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Did you guys check out our Think Atheist Radio Show interview with philosopher Dr. Philip Kitcher, author of the new book The Ethical Project? It was linked to this week by Ex-apologist and by Leiter Reports, two of the best philosophy blogs on teh innernets! Dr. Kitcher, a giant in his field, is a Philosopher of Science with interests in the evolution of altruism and morality, the science/religion divide, and more. He is the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at New York's Columbia University and the winner in 2006 of the American Philosophical Association's Prometheus Prize for achievements in the Philosophy of Science. He joins us to talk about the evolution and development of morality and ethics. Check it out!
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So, of course you all will have heard the sad news this week... The indomitable Christopher Hitchens is no more. We knew it was coming– and he prepared us so well with his beautifully eloquent pieces about his diagnosis and his feelings about his approaching end– but it's still so hard to think that we'll never hear his fiery voice again. I'm sure you guys are with me in my intention to remain committed to the advance of the skeptical movement he championed. You will be missed Sir...
You'll certainly enjoy some links on the topic:
Read Francis Wheen's thoughts, friend of Hitch for 30 years. Susan Jacoby posted this piece. David Corn shared an office with the man and has some lovely insights into what he was like back in the early 80's. Hitch's long time friend, Ian McEwan had a nice tribute. Stephen Fry called Hitch a man of style and wit. Another long time friend, Christopher Buckley eulogized Hitch in the New Yorker. Richard Dawkins reminded the world that Hitch's illness made him a symbol of the honesty and dignity of atheism. Slate collected tributes from other friends, colleagues and fellow writers. Hitch's own brother, Peter Hitchens, wrote about their complicated relationship. Read the New Statesman tribute. The Vanity Fair tribute. The New York Times. And many more compiled at RD.net here.
**UPDATE: There have been some more tributes since I posted. They are from AC Grayling, Sam Harris, Simon Schama, Daniel Dennett, and Anne Crumpacker (the mother of that little girl that that Hitch gave some impromptu reading suggestions to). Plus Greg posted in the comments below with a link to Michael Shermer's thoughts.
But, in remembering the man, according not only to how he himself treated public figures that had died but also how we should treat public figures that have died, we shouldn't gloss over the fact that he had his flaws, some of them quite glaring. There were times when he was on the wrong side of a debate, sometimes quite awfully wrong.
It was announced that a new memoir, titled Mortality, will be published in January, a compilation of pieces from Hitch's column published in Vanity Fair.
Alright, now some cheerier stuff:
The reasons and rationalizations of Christian apologists when it comes to the Problem of Evil.
Regress-type arguments are the single biggest problem in all of fundamental science and philosophy.
Climate scientist Michael Mann talks about the evidence for climate change in this video.
Jerry Coyne asks where's this "moderate Islam" that we keep hearing about.
There was lots of talk this week about the quest for the Higgs owing to a scheduled press conference. Rumors abounded; had physicists at CERN found the vaunted particle? (Not sure what it is and why it matters? Here! How do physicists hunt for the Higgs, you ask? Here!) But cooler heads prevailed on us to expect less than a discovery announcement. In the end the discovery boiled down to "maybe... but, maybe not..." (Here's what was found and what it means.) It's a tantalizing hint, but not yet direct proof. But, wait, will finding one kind of Higgs be enough? But don't let anyone tell you that particle physics isn't still important, even if we don't find the Higgs.
The semi-naked ape, or why peach fuzz makes it harder for parasites.
If you can't notice a gorilla in plain sight, how can you testify as a witness?
Michael Ruse on Alvin Plantinga and "Intelligent Design". Jerry Coyne calls Plantinga's comments what they are: remarkably stupid remarks by a sophisticated theologian.
Supernova explosion gives a glimpse of how ingredients for life are created.
By 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of Earth's land surface and will drive the conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type - such as forest, grassland or tundra - toward another, according to a new NASA and university computer modeling study.
The New Statesman published an open letter from Richard Dawkins to the British PM David Cameron asking "Do you get it now?" on the subject of faith schools.
According to a new survey, nearly 20% of women in the US are raped.
Bumblebee bats, echolocation, evolution. Interesting.
"It takes a certain kind of optimism — or an outbreak of collective Stockholm syndrome — to see the Durban [climate change summit] outcome as a significant breakthrough on global warming, as many are claiming." Yikes. And yet why isn't climate change on more lips?
How we all pay for the huge tax privileges granted to religion. It's time to tax the Church!
When perceptions get mismatched in the mind, we can fall prey to maddening illusions, and reality is turned on its head.
British Prime Minister David Cameron says that Britain must return to biblical values.
How to shoot video at 1 trillion frames per second and catch a photon of light as it moves through a scene!
Jason Rosenhouse asks the question What is scientism? It's usually used as a pejorative but, is it a bad thing?
Are there more people with autism or are more people being diagnosed with autism?