Re: religion bashing?

Technotranscendence (
Sun, 24 Oct 1999 09:05:23 -0700

On Sunday, October 24, 1999 1:22 AM Alejandro Dubrovsky
> > Solipsism is just like theism: it's not disprovable, so whether or not
> > it is true isn't relevant. You can make all the same predictions if
> > you assume that you are the only existent being in the universe,
> > experiencing an illusion that behaves /as if/ there were an objective
> > reality in which you are just a part as you would make if you assume
> > that reality is in fact objective; just as you would draw the same
> > conclusions you would if you assumed that God created the universe to
> > appear the way it does. It makes no difference at all. One reason
> > to reject them is Occam's Razor: since making the assumption that you,
> > or God, are somehow special and central isn't necessary, why bother?
> By some interpretations of Occam's Razor (eg what follows) solipsism would
> the simpler option over having that whole huge universe objectively
> out there. Number of entities would be much smaller, computational cost
> simulation-of-whatever-you-experience would be much smaller than
> simulation-of-objective-universe.

I don't think Ockham's razor works that way. Entities should not be multiplied beyong necessity. This does not mean eliminating entities which one necessarily has experience. For instance, it might seem simpler to posit that everything in my living (where I am) is an illusion, but I am experiencing it. So, that would be more complex -- for me to posit that I'm experiencing something and that it is also an illusion.

With solipsism, the problem is we do perceive other people and, if Paul Vanderveen is right (see his "The Formation of the Concept of Mind" in _Objectivity_ 1(6), more info at, we have some form of awareness of other people's thoughts and feelings. Thus, we would be denying entities which are necessitated by our experiences -- not denying ones which are ornamental or superfluous.

Also, we learn about solipsism. We don't come to it naturally. We read it in philosophy books or science fiction stories or wherever. It's a complex theory, more complex than naive realism (which I don't buy either).

The God idea also has other problems too, which George H. Smith has done an excellent job of pointing out in his _Atheism: The Case Against God_, a book which I highly recommend, even though it is a bit dated. (He doesn't cover much of modern philosophy and sticks to Judeo-Christian theology (from Ancient to 20th century) for the most part. Someone else here lamented that most Western atheists do not discuss nonWestern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. John Ridpath, in his taped lectures, "Religion vs. Man" does deal with them. He has sections on Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, as well as Islam, though I think he goes after them not looking to learn but just to bash.)


Daniel Ust