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

Dan Fabulich (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 15:20:52 -0400


Erik Moeller wrote:
>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.

Right, of course. This all makes sense under your definition of control.
However, as noted, I maintain a different definition of "control." And
again, remember that I'm using MY definition in quotes, to keep them

>>- 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.

... which it seems you forgot here. Of course everything is coercive when
there is no control. However, as you should also be able to see, there is
"non-coercion" under my definition of "control." I really do understand
your point, even if I disagree with it.

>>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.

See my point about morality below.

>2.2) Axiom: Destroying the fundamentals of others' can damage their psyche
>and thereby reduce their well-being.

THIS, I think, is the axiom over which we most disagree. *I* would say
that if a person desired to listen and thereby have their fundamentals
destroyed, and they did so, then they would actually be BETTER off as a
result, because they got what they desired. (By axiom A2.2.) I would go
on to say that since your axiom does not seem to take this into account,
you have an entirely different system of moral value than I do. As you may
have already noticed, I am a utilitarian, and believe utility to be
intrisically valuable. What, precisely, is your theory of morality?

(As a side note, I'm pleased to see that we're so rigorously challenging
each other's assumptions in this debate... it helps keep the mind alert.)

I've snipped the further discussion aboubt whether you're allowed to
critique here as I'm waiting for someone to reply to the "ANTI:" point.
Also, I'll reply to your "cult" post later today.

Version: PGP for Personal Privacy 5.5.3