Atheists and christians alike often feel that not only is their belief true, but it is “nicer”. One argument, which has been made to me several times by atheists recently, is over who is more generous in giving to charity. It has little to do with the truth of belief, but are there any facts […]
When I was at school, we were taught about how slavery was abolished in Britain and the USA. This was obviously a good thing. It came as a shock to find out, some years ago now, that there are more slaves in the world than ever before.
Indonesia has, at various times over the years, been both the victim of oppression and colonial rule and the oppressor. For two centuries the Dutch East India Company virtually ruled the islands that comprise Indonesia as they profited from the spice trade. Later, the Dutch East Indies was a part of the Dutch colonial empire, […]
I have had an interest in the question of free will ever since a long and friendly email discussion with an atheist and determinist almost a decade ago. He was a researcher in artificial intelligence, and strongly believed that human beings had no free will, and that the only way we could have it was […]
In October 2012, 14 eminent scientists, philosophers and other thinkers met for 3 days in a workshop entitled Moving Naturalism Forwards. Why did they meet and what were the outcomes?
Regular readers will know that one of my ’causes’ is ethical chocolate – chocolate that is grown by free farmers who are paid a fair wage, and not by trafficked children working more or less as slaves. (For background, see Ethical chocolate update.) So it was with great delight that I received a weighty package […]
The late Christopher Hitchens famously wrote that religion poisons everything. One aspect of this sort of conclusion is the claim that religious people do more harm than good. As Stephen Weinberg once said: With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that […]
I’ve long thought that one of the reasons for believing in God is the fact that without God, it is hard to make sense of ethics and human freewill. But here’s an atheist (and a philosopher) who turns a lot of things on their head – he agrees it is hard to make sense of […]
Hurricane Sandy has been in the news, as it left a trail of destruction and loss of life. The finger has sometimes been pointed at climate change as one of the causes, which it probably is, though no-one can know for sure. Yet the destruction could have been worse, and recovery far more difficult, if […]
For many of us, most of the time, the world is a beautiful place – sunsets, falling in love, evocative music, a party with friends, pets and the surf, for example. But we know that isn’t the whole story. Animals prey on each other, tsunamis and earthquakes can kill thousands, while war, rape, murder, child […]