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Thoughts on atheists being in the minority

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

It’s true that the world contains more religious people than it does atheists, but consider it from a slightly different perspective. Regardless of what you believe, you must acknowledge the undeniable fact that even your religious beliefs are those of a tiny minority. We know with absolute certainty that no matter what the real religious truth is, the vast majority is wrong. There simply isn’t a significant amount of the Earth’s population that believes specifically and exactly the same set of religious beliefs.

Even given that we atheists are wrong, we must then necessarily conclude that whichever god there is, is either an atrociously ineffective communicator or completely indifferent to whether we humans hold true beliefs.

In either case I’m not particularly worried about said god holding me responsible for not believing. Quite obviously I am not responsible.

Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!

– Betrand Russel on what he’d respond if God asked him why he didn’t believe.

What language do you think in?

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Since I speak Faroese, Danish, and English fluently, people often ask me which language I think in. I tend to answer I don’t think in language, because I like the incredulous reaction and because I genuinely think it’s a silly question. The question is seemingly based on the assumption that thinking is inherently a constant stream of monologue; an incessant talking to oneself inside one’s own head in a specific language – and only in that language.

Now, I don’t know what everyone else’s inner life is like. Perhaps I really am special in that I vocalise internally less than everyone else. Who knows? However, I am fairly certain the single-language internal monologue model of cognition doesn’t really describe anyone’s mind. I don’t think in language and if you actually stop to take notice of what’s going on inside your mind, I think you’ll find that neither do you.

First of all, let’s get the (more…)

Don’t condescend to philosophers

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

…or this might happen to you.

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Thanks to dynotoaqrimp for sharing this with me.

Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a bad philosopher

Friday, April 27th, 2012
Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NA...

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of days ago there was a minor kerfuffle between Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, and Neil daGrasse Tyson, the equally friendly astrophysicist, over the correct usage of the term ‘atheist.’ It wasn’t very interesting to me. Neil can call or refrain from calling himself whatever he wants. To me anyone who lacks a belief in gods is an atheist, but that’s how I choose to use the word. Some people use it differently. That’s fine. If they object to be called an atheist, I will respect their wishes even if I personally happen to think they are one. I share Neil’s disdain for arguing semantics. If both parties have (more…)

Plantinga’s Naturalism Defeater

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

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Way back in the distant past of 2010 Justin Brierly over at his show ‘Unbelievable?‘ moderated a discussion between philosophers Stephen Law and Alvin Plantinga. The topic of debate was Plantinga’s infamous argument that the conjunction of naturalism and evolution renders cognitive reliability improbable. The conjunction is therefore supposedly a defeater against believing in the truth of beliefs produced by our cognition; including the belief in naturalism and evolution. Naturalism, says Plantinga, thereby undermines itself.

Image of Alvin Plantinga released by Plantinga...

Alvin Plantinga - Image via Wikipedia

The discussion is interesting and well worth a listen. Although I think both sides could have made a stronger case. The moderation was mostly fair. However, I couldn’t help my bemusement that Plantinga was consistently ‘Plantinga; one of the world’s greatest philosophers of religion etc. ad infinitum‘ while Stephen Law had to make do with being just plain old ‘Stephen Law.’ I mean, sure, what do I know? Perhaps Plantinga just has these Übermensch qualifications to rival even The Stig while poor Law is inexorably left behind in the dust of mediocrity. But it did become increasingly comical in iteration as the show progressed.

The first part of the show was naturally dedicated to (more…)

Philosophy Matters

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

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The University of the West of England Bristol recently hosted a panel-talk about the importance of philosophy. It is well worth watching in its entirety if only for its sheer amount of zingers. Although the topic is an outright assertion (and not a question) the panelists balanced each other out very well in their approaches.

I’m considering simply sharing this video with the next person, who condescends to my chosen field of study. Or to the next person, who makes a crack at my expense about unemployability of philosophers. Apparently, according to Grayling, the least employable degrees at the moment are technical degrees. Humanity degrees are the most employable. Then again, Grayling cites no source, and I doubt it means much which kind of degree is most employable in light of the current economic state.

Foxtrot Goes Deeper

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

φ

Foxtrot - Go Deep

In case you were wondering the answers to the questions are:

1. Omniscience entails fatalism. 1

and

2. No.

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Recommended further study: Batman and Philosophy.

1Although whether that precludes free will depends on what you think “free will” is.

 

A Majority of Gawkers are Unable to Comprehend Percentages

Sunday, September 25th, 2011
Logo of website gawker.com, for use in article...

Image via Wikipedia

There’s this post over at Gawker with the shocking headline “A Majority of Icelanders Believe in the Existence of Elves.” What is the basis for this outrageous claim? Why, this study reported on Iceland Review, of course, which found that only 8% of Icelanders believe that elves definitely exist.

I must have skipped one too many math-classes in school and missed the one about 8% constituting a majority. Even if you add the amount of people, who believe in the likelihood of elves to the ones believing they definitely exist, that still only makes 25%

Gawker must have misread, right? The following, however, is part of their direct quote:

Only 13 percent of participants in the study said it is impossible that elves exist, 19 percent found it unlikely, 37 percent said elves possibly exist, 17 percent found their existence likely and eight percent definite. Five percent did not have an opinion on the existence of elves.

What the Hell, Gawker? Didn’t you even read what you were quoting? Okay, let’s be charitable. It’s true that a majority of Icelanders (62% > 50%, see how that works?) believe the existence of elves is at the very least possible. That’s fine. So what? So do I. Since elves aren’t, to my knowledge, logically self-contradictory there is a possible world at which elves exist. It might even be very close to ours.

I don’t really understand the questionnaire placing “possibility” between “unlikelihood” and “likelihood.” Unless the likelihood of something is either zero or one, it has no bearing whatsoever on the possibility of said something. Perhaps the researchers intended “possibility” in a more colloquial sense, but if so then they can hardly lament ambiguity in their results. In any case a majority believing in the possibility (no matter the sense) of something isn’t exactly sensational.

Let’s Flog the Anthropic Mare!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I just found this magnificent case of bad philosophy on Youtube. (Yes, I know! Who would’ve thunk it, eh?) While I would flatter myself unjustly were I to fancy myself a philosophical equivalent of the Bad Astronomer, (I wish!) my website is hardly about debunking bad philosophy. However, it is a guilty pleasure of mine because it gives me something to talk about. Especially when it’s a topic I’ve written about before.

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I have no idea (more…)

Interview with Robin LePoidevin

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Robin LePoidevin

 

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I had a chat with the always impeccably dressed Robin LePoidevin about atheism, agnosticism, and some of his books on behalf of the Faroese Atheist Society, ‘Gudloysi.’ Despite the anger of the thunder-gods outside, it was both interesting and quite illuminating to take a peak into the mind of such a distinguished professor of philosophy.