Experience has taught us that people will often employ outrage and hyperbole, often in the form of public shaming, to convince others rather than construct a sound argument. There may be several reasons for this. The research suggests that people generally find it easier to remain in the brain's equivalent of autopilot (system 1) than to employ slow, deliberate, analytical reasoning (system 2). [See Kahneman, "Fast and slow Thinking"] It seems that system 1 is the default. It may…Continue
I do understand your perspective, and I have had this discussion with others of various faiths before. And I have made some observations. Perhaps you can tell me whether you think the conclusions I have come to are valid.
First, it seems that while it is not always the case, it is nevertheless often true that small, local communities are echo chambers of like-minded belief.
I think people tend to believe whatever they were raised with. If…
Zeno: The philosopher David Hume pointed out that one can not logically deduce an "ought" from an "is." There is nothing that we "ought" to do. Morality is not an element in the periodic table, nor is it an objective and inalterable property of the universe. Our morality will depend on our desires and circumstances. If we wish to live and be happy, there are certain things that we need to do, but there is no "ought." There is no universal cosmic code…Continue
The world is actually a lot more boring than you give it credit for. People, as with electrons, seek the lowest energy state. People generally are far too lazy to really care full time about monitoring and controlling you. No doubt some of this goes on, but people also like to relax and enjoy a fine meal. Can't be world-dominating all the time. Need a break now and again. No doubt governments try to control people, but this process is not perfect. The world is far too messy and…Continue
By the way, speaking of matter, there is indeed a lot of space between nuclei and their companion electrons. This means that matter is not as dense as we usually think of it, but it is quite solid because of the electrostatic force. The electrostatic force is what keeps you from falling through your chair. However, if you were to eat enough doughnuts, you might become massive enough to overcome the Chandrasekhar Limit, at which point your gravity would exceed electron degeneracy…Continue
Free enquiry is important to me. I believe that people have a right to air their views. I do not wish to live in a society where the state can accuse you of thought crime and silence you. Who gets to decide what ideas constitute thought crime or for that matter who has committed thought crime? I suggest that we should not allow the state to decide. We must uphold freedom of speech without exception, but let us add the proviso that in those cases where one is in fact inciting to…Continue
It is not as a general rule irrational to place some degree of trust in expert opinion if that expert opinion is informed by the scientific method. This is because the success of the method is irrefutable. And to the extent that experts adhere to the scientific approach and submit their work for peer review, we may assign some credibility to their work. If every physicist on the planet says x is true, I had better have done the research before I attempt to refute them. We do not…Continue
"...that, basically, the importance of having as wide agreement as possible in free speech comes down to the fact that, firstly, you may need to hear opinions you do not want to hear because you yourself may be in error. And if you're not entirely in error, you may at least be partly in error. And you may need to be put back on a good course. And you may not be able to get back on a good course unless you can hear speech which some people may wish to deprive you of.
Any line that we draw regarding animal rights, if it is not applied to all life universally, will be arbitrary. Life feeds on life. We can not sustain ourselves at present without destroying life to do so. There is no rational argument for completely avoiding the consumption of all life. And there is no moral argument. The universe does not care whether people eat chickens, lions, or automobiles. We can however come up with cogent arguments for why we would not want to deplete…Continue
If you choose the broadest possible definition of religion, you will find that the soccer enthusiast and the man who believes in gods, devils, and other supernatural beasties are equally men of "religion." We can make no meaningful distinction between them. And yet there does appear to be something different between the two that cannot be accounted for merely by the degree of importance each assigns to an activity. For one thing, religion can not wholly be accounted for by activities. …Continue
Some religious apologists will say that the fact that science "works" does not necessarily mean that it tells us anything true about the world. It seems to me that it is impossible to ever determine with absolute certainty what is true because what we see is a model of the world created by our brains. Moreover, the accuracy and precision of our senses even with the aid of instruments is limited. Absolute certainty is impossible. But this is not the standard we use to assess our world…Continue
I have said in earlier posts that one of the criteria that distinguishes science from religion and pseudoscience is falsifiability. Scientific hypotheses should be falsifiable. There should be some evidence that could theoretically disprove a given hypothesis if it were false (See Karl Popper's "Conjectures and Refutations").
The god hypothesis is unfalsifiable. There is no theoretical test that could show that the god hypothesis is false. One cannot prove the non-existence of God…
Mathematician and Christian apologist Blaise Pascal famously wrote of those who were so made that they could not believe in God. He developed his ultimately flawed "wager" to address these non-believers.
There are many who simply can not bring themselves to believe in the supernatural. They can not believe in something without evidence. Such people could be referred to as "naturalists." But this is not to say that they necessarily adhere to the philosophy of…
Atheism is not a system of values
Atheism doesn't tell you what you "ought" to do. It is simply a lack of belief. Naturalism on the other hand is an epistemological position, i.e. "I don't see evidence for the supernatural, which includes gods"
One can be an atheist and be a great humanitarian or a mass murderer. Atheism is not a system of values. My lack of belief does not inform my values in any way.
But then I am not merely an atheist any more than a Christian is…Continue
Of Tu Quoque and Atheism as a Motivation for Mass Murder
The church has a long tradition of killing free-thinkers specifically for religious reasons. Pointing the finger at others will not erase this fact. But let's consider the claim that atheists "did it too." Let's consider the popular example, Stalin. Is the religious apologist's tu quoque that atheist Stalin was motivated to kill by his atheism valid? Was Stalin driven by atheism to kill not just Christians but to conduct the…Continue
The stock arguments do not prove that god exists. Recall that the conclusion of a deductively valid argument necessarily follows from the premises, but for an argument to be sound, the premises must be true. Even WLC's Kalam makes assumptions that cannot be verified. He makes several assumptions that take advantage of our cognitive biases and limited intuitions, but the history of science shows us (doesn't it?) that our middle-world intuitions are sometimes false. Galileo demonstrated that…Continue