Friday, January 30, 2009

Purple Monkeys & Big Macs

Wow, lotsa repsonses to this atheism topic. Two for starters, first from Kelly Kapoor:
I read PZ Meyer's blog from time to time (he's a bio professor at UM-Crookston; the blog is vehemently anti-religion) and he has an interesting analogy about religion I'm fond of:

The reason religion is so successful is that it taps into our primal-brains in much the same way that a Big Mac does -- only more so. Religion gained its foothold by hijacking the need to give purpose at a time when humans had only their imagination -- as opposed to the evidence and reason that we have today -- to fathom their world. Spirits and demons were the explanation for illnesses that we now know are caused by bacterial diseases and genetic disorders. The whims of the gods were why earthquakes, volcanos, floods and droughts occurred. Our ancestors were driven to sacrifice everything from goats to one another to satisfy those gods.

PZ Meyer's blog is Pharyngula, for those interested. I agree that he is vehemently anti-religion, although he can be quite humorous.

And from Quint:
If someone asked you "Is there a purple monkey living on the moon?" and gave you the choice of answering "yes," "no," or "I don't know," you would technically have to answer "I don't know" because it is impossible to prove with 100% certainty that there is no purple monkey living on the moon. However, I think "no" is also a pretty reasonable shorthand substitute for "I don't know with 100% certainty, but I am 99.99999999% certain that there is not a purple monkey living on the moon." Along the same lines, any reasonable atheist would readily admit that they technically do not know whether god exists. The accusation that atheists believe with 100% certainty that god does not exist is a tired strawman commonly trotted out by theists and agnostics who either don't understand atheism or are trying to make a cheap point in a debate.

I think for all intents and purposes there is no difference between atheists and agnostics; both would probably estimate the probability of god's existence at a very small number. I just hope that agnostics have always answered "I don't know" instead of "no" to any factual question they have ever been asked.

I particularly agree with the final statement here. More emails in a bit...