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Silent3's Journal
Silent3's Journal
March 28, 2012

It's people ever-so-gently treading on this kind of fuzzy-headed thinking...

...that helps perpetuate it. If you blather nonsense, and all you ever get in response is other people chiming in and amplifying that nonsense in a big gushing lovefest, and anyone who questions the nonsense is quickly shouted down as a big meanie... then what do you expect but more fuzzy-headed nonsense?

People respond much less to reasoning than they do to emotional cues and identity politics and tribal signifiers. If the most reasonable people eschew emotion just to show how reasonable they are, they lose. We need more people in this world gasping out loud, "Really? Are you nuts!?", not fewer.

March 25, 2012

Up w/Chris Hayes discusses the Reason Rally

This morning's episode was a refreshing change from the last time I discussed the intersection of Chris Hayes' show and atheism:


This time Hayes had actual self-professed atheists on the panel, a couple of whom had spoken at the rally, and also Richard Dawkins for part of the show, as a remote guest. This is in contrast to when Christopher Hitchens' atheism was previously discussed, which went more like... oh, having a Catholic-leaning all-male panel discuss abortion and contraception.

Since news coverage of the rally has been pretty sparse (Trayvon Martin and Etch A Sketch had, I suppose, consumed most of the available and always limited major media attention span) it was a pleasant surprise when I realized Hayes was starting his show this morning talking about the Reason Rally and atheism, and even more amazing when it turned out that atheism was the subject of nearly the entire two-hour show, with the initial atheist guests staying on to participate in the discussion all the way to the end.

This time Hayes even said he considers himself an atheist, albeit only as something very low on the list of things he'd first identify himself as. Consistent with the previous show, Hayes clearly remains disapproving of the more confrontational approach of some atheists. He'd rather have matters of religious doctrine treated as out-of-bounds for critical discussion unless they bear very directly on matters of public policy.

Changed from the previous show, however (whether this is an actual change of opinion for Hayes, or just a matter of trying to get along better with this show's guests), I don't recall the idea of "militancy" coming up at all, and no one tried to get away with calling atheism a religion.

This show is well worth seeking out if you haven't seen it or don't have it recorded already to see later.

March 7, 2012

Who is supposing answers here?

I simply believe that accepting a concept of God as a Creator is better than accepting nothing at all.

"Better" in what way? More emotionally satisfying to you? If you remain consistent with your opening words "There is no answer" then "better" is stopping there with that admission of ignorance.

That is a value judgment...

"To give is better than to receive" is a value judgment. The existence or lack thereof of a God is not a value judgment, it's a condition of the universe that we all share. Ignorance of the truth of that existence doesn't turn an assertion in the face of that ignorance into a value judgment.

...and until you can demonstrate otherwise...

In other words, even if I don't have evidence, until you prove me wrong, I'm right!

...this radical atheism is no improvement at all...

Apart from the fact that "this radical atheism" of yours is probably a cartoon caricature of atheism, what exactly needs to be "improved" here? A magic "black box" God who is nothing more than "the thing that does all things for which we don't understand how they are done" is not any sort of improvement, unless perhaps your only goal is to dress up human ignorance in a shinier, more impressive-sounding package, and not deeper understanding.

...those who care not at all to present a case to the opposite...

My "case to the opposite" is that I don't know, but neither do you. That you prefer to make up an evidence-free answer does not obligate me to have my own provable answer to replace yours.

If someone brings up what you're calling a "primordial soup" explanation for the origin of life they don't have to prove it to argue that it is plausible. Where plausible explanations exist based on proven principles and known quantities, even if the overall explanation is unproven, this demonstrates that there is no compelling reason to spend much effort exploring the unproven and the unknown as explanations, not until the known, and logical extrapolations of known principles, have been well exhausted and shown to be inadequate.

Suppose a bank has been robbed and the perpetrator is unknown. Hypothetically at least, the crime could have been committed by a werewolf or a zombie. There had better be good reason, however, to eliminate human suspects before you go wasting your time investigating werewolves and zombies. If the crime remains unsolved, the fact that it hasn't been solved, in and of itself, does very little to improve the odds that werewolves or zombies were to blame.

We may not know everything there is to know about how life works and where it came from, but using known principles of physics and chemistry and biology has increased our understanding of life far more than saying "God did it!" ever has. Given the track record of the scientific approach, I'd say the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate why it's better to say "God did it!" rather than to simply admit that our knowledge is limited, that we don't have all of the answers, but to stick to science as the best hope for increasing our knowledge.

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Gender: Male
Hometown: New Hampshire
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Member since: Sun Oct 3, 2004, 04:16 PM
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