Beyond Belief

Sean Thomas on atheistic insanity.

August 22, 2013admin 38 Comments »
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38 Responses to this entry

  • Alrenous Says:

    Much like Moldbug likes to build ideologies, I have a design for a new religion. You’re welcome to join and/or help me develop it if you want.

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    admin Reply:

    Is this design available for inspection anywhere?

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    Alrenous Reply:

    Not right now. I could write an elevator pitch if you want, though.

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    admin Reply:

    No rush — I’ll delect in the anticipation.

    Handle Reply:

    I want the elevator pitch!

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    I want the elevator pitch, too.

    Alrenous Reply:

    Jesus is supposed to be the ultimate being. To the point where Christians have interesting ideas like Jesus re-creating the universe every moment, without which all would cease to exist. However, Christian theology treats two principles as higher than Jesus. Logic, and existence itself.

    Jesus cannot instantiate a logical contradiction. Similarly, Jesus’ properties are supposedly subject to logical inquiry. Jesus not only does obey, but must obey logic.

    Christians feel the need to reject proofs of Jesus’ non-existence. Again, not only is Jesus subject to logical proof, he must exist to be meaningful.

    Logic is itself subject to the principle of existence.

    One of the ways to see religion is about assigning the highest social status to the highest power. The highest power is the principle of existence.

    In Lesser Bull’s terms, I’m not sure what submitting to existence would be exactly, but you can submit to logic. Christianity almost did this: they seem to have forgotten that Jesus is supposed to also be Logos.

    There’s a different elevator pitch, which I believe gets to the same place, about taking consciousness seriously and on its own terms.

    Is Reality conscious? Well, are you part of reality? Are you conscious? Reality is conscious, QED. Whether it also has its own gestalt consciousness is a good question. Let’s check.

    Step one: pray to Reality and see if you get an answer.

    There’s a third elevator pitch about meta-religion.

    My faith is that we can go check. That we can learn how to learn about spirituality.

    It seems to me that since scientists are so pleased to mark themselves anti-religion, nobody has done the obvious thing of treating religions like hypotheses.

    Some scientists mark off religion as orthogonal to science. Sorry, but existence acknowledges no such boundaries. Either a thing is or it isn’t.

    The idea that the Bible is entirely true is clearly ridiculous. (But then, it seems that part of the point of religion is believing things that look entirely ridiculous to non-believers.) However, it is probably true at about the same order as Aristotlean physics – that is, not entirely false or metaphorical or what have you.

    All these ancient peoples are clearly observing something. The questions are: what? How can we use it? Can we talk to it? If all major religions are the spiritual equivalent of Aristotlean physics, they will all have bits and pieces of truth. What would we get if we combined all these truths? Of course, first we have to learn to tell the difference.

    Parapsychology is indeed pseudoscience, because it never tests theories. It tests theory-free predictions, which is frankly crap. For example, if ESP is asking Jesus what symbol is on the card, Jesus isn’t going to blindly tell you it is three squiggles. Jesus has his own mind; he’s going to realize it is a contrived experiment, with no real consequences, and won’t bother himself with it.

    I’m not saying I believe in ESP. Or reincarnation. I’m saying it’s possible to check, and it hasn’t been done. Either you’re a scientist and incapable of taking it seriously, or you’re a believer and feel no need to verify.

    My next strategy is to hand a toy version to someone, and then tweak it until they find it spiritually satisfying. I have no idea what makes a thing spiritually satisfying, especially for not-me. Ideally, do this for a few people and see what if what I end up tweaking it into makes any kind of sense. If it does, expand the toy version. If it doesn’t, fix the problem.

    Alrenous Reply:

    Forgot to mention explicitly that the meta-religion believes in Jesus, if he exists. Of course, also Allah, Yahweh, etc… That could get interesting.

    Posted on August 22nd, 2013 at 1:24 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    I will add that Aristotle’s physics may not have been ultimately correct, but it was proximately correct. Hippocrates’ medicine wasn’t very good, but I understand it wasn’t worse than nothing. The heart is not the seat of emotion, but a seat of emotion does exist. Burning things in fact do emit something, it’s just more esoteric than phlogiston. In other words, ancient people were not stupid, no matter how easy it is to forget that in modern times. However, they weren’t often particular correct, either.

    Do you have any reason to think this pattern shouldn’t extend to religion?

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    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Religion gets much, if not all, of its effect from the sense of submission. I doubt that a designed religion can quite achieve that same effect. Liberalism is a long exercise is trying to submit to oneself, and it hasn’t panned out so well.

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    Contemplationist Reply:

    Taleb has shown that medicine was infact, on average worse than praying to the Gods before the 20th century.

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    Alrenous Reply:

    I’m less than confident in Taleb’s history.

    In any case, modern medicine is worse than praying overall. Just slightly, and yes you can cherry-pick the good parts if you know which is which, but my point is that the idea doesn’t add up.

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    spandrell Reply:

    Everybody cherry picks, and a non-retarded person with a non-evil doctor (a vast majority) is clearly better off today using medicine than without using it. I say that as a victim of medical errors. They didn’t kill me, and prayer would have been worse.

    Most medical errors today aren’t harmful to your health, just to your wallet. Average lifespan is in the damn 80s for Christ’s sake.

    Alrenous Reply:

    Then how do you explain the finding that greater access to medicine is correlated with a slight increase in all-cause mortality?

    Medicine is not the main driver of long lifespan. Doctors would like to think so, that’s all.

    Posted on August 22nd, 2013 at 1:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRujuE-GIY4

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    Posted on August 22nd, 2013 at 3:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nyk Says:

    Abandon your disbelief and convert to Transhumanism – the religion for smart people.

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    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Of smart people, not for. Realistically, the ‘scientific’ elements make it less believable and more obviously silly as a religion. You don’t enhance the wizard of Oz by focusing on the man behind the curtain.

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    Alex Reply:

    Transhumanism might be more persuasive if its votaries didn’t sound like an arch-villain from an old Man from U.N.C.L.E serial.

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    David Reply:

    Houellebecq does a nice job of kicking around the idea of transhumanism-as-religion in The Possibility of an Island (and landing a few solid blows right in the nuts’ nuts)

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    Posted on August 22nd, 2013 at 5:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mark Warburton Says:

    Am I missing something here? It’s a trolling… and?

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    Posted on August 22nd, 2013 at 8:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    @Alrenous None of these are very good. You are treating the mythical and allegorical aspects as though they were structural. This is like a religion remix, not a new song. I’m not sure, but you might enjoy reading “All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age,” by Dreyfus and Kelly. This book will help you to create a more effective new religious movement. It explains how Jesus works as an intermediary between Gnon and human beings.

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    Alrenous Reply:

    Structural?

    I’m treating religion as a kind of system of ideas, which means the individual ideas are the particles of the system.

    What do you suggest Id o instead?

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    Posted on August 24th, 2013 at 10:07 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Medicine is not the main driver of long lifespan. Doctors would like to think so, that’s all.

    Antibiotics are medicine. Without them, you die. End of story.
    And seeing better sanitation as unrelated to medicine is also quite specious if you ask me.

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    admin Reply:

    You’re being too generous to medicine as an institution. Doctors didn’t introduce the idea of sewerage infrastructure or running water. The pharma industry combined with free markets and caveat emptor could easily cut 80% of modern medicine out of the loop, with zero negative consequences (at worst).

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    spandrell Reply:

    Well that’s true, but how is that not cherrypicking?

    People used to die of any stupid infection, a quarter of babies died before 5 years old just a century ago. As stupid as much of modern medicine is, it’s not worse than praying for crying out loud. It might be worse than having a healthy diet and avoiding drugs and shady women, but that’s not the doctors fault now, is it?

    If you try to group any human endeavour by “institutions”, you’re gonna reach the conclusion that everything sucks and is worse than praying. Surely education is worse than praying if you think of education as the state racket that it is, but that doesn’t mean we should stop teaching kids to read, does it?

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    admin Reply:

    I’m not pushing the praying angle of this argument with any particular vigor. My only point is that ‘medicine’ is a largely fake totality, promoted by a self-congratulating interest group that seeks to claim for itself all the positive health benefits of social modernization. Once ‘doctors’ become state apparatchiks, a syndrome that might have been merely cute becomes extremely toxic. (Yes, it is the same in essence as state educational agencies attributing each and every advance in learning to their activities and budgets, which is equally false.) If this fraud complex makes people want to start praying, I guess that’s up to them …

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Especially since prayer, medicine, and actual education are none of them mutually exclusive.

    Alrenous Reply:

    As per LastPsych, pharma has already short-circuited doctors. They’re extremely highly paid second-hand pharma reps at this point.

    What’s the last 20%?

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    admin Reply:

    “What’s the last 20%?” — bone-setters. (But 20% was probably an absurdly relaxed figure — it’s my fingernail-hold on socio-political moderation.)

    Handle Reply:

    This sets up a rhetorical trap. Any examples I try to marshal in favor of the capability of modern medicine (itself more of a technology of other sciences plus a social science) you will just allocate to your ‘20%’ as retort. Are we counting by expenditure, time, techniques, lives saved, QALY’s saved, QALY’s / Public Funds overall efficiency, etc. ?

    Let me use blunt trauma injuries as a particular way to expose revealed preferences. Perhaps one parent in ten million thinks, when they’re son gets in a car or sports (or war) accident resulting in bleeding and broken bones, that they’d be at least as well off not getting the immediate attention of paramedics, stabilized with a host of sanitized and validated drugs, devices, and techniques, shuffled to an emergency room, treated by surgeons, and have their bones set with plaster or pins or even replaced – with antibiotics thrown in to prevent opportunistic (from the scene) or Iatrogenic (from other ill people in the care facility) infection.

    Emergency medicine, in particular, has made measurably great strides in the past few decades – which is part of why both the ‘homicide rate’ and ‘battle fatality per potentially-fatal incident rate’ have declined so markedly (thwarting various attempts at time-series analysis).

    Implicit in this discussion seems to be a strange linguistic nomonym where ‘Medicine’ means both the ‘good, obviously beneficial medicine I’d always unhesitatingly use’ and the ‘bad, ineffective medicine that doesn’t really know how to cure the uncertain cause of this particular symptom’.

    So, is it just so that we can believe in (some) medicine and bitch about (some) medicine at the same time without needing to be more specific?

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    admin Reply:

    The only argument-resolving specificity comes from markets (revealed preferences). As long as the state has medicine in a death-grip, so that all evidence about what people really want is rendered inaccessible, then cantankerous non-persuasive disputes is all we have.

    Handle Reply:

    “all evidence about what people really want is rendered inaccessible, then cantankerous non-persuasive disputes is all we have.”

    Admin just summed up the internet. Well done!

    Posted on August 24th, 2013 at 1:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Actually is the for profit doctors that have the incentive to have you believe you’re dying unless you do something *right soon*. What the nationalization of medicine has done is try to not treat people. Isn’t the NSA killing a third of old people who get surgery?

    I know a 93 years old man who just spent 50k dollars getting heart surgery in Japan. That’s what private medicine does to you. But hey, the guy’s happy. Should see him drive his car to the grocery store every morning.

    Really, of all the evil institutions out there, medicine isn’t the worst one. If we hated journalists half as much as we hate doctors the world would be a better place.

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    admin Reply:

    Do we hate doctors twice as much as we hate journalists? Really?

    I’m all for rich people spending their own money on extravagant private medical solutions, because that builds a real market, and moves things forward. My problem is entirely with entrenched tax-funded special interests promoting the indispensable importance of their ‘solutions’ in the complete absence of supporting evidence.

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    Scharlach Reply:

    My problem is entirely with entrenched tax-funded special interests promoting the indispensable importance of their ‘solutions’ in the complete absence of supporting evidence.

    As long as ‘medicine’ or ‘doctors’ is your shorthand for ^^ that practice, then of course you’re absolutely right. And I think your other suggestion is equally correct: first-world standards of health/longevity have more to do with the benefits of modernization as a more general system of practices rather than with the existence of doctors. That being said, who would you like treating your family: a Namibian witch doctor, a Civil War-era surgeon, a well-meaning physician working before the discovery of penicillin, or a contemporary graduate of UCLA or Oxford medical school?

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    admin Reply:

    Once globalized markets for professional medical services mature, which they will — driven by out-of-control cost dynamics in Western countries — I expect competent Asian health care options to prove attractive. They combine the best of Western capability with a minimum of special-interest hubris.

    Posted on August 24th, 2013 at 4:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    Admin, some posts that hint enigmatically and tentatively at your own spiritual leanings would be well received, I imagine.

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    admin Reply:

    That’s ‘easy’ — Roughly Daoist-slanted Neo-Confucian, with Pyrrhonian sympathies, which requires strict subordination of ‘spiritual’ commitments to philosophical compulsions.

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    Posted on August 24th, 2013 at 6:01 pm Reply | Quote

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