Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Am Smarter Than This God Botherer

"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

Albert Einstein



Albert Einstein, in a letter responding to philosopher Eric Gutkind, who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt.
I disagree with Einstein over the "honourable" bit. I suspect he was merely being polite though.

I was subjected to a drive-by evangelising by an anonymous monotheist and I've decided to write about it because it's easy to do (unlike all the other stuff I've planned to write about). He or she is most likely Christian judging from the modus operandi: ignorance and lies. Let's see the video that that person asked me to watch,


Someone please punch that annoying git of a child in the nuts.

The comment that came with that video suggestion read verbatim,

dear k0k s3n w4i,

maybe this video would give u some thoughts about God and this universe.

cheers!

The first thing any people of faith needs to know about atheists is that we are not as stupid or as gullible like most religious people are (it's a proven, objective fact; remind me to write about that sometime done, to a degree). Christians et al tend to swallow apocryphal tales like this unquestioningly because after all, that's what they are trained to do - it's what's required by their faith. It's the same reason why a pastor unwittingly spread falsehoods about Darwin's deathbed conversion in a 2007 Christmas party I attended. The idea of Darwin converting to Christianity right at death's threshold and the idea that the Albert Einstein (the icon of smartness himself), as a child, gave a thorough send up to an obnoxious atheist teacher are very attractive wish-fulfilling fantasies. How nice it is to have someone actually intelligent validate their nutty myths and vindicate their indefensible positions, right? And I've seen how people of God ooh and aah when they were told versions of these bald-faced LIES (don't take my word for it; go read the video's comments over at YouTube). Their ovine imbecility disgusts me.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I shall destroy the assertions of the above video in two parts,



Fake Einstein's Arguments

What the atheist teacher brought up is an infantile version of the philosophical Problem of Evil, and I've always felt that Epicurus phrased it best,

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent.
Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?"

Fake Einstein's argument in the video is that evil doesn't actually exists. He said that just as cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light, evil is actually the absence of good - or as he inelegantly put it, "God's love in one's heart". Which is a perfectly valid argument if goodness is an actual quantifiable variable like heat or light. This is where the metaphor breaks down: goodness doesn't exist either. What we perceive as goodness is a metaphysical concept that can never be objectively defined or measured. So saying that evil is the absence of good is only about as true as saying good is the absence of evil. Meaningless. Waffles.

Any halfway decent student of science should be able to point out this flaw in Fake Einstein's argument. The teacher who got his ass handed to him rhetorically is a caricature of an atheist, written just to convey an argument lamely just so he can stand back quietly while a Hero of the Faith takes him on and shits in his mouth. It's pathetic that the only time people of God can win is when they create a closed, controlled scenario in which their opponent is a strawman that can't even refute a broken metaphor. Want a real challenge? Debate me.



Einstein was an Irreligious

He was either a deist or a pantheist - this I cannot be sure of. But what I can say with certainty is that he was someone who thinks that stories of Abraham's God are absolute bunkum, as characterised by a quote of his above this page. And Einstein said many, many things about religion in his time, and none of them are flattering. Here's another sampler,

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms."

Albert Einstein, obituary in New York Times, 19 April 1955

If you want some more, you only need to ask, you know,

"I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it."

Einstein, 1954, from Albert Einstein: The Human Side

And here's another,

"It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously."

Albert Einstein, Religion and Science,
New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930

On the other hand, the veracity of the story of Einstein dealing such a comeuppance to an atheist schoolteacher as a child is not supported by any of Einstein's writings, correspondences or biographies. Personally, I think I've made an extremely good case that the story in the video did not actually happen but in case you need more convincing, there's a lengthier analysis of this particular doggerel over at Snopes.com, a website dedicated to discussing urban legends, Internet rumors, e-mail forwards, and other stories of uncertain or questionable origin.



In Summary

I think people who claim to be members of God's party need to stop disseminating misinformation, and I'm not just talking about their scriptures and doctrines here either. I'm all for having my own beliefs (or unbelief) challenged and it is because of that reason I read more polemics by religious scholars than I do atheist works; but please do me the favour of sparing me bullshit like the story in this YouTube video which I can take apart in my fucking sleep. I'm on vacation in Butterworth now and literally just got out of bed minutes ago, not having brushed my teeth even.

You have no idea how much I hunger for intelligent arguments from God's side. To date, I have not faced a single one.



Woke up feeling mean,
k0k s3n w4i

12 comments:

Legal-Babe said...

Hi Sen Wai,

Its been ages since I last dropped by. This post definitely caught my eye.

I have been a Catholic my whole life; not exactly a holy and staunch one, but I am one. Regardless, I have always thought that Religion is a very individual thing.

Its something intangible yet we believed in it. I guess in a way, it IS boiling down to a five letter word called faith.

How do we have faith in something that we have never seen nor feel, or touch? Yet we still do. A point to ponder, no?

Have a happy weekend. Ü

goingkookies said...

haha.. u do sound kinda mean like u have a thing against all christians.. =p

well.. there are many smart ones.. even scholar.. but guess what? they're just not online.. or well, reader of ur blog

goingkookies said...

dun tembak me ar =p

Anonymous said...

Hi Legal-Babe,
Having faith in god is as dubious as having faith in an imaginary friend, no?

Anon 7pm

c3rs3i said...

Assumption is the absence of fact.

I have not heard any intelligible arguments for God within this context. If you delved into pantheism or broached the subject from the quantum physics angle, you'll get some answers, find more arguments or at the very least stroke/stress your intellect.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Legal-Babe: "
How do we have faith in something that we have never seen nor feel, or touch? Yet we still do. A point to ponder, no?"


Nope.

This is a mystery to you, but not to me. All through civilisation, mankind have believed in many things that seemed like common sense, but are completely wrong. For a very, very long time, humans believed that the world is flat, that the sun revolves around the earth (and there are still people today believing in these things in spite of the mountain of evidence to the contrary). Here's the forum of The International Flat Earth Society. Geocentricity is even more rampant. I respect that you recognise the only thing any religion has going for it is pure blind, unsupported, unverifiable faith. What I cannot stand is believers acting as if their holy books are absolute scientific truths.

goingkookies: i have a thing against proponents of ALL religions, but christianity happens to be one of the ones i know best and christians tend to be the more annoying, pushier ones about their faith. i must clarify that when i say i have not faced a single intelligent argument of god, i am talking far outside the scope of my real-life experiences, me blog or real life. christians can copy any arguments from any scholars they think are super-smart (and the anonymous who told me to go look at this video certainly thought he had something intelligent to show me). i have had numerous book suggestions by christians which ALL turned out to be nonsense that they aren't smart enough to recognise. i had to delve deeper on my own. I tried reading apologetics and christian fiction by cs lewis. i looked into the writings of gk chesterton (the man who managed to somehow convert cs lewis, an intelligent atheist, to christianity) but found nothing of real substance there either. so kookies, i think you should not assume that the scope of my encounters are limited to my personal website and the internet.

Anonymous: anons work in shifts now? :P

c3rs3i: pantheism merely posits that everything in existence is god. it's an assertion of poetry, not theology. on its most basic level, it's akin to calling a rack or a tree god, but turned up to encompass the entire universe. i'm not a student of physics, i will readily admit, so i rely on physicists to come up with the answers. stephen hawking recently came out saying that "The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can't understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second." and "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing." experience informs me that all mysteries that have been solved by science found no god(s) in the answers. i prefer to leave the god hypothesis out until i see concrete evidence to the contrary. we may not be able to explain everything, but that doesn't make god the best answer. remember, rain and lightning. we used to think that those require supernatural explanations.

Living_on_borrowed_time said...

The following is an actual question given on a chemistry mid term exam in a university.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED AN A+.

c3rs3i said...

It pains me to quote a dictionary but as I am unable to do justice by paraphrasing, here you go -
Pantheism: the doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God's personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature.

So, no, whilst not subscribing to theological conventions (I like to think of it as a branch of theology, or looking at theology from a different angle), an assertion of poetry it certainly is not.

Also, whilst it is arguable that pantheism evolved from animism, relating it to the Sejarah textbook’s take on animism is comparable to calling a tiger a toy cat, specifically the type that can claps its hands when you put batteries in =D.
And whilst I’m on the subject, no, it wouldn’t call a rack God since a rack isn’t a primary product of nature (Arguments of what constitutes ‘nature’ will not be entertained!).

There is another definition (arguably similar to that above, but possibly not) for pantheism that states it is but a reverence of the holistic universe and nature – things which science tries to explain, so really, the two are possibly more aligned than contradictory.
Interestingly enough, there ARE some scientific arguments FOR God (perhaps not the conventional abrahamic God you like to throw stones at but some kind of God nevertheless) – which is why I suggested reading up on quantum physics. I cannot summarise it for you as I struggle to comprehend the theories myself and the verbalisation of my thoughts to this regard is pretty much: %$#@(*&^ - feel free to decode.

One last ‘no’ to round it all off: I don’t mean that there needs to be a God or that we need to explain anything with God. Just that if you are looking for alternative views or interesting arguments for or against God, there are your avenues.

Reread my initial comment. I really meant to say “… you might get some answers, …”.

k0k s3n w4i said...

c3rs3i: don't be pained. if i'm wrong, go right ahead and prove it to me and i'll be more than happy to correct myself.

i see that you used dictionary.com's first definition. oxforddictionaries.com is what i rely on usually and it states that pantheism is,

1. a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God

2. the worship or tolerance of many gods

elements of pantheism (1999) by paul harrison recorded that irish writer john toland (who purportedly first coined the term "pantheist") wrote to leibniz in 1710 referring to the idea as "the pantheistic opinion of those who believe in no other eternal being but the universe." this is the understanding i was operating on.

as for rack, it's really a typo, haha. i meant to say rock. but just for fun, let's just assume that i referred to a woman's rack, okay?

and i suppose i shouldn't have said that pantheism is an assertion of poetry rather than theology in no uncertain terms. my bad, this. let me rephrase that: i feel that pantheism is more of a vague spiritual touchy-feely opinion about god rather than a belief in definite statements about the nature of god. i may be wrong.

as for quantum physics, from my very shallow understanding of it, i can see nothing in it which suggests the possibility of a god - but what the subject does do is make me marvel at how poorly equipped the human brain is at grasping what it says (richard dawkin's speech on "middle world" and our "queer universe" at a TED conference summarises how i feel quite well). i'm afraid i'll just have to wait for physicists make to make some definite discoveries which they can explain to me in terms i can understand ;)

c3rs3i said...

You’ve misread my comment – It’s quoting dictionaries I try to avoid. Telling you you’re wrong doesn’t cause me grief (nor do I delight in it, for that matter). Don’t really find much emotional investment necessary when stating fact or opinon =)

Ooh that must be new - I searched for the online oxford dic not too long back and it was still under construction then. Seeing it now though, I think I’ll stick to dictionary.com – I like how it collates definitions from many different dictionaries all in one page but the clincher is definitely the thesaurus (word-hopping is second only to wikipage-hopping!)

I don’t read the definitions you have quoted any differently from the ones I have come across but I can see how they and pantheism in general would vary, left to individual interpretation.

Given my agnostic side, I regard religion itself to be made up from vague, spiritual touchy-feely opinions about God anyway; Pantheism openly admits this whilst some other sects are adamant their beliefs are based on fact and not wishful thinking.

k0k s3n w4i said...

c3rs3i: "You’ve misread my comment – It’s quoting dictionaries I try to avoid."

then you have lost me. why would quoting dictionary pain anyone?

personally, i rely on dictionary.com when i write non-factual posts and only use oxford in disputes of word meanings.

i daresay we see pantheism the same way. from the definition you quoted,

"the doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God's personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature."

god is the transcendent (read: untestable scientifically, beyond time and space). everything in the universe is representative of that god or parts of that god. this god has no personality presumably in the same way that trees, rocks and planets have no personality. most people see it as nature equals god.

i'm merely more dismissive of the view compared to you. i see it as considering the universe as god - an exercise in rebranding both the universe and god, so to speak. while it shares some features of animism, i don't consider them analogous. animists believe that natural objects (the universe may be included) have spirits in them and don't consider these spirits to be devoid of personality at all.

Anonymous said...

Which is harder to believe... facts and science, or the existence of God?

I find the second to be harder to believe, any moron can see something exists... faith is beyond all that.