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

Erik Moeller (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 00:13:49 +0200

>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,

Wrong. The believer does only have the illusion of control of what he
thinks, just as any human. Consciousness is not really control, just the
illusion of it. Information processing is what counts, and it is entirely
handled by the brain, without any control. If I feed you with the right
information, I can make you anything I want. This would require a LOT of
experience and a very big brain, though. A posthuman could do it.

>and second, it is entirely within the believer's power to stop listening to
>the atheist.

It's usually within his freedom of actions, unless he is tied to a tree. But
he may not want to, because he believes that nothing can shake his
worldview. For example, Christians usually don't think much about Jesus'
historical existence, they just believe in "what is written" and what they
are told. And when you tell them about the historical Jesus, they might be
fascinated at first. But when a fanatic Christian realizes the full
implications of the Dead Sea Scrolls, everything is possible. From Amok to

>1) Axiom. I cannot force someone to do something which is entirely under
>their control.

There is no control.

>2) Observed. It is entirely under the control of the believer to believe
>or not to believe.

There is no control.

>3) Therefore. I cannot force someone to not believe.

Wrong assumptions, wrong conclusions.

>4) Observed. It is entirely under the control of the believer to listen
>to me or not listen to me.

There is no control.

>5) Therefore. I cannot force someone to listen to me.

Wrong assumptions, wrong conclusions.

>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.

Maybe the word 'leader' is too strong. I meant to imply that people have
centered around Max and his ideas, many of these people absorbing these
ideas without deeper consideration (they cannot consider them, because
criticism of the basic ideas is forbidden on this list, and with whom should
they discuss them if not with the Extropians themselves?). I did NOT mean to
imply that you are all following Max and his 'orders' sheepishly and I
apologize if it has been understood this way. The right expression is
probably 'guide', not 'leader'. Would you agree that Max More has been a
guide for you?

>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.

If I look at the discussion policy here, I get an opposite view. Your
fundamentals are considered as being simply right and you do not want to
discuss them. By saying "go to a different list", you do not, as you have
tried to convince me, just redirect traffic somewhere else. No other list
but the Extropian mailing list is read by so many Extropians -- this is
obvious. On the other hand, discussion of Extropian views would be totally
inappropriate on the transhuman mailing list, as many of the people there
are not Extropians and have rejected the Extropian ideas long ago. The
Extropian mailing list is the only list where the fundamentals of Extropy
can be discussed. Disallowing it is cultish.

>(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

You could add such a note to the Bible, too, without having to be afraid
that it would have any effect, because the majority would reject any
changes. And I bet that the basic Extropian Principles will remain mostly
unmodified for the next decades.

>This is misleading. It's fine for extropianism to be criticized; that's
>what keeps us all rational.

Sounds good.

>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.

Understandable. That's the missionary role of your cult :-)

>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.

See above.

>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?

Because my mail contained mainly opinion and little facts. It was not
criticism but critcism of not being allowed to criticize. It was written
without any source, without any document refered to. I agree that such
provocative postings should be kept to a minimum. I am opposing your
non-criticism policy, and I used harsh words to do so.

>>Of course I haven't even started to seriously criticize Extropy.
><quivers with fear>

Don't. As it looks now, Max would rather remove me than allow anything like
this. I am not on the transhuman list and I will not resubscribe because I
cannot keep up with the traffic (it was very high when I was subscribed the
last time), so that probably means that you can have your little party
without me.

Erik Moeller