Absolute Trust in Our Senses: How to Build a System of Principles Without Religion
What would it take to create a system of principles that guide our behavior without a religious grounding?
What would it take to create a system of principles that guide our behavior without a religious grounding? Lex Bayer, a non-profit organizer, and John Figdor, a chaplain, who both serve the Stanford University community, boldly attempt to find out in their book Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart. The two begin by establishing the assumptions such a system would require since, as they adroitly argue, overcoming philosohpical skepticism is not a realistic goal.
Bayer and Figdor take a cue from fourteenth-century philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, whose Ockham's razor holds that the explanation requiring the fewest assumptions while explaining all of the facts is most likely to be correct.
From this position they arrive at three core assumptions:
1. An external reality exists.
2. Our senses perceive this external reality.
3. Language and thought are tools for describing and understanding what our senses perceive.
After some argumentation, the authors arrive at these more developed assumptions which they hold absolutely true:
1. An external reality exists, and "truth" signifies an accurate description of that reality.
2. Our five senses are our only means for perceiving this reality.
3. Language and thought offer ways to analyze, communicate about, and contemplate the nature of reality.
Here, author and journalist Robert Wright addresses the question of whether or not humans must abandon religion to achieve true moral progress:
Read more at Salon
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Pay attention to the decisions made by the provinces.
- China leads the world in numerous green energy categories.
- CO2 emissions in the country totaling more than all coal emissions in the U.S. have recently emerged.
- This seems to be an administrative-induced blip on the way towards a green energy tipping point.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
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Or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.
- Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
- Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
- The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Calling all big thinkers!
- The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
- The odds of any one ticket winning are about 1 in 300 million.
- This might be a record-setting jackpot, but that doesn't mean you have a better chance of winning.
Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
- Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
- Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
The Boring Company plans to offer free rides in its prototype tunnel in Hawthorne, California in December.
- The prototype tunnel is about 2 miles long and contains electric skates that travel at top speeds of around 150 mph.
- This is the first tunnel from the company that will be open to the public.
- If successful, the prototype could help the company receive regulatory approval for much bigger projects in L.A. and beyond.
Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper claims a recent study in The Lancet is flawed.
- The low-carbohydrate group in a recent Lancet study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers.
- The study was not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment.
- Harper has been in ketosis for six years, and says it has profound effects on cancer patients, among other chronic ailments.
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