example: “The belief that you are wrong is always a safe bet. You can bank on that.”

Example: “Actually, I have given the reason. The fact that you’re logically challenged is not my responsibility.”

Example: “Since you’re chronically forgetful, I’d remind you once again ….”

Example: “The argument is simple to understand. Why is that hard for you? Do you really need that much coaching? “


Example: “Life is full of little tragedies like this. How shall we ever cope?”

bookmark_borderTexas Veterinarian Claims to Have DNA Evidence of Bigfoot

(While this has little or nothing to do with metaphysical naturalism, my hunch is that most readers will find this of interest.)

A Texas veterinarian claims to have DNA evidence of Bigfoot.

ad more:

Genetic testing confirms the legendary Bigfoot is a human relative that arose some 15,000 years ago — at least according to a press release issued by a company called DNA Diagnostics detailing supposed work by a Texas veterinarian.

Read more: Here is a link to the press release:


And here is a link to an article at written by a skeptic affiliated with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSICOP).


I think it would be very cool if this evidence held up under scrutiny. But given the track record of past claims of evidence for Bigfoot, I’m not going to get my hopes up.

ETA: I just stumbled across an article at which provides some very interesting additional details/claims.


bookmark_borderBenjamin Beit-Hallahmi: Morality and Immorality among the Irreligious

Courtesy of Google books, the entire chapter by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi is available online for free. 

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “Morality and Immorality among the Irreligious” in Atheism and Secularity (ed. Phil Zuckerman, ABC-CLIO, 2009), 113-148.

You may need a valid Google account in order to access the content. Also, you will probably need to scroll down to page 113 or search on the title in order to jump down to the content.


bookmark_borderGregory Dawes: Religion, Science, and Explanation

Abstract: A recent legal ruling in the United States regarding ‘intelligent design’ (ID) argued that ID is not science because it invokes a supernatural agent. It therefore cannot be taught in public schools. But the important philosophical question is not whether ID invokes a supernatural agent; it is whether it meets the standards we expect of any explanation in the sciences. More generally, could any proposed theistic explanation – one that invokes the deity of classical theism – meet those standards? Could it be both scientific and religious? The present paper sets out the factors to be taken into account when answering this question.


bookmark_borderAtheists As “Other”: Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society

Penny Edgell, Joseph Gerteis, and Douglas Hartmann. “Atheists As ‘Other’: Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society.” American Sociological Review April 2006 71: 211234, doi:10.1177/000312240607100203.

Abstract: Despite the declining salience of divisions among religious groups, the boundary between believers and nonbelievers in America remains strong. This article examines the limits of Americans’ acceptance of atheists. Using new national survey data, it shows atheists are less likely to be accepted, publicly and privately, than any others from a long list of ethnic, religious, and other minority groups. This distrust of atheists is driven by religious predictors, social location, and broader value orientations. It is rooted in moral and symbolic, rather than ethnic or material, grounds. We demonstrate that increasing acceptance of religious diversity does not extend to the nonreligious, and present a theoretical framework for understanding the role of religious belief in providing a moral basis for cultural membership and solidarity in an otherwise highly diverse society. 


bookmark_borderStephen Parrish: God and Objectivism: A Critique of Objectivist Philosophy of Religion

“I will examine what Objectivists, both old and new, have written about God and subject it to critical analysis. My conclusion will be that Objectivists have not only failed to keep up with the work of contemporary philosophers of religion, but that their work is marred by logical fallacies, especially begging the question. Philosophical naturalism is assumed rather than proved. Objectivists have failed to support the atheism Rand so vigorously espoused. Since Objectivists claim theirs is a philosophy of reason, the failure to support such a central tenet undermines the whole project of their philosophy. The rest of this paper will attempt to support these claims.”