© Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

Oooh, is that a tailwind?

I’m three days into the chapter on what atheists tend to believe, and what they tend not to believe, and why.

I was worried about this one in deadline terms for three reasons:

• It’s not as cut and dried as the history and works section
• For reasons I won’t bore you with, I have just 3 weeks this finish this 25% of the book, not 5
• 3 < 5 But ooh! To my surprise, I've caught me a tailwind. This chapter is flying off the fingers, 2K a day without breaking a sweat, and I finish each day with enough energy to grouse about how hard my day was.

I think I know why it’s going well: I had to double-check every date and name and fact in the history section, while this part is basically blogging — expressing what are hopefully educated opinions on things I’ve thought about, read about, and written about for years.

It was also a challenge to make some parts of the history engaging, but this actually DING!

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This was written on Thursday, 16. August 2012 at 14:53 and was filed under The Dummies Diary. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Congrats on the tailwind, Dale.

    Regarding beliefs, have you noticed that some of our more strident non-theist brethren and sisteren assert that powerful personal experiences and feelings, and the testimony of trusted others about their own powerful experiences and feelings, do not constitute “evidence?”

    Of course such experiences and testimony are evidence – just not sufficient evidence to generate belief in concepts that the rest of reality seems to either refute or bring strongly into question.

    It seems to me that the key to what atheists believe / do not believe is that we most respect evidence that can be confirmed with greater or lesser effort by EVERYONE, even skeptics of a given proposition.

    And the other side of the same coin is that we tend to deny propositions for which the weight of universally verifiable evidence serves as falsification.

    Another way of saying this is that we are humble enough to know that our very human desires and fears are fully capable of causing us and all our fellows to deceive ourselves. The evidence for that proposition, of course, is easily confirmed by anyone any day of any week.

    And we nonbelievers are, at least in many areas of life including that of religion, courageous enough to prefer honesty and reality to comfort and convenience. Our self-deception “radar” is particularly tuned in when some belief or another might give us a “warm fuzzy.”
    Not that we don’t like “warm fuzzies” as much as any arm-waving believer at the front of the church or “The Secret” devotee. We’re not masochists, just realists.

    (On the other hand and foot, btw, there are the believers who aren’t so much into “warm fuzzies,” but instead, for example, engage in cross-continent pilates. Ever seen Herzog’s “Wheel of Time?” )

    Comment: Brad – 18. August 2012 @ 8:26 am

  2. Rah rah! Go, Dale, Go!

    I look forward to seeing the finished book. Knowing your writing, I suspect that even this veteran atheist will find surprises in this Dummies book.

    (And thanks for sharing – I know how difficult it is to keep up “just the old blog” while you’re busy with important real-world things.)

    Comment: TimMills – 19. August 2012 @ 11:44 am

  3. @Brad: Quite so. I blogged long ago about the misperception that religious belief isn’t based on evidence:

    It’s the rare believer indeed who tethers belief to faith alone. Religious folks have evidence to support their beliefs — mountains and mountains of evidence. No one says, “I have absolutely no evidence for the existence of God, but I believe anyway”…they’d offer the human eye, a sunrise, a seemingly answered prayer, a feeling of transcendence, a near-death experience, the Bible, a random act of kindness, Mother Teresa, “the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.”

    It’s not evidence I find at all convincing, but it is evidence.

    Comment: Dale – 19. August 2012 @ 8:03 pm

  4. @TimMills: Hi Tim! I was just thinking about you the other day. Foundation Beyond Belief has an impressive new intern who’s connected to U Edinburgh linguistics — getting her MSc, I believe. I know you’re back in Canada now, but do you know a Cathleen O?

    Comment: Dale – 19. August 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  5. Dale, I don’t know her. But I’m always delighted to hear of people doing interesting things in linguistics and in humanism. I’m happy to hear that the student humanist society in Edinburgh continues to thrive.

    Comment: TimMills – 20. August 2012 @ 4:05 pm

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