It's getting to be that time of year again. You know. Gradamutation time. The time when you evolve from Undergrad to GRADUATE. It's exciting, I know. And now you get to go out into the big bag world and get a low-paying mind-numbing job and convince yourself that your degree was worth something. That bit is less exciting. Now I know all you STEM folks out there are patting yourselves on the back and feeling pretty smug about your life choices when you look at your humanities friends, but yours truly was a philosophy and religion major, and over the course of my time in school I got a little bit sick of skeptic and atheist scientists looking down their noses at me.
If you watch the first minute of this video clip you'll see Penn Jillette perform a logic trick. I greatly respect his ability to point out the tricks magicians use to fool people. As a logician, I'd like to follow his lead and point out the trick he has used here. He claims that if you're an agnostic, then you (pretty much) don't believe in God. That is, he claims agnosticism implies atheism.
On Thursday, April 25, the Secular Student Alliance at UC Santa Cruz hosted (along with the Graduate Christian Fellowship) a formal debate between local Christian pastor Dr. Peter Payne and atheist blogger and writer JT Eberhard. The debate topic was "Does Ethics Need a Foundation in God?" and was moderated by UCSC Linguistics professor, Jaye Padgett. Both being highly skilled at formal debates, Peter represented the affirmative, and JT represented the negative. The debate -- which lasted about two hours including a Q&A session -- was held at UCSC's Stevenson Event Center in front of approximately 150 attendees including UCSC students, members of local Santa Cruz Christian and atheist groups, and even some people from out of town just looking to enjoy a good philosophical/religious debate.
A few weeks ago, I heard that Shelley Segal was planning to perform at CFI–Northeast Ohio, and I contacted them, on a whim, to see if she might be able to extend her trip to join us at CFI's headquarters in Amherst, New York. We worked with her awesome tour manager, Natalie, and ended up putting on a last-minute, but very successful, performance with Shelley at a local coffee shop.
There are number of reasons people refuse to take action on climate change. It isn't happening; it would damage the economy; it is happening but humans aren't the cause so there's nothing we can do about it; Country X isn't doing anything about it so why should we?—these are some of the common excuses given for inaction. Now we can another one to this list: Belief in the end times.