Monday, July 22, 2013

Friendly Neighborhood Atheist clean-up crew

A photo from our labors this Saturday at the Esplanade clean-up service event organized by Dan Harris of the Secular Society of MIT. Pictured from l-r: Coree N., John T., Joel T., Ozzie the Esplanade Association horticulturist, Dan H., Zachary B., and Jenna D. Three cheers for putting our Values Into Action.

You'll notice our snazzy Friendly Neighborhood Atheist tee-shirts. If you'd like to buy one now, send us an email and we can make the arrangements; they are $20. However, later this month an email will be coming around the Facebook and Meetup mailing lists, with an order form for several new designs. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Louie's believies

In his feature-length stand-up show "Live at the Beacon Theater," comedian Louis CK makes a frank epistemic confession:
I have a lot of beliefs, and I live by none of them. That's just the way I am. They're just my beliefs. I just like believing them. They're my little believies.
This strikes me as a great way to phrase the universal mismatch between belief and behavior, and needs to be turned into a meme graphic post-haste.

The full show is available on Netflix (the part I quote starts at around 6 minutes in) and may well be on YouTube, too. For more on this subject, see also The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on epistemology, and William Clifford's 1877 essay, "The Ethics of Belief," and my own blogger's teasing-out of a corollary of CK and Clifford's observations.

A corollary from Oscar Wilde: “The value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it.” Contrast this to the wisdom theme of H.P. Lovecraft's tale, “The Call of Cthulhu”: “ he most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” If there were a divinity of perfect rationality, would we not have to call this being either insensate as a stone, or wholly mad? (See also Borges' story "Funes the Memorious" for a case example of how a perfect omnimnemonic could not in practice survive with his reason intact, free to live a life we could call human.) --  ZWB

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

QOTW: Atheists as waterfowl

From a March 2012 commentary in Reason by (former MTV VJ) Kennedy:
You can call atheism a belief system [...] or you can make a stronger assertion and say that atheists and theists, who have conveniently developed hate-tinged froth and vitriol for one another, are quacking and waddling in the same way in different ponds. Either way, they are ducks and atheism is a religion. At least it is in the hands of those who are so religious about their disbelief that they place the weight of the argument on the feathery shoulders of their believing brothers and sisters.