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Free will, evolution and human rationality

August 17th, 2017

Most people agree that we cannot answer the question, is there a God? with a clear proof, either way. So most arguments for or against the existence of God start with observable features of our world, and try to show that these are compatible with the belief we ourselves hold, but incompatible with the opposite belief.

I’ve had some recent discussions that suggest to me that our human experience of free will is a strong argument against atheism.

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The wrong way to attack and defend evolution?

December 7th, 2016

The biological theory of evolution has been the subject of argument ever since it was first proposed, especially from those christians who believe that the Bible teaches that animals haven’t evolved from simple life forms, and thus evolutionary science must not only be wrong, but also evil. But their arguments are often naive and misleading.

Of course many christians (including me) accept evolution as a scientific fact, even if some of the details are still doubtful. But secular scientists must sometimes get tired of answering the naive arguments of fervent creationists, which sometimes leads them into their own poor responses.

Here are a couple of cases in point …..

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When is it right to trust the experts?

October 22nd, 2016

Last post (I’m beginning to see a pattern here) I looked at a number of scientific and historical facts where a bunch of non-experts challenge the consensus of the real experts. These areas were:

  • evolution vs creationism;
  • whether Jesus was a historical person and Nazareth was where he lived;
  • climate change;
  • the medieval church vs science;
  • the beneficial effects of religious belief and practice

On all of these matters, there is substantial agreement among the experts (scientists, historians, psychologists, etc) but the consensus is often challenged and disbelieved by sceptics. They ask us to believe them rather than the experts, and tend to accuse the experts of some sort of conspiracy or bias.

We all know that experts are sometimes wrong (though more often right). And most of us like to feel free to go against the experts on occasion. So when should we trust the experts?

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Neuroscience, psychology and God

July 4th, 2016

A lot of christians struggle with the idea of biological evolution because it seems to leave God out of creation. But I think evolution points to God if we consider some of the findings of neuroscience and psychology.

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Evolution as a surprising source of faith

January 17th, 2016

Andy Gosler is an ornithologist at Oxford University who specialises in bird ecology and ethno-ornithology (how people relate to birds). He is a christian, but didn’t start out life with any belief. An adult convert, it was, strangely, evolution and wildlife conservation that led him to faith.

Here is how that happened.

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DNA, evolution and challenges for all

December 24th, 2015

Food for Thought

DNA

It is easy for human beings to become set in our thinking, quite satisfied that we know the truth about some matter, and therefore quite unwilling to change, or even consider other ideas. We can become quite “tribal” about our viewpoints, and defend even small differences quite vigorously. It can be as minor as Apple vs Microsoft or our football team vs theirs, but it can also be something more important like left vs right in politics or atheist vs theist.

Sometimes some new information comes along to challenge our viewpoint more strongly, and give a thoughtful person food for thought. Our understanding of DNA is an example of this. (I intend to look at a few examples of food for thought over the next few posts.)

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