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Vladimir_Golovin comments on Raising the Sanity Waterline - Less Wrong

114 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 March 2009 04:28AM

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Comment author: Vladimir_Golovin 12 March 2009 05:51:34PM *  11 points [-]

To return to the question asked in the original post:

what could you teach people that is not directly about religion, which is true and useful as a general method of rationality, which would cause them to lose their religions?

My first reaction to the question -- too many constraints. I can't quickly think of anything that satisfies all three of them. However, if I'm allowed to drop one constraint, I'd drop the second one ("useful as a general method of rationality"), and my answer would be evolution.

In my experience, understanding evolution down to chemistry, down to predictable interactions of very simple parts that have nothing mystical or anthropomorphic about them can have a tremendous impact on one's further thinking.

Comment author: bentarm 12 March 2009 11:34:29PM 6 points [-]

I'd second that. In fact, I think that knowing about evolution is probably a necessary prerequisite to being a rational atheist. Even Dawkins admits that it would have been pretty difficult not to believe in God before there was a plausible naturalist explanation for the complexity of life.

Of course, it's possible to know that there is a plausible naturalist explanation without really understanding the nuts and bolts of how it works (I'd probably put myself in that category), but maybe it really does help to hammer home the point if you really understand that The Creator wasn't necessary to make life, what exactly is He for?