I do appreciate getting comments on my blog. But sometimes someone comments that, despite their seemingly jovial and friendly appreciation for what I have to say, gets it so horribly wrong that I cannot leave it without response.
A while back I wrote this piece about gnu atheism, and the other day I received this response. By all means go and look at it for full context, but I quote enough of it below for you, dear reader, to get the gist. I will not reproduce the entire comment here in the name of brevity as well as to avoid unnecessary repetition.
But I thought some of what I said in response might be worthy of posting as a blog post, and so here it is.
Well, I thank you for your thoughts, but I have to respond to some of this because I find many flaws here.
It sounds like a gnu atheist is essentially a citizen scientist.
OK, sure. I can agree to that
It occurred to me some time ago that atheists spend a lot of time pointing out the silliness of religion but little time considering reasonable alternatives. We offer parodies of religion, but have we ever considered that it may well be possible to offer an alternative to “believers” that provides many of the features that make religion attractive to them?
There is a sort-of stock reply to a lot of what you said, especially about finding an alternative, or something to replace religion with. It is to say that what do you replace cancer with when you get rid of it?
Religion has some good aspects to it (they are human things appropriated by religion. No, usurped is better), but where it is unique it is poisonous and unnecessary. Instead of replacing those things, we need to outgrow them. We need to grow up as a species.
If we postulate that all information in the universe is conserved, then it would seem inevitable that at some point in the future our descendents or some other sentient beings in the universe would discover how to access that information….
No, information is not conserved. Energy is conserved (it is equivalent to matter), but the information is lost.
We may be able to find technological ways to store that information and upload it. This is, in fact, the dream of many transhumanists who look forward to a much longer life lived either in some sort of Matrix world or even in some technological bodies which won’t get sick, can be fixed easier, etc.
To me this is no different, philosophically, from looking forward to a heaven that follows this broken, sinful, world. It says that this life is not only insufficient, but essentially worthless. It de-values human life, and makes us overlook it in the hopes for something better. It is precisely what is wrong with religion, not what we should save from it.
Until such technological feats are a reality, this is dreaming away our lives. Sure, let’s research the possibilities, but please enjoy this life because it is almost certainly all that we will have.
Faith is of course necessary, but not blind faith, but rather faith based on reason and knowledge – faith in the potential of the human race to evolve and improve, faith made stronger by continued and serious skepticism, faith in the scientific method.
No. A thousand times no.
Faith is poisonous. It is the rotten center of all that is not rational or scientific. Faith is the exact opposite of skepticism and science.
What you seek is reasonable expectations based upon empirical study. Faith is the vileness of insisting that something is true in the face of all that demands that it is a lie. It is the assertion of truth where no justification can be found. It is believing in what has not been shown to be the case.
Ancestor worship would be one handy way to keep our descendents interested in us. Of course we might also simply provide a source of entertainment or research material. There’s plenty of potential for future judgment, which seems to be required by some people to behave themselves. Those that eventually grant us afterlife may judge some to be more deserving than others, and, yes, there’s even the potential of torment and suffering. God would be that future society, hopefully our descendents, that develop the capability of granting us our afterlife.
A millions times, no. Worship nothing. To worship is to place it where it cannot be reached, probed, questioned. If anything is worthy of reverence, it is that nothing is beyond question. Do not elevate any aspect of reality to a place beyond question, for that is where we lose ourselves to mental slavery.
Idle speculation. However I note that it’s just now approaching the time of the Solstice, and that would be an auspicious time, and convenient holiday, to mark this beginning of the Gnu great religion. ;^)>
Religion is to be outgrown; plain and simple. I want no part of any “gnu religion.”