This post is in part an olive leaf to AndrewS as an attempt to satisify his concerns with loosely defining atheism. I firmly believe that arguing over definitions is pointless in a rational conversation (though probably valuable in a political one). So I see no reason to not give it to him. Thoughts on that topic lead to this post.
In my last two posts I first made an attempt to define Atheism then an attempt to define Theism. Granting that those terms have many and varied possible (and overlapping) definitions, I feel that what I’ve come up with will serve my purposes of being sufficiently precise while still being pretty close to how we normally use the terms most of the time. And this is the most we can hope for of any sort of definition of (non-mathematical) words. Let me repeat the definitions here: Continue reading →
In a recent post, I gave thought to the trying to define what Atheism is. My conclusions were that this is more difficult to define then it first appears. Nevertheless, here was my tentative definition of ‘idealized rational atheism.’
Tentative Definition of Atheistic Rationalist (aka An Ideal Atheist): An atheistic rationalist is someone that seeks out the right kinds of explanations, namely ones that have survived the strongest criticisms and are highly (preferably computationally) specific and hard to vary, yet is always open to new ideas no matter what the source.
However, they do not accept any beliefs on mere leaps of faith and would rather not have their judgment (possibly) clouded by such faith-based beliefs. They’d rather see things as the naturalistically really are. Truth comes first for them. So they eschew all leaps of faith on the grounds that they may cloud our ability to find truth. Continue reading →
I’d like to now give some thought to the what Atheism and Theism really are and how they relate to each other.
Many of you might wonder why we’d need to give thought to this subject. Isn’t a Theist someone that believes in God and an Atheist someone that doesn’t? Case closed, right?
A question to consider: Is a Buddhist a Theist or an Atheist? And defend your choice.
The problem is that, despite our intuitions to the contrary, Theism and Atheism aren’t always such clear cut concepts. And, I’m going to argue there is even (in some cases) overlap between the two words such that we might legitimately, say, think of Buddhists as either Theists or Atheists, depending on what nuance or connotation of the two words we have in mind at a given moment. Continue reading →
I want to emphasize that as far as the theory of memes goes, genes and memes are not intended to be mere analogy. The epistemological claim being made is that memes are an actual unit of information that Darwin’s natural selection applies to and the same laws are followed. In principle this means that memes can be understood and measured through some future information theory, though we don’t yet know how using our current theories.
Elsewhere, I talked about the ‘organism’ for a meme. Now to be clear, I did intend this as just an analogy. Memes literally obey the laws of natural selection, but they do not literally have an exact equivalent to a biological organism. Continue reading →