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July 26, 2013 / JayMan

The Atheist Narrative

http://www.atheistnexus.org/forum/topics/something-tasty-for-atheists-and-skeptics?commentId=2182797%3AComment%3A2026474&xg_source=activityLet me start by once again giving the disclaimer that I am an unapologetic atheist. Of course, I would conclude that being an atheist is the only natural position one can have if one is being a true scientist.

Now, that said, I realize that I am only able to come to that conclusion because I have had the good fortune of being so minded. This is not the case for everyone, however. Religion comes to the religious because that’s how their brains are wired. A believer cannot think any different. The strength of the belief isn’t necessarily a good gauge of this. A lackadaisical believer can be just as hardwired to be tenuous about his belief as the deeply devout is about his beliefs. Believers literally have God/Earth spirits/Buddha on the brain. To such a person, their deities are as real as the Sun in the sky (since, after all, the believer’s brain is the only brain he’s got).

Religiosity is highly heritable (as are all behavioral traits)…

nihms-259299-f0002

…as seen by the high values of “A” (additive heritability) here from this behavioral genetic study (click image for paper). Also note the 0 effect of the shared environment (parenting and the home environment), consistent with the lack of effect of these forces on behavioral traits.

This indicates that religious belief – or lack there of – is largely intractable. It is a futile effort to get people to give up religion en masse (or, for that matter, to get non-believers to believe). You may have some individual “successes”, largely because of changing the environmental context of people who already had the genetic potential for whatever belief you want to instill, but you’re not going to achieve broad change in the population.

However, the “New Atheists” don’t seem to see it that way. Many of these speakers, including the likes of Richard Dawkins, or groups such as American Atheists proselytize atheism. Indeed, Dawkins, a self-described “militant atheist”, is very much an atheist evangelist.

The belief that these individuals’ actions appear to be based is that by spreading atheism and getting people to give up their religious beliefs, society can be improved.

As I have previous written, that is a foolhardy goal. The unsavory traits the New Atheists seek to change stem not from the religion, but from the people. Indeed, in the spirit of what HBD Chick would ask, where do religious beliefs come from? Sorry atheist zealots, you can’t get Muslims to behave like modern civilized (Northwestern European) people by getting them to give up Islam. You can’t turn the U.S. Deep South and Greater Appalachia into Yankeedom or the Midlands by getting the former two to give up fundamentalist Christianity. It’s just not going to happen. It’s not any more likely to happen than democracy bringing modernization to these groups – instead, you’re likely to end up with this.

However, the futility of this notwithstanding, these New Atheists have – in their criticism of Islam – breached some highly politically incorrect truths. Indeed, they have been crusaders against the politically correct lies spun about Muslims and the crime and destruction they cause in the West and in their home countries. Indeed, see this video of Bill Maher debunking the P.C. narrative shortly after the Boston bombings:

Dawkins as well has been very critical of Islam. And even he has had to contend with charges of racism and “Islamophobia” because of this.

There is one key problem with this refreshingly frank criticism, however: it is predicated on the nation that these negative facts about Muslim peoples can be changed if they just no longer believed in the faith. Dawkins and others like him hope that – one day – these peoples can be reformed and will live like organized, peaceable, tolerant Westerners. He believes getting them to abandon religion is the key.

Of course, strictly speaking, that would work. But Dawkins would never live to see the results. You’d need many generations of change – centuries worth –  to see a difference. One of those changes would need to be putting an end to cousin marriage, which is far and away the rule in Muslim societies. You’d need to wait because the changes would need to happen on a genetic level (i.e., evolution), and you’d need a fair amount of time for these evolutionary changes to occur.

As noted over at the blog Occam’s Razor, the problems with Muslims stem from their race(s), not their religion.

Indeed, on that, most people don’t consider that – broadly speaking – religion highly correlates with race:

Prevailing_world_religions_map

We see that, in general:

  • Christianity = European/European derivatives
  • Islam = Middle Eastern and North African
  • Hindu = South Asian
  • Buddhist = East and Southeast Asian

Where ever each of these peoples have gone, they’ve brought their religions with them.

(Africans are the interesting exception; sub-Saharans may be the most impressionable people religiously and have absorbed religions from the outside, particularly Christianity and Islam.)

Even within major regions, we see some ethnoracial breakdowns, as with Sunni and Shia Islam, as noted here by HBD Chick. We also see them in Europe, where there are interesting ethnonational divisions (from Wikipedia):

Europe_religion_map_en

religions-of-europe-broadly-speaking1

This is something that HBD Chick has noted:

an ages old divide in europe — latins+the british isles (-the anglo-saxons, of course) versus the germans versus the slavs

this tripartite division of europe has influenced|dictated so much in european history. i mean, look at the (broadly speaking) religious divide in europe…

latins+british isles=roman catholic; germans=protestant; slavs=eastern orthodox.

also, latins+british isles=piigs; germans=the thrifty, competent people who might get stuck bailing-out the e.u.; slavs=f*cked up former communist countries.

Religion seems so inextricably tied to people that the New Atheists hopes seem quite futile.

However, it’s worth mentioning here that while there seems to be genetic underpinnings to religion – even the particular religion one adheres to (at least on the level of ethnic groups) – for the religious there is quite a bit of flexibility in what particular beliefs one holds. Many belief systems can fit the various “god-shaped holes” in people. Indeed, today’s atheists evolved from quite theistic earlier people. We can see that all across the developed world, where previous traditional religions have given rise to de facto and nominal atheism.

Of course, in many of these societies “atheism” is a bit of a stretch. Even in many of these nominally atheist societies, belief – or more accurately faith – is not absent. Secular religions have replaced spiritual ones. The belief in the supreme rational faculties and universal similarity of man that New Atheism (and for that matter, much of modern liberalism) is predicated on – essentially a watered-down blank-slatist view – is such an example. Dawkins – someone who, as a premier evolutionary biologist, should know better – seems to have such a view. Indeed, it has been suggested that Dawkins’s evangelism is a type of neo-Puritanism, in the same vein as American Yankee liberal views are. For the modern-day Puritans (who are the literal descendents of the colonial Puritans), evangelical liberal ethos have replaced the Calvinist spiritualism of their ancestors. The mental faculties have just been co-opted for something else, something that functions similarly. “God’s chosen people” have now become the enlightened cosmopolitan minds spreading the gospel of tolerance, diversity, and reverence of knowledge and learning.

As such, many of these New Atheists were delighted by a new study that forecasts the end of religion:

Author and noted biopsychologist Nigel Barber has completed a new study that shows Atheism is most prevalent in developed countries, and, according to his projections, religion will completely disappear by 2041. His findings are discussed in his new book “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.” A new study that clarifies his earlier research will be published in August. His findings focus on studying trends within countries around the world and the fact that “Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries”

Dawkins announced this study with a tweet asking if it was “too optimistic.

Ya think?

Of course, nevermind that “atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries” because religiosity is negatively correlated with IQ, both on an individual level (Edit, 8/14/13: also see a recent meta-analysis that confirms the negative relationship between religiosity and intelligence, The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations, Zuckerman et al 2013) and on a group level:

_iq_vs_religion

I went to Dawkins’s site and replied with links to my previous post on HBD and Atheism, as well as my posts on fertility and political orientation (and by extension, religiosity), as well as my post noting that all human behavioral traits are heritable. And, interestingly – and perhaps tellingly, they deleted my comment.

They were not interested in any criticism of their view. I find this quite fascinating. While they may have deleted my comment out of some silly rule against self-promotion (which is a bullshit policy anyway), what if this suggest an awareness of the realities of the situation – or at the very least, of some uncomfortable facts about the situation they discuss? (As an aside, it’s worth noting that one report claims that the population is continuing to get more liberal – despite the fertility trends; however, it’s not broken down by race. The Audacious Epigone also found data suggesting similar.)

Dawkins may be committed to a narrative, one that says that all peoples have the potential to be “uplifted” into right-thinking folks – if we just get them to abandoned their backwards superstitions (religion). Indeed, he even recently doubled down of his “We are all Africans” mantra (as if absolutely no relevant biological changes could have happened since then – as the esteemed evolutionary biologist and author of The Selfish Gene should know). Can’t have inconvenient facts about human biodiversity coming along messing that up, now can we?

This got me to seriously consider a recent post by Heartiste (emphasis in original):

An anonymous commenter at Sailer’s left this interesting remark about the psychology motivating the lords of lies:

Some of the virulence… stems from an underlying chain of logic in elite thinking that I find scary: If young black males really do tend to be more crime-prone, then…oh, no, the Nazis were right! So if Americans ever become embarrassed by the insipid political correctness we instruct them to spout, they will immediately thaw out Hitler’s cryogenically preserved brain and elect it president. Or something.

Look at all the hip SWPL charities that swear their mission is to “End ______ forever!” (Insert “poverty”, “child abuse”, “racism”, “gun violence”, etc.) In contrast, dour conservatives (whether religious or secular) tend to agree with the Gospel warning “the poor you have always with you“.

When you believe (at least implicitly) that 1) Society can be perfected by human means, or at least come reasonably close to perfection, and 2) any practical means to achieve that objective should be seriously considered, the progressive dread of politically-incorrect Hatefacts starts to make more sense. If “genetically inferior” blacks are all that is standing in the way of turning every city in America into a hipster SWPL paradise, what can’t be justified? My theory, then, is that, despite what they say, progressives are not really worried about what crotchety conservatives and religious zealots out in flyover country will do if frank discussions of race become commonplace- they’re worried about what they themselves will have to consider doing. Already, most urban progressives aren’t bothered much by the NYPD’s institutionalized racial profiling, the disproportionate abortion rate of blacks, or sex-ed programs clearly targeted at black teens. How big of a leap is it to, say, forced sterilization? I don’t presume to speak for progressives, but it doesn’t seem like much of a leap to me.

So, oddly, this whole exercise got me to think about a factor that could be at the root of HBD-denial: do HBD-deniers do so because they fear what are fairly rational policy implications from the biological reality? Indeed, is Dawkins himself such a man, and that’s why he sticks to the narrative (at least his version of it)?

A clue that this could be the case is that many – if not all of the principled detractors who articulate objections to investigation of genetic explanations for individual and group differences always invoke the slippery slope to coercive eugenics and Nazism.

This touches on a deep issue, one which, in many ways, underlies much HBD discussion: why is HBD taboo? The idea that liberals, for example, fear what others might do if biological group differences were known is nothing new; indeed, I made the very same case. But understanding a finer element would be interesting and useful; if the problem is that good liberals fear what they themselves might do with the knowledge, it may suggest another way to approach the issue.

In the mean time, we have to deal with individuals like evangelical atheists seeking to convert folks like this, and this in the hope of civilizing them. Fun… :\

This seems quite fitting:

90 Comments

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  1. Tomás / Jul 26 2013 9:33 AM

    Just a minor quibble:

    ” (…) I would conclude that being an atheist is the only natural position one can have if one is being a true scientist.(…) ”

    I guess then that if your statement is true, then non-true scientists are nevertheless able of doing True Science. Just like this guy, for example:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre

    The interesting conclusion is that doing True Science is not what defines what a true scientist is. You can do science that is true, real, useful, methodologically valid, but anyway you fail the litmus test of being a true scientist, for being a religious person.

    Interesting.

    • The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 26 2013 11:34 AM

      Yeah, to be a scientist, all that is required is the belief that at least some aspects of the universe can be explained mechanistically. However, it is not required that you believe all aspects of the universe be explicable mechanistically. The latter is a philosophical, not a scientific, position.

      Now, it may be helpful for a scientist to be at least open to mechanistic explanation everywhere, even in sensitive areas like human behaviour. And atheists aren’t just open to mechanistic explanation, they expect it. Hence, they are often better at science than people who prefer to appeal to personal rather than impersonal, mechanistic causation. Religion can easily gum up the works. But there is no requirement that a scientist believe everything has such an impersonal, mechanistic explanation.

      Science is great at explaining the things that are amenable to scientific explanation, which happens to be a lot more than we thought was possible.

    • JayMan / Jul 26 2013 2:46 PM

      A person can do good science regardless of one’s beliefs. I didn’t say otherwise.

    • The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 27 2013 2:53 PM

      A scientist needs to be open to mechanistic explanations, but that is entirely different from believing everything is mechanistic.

    • JayMan / Jul 27 2013 2:55 PM

      Do we have any reason to believe otherwise? Pursuing “mechanistic” explanations has proved enormously successful….

    • The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 27 2013 5:38 PM

      Science has failed, massively, to establish how matter can produce something like consciousness in a mechanistic way. Nor does the problem seem solvable even in principle. See Chalmers, Searle, Nagel, Feser etc.

      Science is really good at explaining the kinds of things that science is good at explaining, which is a lot of stuff. It’s not good at explaining everything.

    • JayMan / Jul 27 2013 10:22 PM

      Science has failed, massively, to establish how matter can produce something like consciousness in a mechanistic way. Nor does the problem seem solvable even in principle.

      Sure it is. That’s silly.

    • The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 28 2013 1:06 AM

      Not even wrong.

      “This attitude — which, I hasten to add, is not one Matthen himself expresses in his review — is, I think, very common, but it is grounded in an illusion. To see the fallacy, consider an analogy I’ve used many times before. Suppose someone is cleaning the house and carefully sweeps the dirt out of each room into a certain hallway, where he then proceeds to sweep the various piles of dirt he’s created under a certain rug. You tell him that that’s all well and good, but that he has still failed to get rid of the dirt under the rug itself and cannot do so using the same method. He replies:

      Are you kidding? The “sweep it under the rug” method is one long success story, having worked everywhere else. How plausible is it that this one little rug in this one little hallway would be the only holdout? Obviously it’s just a matter of time before it yields to the same method. If you think otherwise you’re just flying in the face of the facts — and, I might add, the consensus of the community of sweepers. Evidently you’ve got some sentimental attachment to this rug and desperately want to think that it is special somehow. Or is it some superstitious religious dogma you’re trying to salvage? What do you think it is, a magic carpet?

      The sweeper thinks his critic is delusional, but of course he is himself the delusional one. For the dirt under the rug is obviously the one pile which the “sweep it under the rug” method cannot possibly get rid of, and indeed the more successful that method is elsewhere, the more problematic the particular pile under the rug becomes. The sweeper’s method cannot solve the “dirt under the rug problem” precisely because that method is the source of the problem — the problem is the price the method’s user must pay for the success it achieves elsewhere.

      Now this delusion is exactly parallel to one to which many naturalists are prone. As Nagel writes in Mind and Cosmos:

      The modern mind-body problem arose out of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, as a direct result of the concept of objective physical reality that drove that revolution. Galileo and Descartes made the crucial conceptual division by proposing that physical science should provide a mathematically precise quantitative description of an external reality extended in space and time, a description limited to spatiotemporal primary qualities such as shape, size, and motion, and to laws governing the relations among them. Subjective appearances, on the other hand — how this physical world appears to human perception — were assigned to the mind, and the secondary qualities like color, sound, and smell were to be analyzed relationally, in terms of the power of physical things, acting on the senses, to produce those appearances in the minds of observers. It was essential to leave out or subtract subjective appearances and the human mind — as well as human intentions and purposes — from the physical world in order to permit this powerful but austere spatiotemporal conception of objective physical reality to develop. (pp. 35-36)

      This is a theme in Nagel’s work that goes back to his famous 1974 article “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”, and as I have emphasized in earlier posts in this series, it is crucial to understanding what he says in the new book. Human beings are like the hallway in my example, and the human mind is like the rug. The “mathematically precise quantitative description” of the natural world provided by modern science has been as successful as it has been only because those aspects of the natural world that don’t fit that method — irreducibly qualitative features like color, sound, etc. as they appear to us (as contrasted with scientific redefinitions of color, sound, etc. in terms of such quantifiable features as surface reflectance properties, compression waves, and the like); and final causes, teleology, or purposes — were swept under the rug of the mind, re-characterized as purely “subjective,” as mere projections that only seem to be features of the external world but are really only aspects of our perceptual representation of it.

      As Nagel says, it was precisely this methodological revolution that created the mind-body problem, just as the “sweep it under the rug” method in my example creates a “dirt under the rug problem.” If you essentially define the physical in such a way that it excludes color, sound, purpose, etc. as they appear to us in ordinary experience, and define the mental in such a way that it is the repository of these qualities you have removed from the physical world, then you have carved up the conceptual territory in a way that rules out from the get-go an explanation of the mental in terms of the physical. Far from constituting a desperate resistance to the implications of the scientific revolution, dualism of this essentially Cartesian sort was a consequence of that revolution. (And again, color, sound, etc. as they appear to us are to be distinguished from color, sound, etc. as redefined by physics — though they are sometimes conflated by sloppier naturalists.)

      Early modern thinkers like Cudworth and Malebranche made of this new conception of the physical an explicit argument for dualism, and more recent dualists like Richard Swinburne have done the same. Naturalists like Nagel, John Searle, and Alva Noë do not endorse dualism, but they do see that the methodological revolution in question is the source of the mind-body problem, and thus can hardly in any obvious way provide a solution to it. It is the height of philosophical and historical superficiality to suppose otherwise.”

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca/2013/03/nagel-and-his-critics-part-vii.html

  2. The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 26 2013 11:07 AM

    Your hypothesis appears to be that it does not matter what religion a particular people has, and that the type of religion one has does not change how one behaves enough to account for differences in behaviour among groups with different religions. That has not been proven.

    Islam has been adopted in many places and by many different kinds of peoples, yet everywhere it seems to come into violent conflict with its neighbours. There is the saying, “Islam has bloody borders” and of the 7% of wars where religion has been involved in, Islam has been involved in half of those, more than any other religion. So, I’d say it is at least possible that the specific tenets of a religion, like Islam, can have an effect on behaviour.

    Now, it is still possible that the genetic tendencies of the peoples who have adopted Islam may be the main factor in why Muslims have tended to be so violent. It just happened that way, or Islam may appeal to peoples who already have some violent tendencies. Or it may be that both genetics and the tenets of the religion bear some of the blame. But one cannot say that genetics is definitely the cause of this tendency to be violent.

    As they say, more research is necessary.

    • JayMan / Jul 26 2013 2:58 PM

      Now, it is still possible that the genetic tendencies of the peoples who have adopted Islam may be the main factor in why Muslims have tended to be so violent. It just happened that way, or Islam may appeal to peoples who already have some violent tendencies.

      The two are related, at least over evolutionary time.

      In general, that genetic differences are heavily involved in the differences we see is without doubt. What we are nailing down are the particulars.

      Your hypothesis appears to be that it does not matter what religion a particular people has, and that the type of religion one has does not change how one behaves enough to account for differences in behaviour among groups with different religions. That has not been proven.

      You’re looking at the matter the wrong way. Where does religious belief come from?

    • The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 27 2013 2:48 PM

      Where does religious belief come from?

      There is at least some historical contingency to a people’s religious beliefs. For example, it might be that Islam or Buddhism is a better fit for the average mental tendencies of people in South America. Doesn’t matter, the Catholics got there first. Funny too how Islamic countries are almost all geographically contiguous with Arabia, with a wide variety of geographic, social and economic differences included in that geographically contiguous area, which would, of course, mean the evolution of different mental tendencies adapted to local conditions. Pretty much the only thing they have in common is their spatial proximity to the Muslim homeland.

    • The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 27 2013 2:55 PM

      The psychological tendencies which give rise to religion can be directed in many different channels, though of course there are limits.

    • JayMan / Jul 27 2013 2:55 PM

      Precisely.

    • The Man Who Was . . . / Jul 27 2013 5:44 PM

      But the differences in religious ideas between religions can have material consequences, sometimes in socially significant ways.

      So, for example, Islamic societies could have more tendencies towards violence, just because of the religious ideas in Islam.

    • JayMan / Jul 28 2013 1:10 AM

      So, for example, Islamic societies could have more tendencies towards violence, just because of the religious ideas in Islam.

      They do, but only because of evolution.

  3. K.L.Anderson / Jul 26 2013 11:32 AM

    We have seen the consequences of the destruction of religion in the West, morality has little to stand on, we have hedonism or passionless, value-free science, the nerd or the sybarite. But traditional religion was too inward, too unreal, too disapproving of healthy material life, and religion has to take some of the blame for its own fall.

    To live by reason alone or passion alone creates a truncated personality, balance seems best, perhaps leading with reason and filling in the gaps with passion and faith, at least until reason can give us evidence.

    Reason cannot provide certain evidence for Godhood at the zenith of evolution, so passion and faith affirm the end-goal. But reason can point the way, with such things as evolution moving from the simple to the complex. And reason can provide a natural foundation for morality and values in the sociobiology of human nature, which has sought success in survival and reproduction by forming religions.

    What can life and morality be realistically based upon in our hedonistic and scientific age other than our evolution to Godhood? Without consciously setting the goal of evolving toward higher intelligence, beauty and goodness it will be far more difficult to reach these goals. No other religion or worldview is deep enough or big enough to sustain ordered life, evolution and morality, now and into the future.

    The Inward Path of traditional religion, which turns away from the material world, needs to be applied but transformed into the Outward Path of evolution to the God first seen inwardly. The new is brought into the old, conservatism can be validated in Ordered Evolution. We can live in balance with nature and evolution, and we can rise in the cosmos to Godhood.

  4. Dan / Jul 26 2013 12:43 PM

    Atheism is at bottom totally nihilistic. I was atheistic for a long time and I try to turn away from it with some success because an atheist mindset is miserable and hopeless.

    Officially atheist societies have been horribly murderous (100 million deaths, = 17 holocausts) but on a personal level, atheism is just as bad.

    Being humble and agnostic but hopeful of good possibilities is much healthier for the thinking person. Most people I know who are unvarnished atheists are either very unbalanced people or are in and out of treatment for depression for much of their lives.

    • Sisyphean / Jul 26 2013 2:37 PM

      Bull. I’m a super happy Atheist. I’m financially successful and have a loving family that I’m very committed to. Just because atheism doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean it can’t work for anyone. Though as Jayman has said above, just because I exist and live a happy life as an Atheist doesn’t mean any other given person can too. I am who I am because I’ve got a certain mix of genes. I can see the universe as the result of random occurrences, cold and unforgiving and wondrous, and not feel crushed by it at all, in fact, it often informs my art.

    • JayMan / Jul 26 2013 3:03 PM

      @Sisyphean:

      Precisely. Very well said!

    • Dan / Jul 26 2013 3:54 PM

      @Sisyphean –

      It’s not just about whether atheism can work for me or you. I have yet to see an atheistic society that wasn’t grotesquely dysfunctional in one way or another. Many atheistic societies were communistically hypergenocidal and communistically impoverished. Even the best cases are wierdly contorted. Modern Sweden is so equalist it is laughable. The UK is now a nation of degenerates in steep decline from an extraordinarily high place. Japan is the most elderly nation in the history of the world having had an extremely low birthrate longer than anyone.

      None of the societies that I would consider to represent the heights of civilization were atheistic. Not one nation that I can think of rose civilizationally while being predominantly atheistic.

      Maybe you have better examples?

    • Sisyphean / Jul 26 2013 4:33 PM

      No Dan, I obviously can’t come up with any examples that you’ll accept. Sounds to me like you have all the countries in the world figured out, why would I even try to convince such a worldly soul as yourself? Nor have I any desire to, why would I want a society of atheists? What would that prove? Eh, never mind, I don’t have any interest in the answer.

      -S

    • szopeno / Jul 27 2013 5:55 PM

      CZechs are pretty much atheists and seems much more functional society than my own, 90%catholic country

  5. Dan / Jul 26 2013 1:07 PM

    To your contention that a proper scientist is an atheist, I would point out (a) most the towering giants of science in the past, while not usually strongly religious, were generally agnostic or ‘gentlemen churchgoers’ who were respectful of the institutions around them and had no great conflict with it. Galileo is an exception of course. I would then point out (b) most modern ‘scientists’ are intellectual midgets in relation to their predecessors. These modern ‘scientists’ parade about their atheism and liberalism but discover nothing new, challenge nothing, and wrap themselves in the baldly false religion of equalism, including all of equalism’s wrong subdenominations with nary a critical or questioning thought. (Modern physics has been stuck for 50 years on string theory which has no observational data for or against, making the angels-dancing-on-a-pin crowd look like empiricists; scientific discovery has slowed to a crawl and the discoverer of DNA, the world’s greatest living biologist, is an outcast).

    In relation to these modern useless and brain-dead ‘scientists’ you’d have better luck approaching the truth with a random drunkard that you pull out of a pub from the past.

    • JayMan / Jul 26 2013 3:02 PM

      To your contention that a proper scientist is an atheist, I would point out (a) most the towering giants of science in the past, while not usually strongly religious, were generally agnostic or ‘gentlemen churchgoers’ who were respectful of the institutions around them and had no great conflict with it. Galileo is an exception of course.

      A. That’s an appeal to authority
      B. Don’t be so sure. That was a different time then. If the scientific knowledge and cultural framework had been available to them, they may have well been staunch atheists.

      These modern ‘scientists’ parade about their atheism and liberalism but discover nothing new,

      Are you seriously saying modern science discovers nothing new?

    • Dan / Jul 26 2013 3:15 PM

      Looking at the past, Einstein was a well-known nonbeliever, but he had this to say:

      “The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.”

      “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being. ”

      Scientists as crusading atheists is the modern thing and it is (to me), one more symptom of our decline. Scientists of other eras had better things to do, like their work.

      In any case, to be a crusading atheist is one of the most destructive things you can be, from an HBD perspective because:
      (1) You will only convince smart people
      (2) Atheists have one of the lowest fertility rates of all

      So you are killing fertility at the high IQ end only. Lovely.

    • Christian HBDer / Jul 31 2013 10:35 AM

      “B. Don’t be so sure. That was a different time then. If the scientific knowledge and cultural framework had been available to them, they may have well been staunch atheists.”

      There’s a strong historical case to be made that for many important scientists (e.g., Kepler, Newton, Boyle), religion was not just an optional “add-on,” but one that deeply influenced their scientific work. For instance, Newton’s belief in an orderly universe arguably flowed out of his theism — he viewed God as the cause of the laws of the nature.

  6. Dan / Jul 26 2013 1:26 PM

    The demand that only hardened atheists should consider science is a demand that the scientific community be a microscopic group drawn from a very small pool of people. To demand such is to yearn for the death of science.

    Maybe am reciting a history rather than making a prognosis.

  7. Dan / Jul 26 2013 1:54 PM

    Overall an decent post, criticism aside.

    • JayMan / Jul 26 2013 3:02 PM

      Thank you!

  8. Luke Lea / Jul 26 2013 3:07 PM

    Interesting as always. Secularized Ashkenazis are a special case. While many are declared atheists, they are all descended from strictly orthodox Jews and are (or have been) disproportionally represented among various “intellectual social movements” — Marxism, Freudianism, Militant Feminism, Deep Environmentalism, ADL-style Liberalism, Neo-Conservatism, etc.. Would you see this as displaced religiosity? In which case they must be counted among the most religious people on earth — as they have long been. I would describe myself as a tortured agnostic by the way.

    • JayMan / Jul 27 2013 11:05 PM

      Interesting as always.

      Thank you!

      Secularized Ashkenazis are a special case. While many are declared atheists, they are all descended from strictly orthodox Jews and are (or have been) disproportionally represented among various “intellectual social movements” — Marxism, Freudianism, Militant Feminism, Deep Environmentalism, ADL-style Liberalism, Neo-Conservatism, etc.. Would you see this as displaced religiosity?

      Yup.

      In which case they must be counted among the most religious people on earth — as they have long been. I would describe myself as a tortured agnostic by the way.

      Indeed. Most people who claim to be irreligious aren’t as irreligious as they think. I’d like to think of myself as one of those truly irreligious folks, but I do have “faith” in science (which, at the end of the day, is based on certain unprovable assumptions – like that we trust that what we see is real, for one). It just so happens that this belief has proved to be quite useful.

  9. Sisyphean / Jul 26 2013 3:07 PM

    Yes! I have been saying this for years. It infuriates me to no end when fools attempt to use rational arguments to convince irrational people. In the past I’ve often written this off to a general lack of interpersonal skills (and intellectual narcissism) among many highly rational people I know, however your take on the bigger picture of HBD is certainly tantalizing.

    Eugenics seems so simple but it is most definitely not so. Rational people do not rule political discourse or make policy decisions. I’d imagine it’s just as likely that ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’ or ‘artists’ (eep!) would be fingered as the problem elements of society. It doesn’t matter what the data says, what matters is who has the biggest coalition of votes and/or guns. This is why I fear humanity may never pursue eugenics in a useful measured way (i.e. by helping the intelligent to have children) because the only people who value intelligence are the intelligent people, to the unintelligent, we’re a bunch of egg-head know-it-alls who they can’t compete with.

    -S

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 26 2013 9:15 PM

      ” This is why I fear humanity may never pursue eugenics in a useful measured way (i.e. by helping the intelligent to have children) because the only people who value intelligence are the intelligent people”

      My civilization has always had arranged marriage. It is YOUR civilization that bases marriage on “love” (i.e. sexual lust) only.

  10. Hindu Observer / Jul 26 2013 9:13 PM

    Hindus invented Atheism thousands of years ago. Research the Sad-Darshan (Six Hindu Philosophy Schools of Ancient India).

    Atheism and Theism have never been at odds in Hindu Civilization.

    Our concepts of “god” are completely different than the Abrahamic concepts. In fact, we have no concept of “god” like that. I’m not going to get into describing our concepts here, I don’t think your readers have the philosophical background for them. But its nothing at all like the Abrahamic traditions.

    ” A lackadaisical believer can be just as hardwired to be tenuous about his belief as the deeply devout is about his beliefs. Believers literally have God/Earth spirits/Buddha on the brain.”

    Buddha is not a “god”.

  11. Hindu Observer / Jul 26 2013 9:20 PM

    “Religion seems so inextricably tied to people that the New Atheists hopes seem quite futile.”

    The so-called “New Atheists” are having meetings and seminars and writing books on how to fill all the gaps for human beings that were filled previously (and still are largely) by religion: the human need for ritual, transpersonal practice, socialization, sense of community, etc. … but without a god.

    Hinduism already figured that out thousands of years ago. The first Atheistic philosophies are part of the Hindu Sad-Darshan.

  12. Staffan / Jul 27 2013 12:18 PM

    “if the problem is that good liberals fear what they themselves might do with the knowledge, it may suggest another way to approach the issue.”

    Good liberals have already been there. The Swedish Social Democrats, who ideologically are almost identical to what Americans would call liberal progressives, engaged in forced sterilizations right up until the 1950s. Their targets were retarded and mentally ill, promiscous, and people with “asocial lifestyles” and something called “tattare” similar to traveler but almost all of them were gypsies.

    As an example, as late as 1953, Medicinalstyrelsen, the largest healthcare agency, decided that a boy named Nils should be sterilized on account of him being “a sexually precocious mixed type”. The mixed referring to his ethnicity.

    • JayMan / Jul 28 2013 1:07 PM

      “if the problem is that good liberals fear what they themselves might do with the knowledge, it may suggest another way to approach the issue.”

      Good liberals have already been there. The Swedish Social Democrats, who ideologically are almost identical to what Americans would call liberal progressives, engaged in forced sterilizations right up until the 1950s.

      Yes. This point gave me pause. In the States, such things are a long distant memory. Is it possible for such policies to return, even after the present-day awareness? Is a genetically-aware society compatible with one that currents holds the view that all people have value? Interesting questions.

  13. szopeno / Jul 27 2013 5:58 PM

    Actually I do sometimes think whether I am oneofthose genetically inclined to be religious; yet I am an atheist. My rational mind tells me there is no reason for me to believein God. But I have sometimes a deep irrational desire inside myself to tell my mind to go f* itself and embrace happy, mindless belief.

    • JayMan / Jul 27 2013 10:21 PM

      Actually I do sometimes think whether I am oneofthose genetically inclined to be religious; yet I am an atheist.

      If so, then an atheist is what you’re genetically inclined to be.

      My rational mind tells me there is no reason for me to believein God. But I have sometimes a deep irrational desire inside myself to tell my mind to go f* itself and embrace happy, mindless belief.

      An this is the type your genes incline you to. ;)

    • szopeno / Jul 30 2013 6:49 AM

      Are you hardcore hereditarian, thinking that genes account for 100% of observed variation in human characteristics? I am not; I think that “predilection to be religious type” may depend on many gene combinations, as such most likely normally distributed. In addition, I think that such predilection may simply push some people more strongly, and some less strongly for being religious. This is not something controversial, I think; the 50% genes/50% environment is pretty well-established for many characteristics and I think there is no reason that similar contributions are made by genes in environment (in our modern, western societies) in determination whether someone ends up as atheist or not.

      In other words, there is possibility tat my genes would incline me to be religious type, but unique environmental events caused that those genes had no chance to express fully.

  14. William Wilberfang / Jul 27 2013 9:02 PM

    Compare the middle east with southeast asia. I would assume they aren’t that similar biologically, yet Islam seems to have similar negative effects in both areas. I think religions can be displaced, Christian could displace Islam in Africa and vice versa, but they certainly aren’t going to be displaced by uninspiring atheism.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 28 2013 2:43 PM

      Forget about uninspiring atheism. Inspiring Buddhism is displacing the religions of the West currently if statistics are anything to go by.

  15. JayMan / Jul 27 2013 10:29 PM

    Guys, look, there is no need to defend your religious beliefs here because:

    • I’m not attacking them
    • They’re wrong anyway, but that’s besides the point
    • The point of the post is that each of you have the beliefs you do in good part because your mind is wired in such a way, in part because of your DNA – hence the futility of defending your “reasons” for your faith

    Religious discussions are generally unproductive. Hopefully commenters here realize the gist of this post and react accordingly.

    • Staffan / Jul 28 2013 6:12 AM

      What you say here probably holds for political views as well. Most people, maybe all, have political views that fixes some problems while ignoring others. Everyone is wrong because we all have our pet ideas and hard-wired perspectives that we can’t get rid of.

    • JayMan / Jul 28 2013 10:38 AM

      Pretty much.

  16. Gottlieb / Jul 28 2013 1:19 PM

    I do not declare myself as an atheist because they do not believe there are true atheists. Actually, Atheism itself is a form of belief. Most atheists are agnostic with inflated egos.
    I declare myself as an agnostic, mainly because agnostic is primarily a non-religious. I think religion was necessary for human evolution, if not most people today would not be programmed to believe in something.
    I think a lot of petulance on the part of atheists to say that there is nothing after death, there is no spirit or we live by accident. Maybe they are right, but has not yet been proven and we are far from understanding the complexity of universes. Therefore believe that there is nothing after death is the same as saying that there is life on Jupiter, is a shot in the dark.
    The agnostic in this sense is also better than the atheist, because just like a good scientist, he does not make statements of what has not been proven.

    • JayMan / Jul 28 2013 3:36 PM

      @Gottlieb:

      I think a lot of petulance on the part of atheists to say that there is nothing after death, there is no spirit or we live by accident. Maybe they are right, but has not yet been proven

      You do realize that science is not in the business of proving that things don’t exist, generally, right?

  17. Gottlieb / Jul 28 2013 1:27 PM

    About the immutability of the religious nature of the people, I fully agree. In this case we should encourage non-religious people to have more children but I think we should also select the best liberal, because if the religious and political beliefs are predisposed biased, then the liberal stupidity regarding the biological reality must also come embedded. In other words, we have to select only those of our tribe HBD, lol.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 28 2013 2:42 PM

      Someone can be religious and atheist at the same time. Only in the West and in the Abrahamic traditions is this counter-intuitive because of its black/white and linear thinking.

      Meditation expands one’s cognitive capacity and what was once linear is found to be spherical.

    • JayMan / Jul 28 2013 3:38 PM

      @Hindu Observer:

      Someone can be religious and atheist at the same time. Only in the West and in the Abrahamic traditions is this counter-intuitive because of its black/white and linear thinking.

      No they can’t, by definition.

    • Article quoting guy / Jul 28 2013 10:02 PM

      @Jayman – “No they can’t, by definition.”

      http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismquestions/a/AtheismReligion.htm

      “Atheists in the West tend not to belong to any religion, but atheism is quite compatible with religion.

      To understand why, it is necessary to keep in mind that atheism is nothing more than absence belief in the existence of gods. Atheism is not the absence of religion, the absence of belief in the supernatural, the absence of superstitions, the absence of irrational beliefs, etc. Because of this, there is no inherent barrier preventing atheism from being part of a religious belief system.

      For example, many forms of Buddhism are essentially atheistic. At most they regard the existence of gods as possible, but often they dismiss gods as simply irrelevant to the important task of overcoming suffering. As a consequence, many Buddhists not only dismiss the relevancy of gods, but also the existence of gods — they are atheists, even if they aren’t atheists in the scientific, philosophical sense that many atheists in the West are.

      So, yes, atheists can be religious. There are not only very old and traditional religions like Buddhism which are accessible to atheists, but there are modern organizations as well. Some humanists call themselves religious and many members of Unitarian-Universalism and Ethical Culture societies are also nonbelievers. Raelians are a relatively recent group which is recognized as a religion legally and socially, yet they explicitly deny the existence of gods.

      There is some question as to whether such forms of humanism do qualify as religions, but what is important for the moment is the fact that atheist members themselves believe that they are part of a religion. Thus they do not see any conflict between disbelieving in the existence of gods and adopting a belief system which they consider a religion — and these are atheists in the Western sense of scientific, philosophical atheism.

      The answer to the question is thus an unequivocal yes: atheists can be religious and atheism can occur in conjunction with, or even in the context of, religion.”

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 29 2013 9:27 PM

      Yes, they can, Jayman. Article Quoting Guy’s comment is correct but only part of the story. The Sad-Darshan, or six Hindu philosophical schools, have 2 clearly atheistic schools, while a few of the others are not fully theist but use theism as a tool for self actualization which can be given up at a later date.

      The West has had to separate philosophy from religion and the religions of the West have had to borrow their philosophy from non-theistic or outside “pagan” sources. Hinduism never had this problem.

      Buddhism and Jainism, both non-theistic religions, grew out of these Hindu philosophies.

      And like I said, even our theistic schools do NOT have a concept of “god” as it is known in the Abrahamic traditions. Its actually quite complex and I cannot explain it all here but on a surface level you get many ORTHODOXLY religiously observant Hindus who are atheistic. Because tradition, ritual and religion has to do with CULTURE, not a belief in whether you thing there is a personal ultimate creator behind everything.

      I know this is difficult for the Western mind to grasp. And this is only the basics.

    • Sisyphean / Aug 1 2013 10:05 AM

      This is one place where I think the older Eastern religions have the advantage, likely earned from many thousands of years of human experimentation. Isn’t it interesting how so many of them work in a continuum from full theism with lots of basic ritual all the way up to nearly or fully atheistic sects, yet all are considered Hindu or Buddhist, no matter what the internal truth is for the person. The simple folk practice and connect with each other and those with a more questioning mind have avenues to explore that still keep them in harmony with the whole. Very slick, much smarter than the binary way Westerners do things: You are theist and believe until you have a crisis and reject it all, often going through years of venomous anti-religion that some atheists never leave.

      ~S

  18. Gottlieb / Jul 28 2013 2:58 PM

    The duality of thought characteristic of the West, is not all bad, is to emphasize that science is also derived in this way of thinking because the linear thinking determines the possibility of classification, taxonomy. However it is advisable for you to have a thought in the oriental style that proclaim the superior functionality of their philosophical school must also abide by the linear thinking can not be either good or bad, because otherwise it will be betraying their Buddhist beliefs. So that the world becomes a sphere humanly perfect, should join the two schools of thought, as liberals and conservatives should learn from each other. The opposite of you should not be something totally repulsive, however, is precisely what is lacking in you.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 29 2013 9:30 PM

      “The duality of thought characteristic of the West, is not all bad, is to emphasize that science is also derived in this way of thinking because the linear thinking determines the possibility of classification, taxonomy. However it is advisable for you to have a thought in the oriental style that proclaim the superior functionality of their philosophical school must also abide by the linear thinking can not be either good or bad, because otherwise it will be betraying their Buddhist beliefs. So that the world becomes a sphere humanly perfect, should join the two schools of thought, as liberals and conservatives should learn from each other. The opposite of you should not be something totally repulsive, however, is precisely what is lacking in you.”

      I’m not a Buddhist.

      Anyway, there is plenty of linear thinking in our South Asian Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophies also. A straight line is the shortest distance between two sides of the sphere. ;)

      Our sages already made sure to include that – thousands of years ago.

  19. Gottlieb / Jul 28 2013 3:49 PM

    @ Jayman ”You do realize that science is not in the business of proving that things don’t, generally, right?”

    Yes!

  20. Gottlieb / Jul 28 2013 4:06 PM

    Exactly.If science can not prove everything, for example, which is after the universes, then atheism is a belief just as fanatical and irrational as it is a classic religion.

  21. Luke Lea / Jul 28 2013 7:27 PM

    Have you by chancer read William James’ famous essay, The Will to Believe? Not his Varieties of Religious Experience, which is a masterpiece in its own right and which I presume you know, but his essay on the will to believe. It expresses my attitude towards matters of belief about which we cannot be sure about, for which there is insufficient evidence to judge one way or the other. Myself, I have no doubt I was born with a religious temperament, yet I am equally wedded to an empirical approach to reality. Thus, though it may remain unprovable,I can conceive of natural laws that voulf be morally equivalent to the existence of the Hebraic conception of a deity — for instance, that pleasure and pain are correlative phenomenon, that there is a symmetry between them in such a way that in the end, based on our behavior, we all might get what we deserve. I won’t go into details.

  22. Luke Lea / Jul 28 2013 7:28 PM

    Sorry for the typos. Clean them up if you would.

  23. Luke Lea / Jul 28 2013 7:53 PM

    [I'm going to clean up that comment myself; strike the other two and this bracket.]

    Have you by chance read William James’ famous essay, The Will to Believe? Not his Varieties of Religious Experience, which is a masterpiece in its own right and which I presume you know, but his essay on the will to believe. It expresses my attitude towards matters of belief about which we cannot be sure, for which there is insufficient evidence to judge one way or the other.

    Myself, I have no doubt I was born with a religious temperament, yet I am as equally wedded as you are to an empirical approach to reality. Thus, though it may remain forever unprovable (as is consciousness itself?) I can conceive of a natural law that would be morally equivalent to the Hebraic conception of a just judge of the earth, who judges everyman according to his deeds by a single standard of equity. For instance, pleasure and pain may be correlative phenomenon in all sentient animals. There may be an inbuilt a symmetry between them in such a way that in the end, based on our behavior and life experience, we all “get what we deserve” because they “just balance out.”

    One of the true facts of life that impresses me is the potential to experience horror and/or ecstasy we humans (at least the non-sociopathic ones) all carry around within us from moment to moment — a potential which is certainly conditioned past experience and behavior. For instance the inexpressible joy or sadness that can be triggered in an instant by news of a loved one. Or a sudden sense of our guilt for a wrong we remember. The question is: if these potentials are stored in our brains mightn’t the undischarged ones all be released in the moment of dissolution? I am thinking in terms of an electrical capacitor here obviously (the brain is electrical in the end), which cannot be destroyed without discharging in the process.

    As Shakespeare said, there are more things in heaven and earth than were ever dreamt of in our philosophy. God is just a metaphor, at least in my mind.

  24. LolKatzen (@LolKatzen) / Jul 28 2013 9:43 PM

    There may be more atheists, or at least agnostics in Muslim lands than we think. To come out publicly is dangerous, so people don’t advertise it.

    But in Egypt just now, the anti-Islamists are drawing much larger crowds than the pro-Islamists (we must allow that the 10% of the population that are nominally Christian would be anti-Islamist of course).

  25. Christian HBDer / Jul 31 2013 10:54 AM

    I don’t like the New Atheists because they give bad arguments, but I don’t see anything wrong with trying to convince people — either academics or the public — of your viewpoint. To say that reasoned discussion of religion is “futile” seems far too strong a statement, even if we grant (as I do) that genetics influences belief. I presume that belief in HBD or any particular theses you defend in your blog posts are also influenced by genetics, but that doesn’t stop you giving reasons for those theses. Nor should it. We ought to strive to be objective and rational, even if our genetics (and environment) predispose us to be biased toward certain views.

    For my part, I grew up Christian, questioned my faith, and then carefully studied the historical evidence for Christianity, coming away from this task convinced that it was quite strong. I of course can’t be sure that my own Christianity isn’t primarily a result of my genes (or environment) rather than reasoning, but similar careful study of HBD, politics, and other areas has led me to form beliefs firmly at odds both with my previous beliefs and others in my family, so I think I have some evidence that I am more rational/objective than most in my beliefs.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 31 2013 5:46 PM

      The Abrahamic concept of a personal “father god” is what is problematic. However other religions, traditions and philosophies deal with metaphysical possibilities in a much more compelling way.

  26. Gottlieb / Jul 31 2013 4:08 PM

    I think people HBD are new CHOSEN ONES.
    I speak for myself, I’m sure the amount of people who think like me in the area where I live are very, very few. The vast majority of so-called smart here, end becoming leftists. Perhaps this is related to divergent thinking, the ability of people to believe in things on their own, and not just follow the herd.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 31 2013 5:44 PM

      Isn’t Jayman both an HBDer and a Leftist simultaneously?

  27. Gottlieb / Jul 31 2013 6:38 PM

    No, they are not clearly leftist, trust me.
    I see the Jayman several conservative traits. The HBD people are successful hybrid of what is best in both conservatism as liberalism.
    I myself am one of them. I have no problems in dealing with ‘diversity’ (provided that such ‘diversity’ is functional) while fully supporting the pro-white movement. I am for those people who want to live in a country according to its principles, they do not get embarrassed and run after your dreams. The world will be a better place when a leftist person accept the convictions and lifestyle of conservatives and vice versa and this can only happen when both types are far from each other.
    For curious information, here in my country, is that right-wingers are called liberals.

    • Hindu Observer / Aug 3 2013 9:31 PM

      What country are you from?

  28. Gottlieb / Jul 31 2013 6:40 PM

    Sorry, ”they are” no…
    I do not know HBDer therefore can not infer anything about. But I think what a person Trotskyite-Marxist is doing on a blog that talks about human inequality, ooops, human diversity.

  29. Amber / Aug 4 2013 7:08 AM

    It’s not so much that religion correlates with ethnicity, IMO, as that ethnic identity *creates* religious identity. Most religious people don’t sit down and work out exactly what they believe, then look at all of the available religions and pick the one which suits them; they believe what their parents believe, what their community believes, and their common beliefs and practices and norms and values are all part of a way of life for them. To reject their religion is like rejecting their entire family.

    Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, when you look back at their very beginnings, were quite similar religions all springing from the same well. Muslims even believe that Jesus was a prophet, that he was crucified, etc. Mormonism, by contrast, is quite different, beliefs-wise, from mainstream Christianity–Mormons are polytheists, there’s that business with the planets, etc. And yet Mormons view themselves as Christians, while no one views Muslims as Christians. Why? Because Mormons come from the same ethnic stock as Christians, while most Muslims and Christians have been from different ethnic groups for over a thousand years. “Hinduism” isn’t a coherent set of beliefs, but a whole bunch of different beliefs which have all been lumped together because they happen to be believed in by Hindus. Buddhism came out of Hinduism, but we label it differently because its chief practitioners are ethnically different. And heaven forbid you tell an Urdu speaker that their language is basically Hindi.

    I was a very religious child–much more religious than the parents who raised me. (I was raised by my biological mother and step-father.) They’re fairly religious folks, but in a sort of dreamy, ‘we like Jesus, Jesus is comforting,’ not very rigorous kind of way. I was always a little more fanatical than them–in fact, I wanted to be a priest.

    Like many folks who take their religion very seriously, I began studying Christianity, along with some comparative religion and basic science. And like a lot of people who actually bother to read the Bible, I quickly became an atheist.

    Anyway, some time later I found my biological father, whom I hadn’t seen since early childhood. Unlike the parents who raised me, he is deeply religious. In fact, he’s a minister.

    So that’s where it came from!

    The difference between me and my dad, I suspect, is that I came of age at the same time as the internet. My dad says, “hey, did you hear about this ancient Hebrew inscription in the southwest,” I google it and email him, “looks like it’s a hoax; dude who “found” it committed other archaeological frauds and it doesn’t look like something that old ought to look.” We can fact-check instantly, now. Heck, I was just reading an article about Mormons discovering inconvenient truths about their religion via the internet, like the fact that their founder was a child-raping racist who stole wives from other men. Classy dude. I already knew all that, but then, I’m not a Mormon, and I like reading Wikipedia.

    I still have this “god shaped hole” inside of me. I just know there isn’t any god out there.

    • Hindu Observer / Aug 4 2013 5:56 PM

      “It’s not so much that religion correlates with ethnicity, IMO, as that ethnic identity *creates* religious identity.”

      And the physical environment shapes the religious and philosophical thought. That’s why South Asian philosophies are so complex, varied and compelling.

    • Om Sweet Om / Aug 5 2013 10:32 PM

      ” “Hinduism” isn’t a coherent set of beliefs, but a whole bunch of different beliefs which have all been lumped together because they happen to be believed in by Hindus. Buddhism came out of Hinduism, but we label it differently because its chief practitioners are ethnically different. And heaven forbid you tell an Urdu speaker that their language is basically Hindi. ”

      Where on earth do you get your misinformation?

  30. Gottlieb / Aug 4 2013 10:09 PM

    ”What country are you from?”

    Hindu Observer,
    i’m from Brazil.
    Here, be reactionary is the same to be ”liberal”. It is a ”right party” or a non-leftist type party.

  31. Benjamin David Steele / Aug 15 2013 12:46 AM

    Most basically, I’m an agnostic (which is an issue of knowledge). However, I’m neither atheist (which is an issue of belief for or against) nor anti-religious.

    I simply don’t know from the perspective of radical skepticism, but I’m evenly split between an impulse of doubt and an impulse of belief. My radical skepticism is driven by a nature of seeking. I partly doubt everything simply out of curiosity to question and wonder but also partly to test all viewpoints to find one worthy of belief.

    I sometimes call myself an agnostic gnostic, one who doesn’t know but wants to know.

    The genetic angle could possibly explain my mixed up nature.

    My mother’s family is full of fundamentalists. Frm the family members I know, it seems a basic religiosity, some of it more authentic and other parts more superficial unquestioning groupthink. My mom probably has never had a doubt about God in her life. If she did, she wouldn’t likely admit it, even to herself.

    My fathers’ family is very different. His mother was born and raised Southern Baptst, but as an adult became involved in New Age Spirituality and New Thought Christianity. She was a spiritual seeker forever seeking. His father was a minister who had doubts about God’s existence and had trouble sticking to proper theoloical doctrine. My dad went through an agnostic phase for many years before becoming a believer, although he still tends toward heretical thinking such as a predisposition toward Universalist theology and maybe Unitarian theology.

    I have often wondered about inherited genetics. Although less spiritual, I’m very much like my grandmother in being a seeker forever seeking. She too was a liberal-minded thinker and artistically creative, as I am. I barely knew her since she died when I was a very small child. If not genetics, how did I develop so many traits similar to hers?

    However, environment is also a powerful influence. Research has shown peers have more influence on children than do parents, except I suppose when parents isolate their children such as with homeschooling. I may have liberal genetics, but also had very liberal environments growing up. I see a lot of traits in my dad that seem potentially liberal and yet he grew up very conservative. Moving to South Carolina brought out a right-wing side in my dad. Even so, that liberal potentiality every so often pops up as semi-libertarianism. Unlike me, my dad didn’t grow up in a liberal environment and so his liberal potentiality has never fully expressed.

    I’m speculating here based on the research. It has been shown that genes don’t necessarily become expressed without specific environmental factors. Many conservatives are walking around with genes that correlate to higher rates of liberalism, but these people would never know this potential exists within. These people pass these liberal enes onto their children who, if they experience a liberal environment, will then express liberalism. Also, the children with liberal genes inherited from liberal-expressed parents are less likely to become liberals themselves if they don’t experience a liberal environment.

    Researchers have only begun to discover the genes correlated to ideology. And researchers have only begun to unlock the complex relationship between nurture and nature. New research has, for example, shown the plausibility of non-Darwinian evolution and behavior/trait inheritence: Neo-Lamarckianism, epigenetics, Baldwin effect, etc. Even within natural selection, research has shown it can sometimes happen a lot faster than previously thought. It has been theorized that modern society is speeding up evolution.

    There is so much we don’t know right now. Many estblished theories are being challenged and revised.

    • JayMan / Aug 16 2013 8:55 AM

      @BJS:

      Most basically, I’m an agnostic (which is an issue of knowledge). However, I’m neither atheist (which is an issue of belief for or against) nor anti-religious.

      I’d argue that agnosticism and atheism (in the weak sense) are equivalent. A principled atheist (such as myself) withholds belief in lieu of evidence, and updates belief accordingly should new evidence become available.

      However, environment is also a powerful influence. Research has shown peers have more influence on children than do parents, except I suppose when parents isolate their children such as with homeschooling.

      Don’t be so sure about peers. Indeed, it’s true parents have minimal influence. However, most of the evidence for peer effects are not much better than family studies that purports to show the effects of parents. Namely, it is confounded by heredity. Do peer groups take on similar attitudes because like-minded peers seek each other out, for example?

      I’m speculating here based on the research. It has been shown that genes don’t necessarily become expressed without specific environmental factors.

      More or less.

      Many conservatives are walking around with genes that correlate to higher rates of liberalism, but these people would never know this potential exists within. These people pass these liberal enes onto their children who, if they experience a liberal environment, will then express liberalism.

      Something like that. There are limits to what the environment can do, however.

      Researchers have only begun to discover the genes correlated to ideology. And researchers have only begun to unlock the complex relationship between nurture and nature. New research has, for example, shown the plausibility of non-Darwinian evolution and behavior/trait inheritence: Neo-Lamarckianism, epigenetics

      Yeah, that stuff is all bullshit. See here, here, and here.

      Even within natural selection, research has shown it can sometimes happen a lot faster than previously thought. It has been theorized that modern society is speeding up evolution.

      It’s not just theoretical:

      Human Evolutionary Change 100 Times Higher in Past 5,000 Years.

      There is so much we don’t know right now. Many estblished theories are being challenged and revised.

      By contrast, there’s a lot we did know a long time ago that is coming back to light today, and a lot we would have known now had the social sciences not been taken over by political correctness.

    • Benjamin David Steele / Aug 17 2013 6:36 PM

      @JayMan – “I’d argue that agnosticism and atheism (in the weak sense) are equivalent.”

      I might be considered a weak atheist and I have at times thought that way, but I don’t know that it captures my full experience. Part of the problem for me is that belief seems like a strange concept. I sense that the world is a strange place, stranger than present mainstream scientific thought allows for. But it is hard for me to pinpoint any specific beliefs I have in relationship to this sense.

      “Don’t be so sure about peers. Indeed, it’s true parents have minimal influence. However, most of the evidence for peer effects are not much better than family studies that purports to show the effects of parents. Namely, it is confounded by heredity. Do peer groups take on similar attitudes because like-minded peers seek each other out, for example?”

      You could be right or you could be wrong. As for the example of a multicultural environment, that would be an environmental factor that isn’t chosen by the child. Those kinds of examples interest me the most. I find it immensely interesting that a particular gene for liberalism increases probability of being expressed simply by a child having lots of friends. However, the gene doesn’t determine any of that for there are kids with that gene who didn’t have lots of friends and so later on were less likely to express liberalism. It makes one wonder how much of genetic expression is determined by environment.

      “Yeah, that stuff is all bullshit.”

      One could say the same thing about HBD, if one were so inclined. My point was that scientists research and debate non-Darwinian evolution. Like HBD, non-Darwinian evolution isn’t mainstream consensus and yet it is still part of the scientific process. All theories that are mainstream consensus began outside of mainstream consensus. Sometimes mainstream consensus changes toward supporting a new theory and sometimes not. Time will tell, for both non-Darwinian evolution and HBD. I’ll go on considering alternatives because I find it interesting to do so, but you are of course free to do otherwise.

      “It’s not just theoretical:”

      I was also thinking about the possibility of evolution happening over shorter periods of time, even just a few generations. We know from breeding that traits can be established very quickly. There are possibly natural conditions that can direct evolution with similar quick results as breeding.

      “By contrast, there’s a lot we did know a long time ago that is coming back to light today, and a lot we would have known now had the social sciences not been taken over by political correctness.”

      Actually, political correctness would guide one to not challenge natural selection as the only route of evolution. The people who challenge Darwinian evolution tend to be those challenging political correctness or else, such as with Creationists, challenging the entire scientific enterprise. If I was worried about political correctness, I wouldn’t touch non-Darwinian evolution or HBD with a 10 foot pole.

    • JayMan / Aug 18 2013 6:11 PM

      @BJS:

      Benjamin, while you’re more than welcome to post here, you have to realize that there are certain standards of evidence and rational discourse that are practiced here.

      “Yeah, that stuff is all bullshit.”

      One could say the same thing about HBD, if one were so inclined.

      One could say that, as one can say anything. But they can’t say it with any justification (HBD Fundamentals).

      My point was that scientists research and debate non-Darwinian evolution. Like HBD, non-Darwinian evolution isn’t mainstream consensus and yet it is still part of the scientific process.

      No Ben, that’s not how it works. Truth is not determined by what the “scientific community” accepts, even if that is a shortcut used by non-scientists. Truth is established by what we have evidence for, and nothing less. While research into “non-Darwinian” evolution is on-going, the evidence for Lamarckian epigenetic inheritance and the like is, at current, lacking. By contrast, the evidence for HBD is strong. “Controversy” is a poor way of judging the truth of a proposition.

      I was also thinking about the possibility of evolution happening over shorter periods of time, even just a few generations. We know from breeding that traits can be established very quickly. There are possibly natural conditions that can direct evolution with similar quick results as breeding.

      Evolution can happen quickly, but there are limits to the rate of natural selection.

      Yes, phenotypes are dependent on environmental conditions for expression, even given a fixed genotype.

      Actually, political correctness would guide one to not challenge natural selection as the only route of evolution.

      All propositions should be challenged. Any claim needs to be met with due skepticism. This is the nature of science.

      If I was worried about political correctness, I wouldn’t touch non-Darwinian evolution or HBD with a 10 foot pole.

      Fair enough. I’d say you still have a way to go on your journey, though… ;)

    • Benjamin David Steele / Aug 18 2013 7:29 PM

      @JayMan – “Benjamin, while you’re more than welcome to post here, you have to realize that there are certain standards of evidence and rational discourse that are practiced here.”

      I would hope that we share the standard of science. My only point is that scientists debate this topic. I would hope I’m welcome to discuss science in your blog. If not, just say so.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Non-Darwinian_evolution

      “One could say that, as one can say anything. But they can’t say it with any justification (HBD Fundamentals).”

      You misunderstand me. I didn’t state that HBD isn’t scientific. I merely pointed out that it isn’t the consensus opinion of mainstream scientists. That is fine. I have never claimed that makes all other alternative theories invalid. That is why I like scientific debate.

      “No Ben, that’s not how it works. Truth is not determined by what the “scientific community” accepts, even if that is a shortcut used by non-scientists. Truth is established by what we have evidence for, and nothing less. While research into “non-Darwinian” evolution is on-going, the evidence for Lamarckian epigenetic inheritance and the like is, at current, lacking. By contrast, the evidence for HBD is strong. “Controversy” is a poor way of judging the truth of a proposition.”

      Yes, actually that is part of the scientific method. Scientists research such things as non-Darwinian evolution, they publish in peer-reviewed journals, they present their theories at scientific conferences and they debate. It doesn’t matter what you or I think about non-Darwinian evolution. It doesn’t even matter what the consensus of scientists think. It is an alternative theory and needs no other justification. Of course, like HBD, a lot more research will have to be done to prove it. That is fine. Science is always developing.

      “All propositions should be challenged. Any claim needs to be met with due skepticism. This is the nature of science.”

      This is why I generally have a skeptical attitude. I skeptically look at all positions that seem worthy, but that is always partly a subjective judgment.

      “Fair enough. I’d say you still have a way to go on your journey, though… ”

      Same back at you. We all have a long way to go. Science too has a long way to go. None of us has it all figured out. That is the fun of science.

  32. anon / Sep 14 2013 9:20 PM

    I would have to disagree with the idea that that atheism is some empty groundstate resulting from an absence of data. There is no empty ground-state other than being unable to conceptualize the question and therefore unable to make a determination. Theism, apatheism, and atheism are all based on subjective determinations. Once the question has been asked and conceptualized their is no objectivity to be had.

    Hence why science is not on the side of any of the aforementioned. Science is not atheistic because it is not a person any more than a hammer is a person, it is merely a tool and is no longer a philosophy and hence has no opinions or subjective values.

    This is the scientific method as it was taught to me and I have seen some evidence that those that hold this position make better predictive models than more “old fashioned” scientists who have rationalist inclinations.

    I only bring this up to ask a question of you. What if any is your particular background in the natural sciences in academia and any professional application of the scientific method in you utilize in your daily life?

    I ask this merely because despite your often quite objective there are occasionally tinges of emotionalist sentiment in your arguments and plans you put forward, your consideration that happiness and sensations hold some value for instance.

    I also wish to know when you were educated. As the elimination of rationalism and philosophical underpinnings in the education of professional natural scientists only occurred very recently in the United States. If you were educated prior to 2002 this is quite understandable.

    I want to assess your individual case in comparison to the increasing religiosity among american scientists under the age of 35, which I hypothesize is the result of normalization with the sentiments of the general population in the absence any pro or anti-theistic political indoctrination in the natural sciences.

    At least in my own experience in geology there is currently no political or religious leaning in the education of american geologists. This may be due to the economic focus of the field though which makes political leanings toward the left or right of less importance when it comes to acquiring funding.

    • JayMan / Sep 14 2013 10:49 PM

      @anon:

      I would have to disagree with the idea that that atheism is some empty groundstate resulting from an absence of data. There is no empty ground-state other than being unable to conceptualize the question and therefore unable to make a determination. Theism, apatheism, and atheism are all based on subjective determinations. Once the question has been asked and conceptualized their is no objectivity to be had.

      Hence why science is not on the side of any of the aforementioned. Science is not atheistic because it is not a person any more than a hammer is a person, it is merely a tool and is no longer a philosophy and hence has no opinions or subjective values.

      Science is indeed a tool – a truth seeking tool.

      Now, use that tool. Apply it to the putative existence of God. What conclusion do you reach?

      Hence, someone use utilizes science can only have the position of being an atheist, as I stated.

      I ask this merely because despite your often quite objective there are occasionally tinges of emotionalist sentiment in your arguments and plans you put forward, your consideration that happiness and sensations hold some value for instance.

      Now this is where your description of science as a tool comes to bear. Sure, the methods of science, once we choose to apply it, is empirical, as are its finding. But science is utilized by beings with normative ideals and ends, so science is normative in that sense. Since we are human, we can’t be divorced from having these values.

      Hence, I don’t claim that happiness or sensation have some abstract, intrinsic and eternal value; they have value because they have value to we humans.

      I’m quite careful not to confuse my empirical statement with normative ones. But it’s important to recognize that the application of science is normative, as Razib Khan explains.

      At least in my own experience in geology there is currently no political or religious leaning in the education of american geologists. This may be due to the economic focus of the field though which makes political leanings toward the left or right of less importance when it comes to acquiring funding.

      Quite possibly.

    • anon / Sep 15 2013 12:29 AM

      >a truth seeking tool.
      Once again I must disagree with this assertion at a practical methodological level. Science is about making predictive models not seeking “truth” or “knowledge” which as not objectively definable.

      >requesting assessment
      Utilizing merely the scientific method with no other with no subjective impositions or divinations or whatever you want to call them?

      (result) code 600: no input
      From my understanding of the application of the methodology the positions of apatheism, theism, atheism, and any other self described position are co-equivalent and not even really definable as distinct from one another at the abstract level.
      I suppose I could assess the behaviors of the adherents to those positions but that is not the same thing as an analysis of the abstract concepts themselves.

      And yes I realize that all actors have subjective goalsets, mine are merely to breed and ensure the indefinite survive of my bloodline to the best of my abilities. But I think that there is evidence that any feeling any emotional sentiment when collecting or assessing data, even curiosity, can create errors. Now subjective bullshit and errors are inevitable but minimizing them is at least in our economic interests assuming our models bring us profit in some way.
      I have to ask again as a favor to a group of 5 other scientists including my wife who I talk with regularly: what is your profession in the sciences, background in academia if any, and year of post graduate or bachelor degree. I only ask because this information was not displayed anywhere on the blog.

      I’m not looking down my nose at you or anything, this goes into a half-assed spreadsheet one of them is making which is trying to collate answers from various professionals and academics regarding their socio-political views and position regarding how the scientific method should be utilized. He takes my hypothesis more seriously than I do an actually wants to make a model whereas my interest only extended so far as creating the hypothesis. I can see no fiscal gain to be had from supporting or refuting it.

      I merely state my views with regards to how to best use scientific methodology in hopes of eliciting more complete answers from you. Your counterpoint tells me a great deal general view of science as an institution. Normally I would not impose so much but it is pertinent to this thread so I figured it would not be out of place.

    • JayMan / Sep 15 2013 12:47 AM

      @anon:

      Once again I must disagree with this assertion at a practical methodological level. Science is about making predictive models not seeking “truth” or “knowledge” which as not objectively definable.

      The goal of science to seek truth. What you’re describing is how it goes about doing that. Don’t confuse the two.

      From my understanding of the application of the methodology the positions of apatheism, theism, atheism, and any other self described position are co-equivalent and not even really definable as distinct from one another at the abstract level.

      Let’s define atheism thusly: holding the position that, since there is no evidence for their existence, supernatural beings or deities likely do not exist, but that remains open to revision should such evidence emerge.

      But I think that there is evidence that any feeling any emotional sentiment when collecting or assessing data, even curiosity, can create errors. Now subjective bullshit and errors are inevitable but minimizing them is at least in our economic interests assuming our models bring us profit in some way.

      So what you’re basically saying is that humans aren’t perfect, and make mistakes and inaccurate conclusions. Well no kidding. That’s why have science and its methods to correct such inaccuracies and improve our understanding of the universe.

    • anon / Sep 15 2013 1:58 AM

      >The goal of science to seek truth. What you’re describing is how it goes about doing that. Don’t confuse the two.
      Thank you for defining science as you see it more clearly but I disagree, to me and some others the models are the end and implying the we can infer something beyond modeling is overreaching what the methodology is capable of.

      >Let’s define atheism thusly: holding the position that, since there is no evidence for their existence, supernatural beings or deities likely do not exist, but that remains open to revision should such evidence emerge.
      Yes that is the roughly the definition I was using when I made may assessment, that assessment remains unrevised because there is no change in input. I can only work within the limitations of the methodology and what data available to me. Even holding a position of open lack of belief is functionally indistinguishable from any other position to me in abstract terms.

      I cannot agree with any of the positions being consistent with scientific methodology because as you said there an inherent probability assessment, “likely” in your own words, which is not possible in the absence of data.

      I the same way I do not assess the likelihood of nappe in a sedimentary basin without pertinent data. And of course there is the complication that the nature of the question may in fact preclude anyone from ever acquiring data.

      I’m guessing that you are reluctant to tell me your profession to maintain anonymity. Please understand I don’t want anything terribly specific like the school you attended, just the year of your degrees, type of degrees, and current profession or trained profession. Nothing that could ever be used to identify you. Without such data this exchange really serves no purpose to me as I cannot complete a favor, that is if I find anyone interesting on the internet I should collect data for my associate.

      If this is impossible or undesirable for any reason simply say so and I will end this exchange.

  33. Anonymous / Sep 17 2013 1:42 AM

    “Apply [science] to the putative existence of *other minds.* What conclusion do you reach?”

    A true scientist is obligated to be a solipsist.

    Objection: we have evidence of other minds, when we observe other human behavior: laughing, smiling, joking.

    Response: that may be evidence of *something*, but it’s not evidence of other minds. It’s not evidence that there’s something “inside” those other bundles of flesh that has subjective experiences like you do. And yet try to deny that you believe in other minds. You do believe it, even though its a completely unscientific belief.

    Just as you may count a multitude of experiences as evidence for other minds, a believer may count a multitude of experiences as evidence of the divine. What the divine really is may well be unknowable. But then, science gets to that point to, if you push hard enough. Or are you really capable of believing that light is both a particle and a wave at the same time. Is that any more plausible than the idea that God could be three and one at the same time?

    In the final analysis, atheism is a position of extreme arrogance, as well as over confidence in what deep scientific explanations really look like. At the edges of science we don’t find certainty, but mystery. “I can’t explain it,” said Richard Feynman, “because I don’t understand it. But that’s how it is.” That, my friends, is a statement of faith.

    Or do you know science better than Feynman?

    • JayMan / Sep 17 2013 2:24 AM

      You’re ignoring that there is a one article of faith on which all science is based: the belief that the world is we see it, and the related idea that what we see to work actually does work.

      As you might know, outside of mathematics and logic, it’s impossible to absolutely prove anything. I can no more prove that the Sun is going to rise tomorrow than I can prove that I am sitting here typing this to you. We have to go (admittedly, on faith) with the notion that what has always worked will always work, and that we can trust what we see. This assumption has however shown itself to be enormously valuable.

      Hence, running with this silly argument which rests on the lack of absolute proof that we’re not in the Matrix is foolhardy.

      In the final analysis, atheism is a position of extreme arrogance, as well as over confidence in what deep scientific explanations really look like.

      As noted, it’s from a position of humility, based on the fact that we cannot verify our experiences like we can a mathematical formula, so we have to trust our experiences that what has worked will work. When then applying the rules of objective evaluation that then follows from this, there is no reason to believe in any gods or deities at this time.

      Or are you really capable of believing that light is both a particle and a wave at the same time.

      Quite easily. Why to religious apologists always invoke quantum mechanical principles they don’t understand to defend religion?

  34. Anonymous / Sep 17 2013 9:54 AM

    You have misunderstood the argument. The problem of other minds is more than just wondering how we can know we aren’t in the Matrix. The fact is you do believe in other minds. And not for any scientific reason. This is just one, though an important one, of the non-empirical things you believe.

    In additition, I do not grant that the world is as we see it. If science shows us anything it shows us that it is not. Indeed, science does not show us minds at all, to say nothing of minds “as they are,” whatever that would be.

    “The physical world is all that exists,” is not a scientific conclusion. There is no evidence for it. It is a simplifying assumption. And no one can live a normal human life and even really pretend it is true. Yes, “it works,” for a certain medium-sized subset of observed phenomena, if you don’t ask too many questions.

    But if fails to explain all that is–even all that atheists believe in. It doesn’t “work” for all of reality. And it’s some combination of arrogance and absurdity to pretend that it does.

    • JayMan / Sep 17 2013 10:42 AM

      @Anonymous:
      Look my friend, there is no way to defend religion with rational argument. It’s a waste of time to even try.

      You have misunderstood the argument. The problem of other minds is more than just wondering how we can know we aren’t in the Matrix. The fact is you do believe in other minds. And not for any scientific reason. This is just one, though an important one, of the non-empirical things you believe.

      You’re talking about the problem of induction, which as I explained to you is indeed based on faith. I have already conceded that it is ultimately an assumption that the world is as we see it, including that the appearance that other beings have their own subjective experience is indeed the case.

      In additition, I do not grant that the world is as we see it.

      Sure, you can believe that it’s not, but we have no reason to think that that is the case, and every reason to believe that it is.

      If science shows us anything it shows us that it is not.

      You’re misunderstanding the scope of what I mean by “see” it. I don’t just mean the bits of experience you might have happened to come across in your day-to-day life, but I mean the phenomena researchers have observed and measured that underscore our scientific understanding. That the world is as we see it is the bedrock of science.

      “The physical world is all that exists,” is not a scientific conclusion. There is no evidence for it.

      It is given the assumption stated above. A key problem that can muddy the argument is that this depends on what you mean by “physical”. Many current theories of the universe postulate the existence of a “multiverse”, or realities outside the universe we know. Sure, these may be technically outside our “universe”, but, if they exist, they are just as “physical” as is our universe.

      And no one can live a normal human life and even really pretend it is true.

      That’s the belief that I run with. It works fine for me.

      The point of the quantum physics example is that science makes demands on our belief systems that strain credulity at least as much as non-scientific beliefs do.

      Not really. They strain our pre-conceived notions about the universe, but they don’t stress our physical understanding of the universe if you let go of your erroneous conception about how the world is.

  35. Anonymous / Sep 17 2013 10:13 AM

    The point of the quantum physics example is that science makes demands on our belief systems that strain credulity at least as much as non-scientific beliefs do.

  36. Anonymous / Sep 17 2013 12:24 PM

    If I am defending religion, it is not any particular religion, except the negation of materialism (or scientism). Other minds are a problem for such a viewpoint, quite independent of the problem of induction.

    To be clear, I don’t take wave-particle duality to be a reductio or anything, but I do take it as an example that science is far from common sense, and that we cannot judge the truth or falsity of a particular claim based on knee-jerk intuitions.

    As far as I can tell, you have chosen some non-scientific principles to believe in (other minds, the general correspondence between appearance and reality, induction) and others not to believe in (God). I deny this is a principled distinction. And it’s certainly not one for which you have reason to be proud of holding, as if it represents some more sober or grown-up,view of reality.

    Are you a materialist? I can’t tell. You seem to be a materialist-plus-other-things (other minds, etc.). Materialism is clearly bankrupt as a metaphysic. But I don’t see the argument for all and only what you’ve let in through the back door.

    • JayMan / Sep 19 2013 4:44 PM

      @Anonymous:

      First, let me say that if you look at the content of my post, you’d see that while I’m atheist, I’m OK with religion for the reason I state. So there’s no need to defend religion here.

      If I am defending religion, it is not any particular religion, except the negation of materialism (or scientism).

      I.e., you’re defending religion.

      To be clear, I don’t take wave-particle duality to be a reductio or anything, but I do take it as an example that science is far from common sense,

      Yeah. But what is “common sense”. Our heuristics about the world in which we’re familiar. Quantum mechanics deals with phenomena that aren’t necessarily in vision of the average human’s day-to-day observation

      As far as I can tell, you have chosen some non-scientific principles to believe in (other minds, the general correspondence between appearance and reality, induction) and others not to believe in (God). I deny this is a principled distinction. And it’s certainly not one for which you have reason to be proud of holding, as if it represents some more sober or grown-up,view of reality.

      Usefulness of assuming what we see is real: high. Usefulness of the latter…. well….

      Are you a materialist? I can’t tell. You seem to be a materialist-plus-other-things (other minds, etc.).

      Yes, I am a materialist, as any rationalist would be…

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