Friday, August 24, 2007

Superstition -free!
















The Raleigh News and Observer printed my letter! Honestly, this was on my to-do list last year. Done and done. Except, of course, not done; indeed, only the beginning.

9 comments:

Mike said...

AWESOME! I share the same outlook on my life. Though you've expressed it in a much better way than I have. I'm glad to see more people expressing their love for reality.

Will E. said...

The bitch of reality is, it doesn't love you back.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Well written and to the point, you should aim to have more in print.

Summer

Kevin said...

Ah, my Will, always evangelizing about his atheism like a hip street preacher.

Those of us who recognize what a spiritless reality means--a reality of soulless warmish machines furiously replicating themselves, leaving no room whatsoever for morality--do indeed see losing faith as a dark thing.

I reckon realizing nothing has the slightest whiff of meaning and becoming nihilistic could be freeing, so there's that.

(Here's a summary of my thoughts on it, like we haven't talked about this enough.)

Oh, and your blog is great reading.

Will E. said...

Aw c'mon, you know I'm no nihilist. *Making* meaning is difficult--having meaning dictated from on high is easy. And my morality--all human morality--is inherited from hundreds of thousands of years of extroverted, socialized primates that needed to cooperate to "furiously replicate themselves." Truth, beauty, love, morality, etc. are not arbitrary but are entwined with our nature like the DNA helix; all are parts of our nearly incomprehensibly complex brains. Think bottom-up, not top-down. I can acknowledge this, that we are sentient meat, animals of reason, and am still able to find worth and meaning in art, in creativity, in friendships and family and humor and music and all that good stuff. Oh and liquor. Sweet, sweet liquor. Thanks for stopping by, Kevin.

Kevin said...

I know you're not a nihilist (yet). I'm just saying it's the only logical conclusion of materialism/physialism/atheism.

Why and how did those wonderful complex concepts become "entwined in our DNA"? "Joy," which in a purely physical reality means the release of chemicals and movement of electrical impulses that say "yay," was merely that which set up a good scenario for our ancestors to reproduce. Aversion to "pain" is something our ancestors had to have if they were to survive and reproduce.

All those complex thingies became "entwined in our DNA" because of joy/pain responses. Take "cute." Our predecessors who didn't think babies looked "cute" (and instead thought babies looked "delicious" or "unbelievably loud and annoying") didn't pass on their genes. Same with compassion. Same with valuing life in general.

Folks can comfortably confuse the issue all day with ideas of finding "meaning" and "value" and "beauty" with our complex brains, but in a purely physical world, that's precisely nothing more than stuff that provided our ancestors with a reproductive advantage. In a purely physical reality, our brains just fool us into thinking things (mainly our own lives and the lives of our young) have "meaning," but nothing really does, be it the Holocaust, the good feeling you might get when you smell a rose, or falling in love.

I'm thinking bottom-up, by the way. Tiny mutations that became naturally selected and led to survival and reproductive advantage manifesting themselves deep in our psyches as appreciation of cuteness, beauty, meaning, value, cooperation, blah blah blah. About as bottom up as you can get.

Will E. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will E. said...

That was a half-assed reply of mine that I deleted. Way too pretentious!

I agree pretty much with everything you said in your second post. I do. If atheism leads to nihilism, so be it. It's not about what's good or healthy for society, it's about sorting out the truth from the evidence. And any society that deemed lying, murder, rape, genocide, etc, to be "good" would probably never get very far eventually. They'd erase themselves off the earth. We've gotten this far as a species because we have empathy, as do most higher mammals. We suppress it consciously or unconsciously, or it gets damaged, and so we do harmful things, but it's there. We are not "merely" chemical reactions; we are chemical reactions. That's it. But so much more.

Microwaved said...

Will that there letter makes you one of my new heros!