Tag Archives: ron rosenbaum

Julian Sanchez v. Ron Rosenbaum

Julian Sanchez offers a thoughtful response to Ron Rosenbaum’s horrible Agnostic’s Manifesto.

But when I say that I think there is no God, I don’t mean anything so grandiose. I mean just that I see no good reason to think that there is, and that all the various stories told about deities appear to me equally likely to be mythical. I don’t believe in basilisks or psychic powers either—probably neither do most religious believers—but few of us, on reflection, would be so bold as to say this is a belief we are absolutely certain about. It’s possible we could be mistaken, even if the possibility seems too remote to bother much about or, indeed, take all that seriously.

I like how he puts this. Atheism is only a religion if atheists believe in it like religious people believe in their religions. But why would anyone assume that we do? When I say I believe there’s no God, it’s a judgement of probability in the same way I believe that I won’t live to 250.

I will take Rosenbaum’s side when it comes to the importance of the question of why there’s something rather than nothing. Sanchez doesn’t take it seriously — and isn’t even sure it makes sense to ask. Which I think gets at what I would personally expect the answer to be: that there must be something rather than nothing — in the way that two plus two must make four. If that were the case, the question might still make sense, but proposing any alternative answer wouldn’t. Of course, I don’t know if that’s the case. I mean, I’d rank its probability as higher than the existence of God, but I could be wrong.

Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ron Rosenbaum doesn’t know

Ron Rosenbaum has written a manifesto for agnostics in Slate. I tried to read it all, but could only bring myself to skim after this part (which appears very early):

Atheists display a credulous and childlike faith, worship a certainty as yet unsupported by evidence—the certainty that they can or will be able to explain how and why the universe came into existence.

According to Rosenbaum, atheists are CERTAIN that we will be able to explain the existence of the Universe. Which is to say that Rosenbaum doesn’t know what atheism is or what it means to many (dare I say the majority) of us atheists. Nevertheless, he rolls along with the rest of his argument, demeaning atheists for their crimes, which exist mostly in his mind. Pretty awesome for someone who claims to be “radically” skeptical.

Check this out:

You know about the pons asinorum, right? The so-called “bridge of asses” described by medieval scholars? Initially it referred to Euclid’s Fifth Theorem, the one in which geometry really gets difficult and the sheep are separated from the asses among students, and the asses can’t get across the bridge at all. Since then the phrase has been applied to any difficult theorem that the asses can’t comprehend. And when it comes to the question of why is there something rather than nothing, the “New Atheists” still can’t get their asses over the bridge, although many of them are too ignorant to realize that. This sort of ignorance, a condition called “anosognosia,” which my friend Errol Morris is exploring in depth on his New York Times blog, means you don’t know what you don’t know. Or you don’t know how stupid you are.
In fact, I challenge any atheist, New or old, to send me their answer to the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I can’t wait for the evasions to pour forth.

What the fuck are you talking about? I guess I can’t speak for all atheists, Ron, but my response would probably be a lot like yours. That is, I think it’s a hugely interesting question that we may never know the answer to. Which I guess makes me not an atheist according to your presumptuous definition.

Via Metafilter

Also tagged , , | Leave a comment