The Atheist Air Conditioner

Its another warm day here in the continental interior.

Dubai. Abu Dhabi. Miami. Orlando. In essence, anywhere where the god awful heat of the summer sun makes outdoor activity an undue chore, and a good nights sleep without a fan an exercise in futility. Any place that makes one scratch their head in perplexity of how the village/town/city can be hundreds (if not thousands!)  of years old . . . when the era of residential and commercial air conditioning is just shy of 100 years old. How on earth did they do it?!

I have no idea. And for the sake of a comfortable nights sleep and Ice Cream (among other necessities that this cool trick of mechanical and thermal dynamics has enabled us to take for granted) I hope we collectively never have to find out again. What is more appealing . . . a reboot of 1800’s life? Or a long walk off a short pier?

We will cross that bridge when we get to it, as they say.

For now, back to it.

Its a device that sucks in the heated air of any structure in which it operates, and replaces it with cool goodness. Its an interesting device to look at in this context, because of how it operates. As informed by any number of forums and websites (surly I am not the only one that looks things up out of curiosity and boredom), refrigeration is less about the creation of cold than it is with the removal of heat.
Though the thermal dynamics stuff is WAY out of my league, it all essentially boils down to energy. Essentially, heat will always convect away from heated bodies to cooler bodies, changing both bodies thermal dynamic properties in the process. Like the heat of a hand into a glass of ice water, or the heat of a cup of coffee into the air surrounding it. Or the heat of a structure into the condenser coils of an air conditioning unit.

The process is simple. As liquids turn into gas, they also absorb heat. Which is where that excess heat from your house ends up. But the journey does not end there. No refrigeration system can operate without a heat sink, a place to get rid of all that excess heat its collected AND created during operation.
For your fridge, its your house. And for the A/C, its the outdoors. In the process of turning back from a gas to liquid, the excess heat is removed.

The air leaving an air conditioning unit has a lack of heat. Though not directly associated with Atheism in any way, it made the whole modern concept come to mind again. Things that are lacking.

I have used this analogy before with tea and sugar, and one can go to town with the possibilities available therein. But just as I liked the air travel analogy as it related to the term Apistevist (thank you United Airlines for recently making this analogy all the more interesting!), air conditioning as a concept that just . . . works.

At least for me.

It all boils down to the thermal dynamics of the process. Or more, what is left over. Though I cover this already to a degree, when thinking about refrigeration, one should not think of it as much a process of creation. Its not about creating cold. It more about removing heat.
Which is where the the idea struck me. Unlike other examples that I could use (such as drinking tea without sugar), we have in refrigeration, a process that culminates in a genuine lacking. A process that leaves a void. Its not cold. Its a lack of heat energy.

Lets contrast this genuine lacking to the current status quo definition of Atheism, as widely used these days.

disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

That one was swiped from a quick Google search, but its fairly similar to anything you will find elsewhere. Either way, lack of belief in the existence of (a) God or Gods. I find this definition silly. Due to the fact that a choice was made, and as such, lacking is hardly applicable.

You do not lack knowledge that you are already aware of. It does not matter what supernatural, mythical or otherwise ridiculous example that you could name. You lack such knowledge before it is taught to you. But when it is and you have to make a choice on it, the term lacking is no longer applicable.
Before you knew of the concept, belief was irrelevant. After you came across the concept and made some choice on the matter, lacking is no longer fitting. Whether you say yes, say no, or decline to answer for whatever reason, there is a decision there.

Applying lacking to something like belief is silly, really. Though this is essentially the Nu-Atheist position, its a faulty one. Being that calling ones self an Atheist makes known where they stand on that given topic, they can’t really say that they lack belief anymore. They reviewed what is to be reviewed, and came to a conclusion.

Now, to move on to babies, Animals and inanimate objects. It could be argued (and IS argued by some) that these objects lack belief, and are therefore Atheist. But these objects also lack both belief and knowledge into ALL that makes up human culture, of which the religious stuff is but a small part.

Just as it is asinine to drag our pets (and babies, since that is also common) into our sheepish obsessions, it is also ridiculous to apply labels that have a place in our cultural context to things outside of that context. Babies do not deny the existence of deities. Yet though the argument could be made that they lack belief in deities, its just silly. Objects and beings outside of our cultural context do not even know of our languages, let alone any of the phenomenons described therein.
As such, this method of argumentation is less a reasoned approach then it is a grasp at ideological superiority. Really, the modern definition of atheism is that. When it is relevant, its unfitting almost to the point of being nonsense. An air conditioner helps make air athermal.  What air comes out in the building is generally lacking enough heat to keep things comfortable.

A genuine lacking.

I will now split the usage of the modern definition of the term Atheism term into 3 categories.

1.) Relevant

2.) Irrelevant

3.) Intolerant

Relevant is the usage as a self description, or of a description of a similar minded community. Irrelevant is usage of the term to describe objects or beings lacking belief in a deity due to isolation from human culture (such as animals, tables, or a shoes, as is popular on reddit). And intolerant is blanket usage of the term to encompass all of the secular community.
Two of these are directly attributable to the newer lacking definition. Which is why I don’t really consider either to be an argument. Its as weak an argument as any theistic sect proclaiming another sect to be no true Scotsman.

Even describing one self as lacking belief is a flawed argument. There is really no way to justify the usage of the term. For those that gave it some thought and ended up leaving behind (or simply not embracing) theistic religiosity, a choice was made. To turn this question on the atheists, if you said “No” to “Do you believe in a God or Gods?” , then that is a decision. You do not “lack” belief in a deity or deities. You had the knowledge to ask the question, and you answered in a committed way.

As for the situations that may fit into the current definition, again, its a weak (if not nonsensical) argument. Its silly to label humans, animals and objects that have no knowledge of how we structure our belief systems  with adjectives from that very environment.

Hence why, in my opinion, the status quo definition of Atheism should revert back to its original. Though the term lacking is certainly fitting in the context of the physical world (such as in thermal dynamics),  it hardly fits in the context of ideas and beliefs.

I just thought of yet another way to express this.

These days, AI (or artificial intelligence) is increasingly on peoples minds. Particularly the scare factor, as embedded in our consciousness by Hollywood (pretty much from the beginning). Were fearful of the day when our conscious or unconscious sentient creations may some day turn on us. In truth, I am not even sure how any of those word would apply (if at all). Though in this case, it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Lets take a robot. Sentient, conscious or unconscious . . . does not really matter. You ask it the question “Are you an atheist?”.

There are a number of ways this could go, given many factors. A robot that is relatively basic and ignorant of all but a very small scope of human culture may well not understand the question. A robot that has such knowledge may have some sort of answer to the question. But even this is suspect since it depends entirely on the information it is working with, which would be controlled by the sources. Some may even see us humans in somewhat of a godlike way. Since many of our interpretations of the concept start and end with some sort of creator, its an entirely possible outcome.

It would/will be interesting to see how a mind that is comprehending of, yet outside of,  our culture would interpret and answer these questions. If these intelligence’s are truly rooted in logic, will they end up in the same places that humans consider to be logical? Will they end up in many different places on the spectrum (like humans)?

Will there be a difference in the conclusions reached by conscious and unconscious robots? Will emotion be as much of a factor in this decision for the machines as it is for their human creators?
Related to that question, is the end of life. Since much of religion is consciously or unconsciously based around a fear of the unknown associated with death, will the same fears be present in machines?
Humans ascribe these emotions to machines all the time (particularly aircraft it seems, as shown in the comments of this video (and others like it) of demolitions in progress). But will robots also have such sentiments?

I suspect we won’t know the answer to this/these questions until the technology is actually in existence and functional. One thing that I do know however is that the typical ideological answer to “Do you believe in a god?” or “Are you an atheist?” are the wrong questions to be ascribing to that which is outside of our culture.

 

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