Friday, December 2, 2011

I am an indexed reasoner and a religious hobbyist

I will use the word "indexed" here thanks to John Wilkins' Evolving Thoughts article "Atheism, agnosticism and theism 5: Scope and indexing" - wherein he illustrates that "doxastic attitudes" can be indexed to specific claims ... which is a fancy way of saying that beliefs can be stronger or weaker about specific subclasses of a general class. Regarding the existence of gods, then, you can be a gnostic atheist (you know god doesn't exist) - or more specifically, you can be a gnostic atheist about Thor (you know that Thor doesn't exist) - but an agnostic atheist about the "god of the philosophers" (you believe god doesn't exist, but you can't know for sure).

That said, I reason about some things, and fly by the seat of my pants on others - therefore I am an "indexed reasoner". This is the most general statement I can make about my stance on reality, one that, I'll bet, is widely held.

One subclass of things that I can hold beliefs about is the supernatural, and a subclass of that is entities that have influence over physical reality, and a subclass of that is entities such as YHWH, Baal, Asherah, Vishnu and the like.

I don't believe in the supernatural, but if it can be shown that it exists, I'll change my belief. It would be irrational to withhold belief in the supernatural if it can be demonstrated that it exists. There's no reason to hold a belief in the supernatural today - except as a hobby - because it's never been demonstrated to exist, has no effect in the real world, and doesn't affect me specifically. Logically, it follows that I feel the same way about gods in general, or YHWH, Baal, Asherah, Vishnu or any other named deity specifically - since they are a sub-subclass of the class that I call "supernatural". There is no value to me in believing that god exists. I understand the positive feelings that belief in deities and participation in religion may bestow on the believer/participant ... I just don't value it except as a hobby.

Therefore my claim that "I am an indexed reasoner and a religious hobbyist".

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