When I install software I always look for some INSTALL or README file that gets you jump-started with the software without having to go through all the boring preamble. We don’t get that when we get a life. That’s because we were not made but evolved. So this page is the quick-start, the INSTALL.TXT or README file to what I’m saying here.
If you want to understand truth as we know it in this universe then you need to have a working knowledge of mathematics. It is the only provable truth we have. If you want to walk over theological arguments when it comes to nature then you can’t go wrong with understanding statistics and probabilities. These are essential to ridicule god-of-gaps arguments. Then you need a bit of understanding with modal logic as it should help you decipher the nonsense that are Ontological arguments for god; these are proofs for god that go along the lines of inventing a definition of god and then (waving of hands and drum roll) conclude its necessary existence using a priori claims i.e. stuff already made up without empirical evidence, whilst ignoring the fact that at the end of the day there still remains no actual tangible evidence for god other than a few fancy symbols on a bit of paper.
Whilst they then ask “Do you deny logic ?” their problem is that a syllogism remains logically valid irrespective of the truth of the premise as far as the existential import is concerned.
If you want to understand the natural world then any science degree will do. If you start from the understanding that everything has evolved from bits of exploding stars with no reason and you just have to work out what actually happened then you should get on fine. It will teach you the scientific method, the double-blind test, reproducibility of claims, and making predictions. If you can’t predict then it isn’t science. You can then make knowing little smirks whenever someone tries and hoodwinks you with “the scientific claim for…<insert nonsense scraped from some religious text>”. The main opponents you’ll see here are the Intelligent Designers and Muslims. They are not worth the time of day in debate but they will try and poison education and science policy at schools so you do need to be able to recognize their nonsense and stop this from screwing up whole generations.
If you want to skip maths and science but want to quick start to an off-the-shelf Church-like culture of reality without all the tedious existential angst, mathematics or study then you can’t get much better than the Church of Reality that was started by a guy called Marc Perkel. There is no supernatural bullshit there and what he has done is simply taken secular humanism and methodological naturalism and wrapped it in the words and ritual of religions. So far nothing on that web site clashes with what I’ve found out the hard way. If you like the idea of a “Church” or “Religion” but existing religions are just plain stupid then that’s your next step. I make no money from this endorsement and as far as I know he makes no money from that either. About all I disagree with him (not his Religion2.0) is that I like marriage.
Overall don’t be a dick. If a creationist comes up with some inane claim then don’t laugh at them but just back away until they provide some proof. They won’t – they will first say that it is you that must provide the evidence for your objection to their wild claims but when you insist that the person with the claim provides the evidence then they will scrape the barrel and you’ll get some slop that would have stuck to anything when thrown hard enough. Attack their evidence, assuming they provide any, and their claim will simple be foundation-less. Point this out and then move on.
I like aphorisms and I like analogies. A good aphorism is a bite-sized prelude that hints of a meal. They are actually hard to invent and I’m no expert on this. I must say that I aspire to the wit of the likes of Samuel Clements; I suspect every tweet he would have made would have started trends, every blog post made would have spoken volumes.
Well here are my sound bites, my canapé of words. You might recognize them as I use them in my signature on forums,
- Philosophy is pointless without science, science is impossible without engineering.
this is rephrasing the “Science is meaningless without religion” because truthfully the made-up-crap of Religion isn’t a good starting point to derive meaningfulness. I’m a humanist so it is all meaningless without humanity giving it meaning.
- It seems you teach a child your religion so they can recognize your enemies.
I don’t need to explain this. We’ve segregated by sex, by colour and by race and we’ve overcome these differences. The last difference of hate is religious and our society still educates children that they are different in an indelible way.
- In America the battle is between common cents distorted by profits and common sense distorted by prophets.
that came out of what I have seen happen to America over the past 20 years. I mean seriously folks what has gone wrong ? I used to love the idea of America and enjoyed every visit from South Central to Montauk but there is an edge that formed and it’s not a good feeling. Maybe I just have an ideal in my mind of the America that gave us The Right Stuff but that’s gone now in a firestorm of hypocritically moral values, of greed and partisan politics.
- Study philosophy to learn to ask the right questions, study religion to learn to listen to the wrong answers.
This one came out of the idea that you spend all your life just learning to ask the right questions. Now though I make fun of philosophers a number of them do try and anchor their work in a firm foundation of science, Daniel C. Dennett for instance. Those philosophers are a breath of fresh air. The theologians ? they have been giving the same old answers for thousand of years. They didn’t work then they don’t work now.
- Your time is better spent teaching a dog calculus than explaining to a Muslim the errors in their religion. At least the dog enjoys the company.
The physicist, teacher and author Chad Orzel has a number of books such as How to teach quantum mechanics to your dog and How to teach relativity to your dog. This idea is nothing new and actually the book is teaching you about the topic. If you read about how Muslims view dogs then you will see a vast confusion which is symptomatic of their religion. Many say they are “unclean” and so a source of moral harm, some say not. There are Hadith and there is the Quran. Both are more or less made up stories and tales but the Quran should carry the more weight and that is pretty ambivalent about Dogs. Some of the more ignorant Muslims though become rather belligerent and cherry-pick the interpretation they want: the result is that they object to the working dogs we have in society such as seeing-eye dogs and sniffer-dogs being near or touching them, even though any Muslim jurist would say that these are permitted. I have found in debate with Muslims that more than average they are arrogant, ignorant, puerile, hateful and condescending. They do not seem to want to solve the puzzles of life. To me they seem to have truly learned all the wrong answers.
- The difference between an atheist and a monotheist is just one god but the difference between two monotheists is two of many gods.
This stems from the view that I have that the arguments of the theists would be more creditable if they could actually agree on what it is that they are selling within their own faiths. I have thousands of gods to choose from within a couple of dozen pantheons. Even faiths that claim to be unchanged such as Islam spend a lot of time killing each other on doctrinal differences within their own faith.
Do we see scientists or philosophers killing each on differences of understanding with nature ? Do we see engineers or technicians blowing up schools because of differences in metrication or screw threads ? Hell no, they write letters to the editor of the journal pointing out the errors and the community judges the merit and then comes to a consensus. That’s the honest social human that has evolved out of the need for objectivity whilst viewing nature subjectively from many individual points of view.
Religion remains the subjective cesspool of our worst animal fears. It knows ecumenicism is essential but when all sides refuse to accept they can ever be wrong then ecumenicism is moot because the other sides will always be wrong.
- You can protect a child but once with your own life but if you teach them to be sceptical then you protect them for all their life.
I also have a shorter version,
- Teach a child to be sceptical and you protect them for life.
I’ve used this before in different ways (for instance here). Science demands that you question its every conclusion: where is the data ?, can I reproduce this ?, can we trust this measurement ? can we trust the experimenter ? who’s paying for this research ?
We don’t accept the arbitrary rulers of a fabricated spiritual world,
- New Atheists are the voice of reason between the silence of the Old Atheists and the Violence of the Theists.
For millennium non-believers have been hunted and killed because we do not conform or we do not obey. We’re saying “Enough is Enough” only we use a quiet word not a bullet or bottle.
Mathematics is the only thing we atheists have that we can honestly say has truths and demands proof,
- The fabric of Music is woven from the truth of mathematics and you don’t need God to do maths.
Now the interesting thing is where you can reduce mathematics to nothing. 0 = 0 is the fundamental of the law of identity but the more amazing zero is Euler’s Identity, eiπ – 1 = 0
- What exists is what persisted
This is an axiom to explain what we see in existence. It has relevance throughout all of the sciences.
- It is better to write the story of your life, than to spend your life correcting the errors in what other people had written for you.
Now that one was compressed a bit to fit Twitter.