Fry On the Problem Of Evil, Part Two

There’s lots of good blog fodder out there, but I don’t want to let too much time go by before finishing my discussion of Stephen Fry’s presentation of the Problem of Evil. See Part One for the full context. Of all the responses I’ve seen to Fry’s interview, there was one that was so bizarre…

Academic Freedom

Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. Professor Jones, who has tenure, learns that a graduate student in a different department has conducted a class in a manner he finds objectionable. So Jones writes a blog post in which he attacks the graduate student by name. He uses incendiary rhetoric he could reasonably know would lead to…

New POTW, and Funny Science Videos

The fifth Problem Of the Week has now been posted at the big website. I’ve also posted an “official” solution to Problem Four. POTW will be taking two weeks off after this one, so you will have to make this last. (Spring break is almost upon us, which seems incredible considering how cold it is…

Fry On the Problem Of Evil, Part One

My favorite philosophical conundrum has been back in the news lately, thanks to a recent interview with British actor Stephen Fry: Asked by the interviewer what he would say to God were he to discover, after his death, that He existed, Fry replied: I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you?…

The Epic USATE Post!

All my hard work in Baltimore, and all the frustrations of the various drives, paled to insignificance upon arriving at the Parsippany Hilton. You see, it was time for another go at the U. S. Amateur Team East chess tournament. It’s one of the biggest chess parties of the year, with more than 1300 players…

Adventures in Baltimore

It’s snowing again. Pretty hard, actually. So, since it looks like I won’t be going anywhere today, how about I tell you about my recent travels? My adventures started last Thursday. I hopped into the Jasonmobile around noon, and headed out to Baltimore. This entails driving on I-495, better known as “The Beltway.” When you…

New “Problem Of The Week”

My recent travels, to Parsippany, NJ via Baltimore, MD, which involved three talks in two days, followed by multiple games of chess, bookended by two long drives, came to a dramatic conlcusion yesterday when I had to drive home in the snow. Not fun! There was so much snow on the road that you frequently…

New “Problem of the Week” Posted

The third problem of the week is now up at the big website. I’ve also posted the official solution to Problem Two. So go have a look and let me know what you think. Feel free to present solutions in the comments. Unless, of course, you just want to pick micronits with the problem statement.…

Darwin Day Approaches!

I will be in Baltimore at the end of week to give a couple of talks in honor of Darwin Day. On Thursday, February 12, I will be speaking to the Baltimore Ethical Society. Pot luck dinner at 6:30 pm, with the talk beginning at 7:30. I will give a talk entitled Among the Creationists;…

Sunday Chess Problem

It’s time to take a break from helpmates and return to selfmates. This week’s problem was composed by Andrey Selivanov in 2014. The stipulation is selfmate in three: Recall that in a selfmate, white plays first and forces black to give checkmate in no more than the stipulated number of moves. Black, for his part,…

No One Needs A Moral Philosophy

Here’s something that happened this week: David Brooks wrote a bad column about secularism. In fairness, it gets off to a decent start: Over the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people who are atheist, agnostic or without religious affiliation. A fifth of all adults and a third…

New POTW Posted

The second Problem of the Week has now been posted. Also posted is an official solution to the first problem. Go have a look, and let me know what you think in the comments. But don’t get cocky. The problems get harder as we go along…

Proving God Exists

Broadly speaking, there are two general strategies for proving that God exists. One we might call the scientific approach. This is where you point to some empirical fact and argue that it is beyond the reach of natural forces. The classic example is Paley’s version of the argument for design. Paley argued that just as…

Sunday Chess Problem

This week we continue our look at helpmates. This week’s problem has very different feel from the two helpmates we have seen thus far. It was composed by Joao Santiago and Nenad Petrovic, back in 1951. The stipulation calls for helpmate in four: Let me remind you that in a helpmate, white and black cooperate…

So Much For The Nightly Show

We’re only six episodes into The Nightly Show, the program Comedy Central put on to replace Colbert, but I’m about ready to write it off. Larry Wilmore, the show’s host, was pretty funny as a correspondent for The Daily Show, so I was optimistic. But it was not to be. The basic format is this:…