[FoRK] reas. conv. 10/31: The Good Society

Stephen D. Williams < sdw at lig.net > on > Tue Oct 31 18:23:49 PST 2006

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar wrote:
> Hi Matt,
> On Oct 31, 2006, at 11:55 AM, Matt Jensen wrote:
>> I'm not sure if your goal is a) to describe the reality of the world 
>> (e.g., deity X exists, historical event Y really happened), or b) to 
>> determine the best (most practical) way to get people to behave the 
>> way we'd like them to. They're very different questions. (I thought 
>> this thread was originally about a), but it sounds like you're 
>> currently talking more about b).)
> To be honest, I don't know whether other people think we are discussing:
> a) ontology -- what _is_ true
> b) epistemology -- how can we _know_ what is true
> c) ethics -- how can we know/do what is _good_
> At this point, I'm still responding to the (perceived) claim that 
> atheism is "obviously" superior to Christianity by trying to define 
> exactly what that means...
Why, it means that it is better for a), b), and c) of course. ;-) 
(Speaking of panrational enlightened scientific secular humanism (PESSH, 
related to FSM) as the ideal atheistic state, where enlightened means 
adequate training in psychology, sociology, logic, science, the art of 
deception, etc.)

The other category that is close to b) that Matt mentioned is d) which 
is better for the elite to control the masses?, or alternately d) should 
we believe in something that allows the elite to control the masses or 
should we have a belief system that makes all of us elites with no 

We did evolve the conversation as we either A) proved points beyond 
argument or B) agreed to disagree and had nothing more to debate, having 
explored all arguments, supporting statements, and beliefs that we 
could. Whether we are at A or B on various issues is mostly personal 
opinion except for full or partial yields.

Sadly, the main thing proved by this kind of discourse is that the 
available "proof" (in either sense) in either direction is not enough to 
deterministically convert adherents of the opposite point of view. On 
the other hand, meme infections often have an extended incubation period 
and may depend on later ingredients, so there is hope.

I participate to A) validate and strengthen my arguments for myself and 
B) on the off chance that my insights might help someone, someday.

"You don't know your own argument until you know your opponent's."

> -- Ernie P.

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