Re: Why atheism beats agnosticism (Was: Re: Contacting God)

Dan Fabulich (
Thu, 23 Apr 1998 20:49:34 -0400


Erik Moeller wrote:

>Pick a fight, yeah. Maybe with people who don't even want to fight. And
>still battle them, until their beliefs are shaken in their fundamentals.
>Maybe drive them into suicide.
>I work with fundamental Christians. Although I have all the knowledge to
>refute their beliefs completely, I don't. Why should I interfere with other
>people's lives? But a militant atheist could destroy these lives, even with
>words only. That's specific for religion, because it is irrational, it is
>always attackable. But the emotions connected with the religous beliefs are
>not. And that's why you cannot predict how someone whose worldview has just
>been destroyed will react.
>I wouldn't call that mindfucking. I would call it mind rape. And it's a type
>of coercion, too.

No, it's NOT a type of coercion, for two obvious reasons: first, it is
entirely under the control of the believer to believe or not to believe,
and second, it is entirely within the believer's power to stop listening to
the atheist.

If the believer is under control of their own beliefs, then I cannot force
a believer to change them, only (at best) convince. And if I cannot even
force the believer to listen, then I can't even convince them by force. It
is non-coercive to the core, and a significant reason why I believe the
first amendment was an awfully good idea.

1) Axiom. I cannot force someone to do something which is entirely under
their control.
2) Observed. It is entirely under the control of the believer to believe
or not to believe.
3) Therefore. I cannot force someone to not believe.


4) Observed. It is entirely under the control of the believer to listen
to me or not listen to me.
5) Therefore. I cannot force someone to listen to me.

>Well, just like I think I understand Catholicism better than the Pope.
>Religous cults can usually not be correctly interpreted by their leaders,
>unless those are perfectly aware of the fact that they are just brainwashing
>a horde of money-bearing idiots. The intellectual level of Extropy is
>higher, but nevertheless it is a cult and you are its leader.

I am an extropian. Max More is not my leader. I am under no obligation to
do anything at all for Mr. More. If he told me to do something I didn't
want to do, I would not do it. I wouldn't even consider doing it. I don't
take orders from him, do not believe everything he says (and in fact,
disagree with his views semi-regularly) and don't think he is in any
supernatural way better than anybody else I've ever met.

6) Axiom. Leaders are capable of giving orders to their followers.
7) Observed. I do not take orders from Max More.
8) Therefore. Max More does not lead me.

In fact, by the very nature of extropianism, I might make the stronger
(though less defensible) claim that NO extropians follow Max More, because
extropianism tends to reject that mindset. So

9) Assertion. Extropians do not take orders.
10) Therefore. Extropians do not take orders from Max More.
11) Therefore. Max More does not lead any extropians.

And just as I do not follow Max More, nor do I follow extropianism
axiomatically. I agree with extropianism because I agree with OTHER
fundamental principles which agree with extropianism. When I make a
decision, I do not ask myself what extropy, what my other fundamental
principles tell me is right. Cults claim to be true by assumption. They
presume that their tenets are axiomatic and undoubtedly true. Their
fundamentals are simply right, and there is no argument to be made.
Extropy is not a cult.

12) Definition: Cults consist of a set of unquestionable fundamental
13) Observed. Extropianism does not have any unquestionable fundamental

(13 deserves a bit of defense, but only a bit: The "Extropian Principles"
document is in version 2.6 last I checked; any part of the document can be
changed. Moreover, most extropians endorse pancritical rationalism, a meme
which tends to reject unquestionable fundamental principles.)

14) Therefore. Extropianism is not a cult.

>OK, I summarize: Extropian thinking must not be criticized on this mailing

This is misleading. It's fine for extropianism to be criticized; that's
what keeps us all rational. However, we also like to have positive
discussions about extropy, in which we aren't defending extropianism from
criticism but rather discuss ways to bring extropy about. As you can see,
both discussions are perfectly normal and proper; we only make the extra
leap to say that we would prefer to have these different discussions on
separate lists.

>Your fundamentals are built on sand, and that's why you cannot take

The fundamentals of extropianism are not inviolate columns of stone; the
fact that you seem to think so (IMO) belies your misunderstanding of the
philosophy. And if we cannot take criticism, how and why would I reply
with syllogisms rather than insults?

>Of course I haven't even started to seriously criticize Extropy.

<quivers with fear>

>But even a little rant in my spare time seems to be too much to take. If my
>postings disturb you, why not set up a mail filter? Might make life easier.

They don't disturb me. We just like to talk about different things in
different lists. Is that cultish?

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