Wednesday, August 11, 2010

That's a wrap

Today's thoughts:

It's definitely time to wrap up this whole determinism thing, but before I leave it I just wanted to pitch some quotes by a smarter man than I, Richard Taylor. These are from his article "Freedom, Determinism and Fate".

"Every single philosophical argument against the teaching of [determinism] rests upon the assumption that we are free to pursue and realise various alternative possibilities - the very thing, of course, that is at issue."

Translation: Every argument against determinism is necessarily based on determinism being untrue to begin with.

"Metaphysics and logic are weak indeed in the face of an opinion nourished by invincible pride, and most men would sooner lose their very souls than be divested of that dignity which they imagine rests upon their freedom of will"

Translation: Arguments against determinism come from our enormous pride in our free will, NOT from logic or science.

So there. It's an excellent article but I can't find any free links to it.

The second point I wish to address arose from listening to Tim Minchin's song "Ten Foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins". While a brilliant song (so, so brilliant) the thing he says at the start really irritates me. More so because I would have expected more from him, of all people. Basically, he rather patronisingly suggests any "religious people" leave the room because it is about "anal sex and God". Which it is (God bless it).

What pisses me off is the self-satisfied tone of his voice which is matched by the laughter, or snicker, of the audience. This is what being a smug atheist is all about - lumping all religious people together as a bunch of fucking retards. I think I've made it fairly clear on this blog that I dislike religion a lot, and that I will actively try and limit it's impact on society. Furthermore, I think that remaining religious shows a lack of critical thought and a wanton suspension of evidence. But that doesn't make them lesser people or even less intelligent. They're lying to themselves and ignoring empirical evidence, for the most part more than atheists. But that doesn't make atheists innocent of this kind of delusion, simply innocent of it with regard to religion. This is where I get infuriated with their self-aggrandising arrogance and in-jokes.

That said, there ARE such people out there who are stupid, loud, proselytising, arrogant, deluded, violent and most of all hateful. And believe me, given the chance I would curb-stomp those motherfuckers into next week.

And it will be glorious.

Secondly, we're really not going to make friends this way. Really. Atheism as a movement is a lot like feminism - the only way it's going to succeed is by converting (deliberately bad word choice) the opposition. Religious people are already defensive in the face of unbelief - I know this first-hand because I was one of them. It's disproportionate and I really have not been able to explain why. The obstructively cynical would say it's because they know deep down they're wrong, but fuck those people.

The point is, people like music despite how glaringly insipid/crass/tasteless it might appear to the rest of us, but shoving those facts in their face won't change their minds. Justin Bieber is a prime example of this (not that I'm comparing religious types to impressionable hysterics with unhealthy perceptions of love) (/hypocrisy). So let's be a bit nicer, a bit less hypocritical and we'll all reap the benefits as people open themselves to rationalism and respect for people as people.

Good night!

TL;DR - Arguments against determinism are based on unsound argument and monstrous arrogance, rather than good logic/science. Also, atheists shouldn't act like they're inherently superior to theists, just because they've freed themselves from one more delusion.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And another thing...

Today's thoughts:

I realise I didn't quite finish my post about determinism last week - I got a little distracted by semantics and trailed off about halfway through. I had two points I wanted to add to that post but I can only remember one of them.

No wait, I totally just remembered the other one. OK - here's a different way of looking at determinism. Think back to a past event (a major event is probably easier here) and look at all the factors that brought it about. The past is concrete, and we can observe how all those factors brought about that event. Determinism simply observes that at any given moment, all those factors exist - it is just the event itself that has not occurred. The present (and therefore the future) is as concrete as the past. We simply do not have hindsight allowing us to observe those factors.

Second point: determinism is irrelevant! Yay! We might not have free will, but by and large that doesn't really mean much. As I've already said, it's not like fate where one event is pre-decided and will occur no matter your actions. Determinism simply says that your actions are decided by the past and will decide the future. Furthermore, the human mind may not have free will but it is still conscious. Enjoy that! It's nigh-on impossible to comprehend all the determining factors that influence your mind and since most of them are subconscious it's not really worth worrying about. Determinism simply disproves superstitious notions like fate, "true love" and divine intervention - just like common sense does.

It's been a long day at work and I can't really think how to end this post, so I'll just bow out. But everyone should go and listen to "Secret Alphabets" by Kasabian.

TL;DR - Just because we can't see all the factors that determine an event doesn't mean they weren't already there, and thus immutable. Also, who really cares if we don't have free will? We're still conscious and that, surely, is what's important.