Following the publishing of his first book–Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives—David Eagleman is interviewed about religion and his beliefs, providing a refreshingly new andâ€¦ empiricalâ€¦ take on religious faith, atheism and agnosticism.
Every time you go into a book store, you find a lot of books written with certainty â€“ you find the atheist and you find the religious and everybody is acting like they know the answer. I think what a life in science really teaches you is the vastness of our ignorance. We don’t really understand most of what’s happening in the cosmos. Is there any afterlife? Who knows. We don’t have any evidence for it. We don’t have any evidence against it. The thing that has always surprised me is that people are always acting as though they know the answer. [â€¦] As Voltaire said, “uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd position”. [â€¦]
I call myself a possibilian. The idea with possibilianism is to explore new ideas and to shine a flashlight around the possibility space to really understand what the size of that space is. The idea is not to commit to any particular story, it’s not the end goal to say “OK, we’re going to figure it out and commit to it” because it’s simply past the toolbox of science. The best we can do, and I find it a wonderful pursuit, is to just try and understand what the possibilities are. [â€¦]
I don’t have a belief system, I only have a possibility system!
Sum is the first work of ‘speculative fiction’ by Eagleman, a neuroscientist specialising in the study of time perception and synesthesia.
In summarising the main arguments for and against the New Atheist argument, Anthony Gottlieb provides a fairly even (yet far from comprehensive) account of the evolution of 21st century atheism.
Through John Wisdom‘s 1944 Parable of the Invisible Gardener, Gottlieb looks at how the arguments of “religious apologists” such as Karen Armstrong are falling back on arguments grounded in unfalsifiable beliefs.
The parable of the gardener [raises] an unsettlingly powerful point about the nature of faith. If you believe something, shouldn’t it be possible to say what would make that belief true or false? What is the content of your so-called belief in the existence of a God, or of a gardener, if you cannot say what difference his presence or absence would make to the world?
Richard Dawkins on a video for the BBC’s Daily Politics discusses the religious and political labelling of children.
I feel very strongly that it’s wrong to label children with the opinions of their parents.
Nobody minds labelling a child an English child, or a French child, or a Dutch child. But you’d think I was mad if I started talking about aÂ post-modernistÂ child, or a Keynesian child, or a monetarist child, or a liberal child, or a conservative child.
And yet the whole of our society quite happily buys into the idea that you can talk about a Catholic child, or a Protestant child, or a Muslim child, or a Hindu child. That’s surely got to be wrong; to assume that a child will automatically inherit the opinions of its parents about the universe, the cosmos and morality. This must be something that should be rectified.
Times Higher Education reports that there is a strong correlation between a high IQ and a lack of religious belief, according to Richard Lynn, the controversial psychologist.
In the past Lynn has performed research into what he believes is the existence of race and sex differences in intelligence, and has called for the “phasing out” of what he calls “incompetent cultures”. Controversial indeed!
Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but it’s interesting nonetheless and the article itself contains some interesting comments from noted academics.
via Mind Hacks
The Banana: An Atheist’s Nightmare is a video I’ve seen linked in numerous places. I think this video nicely sums up Intelligent Design’s ignorance arguments.
God exists because bananas fit well in the human hand and peel easily.
- First: Hahahahaha!
- Second: Peels easily? Are we ignoring the fact that – if anything – the banana is ‘designed’ more for primates (for whom the banana is a primary source of nutrients) than for humans? Primates peel bananas using a much superior method that differs significantly to the typical way in which humans do… a method that I have recently adopted.
- Third: Bananas are designed – the banana we all know and love is a manufactured product – a product that is under threat because of this.
- Fourth: Hahahahaha!
via kottke and LinkBanana