Is Truth an Accident? Re: [FoRK] Is God an Accident?

Stephen D. Williams < sdw at > on > Sat Sep 23 07:22:47 PDT 2006

This is the traditional description of the range of non-theism.  The 
problem with it is that it doesn't really capture the Occam's Razor / 
scientific approach viewpoint which is what many of us have:

If you only believe and reason with what you have evidence for, and you 
interpret evidence via Occam's Razor and via the scientific principle, 
and you have any reasonable amount of modern knowledge about psychology, 
physiology, sociology, history, memetics, and other relevant ideas then 
you can firmly conclude that:

A) Gods and other supernatural things are not at all likely to exist 
since it is far more likely that belief in the supernatural, afterlife, 
and other mystical concepts are stubbornly replicating bad (i.e. not 
based on reality) memes.
B) Belief in the supernatural has, at best, neutral net benefit to the 
believer and those they affect on average (as opposed to the 
money-/sex-collecting and power wielding 
priest/minister/rabbi/sheik/witch doctor/astral projector operator/alien 
communication specialist for whom religion, in others, makes perfect sense).
C) Even if supernatural things do exist, they have had no predictable 
and verifiable affect for at least a couple thousand years, so it is not 
productive or useful to believe in them.  Relying on a very likely 
erroneous interpretation of the supernatural world to make Pascal's 
Wager is very unlikely to be correct.  Being optimistic, for example, in 
the face of mixed evidence has far more logical support.
D) Even if something apparently supernatural did present itself, knowing 
that any sufficiently advanced technology is magic to those ignorant of 
it, knowing that we have recently accomplished quite a bit of magic and 
seem poised to embark on some serious magic relatively soon, we would 
have to conclude that we were simply ignorant of the technology embodied 
in said supernatural presentation.  The obvious course of action is to 
display curiosity and employ the scientific method and/or political 
skills to learn.
E) If gods did exist, they are unlikely to want us to worship them in 
the way that any existing religion teaches.  If they do, they are 
immature, spoiled brats and I don't want anything to do with them 
anyway.  (See The Q and Greek Mythology.)

Therefore, in the limit, [Gg]od{s} and other supernatural things do not 
Humans do exist, and humans can decide to do positive or negative things 
based on their beliefs.  See Secular Humanism and the Scientific Principle.

As for a hair analogy:
If I can't see or touch my hair, and it never grows into my eyes, and 
other people can't see my hair, then I can safely conclude that I am 
bald.  If I'm not bald because my hair is invisible and has no mass, it 
doesn't really matter because for all my purposes, it would be 
indistinguishable from being bald and hair doesn't really need me to 
believe in it anyway.


Albert S. wrote:
> To be thorough there are(at least) two kinds of
> Atheism. The absence of a belief in God(s) is soft
> Atheism or Agnosticism. Some have a belief that there
> is no God(s) which is hard Atheism.
> Agnostics are theologically bald. For hard atheists
> their hair grows backwards into their heads. Their
> hair has color but you can't tell what it is.
> All that I know, is that I know nothing.
> Albert
> --- Eugen Leitl <eugen at> wrote:
>> On Fri, Sep 22, 2006 at 07:02:52AM -0700, Dr. Ernie
>> Prabhakar wrote:
>>>> If atheism is a belief, then bald is a hair
>> color.
>>> And if atheism is not a belief, then it is mere
>> skepticism, no?  In  
>> It is an absence of belief into things lacking
>> evidence.
>> If you're clling this "mere skepticism", then your
>> brain
>> is malfunctioning in many interesting ways. Okay, I
>> lied.
>> It's boring and predictable. The right thread for a 
>> late Friday afternoon, something between setting up
>> VPN tunnels, and bricking the router by a b0rked
>> firmware
>> upgrade.
>>> which case, I would think my argument holds: when
>> do you stop not  
>>> believing in everything?  Whose theory is bald
>> now? :-)
>> Because everything is an effective infinity. Don't
>> tell me
>> you can believe into even mere 10^10^100 things at
>> the same time.
>> -- 
>> Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
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