Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Quiz March 24

1. Name one of Kitcher's assumptions he says "refined religion" abandons.

2. What is it about mortality and meaning that refined religion poses as a challenge to the secularist?

3. Name a famous defender of refined religion from the past century.

4. Full-blooded truth presupposes what?

5. What is a "true myth"?

6. What kind of future do secularists like Kitcher envisage?


  • Do secularists have as great a quarrel with refined religion as with fundamentalism? (Sam Harris, for example, has argued that it is an "enabler" of fundamentalism and must be equally confronted.)
  • What do you think of Emerson's abstract and figurative approach to the transcendent? Does it srrengthen his claims in defense of self-reliance and individualism? 66
  • What's wrong with identifying the transcendent with value itself? 67 Or the experience of value? Can transcendence be naturalized without "loss of dimensions of experience"?
  • Do you agree that the claims of the "subsidiary characters" in the Abraham story are disregarded? 70
  • COMMENT: "Faith adds a depth of seriousness" to life.
  • Is refined religious sophistication "a cover for sophistry"? 72
  • Do we really live in different worlds and escape to other realities? 73 Isn't our one shared human world big enough to contain innumerable sub-worlds, reflecting our various purposes and psyches?
  • Have you encountered truths in fiction? How do you think about and relate to them? Are they "endorsed" by their writers and readers, imagined, discovered, ...? Are they literally or figuratively true? For example: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more: it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." True?
  • Is religion a language-game? How about irreligion? How do you decide whether a language-game is "worth playing"? 84
  • What does it mean to "abandon the assimilation of ethical truth to factual truth"? 85
  • Can atheists achieve the same purposes attributed to religion? 87-8
  • Is science free of superstition?
  • Is "purifying progress" an oversimplification? 92
  • COMMENT: "Refined religion is a way station, not a final destination." 94

The third Terry Lecture anticipates chapter 4.

Rebecca Goldstein, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction... appendix (edge.org)
1. The Cosmological Argument
2. The Ontological Argument
3. The Argument from Design A. The Classical Teleological Argument B. The Argument from Irreducible Complexity C. The Argument from the Paucity of Benign Mutations D. The Argument from the Original Replicator
4. The Argument from the Big Bang
5. The Argument from the Fine-Tuning of Physical Constants
6. The Argument from the Beauty of Physical Laws
7. The Argument from Cosmic Coincidences
8. The Argument from Personal Coincidences
9. The Argument from Answered Prayers
10. The Argument from a Wonderful Life
11. The Argument from Miracles
12. The Argument from the Hard Problem of Consciousness
13. The Argument from the Improbable Self
14. The Argument from Survival After Death
15. The Argument from the Inconceivability of Personal Annihilation
16. The Argument from Moral Truth
17. The Argument from Altruism
18. The Argument from Free Will
19. The Argument from Personal Purpose
20. The Argument from the Intolerability of Insignificance
21. The Argument from the Consensus of Humanity
22. The Argument from the Consensus of Mystics
23. The Argument from Holy Books Gold
24. The Argument from Perfect Justice
25. The Argument from Suffering
26. The Argument from the Survival of the Jews
27. The Argument from the Upward Curve of History
28. The Argument from Prodigious Genius
29. The Argument from Human Knowledge of Infinity
30. The Argument from Mathematical Reality
31. The Argument from Decision Theory (Pascal’s Wager)
32. The Argument from Pragmatism (William James’s Leap of Faith)
33. The Argument from the Unreasonableness of Reason
34. The Argument from Sublimity
35. The Argument from the Intelligibility of the Universe (Spinoza’s God)
36. The Argument from the Abundance of Arguments
Arguments analyzed here


  1. "Can atheists achieve the same purposes attributed to religion?"

    Absolutely. With no equivocation or doubt. Look at the ones he lists.

    'Tendencies to joyful experience'--Happens almost daily with a good song.

    'a sense of being "at home in the universe"'--The perspectives that science and math grant do this for me better than any service ever did.

    'Enhances fraternity'--As a giant nerd, I play role-playing games. Fraternity is required for those.

    'cultivates ethical sensibility'--Respect and empathy for and with other people does not require religion...and might even preclude it.

  2. "Is science free of superstition?"

    Yes, but only on a technicality. Science is free of superstition, but how we study and practice science is not. Ideally it would be. Still, it may be impossible to remove the human tendency to reverence. It would be optimal if we were always ready and willing to discard any belief that is contradicted, but that is not likely to happen any time soon.

  3. Can atheists achieve the same purposes attributed to religion? 87-8

    Definitely. With out a doubt I believe that atheists can achieve the same purposes attributed to religion, without the act of actually being religious. Although, purpose is not defined very easily, and that’s where I think many conflicts arise from. Many people fall into a religion for a sense of belonging, and reason as to why we are here. And I think atheist fall into atheism because they have that same question as well. Although both conclusions are completely different, each side feels joy and pride in their belief and understanding.