Yes, yes, yes! I’ve had a revelation of sorts. It’s based on one core concept: that the progress we’ve made in this world is based almost solely on science. Literally, and I mean that in the literal sense, everything we have and enjoy and cherish is given to us by science. 2/3 of your kids would be dead without science. We wouldn’t have the internet or medicine or mobile phones or DVDs to watch. We wouldn’t live in nice little neighborhoods with unlocked doors. Science has pulled us out of the muck and given us the chance to be civilized and socialized. It’s the most important thing in the world.
Yes, of course, science if flawed. It’s wrong a lot and it’s political and manned by humans so as fallible as all of us are. But it is science itself which finds and fixes the errors and scientists and their students who invent the things that become the life-enriching advances of the future. Science, as Carl Sagan said, is a candle in the dark.
And yet this most proven and successful enterprise in human history, that provides the very foundation of all that we do, giving us literally life itself, is the enemy to some! And to others it is merely just one other view, equal to all other views, including the uninformed ravings of astrologers and clergymen.
Science is under attack by people with an agenda that is mystical in nature. They are religious people, “New Age” people, “woo” medicine peddlers and other op-ed nut cases. They demean science and applaud quackery and they lead us away from the mindset which has given us everything we have.
Atheism is the natural worldview of the scientific mind. Oh, I know, many great scientists were theists. Religion is the last stand of mysticism and superstition in human psychology. But it’s not turtles all the way down, we are not special creatures destined to be cuddled by a friendly superbeing in heavenly comfort and nothing lasts forever, not even the universe. It is incredibly arrogant to think that we alone are eternal and happily reunited with our loved ones forever. It’s nonsense. There is no spoon. It is quite peaceful once you accept it.
Be here now.
Most of my readers know that I am an atheist. I’ve written about it extensively but let me summarize to say — atheism is a movement of hope, rationale and enjoyment of life. It is not an outlook which is depressing or fatalistic.
There are many people I love in this world but, if push came to shove, it is hard to predict who among them, if any, I would actually die for. It is easy to say that I would die for my awesome wife or my brother or sister but if the moment were to arrive, without time to think about it, I cannot really predict what I would do.
This is not true of my children. I would absolutely and without a moment’s hesitation die for them. My kids are a higher purpose, of a sort, for me. They need me, they love me and they are wonderful lovable little beings. They are without question the most important thing in my life.
I’ve written before about my belief that life without children is a wonderful thing. I don’t think parenthood is necessarily greater than any other lifestyle choice. But once that bridge is crossed I think all but the most selfish losers quickly find their higher purpose in their children.
The tension is — there is much I want to do in my life. I to not intend to be a servant to my children. Yet my life has been unquestionably enriched by their presence.
And finally — I think perhaps the only good thing about religion is that it gives people a little humility about their place in the world. I don’t need religion to give me that, personally, but the realization that there are things more important than yourself is one that is quite necessary in this world.
Over at scienceblogs there is a recurring
argument debate about “framing”. My definition of framing is wording an argument in a manner that your audience is going to be most receptive to. It’s crafting an argument carefully with the goal of convincing people of its authenticity.
Using this definition its literally self-evident that if you want to convince people of something that you should approach your argument in a manner most likely to do so! That’s just obvious.
It’s a separate question whether you should have that goal or not. I.E. it would be a tedious world if everyone always spoke with utter care for maximum convincing power. I’m going to talk about religion differently if I’m with a bunch of atheists than I do if I’m at a funeral. Sometimes we preach to the choir and enjoy reveling in our superior views.
But, yes, if your goal is to convince, framing is a no-brainer.
Generally the framing debate at scienceblogs relates to the “new atheists” and the “battle of science and religion”. Dawkins and Myers alienate the people they are trying to convince, says one side. Dawkins and Myers respond: fuck you, we have every right to speak our opinions when and how we feel.
They are both right.
Dawkins and Myers do alienate the people they are trying to convince by focusing on the most radical and ridiculous examples of religion. That’s not all they do, by a long shot and I agree with them on literally almost everything. But they do alienate people. That’s a fact whether you like it or not. Religious moderates, who are an important political ally of secularists, are painted with the same broad brush as loonies like young earth creationists.
But on the other hand, and really more importantly, what Dawkins and Myers have done is say what they think. They used their best judgment. They have no responsibility to religious moderates, secularists or anyone else. Their words have been a very important part of the debate and we would be much poorer without them. We’re all grown ups and we should be able to handle it if it gets a little rough sometimes.