Reason as a moral obligation

Below the fold is my talk from this last weekend on reason as a moral obligation.  It’s a new talk that is still getting tweaked, so be merciless.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • dcortesi

    Dunno ’bout “merciless” but these are the notes I made while listening.

    First, re “Hope” — praying and hoping for god to intervene is NOT what most christians mean by the “hope” that nonbelief would take away. Your comments– about the asteroid and all, around 19-20 min — are trivial and completely fail to address these forms of hope. That cheapens your talk. You need to acknowledge this issue more sympathetically and carefully.

    What they fear losing is their hope for a better world that will justify, or at least explain, the pain and evil of this one.

    Their hope that they will be reunited with the loved ones they grieve for.

    Their hope that their sins will be forgiven — that in the end, someone bigger than them will look at them and say, you did what you could, it’s all right, you can drop the guilt that you shouldered back then, and all the secret things you did that hurt people, I knew about them, and it’s all right.

    Their hope that, in the end, their lives will be justified as having been worth living. That’s the actual reward of entering heaven, you know: not that it’s a pass to a permanent keg party, but that it’s a moment of ultimate validation, an eternal moment of understanding the rationale for all the evil insanity of life and seeing how it was worthwhile anyway.

    You need to understand this, and project that understanding more clearly and caringly. I don’t think you want to get into trying to offer a substitute for all that, or any of that. But you need to show that you aren’t blowing these very serious concerns off as trivia.

    Two, your point about (in effect) the fungibility of faith — the equivalence, and how all beliefs based on faith are equivalent? Around 22-23m. This is a subtle point and you are not bringing it out clearly. It’s a point that deserves to be made, but you need to make it much more clearly, preferably with examples. Maybe this is the time to make the point about the 9/11 pilots, or make it again.

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  • Fabio García

    Yay! JT’s talk! Sadly, i can’t watch this right now ): I’ll probably get to it tonight.

  • Savant

    Hi Jt. Really enjoyed the talk; wish there was more of an active Atheist presence up here in Alberta, Canada. We sort of need it here!

    I can’t seem to find much to critique about the talk, unfortunately! I was going to comment on your cadence, but after listening to it a second time I have to retract that – you’ve got good public speaking skills, and the talk is nice and light and informal. So if that’s what you’re going for, good on you!

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