moritheism

Apropos a conversation I was having with Gavin the other day about ID, Robin Hanson comments on Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion:

To my mind most discussion misses the key distinction between these two claims:

1. A great intelligent power influenced the structure of our universe.
2. Such a power intervenes in your life, e.g., answering your prayer.

Relevant experts do indeed consider the first claim to be within reason, but only a minority consider the second claim to be reasonable. Most academic debate is on the first claim, but the second claim is what interests most people. Maybe part of the problem is that we have a word, “atheist,” for skeptics about the first claim, but no such moniker regarding the second claim. Suggestions?

My suggestion: morietheism. Mori- means dead. You can play too! Here’s a list of Latin elements.

UPDATE: Someone suggested ‘deism‘. What’s the fun in inventing new words if old ones already do the job for you?

UPDATE 2: Meanwhile IDers and neoaths call each other “babbling idiots” and “goofballs”, none seem to notice they’re talking past each other. There is no contradiction between the idea of a non-intervening, all-powerful god and science. None. Evolution is the science of WHAT causes changes in species over a long span and God helps some people understand WHY. What and why, last I checked, are two distinct sorts of questions to ask. It is NOT logically necessary for the answer to the “why?” questions to preclude the answers to the “what?” questions. The same is true of the reverse.

UPDATE 3: A good comment at this post:

There is a nuance I think is involved with many if not most creationists. The distinction they see isn’t between accident and purpose but between accident and intent. This article is particularly clear about it. To the author, “nature” is the same as “chance” and is to be contrasted with and is the opposite of “intelligence.”

Mere purpose (in the generalized god-as-sustainer-of-nature concept of theistic evolution) is not sufficient. Life, particularly human life (and, ultimately, each individual human), must be the intended result of God’s deliberate action.

UPDATE 4: How is it even remotely possible that the Church’s views on this matter are the most reasonable? “There is a world of difference between believing that we are a product of evolution and that we are an accident of evolution!” and “The world today faces a crisis of meaning. Faith gives meaning. Evolution is perfectly acceptable and does not contradict faith. However, evolution is not an end in itself. In other words, it is not God!”

7 thoughts on “moritheism”

  1. Hm, “We are not Some Accident of Evolution.” The author quotes the pope: “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”

    Are you a deist?

  2. Me? No. I hang with those wussies, the agnostics.

    If I believe in God (or the afterlife), I believe in him as a metaphor. But metaphors are pretty damned important. Take the metaphor of money, for example.

    Like I said to Gavin, I think God is a fact like money (or marriages or marriage ceremonies or the man in a funny suit that presides over a marriage ceremony is called a priest) are facts. They’re facts because we collectively agree about them.

    None of these, least of which God, are facts because of their physics or their material aspects.

  3. Hey, I think we actually agree about something.

    Agnosticism is the only scientifically defensible position, anyway.

  4. Well, my “agnostics are wusses” comment was intended to provoke…

    See I’m a non-wussie agnostic. Those are the ones that don’t want to take a stand because they want the appearance of being scientific/objective but they don’t want to piss off the big guy (given an even infinitesimal chase the ‘big guy’ exists). I’m not one of those.

    I’m a agnostic because I believe that both Neoaths and Believers can be right. There is no natural explanation for God and in this sense none exist. That should make the Neoaths happy.

    Now, there are truths that aren’t material facts, though. These don’t have to be mystical, supernatural truths. (I can’t make myself believe in ghosts.) That my desk is hard when I tap on it is such a truth. Hardness is an emergent property of the crystalline structure of molecules that make up my desk. Hardness is, in and of itself, not a physical fact.

    The facts I gave above (money and priests) are maybe more easy to swallow.

    In this sense, there is a God.

    I can’t call myself a theist though because I want to maintain an air of scientific objectivity… er wait…

    I don’t call myself a theist because I don’t believe in a guy sitting on a thrown in heaven and I don’t think people go anywhere when they die in a physical sense. In other words, God’s not a guy and heaven’s not a place.

  5. I think that’s why most theists are so adamantly against atheists and agnostics. They really need active engagement from an interested, omniscient, omnipotent being. A father figure. Taken alone, point 1 doesn’t satisfy that need.

    The most venomous arguments against non-theism follow this pattern:
    Without fear of damnation, there is nothing to keep a non-theist in line. Therefore, non-theists cannot be trusted.

    The unspoken partner to that point is that without promise of eternal reward, people have no incentive to do good. Their world view demands a referee to witness their good deeds and punish injustices against them.

    We definitely fall into the minority by admitting ignorance. One big portion of our culture demands faith in the divine. Another huge portion of our culture demands knowledgeability and ridicules ignorance. Theists meet both demands, and are accepted. Outspoken atheists reject the first demand, but fold on the second.

    Agnostics reject both demands, and just piss everyone off. That alone would be a good enough reason for me.

  6. I agree IDers are arguing point one but they hope for point two. I do think they’re being a little disingenuous. Actually, I have a fairly low opinion of IDers in general (I saw a dude speak on campus here a couple months ago… I wasn’t impressed).

    This takes us far afield but I think theist have a point about morality. Morals don’t come from physical facts, they’re group norms and in that sense they are transcendent.

  7. Theists make me uncomfortable, but I’ll concede that theism is useful. Before calling to abolish theism, I’d want to see something take over its role of conveying those norms. Going around with a bullhorn calling and making fun of churchgoers isn’t going to cut it.

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