With regard to myself, I am always hesitant to be quick to my own defense. Every other person (or, nearly so) is prone to allowing their blinders, and in fact I just finished a conversation on the existence of a maximal set of truths where my own inclinations stopped me from seeing what should have been an obvious inference. So, I'm not really sure what to make of the claim that I see the natural explanations for evolution as being far stronger than they are--that saying the theory of evolution is a well founded and demonstrated as heliocentrism is somehow wrong. Part of the problem is that I used to be an Old Earth Creationist, and it was the evidence of evolution that swayed me away. Did the pendulum swing too far in the other direction? I can probably never answer that objectively. However, I do take it as a personal responsibility to question my own views as well as those of others, and to change my views when reliable evidence opposes them. Isn't that part of the heart of being a skeptic? For now, I'll consider myself probably innocent on that particular charge. For those inclined to disagree, please use this thread to talk about skepticism and/or me generally, and let's keep lengthy comments about evolution specifically in the above-linked thread.
Meanwhile, at Martin Cothran's discussion of atheism and logic on vere loqui, an old contention about atheism and morality that I'm not interested in re-arguing today, find inserted this interesting little ditty (any distortion of the meaning by my snips is strictly unintentional).
There were, in fact, moral beliefs before Christianity came along. There are two kinds of virtue: the cardinal (or classical) virtues: Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Courage; and the theological (or Christian) virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity. The first four, the cardinal virtues, not only can be sustained without explicit religious belief; they in fact were. They arose in a world, not without religion, but without religions that said much about morality.
The cardinal virtues have also been called the “practical” virtues. They had mostly to do with getting along in life. The most familiar examples of this were Aesop’s Fables.
All these cases involve sheer self-preservation. This is of the essence of pagan morality: it is exclusively self-preservative or at least self-gratifying (and usually applied only to other members of one’s tribe or race).
But there is nothing in Aesop like the parables of the Good Samaritan, or the Lost Sheep, or the Prodigal Son. The theological virtues are completely different from the practical or classical virtues in this: there is literally no practical reason for them.
It turns out this is just plainly false. For example, in this version of the Serpent and the Eagle, there is no virtue more appropriate to describe the action of the man, or the eagle, than Charity. Neither expects to gain a direct benefit from their behavior. Of course, Cothran probably did not bother to actually research all of Aesop's fables before his comment. He knew of a handful, and they confirmed his previous bias that there is some sort of real difference in the notion of virtues between non-Christians and Christians. why should he bother to do any research to see if it was true? Of course, that's a theme skeptics see all the time from the credulous of all sorts.
Meanwhile, from Edward Feser's blog, we are treated to an article where, while trying to disprove “Having a thought with the content that P is identical to, supervenient upon, or otherwise explicable in terms of having a sentence with the meaning that P encoded in the brain", Feser begins by making a comparison to musical notes and numbers, saying that "... the point is that the relationships between notes are clearly not reducible to or entirely explicable in terms of mathematical relationships." Feser seems to have a habit using counter-to-reality claims (in other posts, we see a discussion of the notion of simultaneous cause-and-effect, which has no physical example). On a typical piano, there are seven "B" keys, each of which is exactly described by a number of Hz.
Finally, on the Maverick Philospher's blog, there is a brief post objecting to the term Islamophobia. For a person that prides themself on such a precise use of language that they are careful to distinguish between single quotes for non-direct quotes, and double quotes for direct quotes, this is just an embarrassing oversight. My guess is that it comes from the usual persecution complex we see among the religious, the automatic assumption that any term must be implying the worst possible meaning. While many times phobia indicates fear, the term is also used to indicate dislike or aversion. No one thinks you have to be scared of French or English people to be Francophobic or Anglophobic, similarly, you don't have be afraid of Muslims or Islam to be Islamophobic. It's quite correct to use the term Islamophobic (or homophobic) to describe people who just dislike Islam (or homosexuality). I think Dr. Vallicella needs to stop being "a dumbass PeeCee" conservative, and just accept this is what he is.