Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Atheist Thirteen

I've been tagged by Chicken Girl and Friar Zero. I also just installed Windows Live Writer, so we'll see how that goes.

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?

An atheist is someone who does not believe that any god, i.e. a being with supernatural attributes exists in reality. Many religious people seem to say that they do not believe that god "exists", but this interpretation seems usually to turn on a very restrictive interpretation of "exists".

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

I was raised more-or-less as a Quaker. There's very little to distinguish how Quakers view "god" from the way rational people view their own personal conscience. Other than shared notions of nonviolence, pacifism and universal humanism, Quakers -- at least those I've met -- require no other endorsements of belief or faith.

Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?


Q4. What scientific endeavor really excites you?

Artificial Intelligence.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?

Nothing. The atheist community is completely self-selected, and each person brings his or her individual judgment and conscience to the table, whether or not I personally agree with that judgment.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?

"I hope that works out well for you."

Q7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Fine Tuning. The refutation requires a non-trivial understanding of the metaphysics of probability. I love this sort of esoteric shit.

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

I'm very critical of even the smallest sort of appeasement of the religious. I'm also becoming interested in communism and socialism. And Randians and Libertarians annoy the shit out of me.

Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Dennett. He's one of the few philosophers who is not only not a complete doofus, but actually very intelligent and clear-minded, and he writes clearly and succinctly.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

It's not my job to convince other people. I just say what I think. If you're convinced or not convinced, that's your issue, not mine.

Now name three other atheist blogs that you’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet:

P.S. Windows Live Writer appears to be working well.

Back-tagging: Bacchus Veritas and Geoff Arnold


  1. I'm very critical of even the smallest sort of appeasement of the religious. I'm also becoming interested in communism and socialism. And Randians and Libertarians annoy the shit out of me.

    If I remember right, that was the path taken by Marx too. Started out as a very thoroughgoing atheist, but became much more interested in critiquing the economic system.

  2. My response is up at my place.

  3. I could do worse than be compared to Marx.

  4. I don't know man, I don't trust a central authority to re-distribute wealth. That much authority concentrated has always led to abuse. Plus there's the failings of a planned economy, the evisceration of communism by almost every major economist, and the issue of property rights and the freedom to succeed or fail. Socialism just seems like bad news man.

  5. Yes, but what does that have to do with Marx?

  6. I don't trust a central authority to re-distribute wealth. That much authority concentrated has always led to abuse.

    Everyone knows that a capitalist economy, such as that in the United States, inevitably leads to decentralization of political authority and dispersal of wealth. </sarcasm>

  7. Dispersal? Yes. Redistribution? No. Money will naturally flow in a controlled free market, but that doesn't mean everyone will share equally in the profit.

    I've seen more political freedom in countries favoring capitalism then those with a strong socialist presence. Maybe I have been limited, but that has been my experience.

  8. Ookla,

    You seem to be simply repeating capitalist dogma as if it were revealed wisdom.

    Just because something is held as dogma doesn't mean it's false, but proclaiming dogma, however vehemently, is not a persuasive form of argumentation.

    You are, of course, free to hold whatever opinions you care to hold, for whatever reason you care to hold them. You will pardon me, however, for failing to be persuaded of the truth of your opinions if you do not offer actual argumentation or evidence.

  9. Wow, that's a leap. I just made two or three small observations based on my personal experience and limited knowledge of economics. I didn't even say enough for it to be considered dogma. I was just offering my personal opinion, not trying to persuade you. You can tell because I'm not making an argument.

    I realize that a person in your position is always under siege by preaching, but that doesn't mean that anyone sharing a contrary opinion is trying to convert you or dogmatic. I was just adding my cent and a half, nothing more.

  10. Ookla,

    What do you mean by "redistribution?"

  11. Ookla,

    I'm just challenging you to explain your position. I identified my position as controversial in the OP, I pretty much figured that there would be those such as yourself who disagree.

    It is perhaps the case that you're not familiar with the theme and purpose of this blog. I've stated many times that I'm not very interested in other people's opinions; I'm interested in the arguments and evidence they can present to substantiate their opinions.

    If you simply want to register the fact of your disagreement, consider it noted. If you'd like to discuss the issue in considerably more depth, you're encouraged to do so.

  12. Dispersal? Yes.

    That's not what has been happening in the USA for the past 30 years at least. Wealth has not been dispersing into the population. Rather, it has been inexorably been flowing away from most of the population, toward one tiny part (the ultra-rich). This flow has only accelerated in the past ten years.

  13. Last thirty years? This inequality has gone on since the beginning of capitalism. I think, though, some are surprised that during the last several decades, despite the [apparent] improvement in social and political equality, we have not seen a corresponding increase in economic equality or even a more general dispersal of economic goods.

    But capitalism does not require or necessarily lead to capital dispersal. We have done, at times, some to counter capitalism's more egregious faults.

    But there have been many in the US who have fought against both the general dispersal of political and social freedoms and rights as well as a general dispersal of capital.

  14. Samuel Skinner
    Capitalism is the best system for CREATING wealth. Needless to say that doesn't ensure that people will actually get said wealth.

    Obviously communism doesn't work all that well- but communist countries never reached 1984 levels. They varied between 3rd world backwater and decent enough.

    There is however, alternatives to pure communism or pure capitalism- in fact all socities fall in this range.

    What is obvious is that you have to have a system to redistribute wealth or else society falls apart. In the Gilded age, the time supposedly free of government intervention, political parties basically acted like the mafia, charging fees for building and the like and giving them to their constitutants to vote for them. Like a safety net, but with alot of graft.

    Currently in the US there is a concern (amoung those who care) with the fact that for the majority of the population the standard of living has stayed steady or dropped over the past 30 years. Such a trend isn't stable.

  15. Be wary of any capitalist that promotes social darwinism. They are all to common now and facism is right around the corner if the US doesn't pay attention.

    If Wall Street get's the bailouts they want, redistributing the average citizens wealth, and burrying the citizens in poverty we could see another global depression. The last one led directly to WWII. And so far it looks like these bastards are actually preparing for WWIII.

    The other problem with capitalists these days is they take credit for all of societies achievements when all they are is wealthy people that steal everyone's wealth via Wall Street in a cyclical system designed to favor the wealthy. Besides, the egalitarian philosophy of liberty made America great, not capitalism. Capitalism is simply the pursuit of profit and it has no problem using slaves or killing people if the enviornment favors it. Many libertarians just don't get this. They think if there was no government everything would be utopian or that government should only protect their wealth. Both of these lead to plutocracy. The one without government, anarchy would lead to the corporate tribal warfare and they would become the government. In fact as society ages it seems we always fall into oligarchy or the more dangerous version of fascism.

    I only say facism because a lot of capitalist love using social darwinism as justification for their actions. The day they get their freedom though is the day I come at them with a meat cleaver. People who want to justify treating other's like animals don't deserve egalitarian liberty and justice. They deserve to be treated like animals.


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