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Sceptical Pieces

Anthony Campbell

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Sceptical Foreword
Here I provide a brief explanation of the guiding principle that underlies these pieces: namely, that what we experience is this world, and there is no other.
Religion and Language
Religion and language, I suggest, are closely bound up with each other and are probably acquired in similar ways. This suggests that religious belief may be all but impossible to eliminate in human societies.
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.
The Casaubon Delusion
I use the term "Casaubon delusion" to refer to the misguided search for "totality answers". But these, I argue are unobtainable.
Miraculous Cures?
Most apparently miraculous cures are of cancer but spontaneous recovery from cancer does occur outside a religious context.
Avoiding the Casaubon Delusion
Still on the Casaubon delusion theme, I consider what we can do to avoid falling into the trap of totality beliefs.
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.
Living with Uncertainty
Here I continue the theme of the Casaubon delusion and consider what it is in most of us that makes us crave certainty in an uncertain world.
Consciousness and Evolution
There is a widespread notion that the universe is "intended" to produce consciousness, intelligent life. But is it?
The Survival Question
Most skeptics 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 Skepticism
Self-styled skeptics don't always avoid falling into the trap of dogmatism. Skepticism can become another form of belief system.
Do We Live in A Simulation?
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
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.
Religion as Parasite, Parasite as Religion
This essay won joint third prize in a recent competion in The Skeptic magazine.
Quotations for Sceptics
Some favourite sceptical quotations collected over the years.

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