a tippling philosopher

Browsing Archive: April, 2012

Josephus' Testimonium Flavianum

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 30, 2012, In : Religion 
This is an excellent and informative post from Harry McCall on DC which i thought was interesting enough to post here:


This is the reply I got from the foremost scholar on Josephus today (apart from Louis Feldman).  Steve Mason is editor-in-chief of EJ Brill’s multi-volume on the works of Josephus:   
On 18-Feb-09, at 8:27 PM, Harry McCall wrote:

Professor Mason,
I have several volumes in the Brill series Flavius Josephus:  Translation and Commenta...

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How Physics and Neuroscience Dictate Your "Free" Will

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, April 29, 2012, In : Philosophy 

Physics and neurobiology can help us understand whether we choose our own destiny 

From the Scientific American

By Christof Koch  | Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 27




In a remote corner of the universe, on a small blue planet gravitating around a humdrum sun in the outer districts of the Milky Way, organisms arose from the primordial mud and ooze in an epic struggle for survival that spanned aeons.


Despite all evidenc...

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Epistemologically superb video...

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, April 28, 2012, In : Philosophy 
This is a great video about epistemology:

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Homosexuality and Christianity.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, April 27, 2012, In : Religion 

I am writing a post in reaction to something about which I was talking with my Christian friend (let’s call him Colin). We were talking about homosexuality and his approach to it given his Christian background. Some points were interesting and some I fundamentally disagreed with. Here are his views:


  • As according to the Bible, homosexuality is wrong.
  • This morality is grounded in God.
  • He is not homophobic and detests that label as it automatically halts any further informed discu...

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Of Hardening of Hearts

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 26, 2012, In : Books 
I thought, as I was reading through Free Will? again for a reprint, that it was worth posting this. It is still, to me, a really powerful argument against the sort of God we all know and love....

Of hardening of hearts


Normally, there are two ways of seeing theological determinism. Firstly, the soft type, called soft theological determinism, allows for humans to have free will, even though God knows what they are going to do. The hard type means that humans do not have any free will, and G...

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New book idea - Craig and the Kalam

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, In : Books 
I will soon be writing an extended essay on the Kalam Cosmological Argument as used by William Lane Craig. This has recently been a personal interest of mine as a subject, so it seems obvious that it would be a future choice of subject for a book.

The KCA has been a stalwart defence used by many apologists, particularly Craig. erroneously so, I believe. The essay and book will set out to undermine the KCA in the ways that I have shown already on this blog and in the essay section in my cosmolo...
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Ehrman, Carrier, everyone else and Jesus mythicism.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, In : Religion 

Battles have been raging online over the last month or so with regards to Ehrman's treatment of mythicism in his last book (Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, cobbled together from his debates, I believe) which was summed up here in his outspoken Huff Post article:


Carrier responded to this with gusto in his excellent piece here:




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Going Dutch

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, April 20, 2012, In : Religion 

This is an article from last year on the BBC which is really interesting. The Dutch certainly do things differently...


Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

By Robert Pigott

Religious affairs correspondent, Amsterdam


The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.


An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church ...

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Most important questions

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 19, 2012, In : Philosophy 
At our last Tippling Philosophers meeting we threw into the hat the questions that we would most like answered. I compiled them all, and combined a couple (which is why number 6 is missing). What do you think? What questions would you think are the most important questions?

1. What one quality / human characteristic should we want to prioritise in carrying forward out development / evolution?


2. What do you think we will carry forward?


3. Can God know everything?


4. If there is ...

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Behaviour controlled by genes

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 19, 2012, In : Science 

Can Behavior Be Controlled by Genes? The Case of Honeybee Work Assignments

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2012) — What worker bees do depends on how old they are. A worker a few days old will become a nurse bee that devotes herself to feeding larvae (brood), secreting beeswax to seal the cells that contain brood and attending to the queen.

After about a week, she will progress to other tasks, such as grooming nest mates, ventilating the nest and packing pollen. Only at the end of her life will she be...

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Dogs can't give birth to non-dogs. Oh dear.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, In : Science 
Here is a response I made to Steve, a christian posting on DC, to a popular myth about evolution spread by the likes of Kent Hovind.

OK, Steve has used the :

We all know that dogs give birth to dogs, not zebras, and ants lay eggs that hatch into ants, not Canada Geese.

approach, which is straight from the book of Hovind.

Firstly, let me remind you of a post I made here at DC about a year ago about there being no such thing as a species (objectively) - http://atipplingphilosopher.yolas...

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Avalos vs Darrel - "Is the bible a source of absolute moral rules for today?"

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 16, 2012, In : Religion 

I have seen the opening statements of both. I almost burst out laughing at the poor poor tack taken by Darrel. Firstly, he sets out deconstructing Avalos' epistemology and morality. This is both a red herring and a shifting of the burden of proof. It matters not one jot, because that is not the focus of the debate. The debate is "Is the bible a source of absolute moral rules for today?" I can only see that Darrel should make a defensive stance. Avalos could have come out and said "I derive my...

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Another reply to David B. Marshall on faith vs Reason

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, April 14, 2012, In : Philosophy 
This is my latest reply to the debate going on here:  http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/explaining-faith-so-that-even-david.html 

Basically, so that we may be able to take this discussion further towards a much-needed conclusion, this is what I think faith is:


I am going to flesh out what is essentially the dictionary definition so that it is more philosophical and robust. But I am essentially not redefining it too far beyond what is accepted by the majority of the world....

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Free Will Talk to the South Hampshire Humanists

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, April 13, 2012, In : Youtube 
Here is the video of the talk I did on free will to the South Hampshire Humanists in January of this year. Let me know what you think. The questions got cut off at the end.

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Faith vs Reason

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 12, 2012, In : Philosophy 
Here is a post of mine which John Loftus at Debunking Christianity posted today. It was part of a larger discussion with David Marshal, a Christian author and blogger. See what you think. 
The post is here: 
And the larger discussion here:


Part of the problem is that you are extracting these...

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Carrier at Skepticon 2

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 12, 2012, In : Religion 
This is a superb video which I have seen a few times. There is a lot of info in it, and it gathers momentum as it goes on. The case Carrier builds up for internal evidence as to the existence of Jesus, or lack thereof, is fantastic. I am not a mythicist: I am agnostic. But he does build a superb case.

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Being nice is genetically determined?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, In : Science 

Born Nice? Peoples' Niceness May Reside in Their Genes, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Apr. 10, 2012) — It turns out that the milk of human kindness is evoked by something besides mom's good example. Research by psychologists at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Irvine, has found that at least part of the reason some people are kind and generous is that their genes nudge them toward it.

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Rick Santorum as you have never seen him before.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, In : Humour 
This is genius. Rep candidate Rick Santorum's picture made up entirely of gay porn pictures. Aah, the irony.

Rick Santorum made from gay porn 

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New essay on Paul submitted by Sarah Cook.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 9, 2012, In : Religion 
This is an essay submitted by Sarah Cook, an undergraduate student reading Religious and Theological Studies at Cardiff University. It is a good, concise synopsis on whether Paul defends slavery or doesn't; and whether he does so from a position of historical and cultural context or from his own understanding of the morality of slavery. 

See what you think.
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US schools. Eek!

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, April 7, 2012, In : Religion 
Courtesy of richarddawkins.net:

The Lord’s Army Comes to America’s Public Schools

“Now that you know the truth, who will you share this with?” asked Ian’s fourth-grade teacher. The setting was a March 2012 meeting of the Good News Club in a Pasadena, California public elementary school. Good News Clubs are afterschool “Bible study” programs with a fundamentalist agenda that are ...

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New speaking engagement booked - a talk on free will

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, In : Philosophy 
I am really pleased to announce that I have another speaking engagement booked in Portsmouth, to talk to the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub about free will.

The Skeptics in a Pub is a growing secular movement around the country, and I must say, I am really looking forward to it!

Here are the details:

"An investigation into whether we have free will or whether I was always going to write this book"

Jonathan Pearce 

Thursday, June 14 2012 at 7:30PM


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Why burqas / niqabs are controversial

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 2, 2012, In : Religion 

Burqas are back on the agenda in the UK. This is because there was a recent furore within the British legal aystem. A Muslim woman was barred from serving on a jury because she refused to remove her veil. In a controversial ruling, a judge said she could not sit on an attempted murder trial because her full face covering (niqab) concealed her expressions.


Knowing this is controversial, I would like to give my tuppence worth because I am against the wearing of such veils and I will tell yo...

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