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t3knomanser's Fustian Deposits

In a Posse

How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

run the fuck away

Mad science gone horribly, horribly wrong(or right).

In a Posse

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Richard Dawkins is a pre-eminent atheist, author of the excellent book The God Delusion on the subject, and is perhaps one of the most vocal scientists and most vehemently opposed to the principle of "Non-overlapping Magisteria" (NOMA).

NOMA is the politically correct and scientifically flawed argument put forth by Stephen J. Gould (most notably), among many others- that certain questions, specifically the religious ones, are beyond the scope of science. Science can never hope to touch the existence of god or miracles.

Dawkins, quite reasonably, calls bullshit. A Universe governed by a God is a very different Universe than one that isn't. The "God Hypothesis", as Dawkins calls it, is in every way, a scientific question. At best, NOMA is a politically expedient détente, at its worst, shoddy scholarship and bad science. If scientific evidence of some religious miracle were to appear (Dawkins uses the example of DNA evidence proving that Jesus had no father)- would theologians throw their hands up and cry, "We don't care- wrong Magisterium!" Of course not- and in the same way, as science finds increasing evidence that all religion is bullshit- as it closes the gaps that allow faith to thrive ("Faith is a beast that preys on ignorance- in the absence of ignorance, faith withers and starves." - Me) naturalists should not pussyfoot around supernaturalists.

Faith, at its core, is an incredibly dangerous mode of thinking. An entirely pre-rational mode of thought, there is no concrete basis for decision making once you accept that "Faith" has any validity. Faith is an intellectual vacuum that can be used to justify anything- and has been. It uses the logic of the insane: "This is true because I believe it's true." This sort of auto-tautology has lead to one of the most fraudulent claims I've ever heard: that religion provides moral absolutes. Utter bullshit of the most amazing chutzpah- religion provides no absolutes because religion attaches itself to the shifting and baseless argument from faith. If religion did prescribe absolute morality, we'd still be stoning people in the streets. No, our enlightened morality is not caused by religion, but exists in spite of it.

Let me repeat that: Morality exists in spite of religion. People have, quite rationally, concluded that stoning people for violating dietary laws, performing adultery, and so on is probably not the best basis for structuring a society. Rational thought and wisdom have taken some of the teeth from faith's maw. People have "selective hearing" when it comes to god's word- and where they don't, we get abortion clinic bombers and jihadists. I advocate we take it one step further- instead of containing faith with reason, why not simply abandon faith all together?)

At some point, I intend to flesh this out into a formal essay, with some core theses:
  • God most likely doesn't exist, and the theistic God of most religions definitely doesn't exist.
  • Faith is not enough to support belief in god anyway.
  • Faith is just generally bad.

Another essay that I need to write is: "You don't have the right to be wrong," ie. nobody has the right to hold beliefs that run contrary to logic and evidence. Note, and this is important, I do not claim that society or public opinion or current orthodoxy play a role in this. It's perfectly okay to hold ideas that are "wrong" by society's standards (like making the claim that "God almost certainly doesn't exist"- which is "wrong" in most people's estimation, but supported by evidence in a way that God's existence isn't). While emotionally, it is difficult, when presented with accurate evidence and airtight logic one should happily abandon their current hypotheses and replace them with one that suits the facts.

Maybe that'll be my equivalent of all the nanos- 50,000 words of non-fiction.

(And when I really get my hackles up, I might even attack "Free Will" (which I'm fairly certain exists as en experience, but not as a true motivator of human behavior))
  • If you are going to make assertions that faith is bad, might I suggest reading Kirkegaard's Fear and Trembling, which is the classic arguement of why it's good. He discusses both religious faith and non-religious faith. It might help you in your persuit.
    • Kierkegaard's reasons for why it's good don't hold up- I wrote an essay on the subject in college, but alas, it has gone to the winds.

      And he most certainly does not address the "Faith means you can be made to believe anything" problem. That one negative outweighs any of the positive elements of faith (and there must be positive aspects- natural selection tends towards economy).
    • Oh gawd. I had not remembered clearly which one "Fear and Trembling" was- it was the one that made me realize I hated Kierkegaard- and previously I had greatly liked some of his stuff.

      But I'll still incorporate it into my ripping apart of faith, even if it does mean rereading it in detail and its entirety, since you brought it up.
      • I wasn't a particular fan of it either, but if you're going to write about why faith is bad, it's usually a good idea to address the arguements about why it in fact is good and that's the only example I could think of on the top of my head. And then I realized that it was an important response to Hagel and all that nonsense.

        So - are you going to address the falacy of induction? I have faith that the sun will rise every day (in the lay sense, not scientific sense), but I can never be too sure, can I? Is that a bad faith?
        • What makes my belief that the sun will rise not faith is that if the sun did not rise- I would not believe that it will rise every morning.

          I don't take that the sun will rise on "faith"- I take it on evidence. I have mountains of evidence that the sun will rise in the morning- from the experience of million-billions of other people, to a basic understanding of orbital mechanics. Based on that evidence, I can make an extremely strong prediction that the sun will rise the next day- I can even predict down to the minute when that will be.

          If the sun did not rise on one day, contrary to my predictions, then obviously, my techniques for predicting were wrong! The scientific method can then be used to refine them.

          Now, I'm not completely sure if that is the "lay" sense or not- since I'm not an astronomer, I would consider that "lay-person". Of course, the beauty of science is that there are no lay-people, because there are no mysteries, just collections of facts and theories that explain and account for those facts.

          Now, I do not, before going to bed, take bets on whether or not the sun will rise- I don't even give it any thought. I think this is really what you mean by the fallacy of induction- since its always done it, it must do so again. I would argue that it's not truly "faith"- because faith is "belief in the absence of evidence". The fact that it has always done so is very compelling evidence (but not proof!). I would say that, without understanding the mechanism that causes the sun to rise each morning, it is not an entirely safe assumption to think that it will continue to do so, but entirely practical.
  • If you will allow me to comment, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity. Again, I apologize for the intrusion.

    I just want to ask a question. Although I can deduce not what is explicitly stated, when you speak of faith, are you being particular in it's application to religion, or do you mean faith in any regard?
    • Faith in any regard, religion is just one of the most obvious examples of faith- in fact, in my own mind, I define religion as anything that requires faith.

      Like "love" we often use faith in many contexts, not all of which are applicable. For example, one might speak of having "faith" that when they release a ball, it will fall from their hand and strike the ground. There is proof, prior experience that leads us to believe that all balls fall the same way at all times- and we have yet to find one that doesn't.

      When I refer to faith, I refer specifically to belief without any proof.

      And if I were concerned about people commenting, I would block comments. It is not an intrusion if I leave the door open with an invitation to enter.
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