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PhilGoetz comments on Raising the Sanity Waterline - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: PhilGoetz 13 March 2009 05:37:53AM *  10 points [-]

Recently I contemplated writing an "Atheist's Bible", to present the most important beliefs of atheists. Eventually I realized that this Atheist Bible would not mention atheism. "Atheism" is just the default belief state we were born with. Atheism isn't having reasons not to believe religion; it's not having reasons to believe religion. If one knows how the world works, there are no gaps for religion to fill.

The French Encyclopedia of the late 18th century was by design an atheist work; it carried out this design by not mentioning religion.

Comment author: JJ10DMAN 10 August 2010 11:25:54AM *  12 points [-]

On the contrary, I would argue that our default belief state is one full of scary monsters trying to kills us and whirling lights flying around overhead and oh no what this loud noise and why am I wet

...I can't imagine a human ancestor in that kind of situation not coming up with some kind of desperate Pascal's wager of, "I'll do this ritualistic dance to the harvest goddess because it's not really that much trouble to do in the grand scheme of things, and man if there's any chance of improving the odds of a good harvest, I'm shakin' my rain-maker." Soon you can add, "and everyone else says it works" to the list, and bam, religion.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 17 August 2010 09:44:17PM -1 points [-]

On the contrary, I would argue that our default belief state is one full of scary monsters trying to kills us and whirling lights flying around overhead and oh no what this loud noise and why am I wet

There is no mention of God in that state; therefore it is atheism. Any person who does not believe in God is an atheist. Anyone who has never thought about whether there is a god, or doesn't have the concept of god, is therefore an atheist.

Comment author: JJ10DMAN 15 October 2010 01:48:42PM 3 points [-]

What I meant was, the moment anyone comes up with such a concept, it would appear so completely and undeniably sensible that it would instantly take hold as accepted truth and only become dislodged with great effort of the combined philosophical efforts of humanity's greatest minds over thousands of years.

It's not technically "default", but that's like saying a magnet is not attracted to a nearby piece of iron "by default" because there's no nearby piece of iron implied by the existence of the magnet. It's technically true, but it kind of misses the important description of a property of magnets.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 08 July 2011 04:33:23AM 6 points [-]

Plug that data into a brain that's been optimized by evolution for thinking about agents and their motives rather than about atmospheric physics, and it's no surprise that you get outputs like "Who threw that rain at me!? What'd I ever do to you, rain-agent? Why are you pissed off at me? What can I do to make you do what I want you to do?"

Comment author: hypatia 13 March 2009 09:33:37PM *  5 points [-]

This book might already exist, in the form of "System of Nature" by Baron d'Holbach. It's a refreshing read, highly recommended :-)

Edit: You can read it here at Project Gutenberg: Vol. 1, Vol.2.