“Religion is at the intersection of everything I care about” – YouTuber & Podcaster Emerson Green – Sentientism Episode 125

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Emerson is the host of the Counter Apologetics & Walden Pod podcasts. Both are also available on his  @Emerson Green  YouTube channel.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” The audio is also on our Podcast here on Apple & here everywhere else.

We discuss:
00:00 Welcome

01:32 Emerson’s Intro

  • Podcasting as a relationship saver 🙂
  • Counter Apologetics (#religion & #atheism)
  • Walden Pod (#consciousness & #panpsychism )
  • “Religion is at the intersection of practically everything I care about”

05:01 What’s Real?

  • Raised as a #youngearth #creationist Christian, sheltered from science & philosophy
  • Now atheist, “maybe beginning to lean #agnostic “
  • Attending #apologetics Camp “this is the defence! I don’t believe in god”
  • @Answers in Genesis “they do try to give scientific & philosophical arguments”
  • “Young Earth Creationism is one of the wrongest things you could propose”
  • “A book from god seems like a pretty solid epistemic source”
  • “The universe… is really not 6000 years old”
  • Mum is a professor at an Xtian university
  • “It’s wrong to say they’re #anti-science exactly”
  • “I learned about evolution later & was blown away”
  • “I was blown away by how bad the Bible was… morally”
  • The failure of prayer
  • #mormonism & the “Under The Banner of Prayer” film. The risks of thinking god is speaking to you
  • “The mainstream Xtian narrative… is just basically incoherent”
  • Hell & the #problemofevil vs. a just, good, god. #Theodicy
  • Historical contingency, religious diversity
  • “If they were born in India they’d probably be Hindus”
  • “I was very angry for a while… felt like I’d been lied to”
  • The psychological shock of deconverting
  • “If I could choose to be believe I would… just for the sake of my mum”
  • The distress of family & friends
  • Hidden atheism within religious communities & even pastors
  • Shunning e.g. “gay homeless teenagers around Salt Lake City”
  • Natural #theology
  • #Fideism & faith vs. “everyone I know has reasons”
  • Philip Goff & secular religion
  • @Bart D. Ehrman
  • Naturalism & the natural world as “common ground”
  • Usage vs. definitions
  • Conservative/scientific & moderate/abstract & liberal naturalisms vs. supernaturalism
  • “Sometimes I self-deprecatingy call myself a ‘spooky naturalist'”
  • “Here’s what we know from science – is that all there is?”
  • @Sean Carroll

37:52 What Matters?

  • Xtian propaganda that morals “belong” to religion so atheists must be nihilists
  • “Moral #nihilism is one of the least plausible positions you can name… suffering isn’t bad?”
  • William Lane Craig @ReasonableFaithOrg & divine command theory (burning people for eternity is “good”). God as the moral subject (subjectivism)
  • Moral anti-realism, relativism, objectivism
  • Ethical non-naturalism: “Morality is real & objective, there are right & wrong answers to moral questions. The holocaust was bad – it doesn’t matter how anyone feels about it… suffering just is bad.”
  • Ethical truths as like mathematical/logical truths
  • #Euthyphro dilemma
  • Are normative claims reducible to the descriptive? (Is-ought)
  • #empiricism vs. rational intuition
  • Mike Huemer’s “Ethical Intuitionism” See our Sentientist Conversation here

51:15 Who Matters?

  • “I have #vegan moral principles… but I’m not a consistent vegan”
  • Disgust “they’re ribs”
  • “It’s hard to overstate how evil factory farming actually is”
  • Getting banned from Twitter for speaking up about factory farming
  • “It’s hard not to get angry when people are diminishing & trivialising the very real, very terrible suffering of trillions of sentient beings”
  • @Ricky Gervais
  • “If you like animals then don’t eat them… I always have loved animals”
  • Baby animals… lamb & veal… “what’s wrong with you?”
  • @Sentience Institute surveys on banning slaughterhouses & factory farms
  • “Family farms” & “free range” & “regenerative animal agriculture”
  • Cultivated meat & plant-based products
  • “People will actually stop using factory farms… then we can ban it”
  • “#sentience is ultimately what I care about… there might be other things that matter as well as sentience”
  • #pluralism & #utilitarianism & #naturallawtheory
  • “If you can’t tell which of those is worse you might be morally stunted”
  • Dignity, autonomy
  • Maximising, minimising & demandingness
  • Is there a minimal level of sentience that wouldn’t matter?
  • Plant sentience?
  • Biocentrism, ecocentrism? “I don’t think it’s totally crazy… maybe living systems have intrinsic value regardless of whether or not they’re sentient?”
  • Panpsychism
  • JW: “I’m more worried about the exclusion of sentient beings than I am about the inclusion of other stuff”
  • “Crazy to care more about the ecosystem than you care about sentient beings”… they’re the main reason why you care about the ecosystem
  • Grading sentience & moral consideration
  • “Maybe intelligence diminishes the need to have really intense pain & pleasure”… “It’s totally possible that non-human animals have a worse experience of physical pain than we do”… Imagining a chimpanzee at the dentist
  • Under panpsychism “does an electron feel pain?”
  • “All the things you think pre-reflectively are not conscious (tables, chairs…) are probably not conscious on panpsychism”
  • “Don’t use panpsychism as an excuse to not go vegan”
  • “Obviously neo-cartesianism is crazy… morally perverse”
  • Fish sentience “they have nervous systems!”
  • “Panpsychism implies it’s wrong to eat animals”
  • “Panpsychism could imbue the natural world with intrinsic value (vs. instrumental value) and make us care more about the environment”
  • Luke Roelofs
  • “The same kind of thing that motivates you and me is the same kind of thing that motivates small particles…”
  • Sentience as “the morally salient component of consciousness”
  • Could a panpsychist micro-consciousness be insentient leaving only macro-consciousnesses as sentient?
  • Bentham’s “can they suffer?”
  • “What is really morally relevant about consciousness…? Sentience is a good way of getting there… subjective experience.”
  • “If you took an electron and flung it out into space it would be sentient in the sense that it would be like something for it to exist… but an electron that’s part of my right arm is not conscious… it’s been merged into this bigger whole.”
  • An electron might have “a brute ‘what it’s likeness’… maybe a sense of wanting to go towards positive charge… It’s literally not relatable to our experience at all.”
  • “You don’t need any kind of process” for there to be consciousness under panpsychism… it’s just brute & fundamental
  • Two emotional paths to panpsychism: Arrogant & anthropocentric (human consciousness must be fundamental) and humble (Consciousness is all-pervasive and humans are just a tiny part of that – “we’re really not special”)
  • “There’s nothing magical about me – I’m just a bunch of physical processes – I’m just a collection of physical activity… it’s just protons and electrons and neutrons”
  • Powerpointism 😊 and Dan Dennett’s “niftyism”
  • The hard problem / the construction problem (Rasmussen)… “you can get Powerpoint from non Powerpoint and humans from non-human beings – but when you’re talking about subjective experiences from a point of view… from non-subjectivity? You’re starting with the wrong kind of thing.”
  • A bat or an Emerson emulator?
  • Physicalists need to be able to “draw a bridge” from the physical to subjective qualitative experience, but “most don’t even try”
  • “All of physical science is just dealing with what stuff does and not what stuff is”… “that is the foundation of panpsychism”
  • Russellian monism… “There is an intrinsic nature to physical stuff… [because] consciousness exists”
  • “We know, because we’re conscious, that consciousness exists” or are our experiences just another set of internal “reports”?
  • “Whatever sentience is, it matters”
  • “You sound like Philip Goff right now!”

01:59:41 A Better Future?

  • Podcasting & YouTube as the answer 😊
  • Humans have the power and human decisions are based on worldviews about “what’s real” and “what matters”. Failures of compassion and epistemology
  • “I’m actually pretty pessimistic about the future”
  • “There could be an end to factory farming” via cultivated / plant-based alternatives winning on price/taste/convenience/efficiency/environment… “one of the worst things about our culture could come to an end”
  • In a semi-capitalist system “The market really does determine quite a lot”
  • “There will be a small group of psychotics who want to eat animal products anyway”
  • “People just like their little treats”
  • Unionism “One of the only positive political developments I’ve seen”
  • “A more democratic economy overall with workers having more ownership and control”
  • “Every other development seems negative”
  • Can public philosophy make a difference? “Maybe I’m just playing Sudoku… but I can’t help it”
  • “My wife doesn’t listen to my podcast… she gets 3 personal podasts a day 😊”… “The unsubscribe button is a divorce”
  • Intellectual honesty, humility and compassionate conversations about deep topics.

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.

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Thanks Graham for the post-production.

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