New: Meditation, Spirituality,
Do you meditate? If so, why? Is it because you are spiritual? Do you hope it may lead to enlightenment? What is enlightenment anyway? Does it even exist? In this article I discuss these questions in the light of my experience of two methods of meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Buddhist insight meditation (mindfulness).
Religion and Language
Religion and language are closely bound up with each other and are probably acquired in similar ways. Religious belief may be all but impossible to eliminate in human societies.
New: Mathematics and Me
How I acquired and lost a fear of mathematics.
The Casaubon Delusion
I use the term "Casaubon delusion" to refer to the search for "totality answers", which I argue are unobtainable.
Extensively revised 22 August 2021.
Most apparently miraculous cures are of cancer but spontaneous recovery from cancer does occur outside a religiou otx.
Avoiding the Casaubon DelusionThis article is now included in The Casaubon Delusion
Julian Jaynes Revisited
Julian Jaynes put forward a remarkable theory of the origins of human consciousness. His contentious ideas seem to be experiencing a belated revival today.
Quotations for Sceptics
Some favourite sceptical quotations collected over the years.
Religion as Parasite, Parasite as
This essay won a prize in a competion in The Skeptic magazine.
The Survival Question
Most sceptics dismiss postmortem survival out of hand. Not all, however, and here I look at the issue from a secular standpoint.
Buddhism for Humanists
Buddhism appeals to some Western intellectuals who are otherwise indifferent or even hostile to religion. Here I consider what Buddhism has to offer from a humanist standpoint.
The Fine Art of Scepticism
Self-styled sceptics don't always avoid falling into the trap of dogmatism. Skepticism can become another form of belief system.
How to Tell if You Live in A
This is an intriguing suggestion but could we know that it is the case? It seems possible that the creators of the simulation might have planted clues to let us suspect the real state of affairs.
Reflections on the F word
It is often stated or assumed that faith is a good thing in itself, although materialists and atheists dispute this. But is faith something one can actually avoid, or is it inevitable even for materialists?
Thomas Nagel and the Fear of Religion (revised
Thomas Nagel thinks that there is a deep-seated fear of religion among many secularists and that this prompts much modern scientism and excessive enthusiasm for evolutionary paychology.
Thomas Nagel and the Religious Temperament
Thomas Nagel has written a sequel to his essay on the fear of religion, in which he suggests that it is possible to make the case for a form of secular teleology. This is a profound and thought-provoking article.
The Origin of Religion
Religion is often treated by rationalists as primarily a matter of belief, and there is much argument about how such strange notions could originate or be widely accepted. However, I think religion is better regarded as originating from narrative, with belief being a secondary elaboration.