Remembered a nice line about atheism: "When you understand why you don't believe in every logically possible God, you'll understand why I don't believe in yours."

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Here's a good demonstration that asking the wrong questions is just as much a cause of mental masturbation as being a dolt. No offence to the author is intended, but this particular piece is mostly a waste of time, because it focuses on pointless questions (at least the bits I read -_-o).

See, it worries about whether atheism is *proveable* and other stuff about proof. But fallibility tells us that certainty isn't possible (and that this isn't not an obstacle to knowledge or truth). What matters is what the best explantion of reality is, and that's what a discussion of the truth of atheism ought to focus on.

Note that "fallibility tells us" is no more than arguing in terms of high-level concepts; it is *not* any sort of appeal to the authority of the principle of fallibility, and *not* an unsupported assertion.

UPDATE:

read a bit more. look at this "Within mechanistic atheism, you have people who think that atheism is somehow scientific and actually can be proved, and others who understand that atheism is a religious belief which is no more susceptible to actual proof than any other religious belief." *sigh*

and i should mention the focus on proof isn't the only manifestation of asking the wrong questions causing the piece to be mostly pointless. and also that it does have some truth in it anyway.

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Thanks to Elegance Against Ignorance for linking this Lord of the Rings themed Chomsky parody.

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A friend thinks it's an important implication of mechanist atheism (rightly construed) that we should not go looking for moral explanations in the supernatural. I kinda thought that was a bit "duh" to write. We shouldn't look for *any* explanations in the supernatural.

But I guess it *is* true that lots of atheists think morality is a religious concept, and cannot exist otherwise. *sigh*

UPDATE:

As David Deutsch points out:

That last sentence there is a special case of a more general thing, namely that religious people and scientistic people have this great area of agreement, namely that reason cannot reach beyond math and science. In fact, beyond mathematical proof or scientific prediction, most of them would say.

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Steven Den Beste, a mechanist atheist, writes:

And even among mechanists there's no particular consensus about such things as ethics, because the basic axiom of mechanistic atheism (that the only thing which exists is the material universe and the matter within it, which interacts according to the laws of physics) doesn't provide any kind of guidance in those areas.

Actually, mechanist atheism as defined here, does give guidance about ethics: it states that ethics (and more generally, explanations) do not exist. This comes from the simple premise that ethics are neither matter nor laws of physics.

A much better way to approach existence, is to consider things to exist if they are necessary to explaining reality. This still includes the laws of physics, and all the matter in the "material universe" and still fails to include God or faeries, but this time does include explanations.

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on Dawson's Creek this guy wanted his gf back, and gave a speech (over a loudspeaker at an airport, weeeeee) but anyway, nothing in his speech was contingent on the girl ('sides her name *g*). she's amazing. rocks his world. he loves her. he's sorry. he wants things to work out. he's sure they will. etc It's striking how little actual content the lives of any of the ppl on Dawson's Creek have (or many other similar shows too). But I suppose it is orders of magnitude harder to write the details, and might not actually be good for ratings either.

the lack of consent secured before attempting to kiss people also never ceases to amaze me.

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this *should be* uncontroversial:

The choice "shooting at a terrorist" is not the choice "killing an innocent" even tho ppl sometimes miss. Morality comes down to choices, not results.

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To be clear, every non-TCS blog I link to would find itself delinked if it wrote about children often enough. And don't tell me, "they're normal, get over it." Normal people are cruel to children, and I want to remain outraged by it.

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An Unsealed Room posted a response completely missing the point.

I've Just Been Accused of Child Abuse

No, cruelty to children. Child Abuse has connotations of doing something illegal, and getting children sent to a foster home by CPS (Child Protective Services in US) and such. Child abuse usually involves hitting children, or neglecting to feed them, or raping them or the like. Trying to paint my claims as absurd by changing them, is wrong.

Why? Because I have the audacity to complain about the schools being on strike on the heels of a 19-day vacation. (And it looks as if this strike could stretch beyond a week.)

Well, no. I wasn't supporting the strike. I was upset that Allison finds having her children home from school insane-making. And would deny them the pleasure they get from holidays.

[short snip]

Elliot Temple left the following comment: Doesn't it seem a bit perverse for a parent to moan and groan that he or she "has to" (gets to!) spend more time with his or her children? And don't you know how much children tend to like breaks from school?

I sure did. And though Allison knows every word I used, she still hasn't understood a sentence of it. (She doesn't find my comment worthy of a reply, either.)

Now he has ceremoniously delinked me from his blog because of my "cruelty to children." (he also didn't like that I let my son go on a field trip without a gas mask after the fall of Baghdad, but before the official "all clear" sign was given.)

No, my objection wasn't that she "let" her son go without the mask, (what is he a dog that you let run off leash...sometimes?) it's rather that her son *wanted* the mask, and she refused to stand up for him to the trip supervisor. She only does that if he's really hurt. Not merely distressed (coerced).

Anyone who would like to support me in the position that a month away from school is not something that a working parent who cares about their child's education should celebrate is welcome to do so....

It's notable that she appeals to the parental conspiracy for support. It's also notable that her appeal lies about what the issue is. She must know perfectly well my objection is not "children shouldn't learn".

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The generalisation that all generalisations are wrong, is self-contradictory and therefore false. An example of the relevance of this truism can be found in the comments on this blog entry.

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I'm now the top google hit for Elliot Temple, with or without quotes. :-D

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looking at more old TCS posts. here's an important idea, though not one I'd forgotten about:

Fallibillity, does not imply any particular mistake. No real-life failure can ever be blamed on fallibility. which may sound kinda "duh". but ppl ignore this quite often.

for example, sum1 might mention hitting his kid once, and say he was taken over by passion (a diff error) and that mistakes happen (bingo). the fact that mistakes happen, in no way excuses this particular one, whihc was avoidable.

the problem with the passion excuse is all the passion means is that he was in the right environment to act on a facet of his personality that he usually doesn't.

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Den Beste's worst blog is kinda shockingly evil. *sigh*

all the rest of the non-tcs-affilliated right-wing warblogs do it too, and most more often than Den Beste.

UPDATE: sum1 suggested it's Den Worste blog. *g*

and i just noticed i didn't say what "it" was outloud. AGEISM. demeaning children. slandering babies. comparing youth and evil via metaphor.

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okie, 'nother old idea i like.

p: if ya constrain sum1's choices, ur responsible for making the constraint not hurt person
p: having a kid, constrains kid's choices b/c "not be born" is out, ie ya make person live
c: parents r responsible for making being born not hurt kid

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i'm reading my old TCS posts. one esp cool feature, is rediscovering good ideas *of my own* that i'd forgotten. here's one:

Sometimes there are arguments about what things should be offered to kids. Some people acknowledge they should let their kids try things the kids might like, but then deny that kids might like ice cream, or chocolate, or whatever. And then people debate this. But doesn't the very fact that the item is worth debating, mean the kid *might* like it? By the very act of arguing about it, the anti-ice cream people lose the argument.

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