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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…)

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.

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…)

Omniscience Entails Fatalism

Monday, May 9th, 2011
Captioned as "Odin disguised as a Travell...

Image via Wikipedia

Dear friend in philosophy
Thank you for your recent charming company. As you might recall from our discussion at the restaurant, I remarked glibly that omniscience entails fatalism. You, of course, disagreed with me on the grounds that God’s existence is somehow atemporal. Since informal discussions over lunch, sadly cut short by your disappearance, are less than conducive to heavy philosophy, I thought this clarification in order.

I believe I can prove my assertion. Given a few reasonable assumptions, and a particular understanding of the concepts involved, we should be able to (more…)

Theists, stop being ignorant about meta-ethics!

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

I recently watched the Notre Dame debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig entitled ‘Is Good from God?’ I can refute everything Craig said in just three words:

Ideal Observer Theory

Look, theists, if you want to argue that Divine Command Theory farts rainbows and brings orgasms to needy little children, knock yourselves out. But honestly, stop acting as if it were the only coherent meta-ethical theory ever devised in the history of humanity. It doesn’t make you look clever, it makes you look either ignorant or dishonest. Craig must certainly be immorally dishonest, since as a Research Professor of Philosophy he ought to know better.

No, I don’t intend to defend Ideal Observer Theory over Divine Command Theory – though I’ll recommend Michael Martin’s book ‘Atheism, Morality, and Meaning‘ for the interested – and Ideal Observer Theory isn’t even the only theory that fulfils Craig’s criteria of ‘objectivity.’ I don’t even know why we should take seriously Craig’s assertion that ‘If God doesn’t exist there can be no objective morality’ since it basically just boils down to an argument from Craig’s personal incredulity.

However, my point is that philosophical integrity demands that we ought at the very least acknowledge that there are other positions available. We don’t have to accept them. Hell, we can argue vehemently against their veracity. But the least we can do is to not pretend that there is no opposing view; no legitimate disagreement. That’s not philosophy, that’s just plain old propaganda.

For shame!


O’Reilly deserves no charity

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

…but maybe we should give him some. Now, Bill O’Reilly gives us no reason to be charitable toward his claims. He is loud-mouthed, arrogant, frequently bigoted, annoyingly interruptive, and never charitable toward his interviewees himself.  Such behaviour hardly engenders good will in people to treat him differently. This, I suspect, is the reason for the massive amounts of ridicule heaped onto him after his tide-argument for God in his interview with David Silverman:

Most notable of such ridicule is Colbert describing his position as ‘there must be a God because I don’t know how things work’ and then bringing physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in to explain the tides.

As amusing and justified the ridicule of O’Reilly admittedly is, I doubt the man is truly so ignorant of basic scientific explanations as he’s made out. I just think he’s really bad at getting across whatever his argument happens to be. So when O’Reilly says:

Sun comes up, sun goes down. Tide comes in, tide goes out; never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.

A more charitable interpretation, than a profession of ignorance of the motions of celestial bodies, is (more…)

Presentism, Penguins & The Le Poidevin-Russell Prong

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Can the presentist escape the Last Thursdayism objection against truthmaking?

ThursdayI shall argue the Last Thursdayism objection against presentist truthmaking is inescapable; since it is a consequence of a sole existing privileged present – intrinsic to all presentisms – and not of any particular presentist truthmaker theory. I shall consider how the truthmaker theories of Rhoda and Cameron fare against the objection – the former because of its unique relevance to the objection; the latter because it is the most sophisticated presentist truthmaker theory.

Presentism is the position that only the present exists. An easy way to understand this is (more…)