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

Erik Moeller (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 14:51:43 +0200

>It is difficult, if not impossible, for me to demonstrate my ability to
>choose what I believe. After all, I could TELL you that I believe
>something differently, but how would you know it empirically? However, I
>seem to be able to demonstrate my control over whether I listen to
>something or not by, say, turning on or off the television, or by
>observably listening or not listening to someone else.

If I hadn't sent my last mail to the list, you would not have replied. If I
had written something different, you would have replied differently. If you
had written something different in your original posting, I would have
replied differently or not at all. If you hadn't replied, I would have let
the thread die out.

The exchange of information determines our actions entirely. If I had locked
you in a sensory deprivation tank for the first 10 years of your life, you
would probably be an uneducated, extremely aggressive asshole, or maybe a
suicidal pessimist. If you had grown up in a socialist environment with all
its propaganda, you would probably be a socialist today.

Even now, I can determine your future actions regarding this thread with
sufficient likeliness (although or even _because_ now that I've told you,
you would probably act differently than expected) -- i.e., it is likely
that you would stop the discussion if I called you a mindless troll and it
is -- surprise! -- also likely that you stopped if I said that I agree with
all what you said.

>- From a utilitarian moral standpoint, I put forward that "coercion"
>(which, according to axiom 1, is characterized by a lack of "control")

It is not. Actually, there is *only* coercion, but there are different
degrees and types of it.

- unconscious informational coercion, I would call it soft coercion, like
every normal communication
- deliberate informational coercion, I would call it hard coercion, also in
- unconscious physical coercion
- deliberate physical coercion

A militant atheist exercises type two, deliberate informational coercion, on
others, although it is often a mix between type one and type two -- he is
not necessarily aware of the degree of coercion he exercises.

>Coercion is not necessarily wrong, if we accept
>your definition.


>I put forward that under your definition, the atheist IS coercing the
>believer; but that this is irrelevant from a moral standpoint,

Depends on the degree and the consequences of the coercion.

>2.1) Axiom. Reducing the well-being of others is morally wrong.
>2.2) Axiom. A person's well-being is reduced when they cannot get what
>they desire.
>2.3) Definition. Coercion prevents people from getting what they desire.
>2.4) Therefore. Coercion is morally wrong.
>2.1) Axiom. Reducing the well-being of others is morally wrong.
>2.2) Definition. Coercion does not reduce the well-being of others.
>2.3) Therefore. Coercion is not necessarily morally wrong.



2.1) Axiom. The fundamentals make up the basic worldview of a person with
which any other information is correlated.
2.2) Axiom: Destroying the fundamentals of others' can damage their psyche
and thereby reduce their well-being.
2.3) Axiom. Reducing the well-being of others is morally wrong.
2.4) Definition: Communication is a type of coercion.
2.5) Therefore. Coercion can lead to destroying the fundamentals of others'
beliefs, which can damage their psyche, which is morally wrong.

><sigh> Look, you might try to argue that my desire to discuss them was not
>under my control, but the presence of two non-trivial replies to your
>postings should sufficiently evince that I DO want to discuss them. I WANT
>to discuss them, with you and with others, somewhere else. Is this

No, certainly not. But we are currently breaking the rules of the Extropian
cult :->. We would have to move this discussion to a different mailing list.

>Are you trying to tell me that extropy can be discussed in one place, and
>one place only, and that this is it?

No. I am trying to tell you that the Extropy mailing list is the best place
to discuss extropy. Not the transhuman mailing list, not the sliced-bread
mailing list and certainly not the alien visitor mailing list.

>The Extropy Institute only BEGAN in 1992, and already the "Extropian
>Principles" have undergone several revisions. To my knowledge, the
>majority of extropians did not reject the changes in each revision.

Then let's see what will happen when I suggest a change.

>As Max pointed out (in a much cruder fashion than I would have liked), you
>have in no way proven that extropianism is a cult.

See my reply to Natasha and Ian.

Erik Moeller