I've been tagged by OTD to fill out this questionnaire, so here goes:
Q1. How would you define "atheism"?
I would define it as the lack of a belief in any gods or supernatural forces (whatever that means). Sometimes people make a distinction between my definition ("weak atheism") and the positive belief that there is no god ("strong atheism"). However, there do not seem to be very many strong atheists, so in common usage we can usually use the term "atheism" as meaning "weak atheism".
Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?
Yes. Orthodox Judaism (Lubavitch, specifically).
Q3. How would you describe "Intelligent Design", using only one word?
Q4. What scientific endeavor really excites you?
The search for Dark Matter and Dark Energy. We are pretty sure (from astronomical observations) that most of the "stuff" in the universe is not ordinary matter and energy, but we have no idea what that "stuff" is! (Actually we have a lot of ides, but we don't know if any of them are correct, yet).
Q5. If you could change one thing about the "atheist community", what would it be and why?
I would like it to be more vocal/visible. People shouldn't have to feel the need to be in the atheist closet. If civilization survives the problems we are currently facing, it will likely be because we abandon our ancient dogmas and superstitions. People will be more willing to do this when they realize there are a lot of good people out there who have the courage to be rational.
Q6. If your child came up to you and said "I'm joining the clergy", what would be your first response?
I would tell them to do so if it makes them happy, but I would encourage them not to indoctrinate their children into their chosen faith. Then I would try to convince them that they can feel fulfilled without faith, but I'd accept their decision either way.
Q7. What's your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?
Most of the arguments are pretty silly. One I especially like refuting is Pascal's Wager, which basically says its smarter to believe in god because the price of false belief (nothing) is less than the price of false disbelief (hell). There are many ways to refute this, including to note that there are many possible and mutually exclusive gods to believe in, so which god should I pick?
Q8. What's your most "controversial" (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?
I think I pretty much toe the party line. I think some atheists treat religion with too much undue respect, but that has been changing as of late.
Q9. Of the "Four Horsemen" (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favorite, and why?
Can I pick a fifth Horseman? If so, PZ Myers is my favorite. He's just so chutzpadik. If not, I'll pick Dawkins, his arguments are usually organized more clearly than the others, IMO.
Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?
My hypothetical kid who wants to join the clergy. If you mean a real person, then I'll pick the Pope.
Sheva Yipoil Tzadick V’cum
4 weeks ago