$4.4 Million Grant to Study Free Will

(Cross-posted from Religion Compass Exchanges)

The John Templeton Foundation recently awarded Alfred Mele, the William H. and Lucyle Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University (FSU), a $4.4 million grant to “oversee a four-year project to improve understanding of free will in philosophy, religion and science.” Funding for the project, “Free Will: Human and Divine — Empirical and Philosophical Explorations,” will support international researchers (“who submit proposals to study the science, conceptual underpinnings and theology of free will”), research colloquia and a postdoctoral position at FSU’s department of philosophy over the next three years, a two-week seminar in the summer of 2012, and as much as $30,000 in prize money Continue reading “$4.4 Million Grant to Study Free Will”

Is environmentalism a religion?

Every so often popular debate breaks out about whether belief in anthropogenic global warming is analogous to religious belief. These debates almost always turn into debates about whether environmentalism is a religion. Typically, one side maintains that the distinctive feature of religious belief is that it appeals to the supernatural, and so environmentalism isn’t a religion. The other side maintains that the distinctive feature of religious belief Continue reading “Is environmentalism a religion?”

FREE syllabus: Cartesian Debates on the Eternal Truths

FREE PDFTeaching & Learning Guide for: What is at Stake in the Cartesian Debates on the Eternal Truths?
By Patricia Easton, Claremont Graduate University

Keywords:

Section: History of Philosophy

Subjects: Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysics, Modern (C17th – C19th)

People: Descartes, René

Key Topics: truth, ontology

(See all Philosophy Compass Teaching & Learning Guides‘)

Judge cites Russell in protecting philosophical beliefs

Earlier this month, Mr Justice Michael Burton ruled that employees holding philosophical views based on science and reason should be afforded the same legal protection from discrimination as those with religious beliefs. The case concerned Tim Nicholson, the former head of sustainability for Grainger, the UK’s largest listed residential property company. Nicholson claimed that he had been sacked due to his environmental beliefs. But Grainger’s lawyers contended that environmental views are political and a “lifestyle choice” which cannot be compared to religion or philosophy.

Mr Burton ruled that Nicholson’s views were entitled to the same protection as religious views and that the case should go before an employment tribunal. The written ruling, which looked at whether philosophy could be underpinned by a scientific belief, quoted from Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy and ultimately concluded that a belief in climate change, while a political view about science, can also be a philosophical one. Interestingly, Mr Burton ruled last year that Al Gore’s environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth was political and partisan as he assessed whether it should be shown to schools. (You can read about the case here and here.)

Continue reading “Judge cites Russell in protecting philosophical beliefs”

First International Blasphemy Day

Blake_The_BlasphemerSeptember 30, 2009, will mark, for many freethinkers, the first international Blasphemy Day. The new holiday–or unholyday–is being promoted by the Center for Free Inquiry (CFI). It will be inaugurated by an art exhibit in Washington DC, a soap-box style “speaker’s corner” in Toronto, and a Blasphemy-Fest! film-viewing in LA, all held at CFI centers.

The date September 30 was chosen to commemorate Continue reading “First International Blasphemy Day”

Atheist Delusions

Atheist DelusionHart, David Bentley, Atheist Delusions, Yale University Press, London / New Haven, CT £19.99 Hardback: ISBN 978-0-300-11190-3

Review by Matthew Feldman, University of Northampton

The battle has finally been joined. For Atheist Delusions is the frontal counter-attack that intelligent persons of faith have been long awaiting. Poor arguments against belief are simply swatted away (e.g. “the truth is that religion and irreligion are cultural variables, but killing is a human constant”, 13). But the main target of attack is the “New Atheism”, particularly those ‘devoutly undevout’ academics evangelizing what David Bentley Hart calls ‘the Gospel of unbelief’. Hart is certainly not alone in his criticism – even if he goes further than most, to the extent that his hyperventilating apologia for Christian humanism might leave more mild-mannered readers somewhat uncomfortable. A taste of his assault on a group he dubs ‘manifestly moral idiots’ is enough to make one blanch; extending to the ‘extravagantly callow’ Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and the ‘borderline illiterate’ Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code); to the ‘intellectual caricature[s]’ and failure of ‘consecutive logic’ by Christopher Hitchens (God is not Great); let alone Hart’s disdain for the High Priest of Atheism, Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), that ‘tireless tractarian’ with ‘an incapacity for philosophical reasoning’ (236, 3-4). Continue reading “Atheist Delusions”

Free Virtual Conference in October

Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference Registrants Google Map

Many thanks to all those of you who have already registered for the upcoming Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference. We’re very excited to see so many delegates from around the world and look forward to a truly global conversation during the conference.

Why register?

The conference website will be completely free and open to all, but registrants will receive something extra; a Virtual Delegates Pack, which will include the full conference schedule, details of the discounts available on Wiley-Blackwell publications (as part of our book exhibit), our new Online Author’s Survival Guide and much more.

Judging by the feedback we’re receiving, many of you are looking forward to participating in this online conference, as travel to a face-to-face event would be much more difficult (and less ecologically friendly).

We’d encourage you to spread the word about the conference amongst your friends and colleagues. You can direct people to http://compassconference.wordpress.com or our Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/CompassConf.