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I agree with ciphergoth that LW is inpenetrable to a newcomer. Even if they could penetrate, the whole downvoting thing is about as unwelcoming as you can get.

I can only conclude that LW is not meant to increase the number of rationalists, it's meant to get ideas on how to increase the number of rationalists.


I find my mind tends to wander when I read dead-tree books.

Interesting. I have the opposite problem My mind tends to wander when reading stuff on the internet. To truly comprehend what I see on my computer screen, I have to print it and read it from a piece of paper.

Perhaps this is because I need to highlight passages and make notes in the margins. If it was easy to do this with anything I read on the internet, maybe my ability to comprehend from the computer screen would be just as good?


Roko said "do you have any reason or evidence pointing your conclusion?"

First of all, I wasn't concluding anything. As I said, it's just a suspicion. Is there a rule that all speculation on this web site is downvoted?

My suspicion comes from being impressed by the work of Ken Wilber. He is a case in point that I am thinking of. Here is a brief introduction to his work:


Eliezer said: "Even the surveys are comparing the average religious person to the average atheist, not the most advanced theologians to the most advanced rationalists."

Very true. Wouldn't it be a kicker if that was done and we found out that the most advanced theologians ARE the most advanced rationalists? I suspect the chances of something like this being true are higher than most of us think.


logi's comments are in quotes.

"Emotional manipulation is like propaganda".

I'm not talking about emotional manipulation. I'm talking about a healthy emotional life, one that provides authentic happiness. Emotions are wonderful so long as they're guided by reason.

"Can't we just tell people the truth?" Yes, absolutely!

Apparently logi has given up on the idea the transformation, meaning, and willpower are achievable without doing long-term damage to oneself. I totally disagree, it is possible if we just open up our thinking a little bit.

"I'm here for the truth" So am I!


logi said, "Do we really need to simulate drugs to be taken seriously?"

Yes, so long as the competition offers something like it. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at age 12, and it was a lasting emotional high that only recently have I been able to reproduce (at age 50). At age 12, my behavior and life really did improve considerably (as well as those around me) for a long period of time, until I finally backslid. I become rational at age 20 (and was quite ashamed of the personal Lord and Savior thing), and wasn't able to reproduce the postive effects that I experienced at age 12 until only very recently, at age 50. Fortunately, I was able to do so without giving up rationality. In fact, rationality is key to a lasting Transformation.


Great article. However, there’s one more item that needs to be added to the list to really differentiate us from religious institutions, and that item needs to become the new #1: Offer Transformation that actually works. That is, make being alive a significantly more meaningful experience for people who participate. Do this as well as items #1 thru #10 and we’ll be more popular than any existing religion. The kind of transformation religion offers used to work OK, but not so much anymore because the religious world-view hasn't been updated to reflect current knowledge. People sense that religion doesn’t speak very well to the world as we now know it through science, but they don’t know where else to go.

Most UU (Unitarian-Universalist) congregations already practice items #2 thru #10, and many are working hard on getting better at #1. Maybe that explains why UUs have 1,094 groups, way more than any other class of skeptics. But, so far, UU's don't have a good plan for Transformation either (I've been a UU Humanist for 25 years).


pre, if we are to be successful, there needs to be some attitude adjustment on our part. We need to gain some humility, and some respect for what religion has accomplished in the past several thousand years.

We wouldn't be infiltrating, we would be transforming, in the spirit of Martin Luther and Paul the Apostle.

There are many Christian churches that are dying because their theology doesn't speak to people today, and they know it. Mainline Protestants are the most obvious examples, but the evangelicals now realize they are in trouble too:

Many, many, Christians are desperate for renewal. We have a tremendous opportunity to provide it for them, if we can steer Christian theology back to its original intent, which is reverence for knowledge. It's quite possible that a sub-group of Gnostics, or knowers, wrote the New Testament. I'll post more on this later.

So, we aren't corrupting the Christian religion. I think it is quite likely we're restoring it back to it's original intent.

If you don't think this can be orchestrated, take a look at what just one person, Michael Dowd, has been able to accomplish in just a few years. Christianity is ready to hear a new Gospel, and I hope Judiasm, Islam, and other religions are too.

So I get a karma point for commenting on someone's comment about my comment? Getting to 20 points may be easier than I thought.


The idea of rationalist taskforces has its appeal, but given the rate of accelerating change we simply don’t have time to develop a sense of community from scratch which can replace the millennia of development that’s gone into religious institutions. Our best shot is to TRANSFORM existing religious institutions into something that is compatible with rationality (and this requires some transformation on our part too – I’ll talk about this below). The Protestant reformation happened in about a dozen or so decades. Given the trouble that churches are having right now, it’s reminiscent of the discontent people had with the Catholic church in 1517. This time, however, I think the new reformation can happen in just a few decades, because of better technology and communication.

So what transformation do us rationalists need to make? All of the talk I see on LW and OB seems to be about abolishing religious institutions (or watch them wither and die), rather than transforming them. This is not rational, IMHO, because doing a remodeling of religion should be a lot faster than tearing down the whole building and constructing another one from scratch. But a remodel job means that the new tenants (us) will have to find ways to embrace some of the old architecture which up to now we have found unappealing. Examples: Faith is interpreted to mean Trust in the emergent nature of the universe, rather than some sort of belief. God is interpreted to mean The Wholeness of Reality. God is that which sources and infuses everything, yet is also co-emergent with and indistinguishable from anything. Any “God” that can be believed in or not is a trivialized notion of the divine, and certainly not what we’re talking about here. Reality (God) rules! That which is fundamentally and supremely real always has the final word. Everything bows to it, with no exception.

Many traditional words (Faith and God are only two) can have extremely rich meanings to us rationalists if we only give them a chance. Often a rationalist interpretation is closer to the true original meaning of the word. The true meaning got distorted thru the centuries by those who interpret scripture literally (it’s likely scripture wasn’t even intended to be interpreted literally, except at a spiritually immature stage). Of course, some scripture is just off-base given what we now know, and should be discarded. But not all of it!

Michael Dowd (you can Google him for more info) is starting to have quite a bit of success taking this approach, especially in the more liberal churches. I think we should either take an approach similar to Michael’s or perhaps join forces with him. This would involve going into the churches and synagogues and mosques, becoming active members, and preaching about the power of having Faith in Reality, and witnessing about how the Faith transforms individuals so that their lives have more integrity and joy, and how it spreads to the lives of those around them. I fear we don’t have time to do it any other way.

We’d have to avoid churches that interpret scripture literally to begin with, because we’ll be seen as too radical. But I am impressed with the very large number of churches that have a majority of members who do NOT interpret scripture literally.

I’d love to do an entire post of my own on this subject, but alas, I’ve been told I don’t have enough karma to make a post. Is there a posting somewhere that explains the whole karma system? I clicked on the ABOUT link, but it didn’t have the kind of hints on how to increase karma that I was looking for.


Motivation doesn't come mainly from fear of eternal damnation, or even from meeting with people that have a common cause (although that is closer to the truth). I think the main reason people are religious is because they have a desire to live in integrity, rather than caving in to the insticts of the reptilian and paleomammalian parts of our brain, instincts which are usually conter-productive in our current social environment. Of course, religious people don't talk like this. They call it "sinning" instead. But it means the same thing. People are especially concerned that their children join a group that encourages the avoidance of counter-productive reptilian and paleomammalian behavior (a.k.a. sin). In almost any church, there's always a significant number of new members who have children that have just reached Sunday School age. Prior to that, they were unchurched since graduating from High School.

How can rationality help people achieve their desire to live with more integrity, and have their children live with more integrity? That's the question we need to be asking. Reading blogs and books isn't going to do it. Integrity is not a solo sport. It takes strong support from other human beings to overcome our sinful instincts.

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