Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Talk to me about what you believe

I'm interested in what people believe. I appreciate Matt Dillahunty's perspective: tell me what you believe and why you believe it. I think this posture provides a great way for believers to frame their presentations, and it demonstrates the real position of skepticism. It's a reaction to claims made by believers.

When we talk about your beliefs, however, I'll not be convinced of the truth of your claims by arguments from authority, arguments from ignorance, or arguments from personal experience. Your life experience is not sufficient to demonstrate the truth of your claims to someone else. Likewise, the fact that you can't think of a better explanation for something doesn't demonstrate that your claim is true. Finally, appeals to religious authority hold no sway for those who do not accept that authority.

There are other logical fallacies, but those three are the ones that will stop our discussion in its tracks. Let's be open and honest about the issues we discuss. If we are, we'll have a much better chance at creating a mutual understanding.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Here's a really enlightening statement made by Christopher Hitchens in a debate vs. Frank Turek.

It's an insult to be told that without superstition or the supernatural we wouldn't know how to treat one another well, or know the difference between right and wrong.

The emancipation of humanity, which has taken a very great deal of time, just as the expansion of our life expectancy had to be worked on very hard. When it was left just to god to decide these things, we didn't live very long, couldn't cure any diseases, and didn't know that our planet wasn't the center of the universe. But once this emancipation has begun, I think it is unstoppable. And the emancipation of hunanity begins when you throw off the idea that you live in a celestial North Korea, and that only a dictator can give you permission to think, behave well, or act morally.
I really like the connection between life expcetancy and the progress of unbelief. After creeping up very slowly over tens of thousands of years, from say 25 to 35 years, life expectancy has nearly doubled in the past 150 years. Throwing off the shackles of superstition and looking at the world scientifically has granted us more life than humanity ever experienced as when the world was ruled by gods. I think it's conceivable that the next 150 years could see another doubling of life expectancy. Imagine living in a time when we could expect live to be 150 years old, running marathons into our 120's. Such a gift of life will not be possible with societal adherence to a theistic worldview. We have to move beyond dogma to reach our full potential.