commented on my previous post on uncertainty and how that is important to both science and religion. He made a number of very good points and I’ve been trying to find time to reply to them properly but I’m beginning to think this whole “free time” thing is another myth and if I don’t start it’ll never get done…

> New evidence invalidates the existing model and forces you to theorise again.

Only quoting this bit as it allows me to put a link into the current In Our Time podcast which is about William of Ockham.

> I’m curious, though, how this logic fits with your previously rather militant atheism.

I’m not sure which piece of logic Andy is referring to here so I can’t comment on that bit. “Militant atheism” is certainly a term I very much would have used to describe myself between about 15 and 25. These days I’m still an atheist but the amount of effort it takes to get people to query their deeply held PoVs is just too much these days.

> You’ve always fallen into the Dawkins camp before – a refusal to understand how “otherwise intelligent people” can believe in any kind of
> deity.

Yes, I would agree with that. Prior to 9/11 I would have thought that having an otherwise “rational” mindset would make you query the Big Guy in the Sky but apparently mental compartmentalisation can be impressively complex.

Now, the real curx of the matter – and the whole point about uncertainty – is really not whether or not there is / are unknowable deity / deities as we can (while living) never inquire into their nature or in any way test their existence (hence faith). No, the important thing is when it is claimed by anyone that this / these being(s) start to interfere with the Real World ™. Then by that very action they not only cease to be “supernatural” (since they are then part of the natural world) but also their actions are measurable, knowable and “rational” (as in you would re-define rationality to encompass them).

In short – to say something is uncertain is fine in so much as it is asking for further investigation and refinement. To say something is unknowable to is to say that it does not interact with the Real World ™ and therefore (as we enter metaphysics and a whole other ballgame) is usually discussed in a completely different kind of conversation.

> Refuting the logic of Middle Eastern monotheism doesn’t touch on anyone else’s faith

Depends on how you do it I guess – God Delusion is on my (very long) list of things yet to be read. If you make a strong case for the unlikelyness of a deity – bringing in probability to go with uncertainty – that surely expands into whatever “supernatural” system you’re discussing?

> And this, frankly, is the kind of logic you tend to expound when posting.

Interesting – I’m all for having my arguments torn apart – best way to learn.

> But to absolutely agree with you: the scientific model should not dismiss possibilities without investigation. However this is what the
> majority of the scientific establishment has done for the last 150+ years.

True to a point – however if you have 1,000 people lined up who say they and can read your mind and the first 999 obviously can’t is there any point is testing the last guy (especially when the money to do so could be spent on something with a much higher chance of success)?

Anyway! The main point of this post isn’t even anything specifically to do with this. I’m proposing that the people who are interested in this kind of thing (me,





, etc) should really make an effort to meet up at someone’s place one weekend and pick a subject like this one (or ethics or whatever) and spend the evening thrashing it out. I’d very much be up for making this a regular (say bi-monthly) long term thing.

Who’s interested?