Russel Up a Meme

January 23, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

Here’s a “secret” hand gesture for those of us who follow Bertrand’s orbit.

And I admit that I enjoy Gnarly music

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Category: Communication, Humor, music, Religion

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. Ben says:

    Gnu atheism is not simply about what isn't. Our views do find expression in specific criticisms of specific faiths, but those are just the epiphenomena of a deeper set of positive values that Asma completely misses. Certainly I will make moral arguments against religious pathologies — Catholic priests raping children is bad — and I will judge beliefs by the foolishness of their explanations — creationist dogma is utterly absurd. But to say that is the guiding philosophy of atheism is to mistake the actions for the cause. I have one simple question you can ask of any religion, whether it's animism or Catholicism, that will allow you to determine the Gnu Atheist position on it.

    Is it true?

    I've told people this many times. The Gnu Atheism is a positive movement that emphasizes the truth of a claim as paramount; it is our number one value. This is why you're finding so many scientists who consider themselves in this movement — it's because that's how we're trained to think about hypotheses. Also, because there are many scientists and philosophers behind this idea, I should also emphasize that we're also well aware that "truth" is not some magic absolute, but something we can only approach by trial and error, and that truth is something you have to work towards, not simply accept dogmatically as given by some unquestionable source…which is another difference between us and religion. A scientific truth is more complex than a colloquial truth, it's requirements being that it is free of contradiction with logic and reality and supported by reason and evidence.

    Asma's big mistake is assuming that our central question is, "Is it good for us?", which leads him into all these pointless anecdotes about how praying makes him feel better, and how animism helps impoverished people cope with their circumstances. I don't care if religion makes someone feel better. Stacking illusions over a grim reality does not turn it sweet. I have my anecdotes, too; I remember the tragedy of my little sister's death a few years ago, and how I sat through a funeral in which the preacher declared with absolute certainty that she was in heaven, and all I felt was anger. Lies do not make me feel better. There is no consolation in fantasy. You can sugar-coat the truth as much as you want, you can make up extravagant stories of my sister living in constant joy and rapture, frolicking with lambs and puppy dogs in fields of sweet clover while angels on gentle zephyrs sing to her, and it would not give me one instant of comfort. I do not lie to myself, and other people lying to me under the delusion that it will make me happier I find unconscionable.

    Seriously, it's worse than that. I despise people who try to swaddle truth with lies in the name of consolation. It kills ambition, the striving to make the world better in the future, and it can allow evil to lurk unchecked. Those child-raping priests persisted because people lied to themselves, telling themselves that no man of god could do something so heinous…and even when finally exposed and removed, they continued to live in denial, reassuring each other that the institution that protected those vipers really was a force for good, overall.

    -Myers

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/substa

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