Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Interview with Infidel753

The following is an interview with Infidel753, the writer of the blog of the same name...obviously.

On your blog you say “that it has been my great fortune to live my whole life free of ‘spiritual’ concepts of any kind.” Do you contribute your immunity to religious B.S. to your skeptical character, or your upbringing? How might you tell that you are an infidel by nature or nurture?

Definitely upbringing. My parents were immigrants from Britain and, like most British people, not religious. They never tried to indoctrinate me as an atheist, they just didn't emphasize the whole subject. I was given a kids' book of Bible stories, but never told it had any different status than Aesop or Little Red Riding Hood or any other fantasy-type story. I barely had much sense of what religion was until well into my teens, and I viewed it just as a phenomenon within anthropology and history.
I reject the idea that any person is a believer or unbeliever "by nature" in the sense of something innate. Anyone could be either, depending on circumstances.

You identify as a transhumanist. If you could sign-up for one technological improvement that might be available in the next hundred years (if not now) what would it be?

Radical life extension. The longer I'm around, the more other innovations I'll be there to experience -- including yet further progress in life extension. Death has always been humanity's greatest enemy, and the total defeat and eradication of death is the highest and noblest goal we can pursue.
Aside from that, full-immersion virtual reality. An unlimited range of experience -- eventually not restricted even by the extremely limited range of senses evolution has given our physical bodies.

The tagline for your blog is “If It Isn’t Fun, What’s The Point?” I find this an unusual mantra for an atheist blog. How does it fit in with your worldview?

Atheism to me isn't so much a world-view as it is just the default way I am, any more than, say, not believing in unicorns constitutes a world-view. The tag-line really does reflect how I think -- if something isn't enjoyable, is it really necessary to do it at all? Sometimes it is, of course, but I prefer to keep non-enjoyable activities to the minimum I can get away with.

I actually change that tag-line pretty often. Other ones I've used include "Everything spiritual is a lie!" and "Quia tenebrae non obscurabuntur, et nox sicut dies illuminabitur*."

Your blog always manages to find great content for your “link round-ups.” I’ve recently started rounding-up my own links. What’s your criteria for a link worthy post?

First off, it has to be something I personally find interesting. The blog is for fun, not duty (see tag-line), and I make no effort to be comprehensive or completist. Second, I aim for variety. It's easy to let the link-round-ups -- and the whole blog -- get dominated by politics, especially in an election year, but this isn't a political blog any more than it's an atheism blog -- it's an anything-I'm-interested-in blog. A movie review, a joke, an interesting picture, or something historical or bizarre or sexy or shocking might make the cut. If I can get even one person to click on something completely outside the range of subjects he or she would normally pursue, I figure the link round-up has served its purpose.

As atheists, we often talk about the harm caused by religion. What do you see as the primary benefit of religion, if any?

I honestly see no benefit to it at all. All the good it supposedly does is actually done by people, and I think most of that good would still be done by people -- likely the same people -- with or without religion. Religion does provide people with comfort in the face of death, by convincing them that there's an afterlife, but even that is actually pernicious in modern times because it distracts us from pursuing technological solutions to the menace of aging and death, solutions which are now close to being within our grasp. Even if that were not the case, comfort based on a false premise can't be described as genuinely good, in my opinion.

Who is your atheist role model? Why?

I don't need a role model to "do" the equivalent of not believing in unicorns. I admire the militant fighters against religion such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Ibn Warrâq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others like them.

Is there anything that would convince you that there is a god? If so, provide an example.

"The eye is complicated, therefore God" definitely doesn't cut the mustard. It would have to be the same kind of evidence that routinely convinces me other entities exist. For example, I've never personally met President Obama, but I have no doubt that he exists. If God were shown to exist on the basis of the same kind of evidence that is available for the existence of President Obama, I'd believe it. Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath.

Religionists have challenged me on this point before -- one once said "Nothing could convince you -- even if you saw a dead person rise from the grave, you'd just dismiss it as a hallucination." My response was that if I did see such a thing, it would be irrational not to consider the strong likelihood that I was hallucinating. After all, there exist many documented cases of people hallucinating, but no documented cases of corpses actually returning to life, so which would be the more likely explanation? Even if a corpse did return to life, it wouldn't necessarily imply the existence of the Biblical Jehovah, since other possible explanations -- some rare and previously-unobserved natural phenomenon, or unknown persons using some highly-advanced technology unknown to the rest of the world -- would also need to be considered. No, show me evidence like the evidence that's routinely accepted for the existence of anything else.


  1. You see a miracle of any kind with your own eyes and still you would question the believers. That'd piss 'em off even more.

    Back in the cornfield a few weeks ago now much of what I heard and saw was god nonsense. Sheez that gets so old.

  2. Great interview. I particularly like this bit

    "All the good [religion] supposedly does is actually done by people, and I think most of that good would still be done by people -- likely the same people -- with or without religion."