Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 17 August 2012 09:29:20PM -1 points [-]

"Why should people help others?"

"Because that's how we got here, and that's how we got all the awesome stuff we have ... and induction."

Comment author: Lawless 20 August 2012 08:40:02AM 1 point [-]

Maybe I got a little confused with the conditional words of the English language. What I meant was: logically, before one can answer the questions "Why don't people help each other more?", one should be able to answer the question "Why do people help each other?", that is, what is it that makes people help each other in the first place.

Once you have an answer to that, you can proceed to asking why don't people help each other more than they are doing it now.

Comment author: Lawless 17 August 2012 10:24:14AM 2 points [-]

The starting point of your subject is the question: "Why should people help others?"

Once you have answered this, we can move on with the discussion.

Comment author: gwern 16 August 2012 12:18:25AM *  3 points [-]

I'm saying that if you have a psilocybin-induced hallucination of God and then become a theist, that's a darn good piece of evidence that stuff like the argument from evil or argument from silence weren't why you were an atheist. (And so if you were claiming previously that they were, you were either lying or badly mistaken.)

Comment author: Lawless 17 August 2012 10:19:29AM -1 points [-]

a darn good piece of evidence that stuff like the argument from evil or argument from silence weren't why you were an atheist.

I don't think my being an atheist has anything to do with the argument from evil or the argument from silence. (I can explain more if anyone's interested.) I am an atheist because, based on my current knowledge, the hypothesis that God does not exist seems far more likely to be true than the hypothesis that God exists. That's all there is to it.

you can test this with hallucinogens

I assume that hallucinogens cause hallucinations, that is, distort my perception of reality. Why should I want to do that?

they induce mystical or religious experiences and so there's a good shot they would do so for you. Have such an experience and still maintain your atheism, and maybe I will credit your claims to be atheistic based on purely rational grounds

If I were hallucinating and perceived something that convinces me that God exists, I would start believing that God exists. However, I assume that the effects of the drug would wear off sooner or later. When that occurs, I would recall the experience I had and give the "proof" I saw a serious thought. It is likely that I would realise that the perception was not real, I was merely hallucinating. So I would change my mind back to the belief that God doesn't exist.

I am not atheist in the sense that I so badly want the God not to exist that should I see any evidence that He exists, I would reject it. I am an atheist in the sense that I consider it reasonable to base my actions on the assumption that God doesn't exist, and I refuse to start believing in God without sufficient evidence that He exists.

The author of the article, though, seems to have some psychological problem with the possibility that God exists. That's what my comment was about.

Comment author: Lawless 15 August 2012 06:27:11PM -2 points [-]

The psychological resistance I felt to admitting God's existence, even after having seen Him descend to Earth, was immense. And, I realized, it was exactly the amount of resistance that every vocally religious person must experience towards God's non-existence.

I'm amazed. I totally can't understand this kind of thinking (which you believe to be human nature).

Me, I don't believe that God exists. In fact, I hold the belief in God for little less than a mental disease. That is because there is virtually no evidence to support the existence of God, and a lot of evidence that seems to suggest that God doesn't exist. I don't need to read any of Richard Dawkins's books, because everything he says about religion is so self-evident to me that I find it astonishing that there are people in the world to whom it isn't.

However, should I be shown proof that God exists, I would accept it without any resistance whatsoever. I would simply discard the hypothesis "God doesn't exist" because it has been proven wrong, and base my future actions on the discovery "God does exist". And I wouldn't feel silly in front of all the religious people – because they were still fools to believe in God without any proof. That they happened to guess right on this occasion doesn't mean that their method of forming one's opinions (randomly believing in things regardless of evidence) was superior to mine (believing what is supported by evidence). This one time they were right and I was wrong, but in the long run, I will still be right more often than them.

To sum up, the reason why I don't believe in God, is because the information available to me at this moment strongly supports that. Nevertheless, I am not married to the hypothesis that God doesn't exist. Should He really exist, I absolutely want to know about it as soon as possible. My primary interest is to learn, not to uphold any of my current beliefs.

The people like you, however, don't seem to be interested in finding out the truth. Rather it somehow seems to be important to you that the God do not exist. That's what would make you react with resistance when provided with evidence that He exists. In other words, you believe to be a rationalist, but the thought that the truth might be different from what you believe now horrifies you.

Why would that be so?