This group has been designed with very specific intentions in mind. I am experimenting with the idea of a defeasible but assertable (not authoritative, dogmatic or immutable) manifesto for anti-supernaturalist anti-religionists. It should be stated from the outset that this project may simply be ill-conceived and errant. The reasons for this, and for making this statement, are discussed below. I think that a forum like Atheist Nexus in the year 2010 is a good platform for working out the pros and cons of such a manifesto, and whether it is even a workable or rational idea in the first place. So long as it is tolerated and mutually beneficial, I will continue to try and develop the manifesto here. I will name it the UniAPE Fluxing Manifesto Version 1.0 in keeping with the mood and emergent epistemological practices of the information age (by emergent epistemological practices of the information age I mean the way in which scientifically and computationally informed and equipped humanity has begun to regard knowledge: as intrinsically informational and scientifically ratified.)
As I will discuss further below, the UniAPE Fluxing Manifesto Version 1.0, although a serious attempt at fixing an algorithm for considering and stating the intellectual and conceptual parameters of contemporary materialist-physicalist atheism, is intended to be a continual work in process. (To skip this technical introduction and jump to the meat of the manifesto, go to 2a below.) The UFM is a text in the normative sense, but with characteristics which make it quasi-algorithmic in some aspects and perhaps even actually algorithmic in some others, and with a failsafe of a-priority complete disposability. For a start, if the term ‘UniAPE’ is unpopular, universal atheist is an acceptable alternative, but this is of course just nomenclature. I happen to think the grammatical structure of ‘UniAPE’ is properly representative of the ideational and discursive background of the information age. The UniAPE Fluxing Manifesto should never be made anyone’s doctrine or dogma, nor propounded as authoritative, but should still be considered as dialectically and dialogically immune to supernaturalism, mysticism and theism-deism. These declared constants should be considered as logically and referentially stable immutable conceptions and statements of materialism and physicalism and the denial of religiosity and supernaturalism which can only be changed in the face of insurmountable physical scientifically verifiable evidence to the contrary where cause and effect, and the evidential link between them, are both scientifically verifiable. In simpler terms, there are some almost non-negotiables, which in theory would be ejected if say, some kind of god actually showed up. Simultaneously, the UFM is not supposed to be an open source repository for total relativism. To make this simple to understand, the core constants of the manifesto include an intellectual embracing of materialism, naturalism, physicalism, rationalism, anti-supernaturalism, atheism, anti-deism, anti-mysticism, and irreligion.
Putative atheist Deists and spiritualists will find little to satisfy them herein. The UFM is not an attempt to appeal to or unite any and every person who thinks of themselves as an atheist under some common doctrinal banner: that would be the antithesis of the project. Religious syncretism under the auspices and guise of ideological syncretism is clearly incompatible with and logically contradicts anti-religious atheist-materialism: it is logically inane to tolerate different faiths and religious creeds when one understands and maintains that all of them are ultimately deleterious to the rationality, psychological health, and general wellbeing of the human individuals everywhere. Syncretists are never comfortable with such statements, but nothing makes syncretism logically coherent – it is only pragmatic in the Jamesian sense. The UFM is designed to help relieve the individual of the damaging burden of their religious faith, and this is not achievable by validating faith for cognition substitution and baroque doctrinal nonsense. (Syncretism is designed for preserving profits and power in the face of intersubjective ideological and religious incompatibilities and sectarianism: not bad for short term gain, but not much good for getting rid of religion.) There are of course numerous (perhaps innumerable) problems with such an undertaking at the outset. Aside from achieving a basic balance of expression which limits complexity for broader consumption, whilst retaining specificity to avoid ambiguity and mitigate (as much as is realistically possible) misinterpretation and basic misunderstandings, there are the greater problems of the format and nature of such a manifesto.
Presumably, one of the primary objectives of the rationalist atheist and freethinker is to avoid any and all of the multifarious pitfalls associated with religious dogma, religiosity, faith-cognition substitution, mysticism and doctrinaire supernaturalism. As such, this is not supposed to be anything resembling a creed or a statement of faith, although due to the necessary philosophical logical and rational assertions it encapsulates, it may appear to have the same tone. In the sense that it is intended to provide a textual, informational and philosophical antidote to religiosity, supernaturalism and other discursive and psychological pathogens, the UFM is necessarily not without clear assertoric and propositional elements. However, one of the primary errors of the opponent of religion, theism-deism and supernaturalism has been to assist in the reification of the imaginary and false objects of the aforementioned disease type memes. In other words, opposing the religionist and supernaturalist are often counterproductive. This is because religions and their associated doctrines frequently thrive on conflict, warfare and basic opposition. The conception of human suffering as something to be embraced or respected is an outcome of such thinking (or pseudo-thinking.) One should avoid swearing at or attempting to offend the god character of the judeo-christian faiths directly as one would a real person, not because it is blasphemy or offensive, but because it is basically inept and ridiculous to malign an unreality in the first place. The primary stance of the UFM is not oppositional, but analytic and rational: there is no such thing as attacking or hating ‘god’, because there is demonstrably nothing to attack or hate in the first place. It is the practice of reifying supernaturalistic, mythological and mystical fictions and pseudo-histories and the delusive destructiveness of individual lives that is the inevitable upshot of such anti-intellectual deception which is to be attacked. The UFM is intended to have the characteristics of a process, and to behave (analogically) like an immune system which produces antigens to religionist and supernaturalist memes.
At the outset, and due to the theme of defeasibility as inspired by the optimal practices of hard-scientific endeavour, it should be acknowledged that this effort may either simply fail, or be ill conceived to begin with in a way that I have not had the energy or time to consider. In saying this I do not wish to unnecessarily undermine the UniAPE Fluxing Manifesto or the confidence of the reader, as much as to embrace the aforementioned defeasible approach, with a mind to avoiding the normative dogmatic assuredness, arrogant injunctions, and brash assumption of religious and theistic dogmatists and religious meme developers. If the UniAPE Fluxing Manifesto became in any sense memetic, on the basic interpretation of the term, it would not be by design in the sense of determined meme manufacture, but would be a normative upshot of ideational uptake and mental assent on the part of many individual minds. It is necessary in this purview to observe a distinction between intellectually harmful or deleterious and cognitively beneficial or helpful memes.
One of the intended outcomes of the project is to attempt to establish the efficacy and value of attempting to arrive at a wholly conceptually cohesive manifesto. An assumption is that in addition to defeasibility, a necessary property of the UFM will be the presentation of the intrinsic reality of disagreement, dissent and uncertainty about some concepts. This is one of the more tenuous and difficult aspects of the undertaking, since most theories and manifestos produced by scholars and thinkers in general are normatively expected to achieve consistency and uniformity of conclusion. The intention is not to accommodate inconsistency or contradiction, but to admit open issues and questions and live debates, as opposed to implementing not-negotiable autocratic decrees and dogma for pragmatic, economical or utilitarian purposes.
A note on the structure of the UFM
The UFM is configured partly like a formal technical document, partly like a philosophical treatise, and has grammatical and structural characteristics of a high level object oriented computer program. I had considered some kind of flowchart structure initially, but have decided to use a more straightforward and easily transferable hierarchical text framework, into which algorithms, formal logic, natural language statements, diagrams and any other helpful mode or form of information can be included as a module. Recorded video and multimedia modules with appropriate technical and analytic content are quite valid and may be added at later times, as are mathematical, computational and scientific models (with appropriate explication and presentation.) However, at this point, the base level framework is largely natural language text encoding largely assertoric and critical statements. The structure should transfer readily to an actual hypertext-hypermedia implementation. This hybrid and metamorphic format is intended to facilitate the defeasibility, updateability, modularity and flexibility of the UFM. Any term parenthesised by >> is to be considered uncertain pending further information and argument.
The UniAPE Fluxing Manifesto Version 1.1:
1. RecursiveDefeasibility(Dissent, Disagreement, Free Speech, Anti-dogmatism)
a. Most materialist atheists will disagree with some or many of the statements and assertions in this Fluxing Manifesto. This is not only to be expected but is desirable and encouraged. However, the UniAPE Fluxing Manifesto is intended to be cohesive in its quasi-immutable core conceptual and intellectual constants (materialism, anti-supernaturalism, irreligiousness, a-spiritualism, a-theism/a-deism and RecursiveDefeasibility()) to retain the cohesiveness and logical rationality of its core character as a hybrid process-text designed to provide an antidote to the psychologically and discursively pathogenic effects of religiosity, faith-cognition substitution, theism/deism, and supernaturalism. The core conceptual and intellectual constants are quasi-immutable because, although it is considered to be an impossibility, veridical verifiable evidence of supernatural cause and effect would result in an overturning of said constants. Without parameterised recursive defeasibility and dissent promotion, the UFM becomes useless and impotent dogma. Many religious texts, discourses and doctrines are updated, re-interpreted and re-applied despite their pretense to ‘moral’ and epistemological immutability. This obvious contradiction reveals such texts as fraudulent. The UFM is designed to embrace and depend upon scientifically inspired and secured materialist conception of truth and reality, but to recognise that contingent scientific defeasibility is the key to converging on real knowledge – not dogmatic a-priori assertions.
2. Reality(Darwinism, Evolutionary theory, Scepticism, )
a. UniAPEs are suspicious of ritual and dogma alike, and value defeasibility in theory and intellectual commitment (the ability to change ones theory and one’s mind about anything given adequate demonstrable material evidence, especially in the form of scientific or logical proof.) UniAPEs are comprehensively sceptical about the supernatural and/or preternatural, but not necessarily sceptics per se, as scepticism can be broadly applied to such things as the existence of the external world, numbers, thought, and human identity. UniAPEs regard that some form of Darwinian evolutionary theory should be regarded as the most likely correct explanation - according to physical evidence and inference to the best explanation (generally*) in accordance with Ockham’s principle of explanatory economy - for the existence of complex life on Earth and in the universe in general. UniAPEs allow for the possibility that other complex physical causes of the existence of complex organismic life may contingently turn out to be the real in conjunction with evolutionary theory, such as the intervention of a highly sophisticated and intelligent sentient beings. However, in the latter case the being(s) in question would simply be, and be referred to as, individuals belonging to an extraterrestrial alien species, and would be regarded as having themselves evolved. UniAPEs would not accept such a theory without demonstrable empirical scientific evidence. For UniAPEs, both cause and effect, and the link between them, must be demonstrated together. No cause can be assumed on the basis of effect, unless the link between the effect and the claimed type of cause can be statistically verified.
*UniAPEs accept that sometimes the best explanation – and indeed reality – may turn out to be neither intuitively accessible or simple.
3. Supernaturalism(Gods, Deities, Deification)
a. A universal atheist is a person who not only rejects the idea that any kind of god or gods might or do exist, but also refuses to deify or apply deifying metaphors to natural entities, realities or processes. They reject the idea of the existence of any and all forms of god or deity including putative natural deities, and they reject the practice of metaphorical deification of natural realities. As physicalists, UniAPEs reject any notion of the reality of the supernatural as normatively understood, and think that all real things that actually exist either are physical, or supervene upon the physical (e.g. thoughts require physical brain processes.) UniAPEs are therefore thoroughgoing universal irreligionist physicalist nonspiritualists>>.
4. Spiritualism(Spirituality) >>
a. UniAPEs reject any and all spiritualism as requiring the conception or reality of a spirit in either the metaphysically dualistic and/or supernaturalistic sense, and reject the need to refer to human hopes, dreams and aspirations or aspects of human conscious identity using the term ‘spirit’. UniAPEs accept that the conscious identity of a human individual is simply the conscious identity of a human individual, and regard that no terminological or metaphysical spiritualisation of this reality is necessary, and that such actually diminuates the wonder of the reality of human consciousness and the conscious identity of the human individual. UniAPEs reject spiritualism and/or religionism of all kinds whether related to naturalistic deism, theism, pantheism, paganism, or any other kind of supernaturalistic or deistic commitment.
5. Evidence(Burden of proof, Ontology, Assumption)
a. The majority of people can be wrong about one or more facts or ideas, and frequently are.
b. The burden of proof is on the person making the positive ontological claim, otherwise we should all assume that pink unicorns are real in the absence of demonstrable evidence to the contrary.
6. Empathy(Decency, Morals, Ethics, Humanism)
a. UniAPEs generally refuse to acquiesce to, or validate intimidation or profiling based upon, the false idea that some kind of religious faith or spirituality are necessary for a person to be decent, compassionate, forgiving, unconditionally loving, empathetic, and caring. UniAPEs are Darwinian and psychological realists who think that management of aspects of human behaviour must be adaptively constructed and learned, but that dogmatic doctrinal systematisation of such management will almost always be harmful or deleterious to individuals.
b. Moral constructs are a dialectic inversion of the sin construct. In the rush to leverage folk psychology to satisfy the unthinking masses that atheism has a moral agenda, many atheists have erred intellectually and strategically, and fallen in to an irrationality maintained and propagated by deists and theists on a flawed pragmatic basis for thousands of years. The sin construct of judeo-christian religious writ is a reified devised fiction with clumsy supernaturalist metaphysics purposed to justify the need for salvation and/or purification of natural persons by equally fictional god-entities, the arbitration of which salvation is of course the purview of the religious institution and the programmers and purveyors of the delusive psycholinguistic doctrines of those institutions. The sin construct places a platonic entity within the person which renders them as somehow infected or impure, and morally dysfunctional. But then, of course, the moral is a construct as well. If the sin construct is something putatively undesirable, whilst the moral construct is something putatively desirable. Sin is an imaginary bad thing that one must overcome. Morals are imaginary necessary objects that one must somehow acquire. As G.E. Moore’s open question argument reveals, there is no logically satisfying valid description of the basis for any given moral, or even of what a moral is. Attempts to naturalise morals are ill-conceived because what is interpreted as scientific evidence of natural moral sense perception or physiologically innate moral values is an equivocation of a-priori moral precepts with contingent scientific discovery of natural environmental response mechanisms which are practical and survival reasons.
a. UniAPEs tend to be rationalist-realists rather than pragmatists, since philosophical pragmatism exists across a spectrum which goes from the scientifically respectable original philosophical pragmatism of C.S. Peirce, and the supernaturalistic-theistic variety propounded by William James, which latter variety largely holds sway in contemporary Western religionist culture. The term pragmatism is applied to a very broad and frequently incompatible range of notions and concepts.
b. ::ErrorTheory(Dogma, Beliefs, Pragmatic Moral codes): The faith response to the unknown or apparently unsolvable is to choose to believe in something, regardless of how disconnected from reason or reality it might be. This ‘faith patch’ approach to reality is the root of most human misery. It is better to avoid establishing any kind of belief code (e.g. moral code) on a pragmatic basis because such a code will ultimately not be in harmony with reality, and the dissonance between practice and truth always results in harm to someone. Deciding that stoning infidels or cutting the hands of thieves is moral and decreed by some objective moral basis are both examples.
8. FreeSpeech(Conspiracy Theories, Blasphemy, Offense)
a. Free speech is one of the few immutable necessities of a free-thinking civilisation. No progress can occur without free speech. The limiting of free speech is the tool of the theocractic oppressor. Free speech must necessarily ignore the offense response and the vacuous blasphemy construct, or else delusion and fear-based moral brutalisation will rule all.
b. The offense response to ideas, criticisms, freethought and information is a device of religionists and other psychological bullies to shut down valid criticism, rational discourse and argument. The offense response is a sign of intellectual dysfunction, and is intimately related to anti-intellectualism. Offense is not intellectually respectable and has no dialectic integrity as a response to rational argument or freethought. If someone is offended by what someone else thinks, the only valid response is a valid coherent argument, not a claim of offense. A claim of offense is not a valid substitute for a valid argument for why another individual should change their thinking.
c. There is no such thing as blasphemy, since there is no deity to malign. Blasphemy is a label applied by the religionist to anything that undermines the delusive mechanisms of their fraudulent doctrines.
d. Conspiracy theories, whilst frequently asinine, are nevertheless an expression of free speech and an approximation of the more philosophically respectable thought experiment. Often the label of ‘conspiracy theory’ is applied to intelligent and uncomfortable questions asked in extraordinary contexts or against a background of strangeness which makes them seem intellectually fragile, but this label is often divisive. Acute and unbridled inquiry is a threat to the doctrinaire autocrat and theocrat, and to the hyper-pragmatic manipulators of religious systems, and should thus be tolerated. Actual fabricated conspiracy theories can be harmful as any disinformation is potentially harmful, but some conspiracy theories are of the same tone and have similar content to heretical arguments during the time of The Inquisition.
9. Human Sexuality
a. There is no valid basis for any objective governance of the human sexuality of any individual by any group of persons who see themselves as ideologically opposed to that individual. That the vacuous offense device is so often deployed against varieties of sexuality is evidence that there is no objective basis in fact for the opposition which does not fall to the open question argument.