Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Secularism

How to be a Good Person Without God

In many western societies, religion seems to be losing influence, particularly among young people. Many religious people argue that this threatens society’s moral frameworks. Without God, on what basis do we distinguish the good from the bad? Secularists often scoff at this question, resenting the implication that only the religious can be moral. And yet, many secularists are also moral subjectivists, who claim not to believe in any absolute sense of right and wrong, arguing that morality is culturally relative or a matter of individual taste. This does seem to imply that as religion weakens, the intellectual foundation of many of our substantive moral beliefs is being eroded, and that to the extent that secularists remain good people, it is often due to socialization and intellectual inertia rather than some truly substantive alternative. But it doesn’t have to be this way–there are excellent secular moral theories that do offer compelling objective alternatives to religious morality.

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On Free Speech and Religion, Pope Francis’s Views are Part of the Problem

Pope Francis recently made some comments about the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Unfortunately, the view he expresses is precisely the view I took issue with a few days ago, blaming the attack on the proximal cause (the cartoons) instead of on the wider socioeconomic inequities that drive alienated people into the arms of violent extremism. But that’s not even the end of it–there’s quite a bit wrong with what the pope said, when we examine it closely.

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What Kind of God Do Monotheists Believe In?

Yesterday, I did some writing about the conflict between secular moral theory and theistic religious moral theory. Today, this has me thinking in greater theoretical detail about the monotheistic position specifically and what it might entail. In the course of this thinking, I have run into something of a dilemma.

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Bill Maher and Ben Affleck are Both Wrong about Islam

In recent days, there’s been much discussion of an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher in which Maher (the host) and noted atheist Sam Harris got into a lively discussion with actor Ben Affleck over whether or not Islam is fundamentally less compatible with liberal values than Christianity, Judaism, or other religions. While I see many people taking sides, I found none of the arguments made particularly persuasive. I was instead struck by how thoroughly all three men seemed to miss the point.

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