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Rondam

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As far as blog-intros go, Rondam Ramblings’s is one of my favorites — both because I happen to agree with much of it (and thus, of course, think highly of such a sound writer) and because it honors the blog’s name from digressive paragraph 1. Here four clips:

From the better late than never department…

I have finally gotten around to creating a blog. Where to begin? I bounce back and forth between feeling like I have so much to say, and feeling like everything worth saying has been said a million times already.

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The central tenet of science in which I choose to place my faith is that experiment is the ultimate arbiter of truth. Any idea that is not consistent with experimental evidence must be wrong.

There are two important limitations to science: it doesn’t tell us which ideas are right, only which ones are wrong. Therefore all knowledge is tentative, all ideas subject to being overturned at any time by new experimental evidence. And it is limited in scope. It applies only to ideas that are testable by experiment. So it can provide no guidance on the question of, say, whether modern art is or isn’t art..

There is a third problem, which is that many different ideas are consistent with our current suite of experimental data. To choose among them I choose to believe in Occam’s razor: all else being equal, a simple idea is more likely to be true than a complicated one. This principle is strictly subservient to the first principle. If experiment rules out all the simple ideas, then the remaining complicated idea must be true. But if experiment is silent, then simpler ideas are preferable to complicated ones.

It is actually very easy to “do experiments” that validate the scientific worldview because we are absolutely surrounded by technology. In fact, it is barely possible to exist in this world without doing so dozens of times a day. Every time we turn on a light switch or start a car or use a computer we personally experience the validity of a huge number of scientific claims. No technology has ever been created by prayer.

Very few people really take seriously the idea that morals come from God. Many people think they take it seriously, but I think they are lying to themselves. To see this, ask yourself: if God said that raping children was OK, would that make it OK? Only the most radical fundamentalist would answer yes. Most people get quite upset if you actually ask them this question because it forces to confront the cognitive dissonance between what they think they believe — that morals come from God — and what they actually believe — that they “just know” what is right and wrong, like that raping children is wrong, even if God says otherwise.

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