Jeffrey Jay Lowder, founder of the Internet Infidels, offers a welcome clarification of the term ‘feethinker,’ in his article, “Is ‘Freethinker’ Synonymous with ‘Nontheist?‘” He ultimately agrees with Bertrand Russell that what defines a freethinker is not the content of his beliefs, but because “after careful thought, he finds a balance of evidence in their favor.” In principle, then, Lowder concedes that a theist could be a freethinker. His unremarkable conclusion is noteworthy because it demurs from the pervasive opinion of many skeptics that the defining characteristic of religious people is their unthinking credulity. Consider, by way of contrast, the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s ‘nontract’ (sic), “What Is A Freethinker?” Still, Lowder rejects the possibility that an Evangelical Christian could be a freethinker. Considering Lowder’s familiarity with the recent flowering of excellent Christian scholarship, especially in philosophy, his denial of Christian “free thinking” is, in the end, a bit puzzling.
In a recent issue of Philosophy Now, Daniel Hill describes how the work of Alvin Plantinga has revolutionized the discipline of Philosophy of Religion. His cursory sketch of the subject and his observations on Plantinga’s unique and peerless contributions are an interesting introduction to the field and its leading spokesperson. Several of Plantinga’s articles [link expired] are available online. For a fuller synopsis of his life and work, consider reading The Analytic Theist.
Christianity teaches that something is profoundly wrong with the human person. We are, among other things, corrupted, dysfunctional, sinful, and at times evil. Furthermore, there is ultimately only one remedy for our condition, and that is salvation from ourselves and our condition by faith in Jesus Christ. This central Christian tenet is often unsettling to Christians themselves and is positively insufferable to the culture at large. Religious Tolerance Online, for example, catalogues all manner of religious perspective with delicacy and precision, raising no quibble with their various beliefs. But it judges the Christian belief in the unique salvific efficacy of Jesus as on par with racism and other forms of intolerance. Observe the author’s herculean (and commendable) effort to describe Christian exclusivism’s view toward other religions without expressing his/her own frustration and sadness with this perspective. Leadership U. is featuring several articles that seek to justify Christian exclusivism. We especially recommend Rick Rood’s “The Christian Attitude Toward Non-Christian Religions,” Brad Johnson’s, “A Three-Pronged Defense of Salvific Exclusivism in a World of Religions” and Paul Johnson’s “The Necessity of Christianity“.
TJ Walker’s Web Radio Show is currently featuring a very interesting interview with Molleen Matsumura (link expired), a member of the National Center for Science Education (an organization promoting, in particular, evolutionary education). Her disregard for the “Intelligent Design” movement is an enlightening glimpse of its continuing perception among evolutionists. Cross reference her primary contention — that Intelligent Design theories are not genuine theories because they fail to have explanatory power — with Stephen Meyer’s, “The Methodological Equivalence of Design & Descent,” on explanation, and Dembski’s “The Explanatory Filter,” on her God of the gaps concern. Since the concerns Matsumura raises have been so thoroughly discussed by the Intelligent Design movement, it is hard not to wonder why she exhibits no familiarity with their proposed solutions. David Kornreich’s, “Why Creationism is not a Science,” (link expired) seems equally oblivious to these discussions. Behe’s Empty Box, on the other hand, is a glimpse of the possible dialogue prompted by taking Intelligent Design theorists’ criticisms seriously.