There will be more on this later, believe me.

I just wanted to pop over here and write something brief about this, mostly to jog my own memory for later.

I’ve been working on a series of articles for here about religion, atheism, spiritualism, and where my current beliefs sit on all of this. That’s all a bit complicated, but suffice to say I’m probably what you’d call a “wavering skeptic.”

Anyway, I’ve been participating in a lot of the discussions on reddit regarding atheism and such. And I now think I have some understanding of the reasons many who embrace the Scientific Method tend towards atheism (or at least agnosticism): that being the concept of Arguing from The Null.

The Null Hypothesis is very important to the Scientific Method. Most of the truly interesting science happens when you test against the null, and H0 is perhaps the most radical idea anybody has ever invented. And I think a lot of theists don’t fundamentally understand the perspective of the Argument from The Null. You are either for something, or against something. It’s impossible that you could be arguing from a neutral position, a position that allows any valid theory to be proffered, tested, debated, buried in soft peat for three months, recycled as firelighters, and then perhaps even accepted.

I forgot just how awesome H0 really is. Thank you, arguing on reddit.

4 thoughts on “There will be more on this later, believe me.

  1. I await said articles eagerly, for a number of reasons. Although I still consider myself very much a neo-pagan, I feel much more of an intellectual kinship with atheists. The idea of a Supreme Being is just, I don’t know, redonkulous. Yet many of the arguments against theism work for both the mono- and poly- varieties. That doesn’t bother me *too* much. since I’m not out to convert anybody, but I would feel less like a hypocrite if I could cheer on the atheists in their fight against the fundies without thinking, “but still, Athena is real, and so is Zeus, and Hecate, and Apollo, and I haven’t even gotten to the Celtic and Norse pantheons yet…”

  2. Nothing is ever assumed without evidence for it’s existence. I can day dream about a unicorn, but that’s not evidence for it’s existence. The Ontological Argument is exactly that, arguing for the necessary existence of something based on it’s definition. Silly, but many “intelligent” people have fallen for that simple fallacy over the years.

    Experiential evidence is still evidence, but not very compelling to others. It can be a source of certainty within the perceiving individual, but not much use outside of their experience… unless you are speaking to people who are prone to accept an Argument from Authority, another logical fallacy.

    Faith is something quite different. It is the choice to believe absent evidence. Your faith is diminished in direct proportion to the amount of evidence you receive… not reinforced. The more evidence you have, the more “knowledge” you have, based on reason, and hence it is no longer faith.

    If a person wants to live by faith, that’s totally fine. If a person wants to live by reason, that’s totally fine. If a person wants to apply one set of standards to one part of their life and a different one to another, so be it. I just hope that people are aware and honest about what they are doing.

    Fundamentally, there is no arguing with people who come from a position of faith. It is pointless. To “argue” means to present reasons for or against a thing. If you are coming from a place of faith this is unnecessary. You might discuss it. You might teach about it. You might learn about it. There is no reasons to attempt to determine it’s veracity… that is accepted a priori.

    I haven’t seen theists arguing their beliefs in very many settings. When I do see it (the guy who tries to debate with you on the street corner or the “Scientific Creationists”) I can’t help but shake my head incredulously. If you have a belief system that denies the relevance of evidence and reasoned discourse, why are you attempting to engage in such?

    If people were simply true to themselves, and internally consistent in their beliefs, I can’t help but think there would be far less conflict. Theists and Non-Theists would be able to simplify their disagreements, focus on the points where they need to find ways to live with one another, and attempt to work on functional ways to live together in society.

    Instead there is an illusion of “common ground” in which a discourse can happen at a more formative level, which draws people into a conflict where the very “weapons” themselves don’t interact. My sword passes through your body, as do the bullets from your gun pass through mine, leaving no wound… other than a sense of aggravation and frustration at my overweening hubris at not admitting how your beliefs are relevant to the discussion, and vice versa.

    It seems that more and more people “get this”, which is heartening. This is a big planet, and outside of a few public policy issues, there really is enough room for everyone to get along without conflict. The number of actual, difficult, “we can’t just agree to disagree” positions are quite few, at least regarding to the most common religions in the US.

    Just thought I’d write a little bit here, I’ll go back to bouncing around now.


  3. The ontological argument may be the one argument for the existence of a supreme being that I wouldn’t attempt to use in defending polytheism. As I understand it, the standard OA defines “God” as “that which nothing greater can exist”. In my experience, neopagans do not consider their deities to be perfect,or all-powerful, or all-anything for that matter. Thus, they are not what the OA is talking about.

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