Mainstream Baptist

Being an out, proud, vocal atheist, one thing I seem to have trouble communicating to people is just how very little I care about their own personal beliefs. I dont care if you love Jesus any more than I care if you love Big Macs or tap dancing or MAC lipstick. Its your life, whatever.

My problem is, people just cant keep their hands to themselves.

For instance, it is against the religion of Muslims to generate artistic renditions of their choice of deity. That means that Muslims cant make a velvet painting of Mohamed riding a bucking bronco. I can.

Alternatively, in some branches of Christianity, abortions are against the rules. That means these branches of Christianity cant get abortions or do fetal stem-cell research. This religious rule should have no impact on my life, as I am not a member of their churches.

Now, if I am being particularly ‘civil’, I could, for the sake of a dinner party discretely move my painting of Mohamed riding a bucking bronco out of the dining room, and refrain from making jokes about how I am serving dead baby for dinner for the comfort of my Muslim/Christian guests, just like I would make sure to have a vegan/vegetarian option available if I were inviting a vegan/vegetarian to the same dinner party. I am under no real obligation to follow the vegan/vegetarians ‘rules’ (its not like they have a real food allergy that could kill them), or the Muslims/Christians, but I would try to be accommodating within reason.

Religious people appear to have a very difficult time understanding this point, though I think it is rather easy to ‘get’.

I also dont care what people personally believe in as long as it doesnt broach into my profession– If you are making scientifically testable claims, and those claims are proven to be false, then you need to accept reality and move on with your life. The Earth is not 6,000 years old. Humans cannot procreate via parthenogenesis with todays technology, much less Bronze/Iron-Age technology. HIV-1 causes AIDS. Vaccines do not cause autism. Mega-doses of Vitamin C dont cure cancer. Meh.

People who continue to make these statements, whether its Francis Collins or Peter Duesberg, are going to have to deal with being at the wrong-end of my bitch-stick until they accept reality.

And the thing is, I just plain dont have patience for people who dont understand these two simple points, because 1) I grew up with and was educated by theists who ‘get it’, 2) I regularly interact with theists who ‘get it’, even here in Oklahoma.

Example: Dr. Bruce Prescott. Baptist as all get out. Got a PhD in theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (same place Dr. Dr. William Dembski ‘teaches’). Pastor. Hosts a religious talk-radio program here in Oklahoma…

And a completely normal, nice, rational guy– President of our local Americans United chapter. Encourages people to ‘Turn off FOX’. Encourages dialogue between Christians and those of other (or no) faiths. And rather than just complaining about how UNCIVIL us EVIL atheists are, he actually has nice things to say about us heathens:

The greatest irony is that Oklahoma atheists offer more evidence of Christ-like love and charity than many Baptists and evangelical Christians:

Singer, of Oklahoma City, and the group of about eight people held signs and a banner that read, “The hands that help are better than the lips that pray.” Leaders of the group said the banner referred to a food drive they held Thursday

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. — 1 John 3:18

Stuff like this really gets me fantasizing… what would life be like if I could completely and totally not care about what other people believe, because it wasnt ever going to hurt me? Religionists would have to personally struggle with questions about Creation and abortion and homosexuality, but I would be allowed to ignore their personal beliefs, like I can currently ignore whether someone likes milk in their coffee?

Unfortunately, my fantasy is apparently other peoples nightmare.

*sigh*

Comments

  1. #1 Charles
    June 1, 2010

    Here is a more refined model, following Solomonoff

    What is the context in which you are following Solomonoff? What particular publication are you referring to?

    “Evidence” is our observations, encoded into a finite initial segment of a binary string x corresponding to some phenomenon which is described by a probability measure u.

    So, a phenomenon is essentially a probability distribution? A distribution (or measure) defined over what? What are the parameters of this distribution? How are they decided? Furthermore, why does the encoding method (binary strings) even matter? There are more general ways to talk about probabilistic hypotheses (such as in terms of graphical models), without having to get into these specific kinds of details.

    From this we can form the set of true statements which correspond to predicates of the form “for all x (e.g., some finite binary segment), y (another finite binary segment) occurs.

    And what is y?

    Instead, forming a hypothesis that explains the evidence, as outlined above, is the best way to discover true predicates, again as outlined above

    I would accept that evidence-explaining hypotheses entail propositions which hold true in many cases (else the disciplines of engineering would not exist). However, this is a far cry from saying that making use of evidence-explaining hypotheses is the best way to discover truth. To say that it is the “best,” you need, as you stated in your previous comment, a “scoring function” rating how well a particular method discovers truth. What is this function? Would it be formulated in accordance with an evidence-explaining hypothesis? How would it be practically applied, to rate and score the various truth-discovering methods? I don’t see how this could be done.

    I need a meta-logical calculus to formalize this statement, but from the model it should be rather self-evident.

    Self-evident to whom? Even if your model is coherent, it is unclear what you are talking about. It is certainly not clear that your assertion follows.

    But back to the original point – what does any of this have to do with multivalent logic? And how does all of this allow for one to “argue strongly for” the assertion that evidence-explaining hypotheses are the best way to discover truth?

  2. #2 Tyler DiPietro
    June 1, 2010

    “What is the context in which you are following Solomonoff? What particular publication are you referring to?”

    I’m following Solomonoff’s theory of prediction/induction as outlined in Li and Vitanyi’s text.

    “So, a phenomenon is essentially a probability distribution? A distribution (or measure) defined over what?”

    The set of strings over the alphabet you’re using.

    “What are the parameters of this distribution?”

    They vary from phenomenon to phenomenon. In practical applications you’d have to assume a computable distribution (e.g., Gaussian), but Solomonoff considers the more general case of enumerable measures.

    “How are they decided?”

    Repeated applications of Bayes rule using the universal a priori probability as a prior. Solomonoff proved that the squared error converges to zero faster than 1/n in this case.

    “Furthermore, why does the encoding method (binary strings) even matter?”

    It technically doesn’t. Binary strings can be considered the most general because the canonical reference prefix machine that I’m describing encodes over them.

    “And what is y?”

    A finite segment of a binary string. For every initial segment there is a corresponding conditional probability that another follows.

    “However, this is a far cry from saying that making use of evidence-explaining hypotheses is the best way to discover truth. To say that it is the “best,” you need, as you stated in your previous comment, a “scoring function” rating how well a particular method discovers truth. What is this function?”

    I’ve constrained truth to be the class of true predicates as I outlined above.

    “Self-evident to whom?”

    Self-evident to anyone who can consider the premises I’ve started from. It’s like the fact that a unique straight line passes through every pair of points in the Euclidean plane.

    “But back to the original point – what does any of this have to do with multivalent logic?”

    The logic that I’m using is infinitely valued, the predicates probability of being true ranges over [0,1]. And what I’m trying to do is formulate the assertion in some metalogical calculus that would also be infinitely valued (e.g., fuzzy logic) and which assesses the truth discovering quality of the above method.

  3. #3 Tyler DiPietro
    June 1, 2010

    Oh wait, you’re asking about the kind of distribution we’re talking about, not the values of the parameters. Well, in this case, the distribution is obvious Bernoulli, which means the parameters would be p1 and p = (1 – p1). In the case of alphabets with more than two symbols the distribution would be multinomial.

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