Friday, October 31, 2014

Peter Boghossian - Faith - An Epistemology (how people come to knowledge)

Peter Boghossian said (13m-14.30m video above) "The faithful are not well cognitively, they need our help. They've caught a virus of an unreliable way to know the world. An epistemological sickness. Believing things from faith causes people to misconstrue what is good for them, and what is good for others. If someone is ill, you are not upset with them. Therefore it is not about being annoyed, or humiliating the religious any more than if they had a cold. But as with a physical illness, you try and help them recover, with compassion and understanding. This is not about changing beliefs but about leading them gently to think about HOW they form those beliefs."

London Atheist Activist Group Q&A with Peter Boghossian


What Happened before the Big Bang? - Inflation with Alan Guth

From 1 minute to 2.30s minutes Alan Guth (June 2014) says: what existed before the big bang? Answer - Who knows?! We really have no idea what came before the big bang. That space and time came into existence at the big bang (ie appearance out of nothing) is a possibility but its something you should NOT bet on, because we don't have any way of knowing! In the picture of Eternal Inflation, our big bang was just one event, in a larger picture - it was not really the beginning of anything in the absolute sense.

At 2.30m Guth says Inflation is (possibly) the bang in the big bang.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Atheist Debates - Matt Dillahunty - Appeals to Faith

1m: 'You just have to have Faith'. What does it mean to have faith? Hebrews 11.1 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.'
2m: Faith: 'Person of faith' appears to have abandoned reason in favour of gullibility or incredulity.
3m: If unclear, ask for a definition of a phrase or word. Is the premise valid?
6m: Faith defined: Synonymous with belief. Where faith is used as a justification for belief is the sticky area. In Hebrews 11.1 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' Redefined as Faith is having confidence in the things you hope for  or trusting that what you hope for are true.
7.30m: 'Faith is the evidence of things not seen': Here faith is being used as the proof, faith is the evidence. In this 2 part verse there are 2 definitions of faith as if they were the same thing. As if the confidence that you have in a proposition, is the evidence for the proposition. This makes faith - blind faith - a bald assertion that this is what I believe.
10.30m: Confidence level isn't relevant to whether one is rationally justified or whether the claim is true.
11m: If believe something based on faith and faith is based on evidence then you are saying 'I believe something based on evidence.' The faith part becomes redundant - so just leave it out!
14.30: we use critical thinking, skepticism and the scientific method - these are the clearly the best tools to find out what is true.
15.30m: The Faith Model: Faith can be used to 'justify' anything! There is nothing that can't be justified by appealing to faith!! Thus faith is demonstrably unreliable! It leads you to believe in mutually contradictory positions eg belief in Islam AND Christianity or Scientology AND mormonism. Talk about Epistemology and what makes it reasonable to believe something.
17m: 'Special pleading' is where you use faith for your religion but for everything else you use reason and evidence. This is hypocrisy - could be use by anything by anyone
17.30m: The Equivocation Fallacy: Faith based belief in 'reliable brakes' is NOT the same as 'belief in god' Confidence levels are very different. We can't know anything - we cannot have absolute confidence. They admit their belief is not based on good evidence. An admission of defeat.
22m: Mark Twain: 'Faith is believing what you know ain't so'.
David Hume: 'The wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.'
Matt Dillahunty: 'Faith is the excuse people give when they believe something and don't have a good reason'.

source: Richard H @ Atheism UK.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Why does the Universe Exist? By Jim Holt

source: and accompanying Kindle Book (£4) and TED blog.

Jim Holt talks March 2014. A grand tour of the answers to the question 'Why there is something rather than nothing'. My rambling notes follow!:-

Shopenhauer - you are mentally deficient if don't care why the world exists!

John Archibold Wheeler - how come the universe? How come existence?

We are 5 Einsteins away from knowing why the universe exists (Martin Amis)

Creation 'ex nihilo' (wikipedia)

God + nothing = the world

What made God?

Blank + nothing = the world

To a Buddhist (4m) Nothing = the World = Nothing (a big cosmic vacuuity)

Nirvana is 'just enough life to enjoy being dead'

Blank + Nothing = the World

Science + Nothing = the World ie Physics + Nothing = the World

Quantum Field Theory (wikipedia) show how out of Nothing via Inflation = the World (Lawrence Krauss), its a pseudo-religious worldview. The laws have some ontological clout!

Equations = the World (Stephen Hawking / Alex Vilenkin)

Many Worlds Theories = the World (Stephen Weinberg / Max Tegmark)

Nothing v Many Worlds Theories are the extremes.

Most mathematically elegant reality (Brian Greene) but what is dark energy?? Brian Greene admits it is 'An ugly universe' filled with superfluous elementary particles!

Best of all possible worlds (sentient beings don't suffer ever).

Crummy generic realites: Random Realities Mixture of chaos and order. Chaos of above - Cosmic Junk Shop with Deity 100% malevolent but only 80% effective!)

We live in a generic reality!! Science tells us this.

Why do I / you exist? 10 x 10,000 possible humans (between a google and a googleplex). 50 -100 billion of all humans who have lived is a tiny fraction.

Why should I care?

End of Ramblings.

Why does the world exist? An epic poem by Jim Holt at TED2014

Posted by: Thu-Huong Ha March 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm EDT

Philosopher and writer Jim Holt skips right past the dumb quibbling questions and right to the heart of the great existential mystery: Why something, instead of nothing? Why does the universe exist? And why are we in it? The super-ultimate why question.

The greatest thinkers have obsessed over the question of existence: Wittgenstein said it’s not how things are in the world that’s mystical, it’s that there is a world at all. John Archibald Wheeler wondered, how come the universe? How come existence? Schopenhauer said that those who do not wonder about the contingency of the universe are mentally deficient. It is, says Holt, our darkest, most sublime question.

In the 17th century, Leibniz had an easy answer: The universe exists because God created it. Many people today, said Holt, have this same Judeo-Christian answer. There is no mystery. For them, God + nothing = the world. O-o-okay, but even for believers this should be problematic, says Holt, because it requires you to answer the question of why God exists. Jokes Holt, God should still think to himself: “I’m eternal, I’m all powerful … but why am I here?”

So we have: [blank] + nothing = the world. This is actually fine for Buddhists, who believe in cosmic vacuity. Buddhists, Holt says, believe that “if we let our desires melt away, we’ll see the world as it truly is, and we’ll slip into nirvana: just enough life to enjoy being dead.” Big laughs.

How about: science + nothing = the world? A purely scientific explanation like the one posited by physicist Lawrence Krauss goes something like this: Through the laws of quantum field theory, from no space, time or matter, a little nugget of false vacuum can fluctuate into existence and then … universe!

Nice try. Holt rejects this theory, too, as it treats physics like it has some ontological clout — kinda like God. Physics don’t exist outside the world, Holt says. Even a self-contained world like the one theorized by Stephen Hawking is just equations. “But what breathes fire into the equations?” asks Holt.

Okay … let’s get metaphysical then. Maybe one set of rules presides over our world, and all other sets of rules are possible, too — a vastly rich multiverse that encompasses every possibility. So on one side there’s fullness, everything, and on the other, sheer nothingness. In between, says Holt, there’s a bunch of special-case intermediate realities: there’s the most elegant one (as Brian Greene has theorized), there’s the most ethical one, and so on. These all require extra explanations.

And then there’s Holt’s theory, the one that needs no special rules: Surprise! Somewhere in between! He calls it: “A crummy, generic reality that isn’t special in any way.” This reality is random, a mixture of chaos and order, mathematical beauty and ugliness, infinite mediocrity. Is there a deity? Maybe. But it’s not perfect: “maybe it’s 100 percent malevolent but only 80 percent effective.” This reality is an “infinite, arbitrary, pointless reality,” says Holt, to smiles and chuckles, “like champagne frothing out of the bottle endlessly. A vast universe with small pockets of charm and peace.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Andrew Copson (BHA) talks to Ignoranti prior to World Humanist Congress


Andrew Copson talks about:-

  • Christian & Muslim Apologists cf Politicians
    • Formulaic answers
    • lack of extemporising
    • Justifications for a belief already held (not testing of hypothesis)
    • Polemics
  • Faith
    • Knowledge v Faith
    • 'Faith is believing what you know ain't so' (Mark Twain)
      • Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World (1897), CHAPTER XII.
        • There are those who scoff at the schoolboy, calling him frivolous and shallow: Yet it was the schoolboy who said "Faith is believing what you know ain't so." —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
    • bundling some evidence with Faith
  • moderate believers
    • cover for fundamentalists?
    • moderates prop up Catholic institution that is rotten at the top
  • working with religious people
    • humanists work with religious by sharing belief that state schools should be open to everyone
  • Faith Schools
    • England has a State Church, in N Ireland and Wales Church is disestablished
    • 100% state funded schools run by CofE is ridiculous
    • 1944 Education legislation is outdated as is Collective Worship
  • Birmingham muslim schools
  • World Humanist Congress
    • Defence of the Enlightenment through Freedom of Speech & Expression
  • What Humanists believe
    • Tribal Faith is as dangerous as Religious Faith
    • Ethnic & Irrational / Superstitious / Mysticism thinking is dangerous - abuse of power
    • WHC promotes Universal Humanity
  • Terry Eagleton
    • Culture and the Death of God (Feb 2014)
  • Humanistic Culture
    • don't need to replace Religion
    • library, hospitals, concert halls, museums, parks, portraiture, music, art, literature (Shakespeare over Bible)