Transcendence and Emergence

We’ve talked about transcendence a lot, including especially here and here.  It is a top-down understanding of phenomena we observe, or consider through rational thought, that can’t be explained purely as matter in motion.  The utility of a chair; the beauty of a painting; the harmony of music, are all emergent properties of the movement of […]

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Belief in Unbelief

The Privative Thesis Christopher Hitchens wrote of atheism that “our belief is unbelief.”  A.C. Grayling wrote that atheism was merely a “privative thesis,” by which he meant that it is nothing more than the subtraction of supernatural reality from one’s conception of all of reality.  This is a common point of view:  belief in “nothing.” But […]

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Is Materialism a Return to pre-Christian Belief?

Materialism is the belief that there is no supernatural of any kind; no God, no gods, no angels, demons, demiurges; no “fairies at the bottom of the garden,” in Richard Dawkins’ memorable phrase. Materialism Unexamined Many thinkers today write meaningfully about materialism as a set of doctrinal principles, but in the main, materialism is presented […]

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“Nothing” Is Not Religious Neutrality

We considered the concept of “nothing,” for example in Is Nothing Something, and in It’s Not Nothing. Instead of conceiving of truly nothing, we tend to think instead of a something. That something may be simple or minimal or invisible or insubstantial, but it is not nothing.  Something from Nothing The tendency to mis-conceive nothing […]

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Review: God—The Failed Hypothesis, by Victor Stenger

This book is exasperating, because Stenger sets up a meta-analysis that games the entire discussion.  Having built for himself the restrictive form in which his reasoning is to be poured, he ends up with exactly the structure he set out to build.  The trouble is that it defies reason, not to mention, in many instances, […]

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It’s not “nothing.”

The jump to materialism Here’s a curious phenomenon.  Many Americans today come from a Christian background but become disaffected by it, for one reason or another, and then find “permission” in the culture to reject it altogether, saying they’re now atheists. Didn’t they skip a step?  If we’re to come off the claims of Christianity […]

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