bookmark_borderLINK: Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion? A Skeptic’s Guide to the Debate

I am linking to this, but not endorsing it. In fact, I haven’t even read the entire thing yet!
LINK
What I am about to write is not necessarily about the linked article, but about the article’s topic. My hunch (or bias?) is that the question posed in the title of the article is an extremely complex topic. Rather than trying to “boil the ocean,” all sides would be better served by “decomposing” the question into multiple questions with a much smaller scope. For example:

  • Would women be better off without religion?
  • Would science have made more progress, less progress, or about the same amount of progress without religion?
  • Would children be better off without religion?
  • Would people living in poverty be better off without religion?

Out of all the books I can think of, probably the best treatment of the title question, from a critical perspective, is found in the anthology, Christianity Is Not Great, edited by John Loftus, because that book follows the approach described above. There may be a parallel book, from a supportive (i.e., pro-religion) perspective, but if so, I’m not aware of it.

bookmark_borderLINK: A New Problem of Evil: Authority and the Duty of Interference

Abstract:

The traditional problem of evil sets theists the task of reconciling two things: God and evil. I argue that theists face the more difficult task of reconciling God and evils that God is specially obligated to prevent. Because of His authority, God’s obligation to curtail evil goes far beyond our Samaritan duty to prevent evil when doing so isn’t overly hard. Authorities owe their subjects a positive obligation to prevent certain evils; we have a right against our authorities that they protect us. God’s apparent mistake is not merely the impersonal wrong of failing to do enough good — though it is that too. It is the highly personal wrong of failing to live up to a moral requirement that comes bundled with authority over persons. To make my argument, I use the resources of political philosophy and defend a novel change to the orthodox account of authority.

LINK

bookmark_borderLINK: The Problem of Animal Pain and Suffering

Abstract:

Here I discuss some theistic responses to the problem of animal pain and suffering with special attention to Michael Murray’s presentation in Nature Red in Tooth and Claw. The neo-Cartesian defenses he describes are reviewed, along with the appeal to nomic regularity and Murray’s emphasis on the progression of the universe from chaos to order. It is argued that despite these efforts to prove otherwise the problem of animal suffering remains a serious threat to the belief that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good creator exists.

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