When guys like Will Wilkinson are writing brilliant stuff like this it really kills my desire to blog much at all, at least when it comes to the heavy philosophical topics. Given the law of comparative advantage, I should leave the philosophizing to Will (and others) and I'll stick to, uh..., something else I haven't quite figured out, yet.
Anyway, I particularly like Will's approach to the definition of an atheist, here:
...[I]f something plays a role in our best explanation of some phenomenon, you should believe it exists. Otherwise, not. God, for instance, is the best explanation for nothing. That’s why you shouldn’t believe in God, or the posits of string theory. (People...who hesitate to call themselves atheists because they cannot “prove” nonexistence are simply confused about ontological commitment. If [one's estimate of the probability] p for “God exists” is so low (”vanishingly unlikely”), then God must play no role in [one's] economy of explanation, which is all there is to being an atheist. You don’t just get to decide whether or not you are one.)I see little to disagree with in any of the rest of the post, either (or the whole blog, for that matter).
I rarely find myself feeling envious of another man's genius, but Will Wilkinson is definitely one of the few exceptions. Perhaps in part it's because he's got a really hot girlfriend who seemed (at last check, anyway) to be totally nuts about him. Some guys have all the luck!