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Stephen Law

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Stephen Law is Provost of Centre for Inquiry UK, and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He regularly speaks and debates on religion and humanism (many examples online). Stephen is also author of many popular philosophy books, including The Philosophy Gym – 25 Short Adventures in Thinking (Thomas Dunne 2003), Believing Bullshit: How Not Top Fall Into An Intellectual Black Hole (Prometheus 2011), and Humanism – a Very Short Introduction (OUP 2011). He has also written books for children, including The Complete Philosophy Files (Orion 2011). Stephen currently lives in Oxford, UK.

Could a Machine Think?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 31, 2015

Here’s a (long) animation script I wrote that introduces the philosophical puzzles of whether machines could think. The idea is it would be one of a series on the ‘Big Questions’. Anyone interested in producing it, let me know…

Might it be pretty obvious there’s no Judeo-Christian God?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 6, 2015

Er, yes it might be pretty obvious. In fact, it is pretty obvious, And we shouldn’t shy away from saying so.

The God of the Ethians - a cautionary tale

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 10, 2015

On the far side of our Galaxy live the Ethians, many of whom believe in God. Only a God with a twist… (This is adapted from my The God of Eth, for the HTLGI Festival at which I am appearing this month).

Skeptical theism - quick primer for the uninitiated

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 8, 2015

Heard of skeptical theism? Perhaps not. But it’s all the rage in certain religious circles. So, to get you up to speed, here’s a quick primer.

 

For those who regularly engage theists in discussion: There’s a good chance your religious opponent will be familiar with skeptical theism and will use it against you in arguments about the existence of God.  So it’s wise to be prepared.

 

Is Feeling Good Always What Motivates Us?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 14, 2015

Here’s an introduction to some of the most fascinating philosophical issues about happiness. We look at three key questions:

 

Is happiness just about feeling good, or is there more to it than that?

 

Is feeling good always what motivates us? And:

 

Is increasing happiness always morally the right thing to do?

 

Has Science Buried God? My opening statement from today’s debate

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 10, 2015
Has Science Buried God? My opening statement from today’s debate

Here’s my opening statement from today’s debate with Christian evangelist and debater Peter Payne in Trondheim, Norway today.

In one of his online resources Peter Payne says, and I quote:

“The net of scientific method, namely the net of hypothesis and experimental/observational test, is unable to demonstrate either the truth or falsity of the Christian faith, for it is simply the wrong kind of net to capture what is relevant.”

 

Baudrillard - J’accuse! (again)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 26, 2015

The Radio 3 The Verb
programme, in which I discuss pseudo-profundity (with some analytic vs
continental philosophy discussion), is repeated tomorrow night at 10pm
GMT on BBC Radio 3. It will be available for a week on bbc radio iplayer.
Below is my old post concerning that programme. Link to programme
website here.

Enlightened citizens vs. moral sheep

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 16, 2015

Here’s the text from my talk at the British Academy in London tonight (I am one of six panellists that also include Rebecca Goldstein. I wonder what she’ll say? The even is called “What’s the point of philosophy?)

The ‘no punching down’ case against satirising Islam

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 8, 2015

After the Charlie Hebdo affair, there was a lot
of ‘I am for free speech but…’ talk and finger wagging directed at those who
would continue to satirise Islam. It was suggested satire should always ‘punch up not punch down’. But is that true?

William Lane Craig and ruling out an evil God by observation

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 18, 2015

Here is a post for the philosophers of religion amongst you. Can we rule out an evil god or creator on the grounds that the world is not nearly good enough? Of course we can. But then why can’t we similarly rule out a good god on the grounds that the world isn’t nearly evil enough?

Podcast of me discussing ‘Does Humanism Need God?” with Angus Ritchie is now available

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 17, 2015

Atheists ‘saw off the branch on which Humanism sits’, argue the authors of a report by Theos, Britain’s leading religious think tank. The Case for Christian Humanism argues we atheist humanists should be Christians.

Podcast of me discussing this report with author Angus Ritchie now available on itunes: Unbelievable? (Premier Christian Radio) ‘Does Humanism Need God?’ presented by Justin Brierley. It will also be up here later today.

THEOS respond directly to my post below here.

Charlie Hebdo and avoiding offence - two popular liberal arguments refuted

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 10, 2015

In the gallery of satirical art there’s a largely blank space where the work satirizing Islam should be. Here I argue that, where satirical work has been removed out of fear, it should be put back. I also deal with a couple of objections against doing so.

What’s the point of lampooning religion? To upset the religious?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 8, 2015

In the wake of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, attention is focussed on the causing of offence to religious people. Is that the point of lampooning religion? Is causing offence to Muslims the aim of someone who draws a cartoon of Mohammad? No, usually it’s not (though this point is usually lost on the offended).

Humanists Should be Christians, Argues New THEOS Report

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 8, 2014

Atheists ‘saw off the branch on which Humanism sits’, argue the authors of a report by Theos, Britain’s leading religious think tank. The Case for Christian Humanism argues we atheist humanists should be Christians (2,800 words).

POSTSCRIPT: Podcast of me discussing this report with author Angus Ritchie now available on itunes: Unebelievable? (Premier Christian Radio) ‘Does Humanism Ned God?’ presented by Justin Brierley. Also be up here shortly.

POSTSCRIPT: THEOS respond directly to my post below here.

 

What’s wrong with Young Earth Creationism? (part 3 of 3) The strange case of the car-stealing elves.

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 5, 2014
What’s wrong with Young Earth Creationism? (part 3 of 3) The strange case of the car-stealing elves.

A final post on Young Earth Creationism. So when is your theory strongly confirmed? And when are you justified in believing elves stole your car?

The Vision Thing and the Tinfoil Hat (post 2 of 3 on Young Earth Creationism)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 3, 2014
The Vision Thing and the Tinfoil Hat (post 2 of 3 on Young Earth Creationism)

How the strategy of explaining all evidence against what you believe can have soke interesting psychological effects. Start making that tin foil hat now…

‘But it Fits!’ (What’s wrong with Young Earth Creationism - post 1 of 3)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 25, 2014
‘But it Fits!’ (What’s wrong with Young Earth Creationism - post 1 of 3)

Why the way things ‘fit’ together can sometimes be misleading. We start with the strange tale of a puddle sitting in its hole….This is the first of three related posts on Young Earth Creationism.

Open Letter To Karen Armstrong on ‘The Myth of Religious Violence’

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 29, 2014

An open letter to Karen Armstrong on her Guardian article ‘The Myth of Religious Violence’. I invite Karen to either come out as a Secularist with a capital ‘S’, or come up with a better argument.

Are Religious Rights and Freedoms Being Trampled?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 9, 2014
Are Religious Rights and Freedoms Being Trampled?

Some religious people suppose that certain laws or rules that bind others
should not bind them. They should be exempt on religious grounds. So, for
example, in the UK a Christian employee of an airline claimed she should be
exempt from a company dress code that prevented her from publicly displaying a
crucifix. Christian hoteliers have maintained they should be exempt from
anti-discrimination laws requiring that they not refuse same-sex couples double
rooms. In the US, a photography company has argued that it should be exempt
from the law requiring it offer the same services to same-sex couples as other
couples wanting their occasion filmed.

The God of Eth

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 29.5, September / October 2005

Article
The God of Eth

Are the usual religious defenses of belief in God really up to the job? A dialogue.

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