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Annoyance comments on Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism - Less Wrong

105 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 April 2009 02:44AM

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Comment author: Annoyance 21 April 2009 02:09:49PM 5 points [-]

A well-made point, AlexU. Unfortunately, while the point is correct, the argument which it is a part of is not.

Atheism isn't axiomatic. It follows necessarily from the axioms of reason applied to the available evidence. If someone is a theist, that means either that they reject reason, or they have shocking evidence which is not available to others... and which they need to make available if they want others to recognize that their position is a sane one.

At present, there is absolutely no reason to think that anyone is in possession of such hidden evidence. Given the non-existence of such data, it follows that theists reject reason - which other, independent evidence confirms.

In this world, one cannot be informed, sane, and believe that the Earth is flat. The available evidence simply does not support that position. Nor does it support belief in a deity or deities.

Comment author: thomblake 21 April 2009 02:27:09PM 3 points [-]

In this world, one cannot be informed, sane, and believe that the Earth is flat.

No, but one can be fairly informed, sane, and a theist.

There are instrumental reasons for accepting theism that are hardly matched by rejecting it. For the most part, people don't think the question of God's existence is very important - if it is the case that a good Christian would live the same in the absence of God's existence (a common enough contention) then nothing really turns on the question of God's existence. Since nothing turns on the question, there's no good reason to be singled out as an atheist in a possibly hostile environment.

If anything, there's something terribly (instrumentally) irrational about calling oneself an atheist if it confers no specific benefit. And for many people, the default position is theism; the only way to become an atheist is to reject a commonly-held belief (that, again, nothing in life really turns on).

So I'd agree that a scholar of religion might be (epistemically) irrational to be a theist. But for the everyday person, it's about as dangerous as believing the Earth to be a sphere, when it really isn't.

Comment author: Jack 21 April 2009 02:31:50PM 2 points [-]

Yeah. Another way of putting this is that no one is completely sane. People act irrationally all the time and it doesn't make sense to target a group of people who have irrational beliefs about an issue that hardly affects their life while not targeting others (including ourselves) for acting irrationally in a bunch of different ways that really affect the world.