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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

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I'm not sure there would be any religion of any kind at all without a healthy dose of doubt. Doubt and faith seem to have an understanding.

Evolutionary imperatives made humans pattern seeking animals. Spotting that tiger before it spotted you made a difference in the survival of the species. We tend to overuse the faculty rather than not for the same reason. The same impulse that gave us imaginary gods to explain our surroundings also gives us conspiracy theories.

Some physicists are convinced that someday we could create a universe ourselves via what can be thought of as an artificial black hole. That would make us gods, if a disappointing variety.

In the beginning was the word.

And let's face it, it's not as if the idea of trillions of trillions of trillions of gigatons of stuff just appearing out of nowhere and expanding faster than the speed of light for an impossibly short period of time and then continuing to expand for ever into dimensionless nothingness really seems that plausible when you take a step back. It only seems plausible when compared to the Copenhagen interpretation of Schrodinger's equation which really is taking the biscuit. Which leads us to the "many worlds" theory where the concept of plausibility breaks down completely.

A major breakthrough in our (well, in mine at least) understanding is about due.

Genesis actually seems quite reasonable in comparison.

Hi David,

Really my comments (which began here) were about the ineradicability of the religious impulse, and the way it has mutated into the Progressive cryptoreligion that now dominates mainstream "secular" culture, gradually replacing God with other sacred objects but otherwise keeping almost all of its original form.

But as for religion itself, and secularism itself, I hae me own doots, too. I wrote a brief post about them recently, here.

Bob,

Yes, we are highly evolved agency-detectors, but that doesn't mean that every detection is a false positive. If you find a trout in the milk, it wants explaining.

"If you find a trout in the milk, it wants explaining."

Chortle-chortle!

Malcolm,

You're absolutely right. However, if you immediately conclude a god put the trout in your milk you might be a bit too imaginative.

Bob,

...if you immediately conclude a god put the trout in your milk you might be a bit too imaginative.

As you might also be if you've convinced yourself, "immediately" or otherwise, that you can rule it out with "multiverses" and natural selection.

(As for "immediately", please see the post I mentioned above.)

Malcolm,

If you find yourself in a jungle confronted by a tiger, instead of pointing a weapon or picking up a stick try prayer. The results will most likely be inferior.

You might have missed that I admitted the existence of our universe could have been the result of a conscious decision. The scientific method is always open to correction.

Bob,

If you find yourself in a jungle confronted by a tiger, instead of pointing a weapon or picking up a stick try prayer. The results will most likely be inferior.

Seriously? (Take that, Pascal, Newton, John Paul II, etc...!)

 
*****

A preacher was caught in a flood that surrounded his church. Some of his parishioners came by in a little rowboat to rescue him.

"No," he said, "the Lord will look after me."

Later, after the water had risen to the second floor, the police came by in a motorboat. "Get in!" they said.

"No," he said, "I trust in the Lord."

Still later, the water had risen so high that the pastor was on the roof of the church. The National Guard came by in a helicopter, and lowered a ladder.

"No!" said the pastor. "God will protect me!!"

The pastor drowned. Once in Heaven, he came face to face with God.

"Why didn't you help me?" the pastor demanded. "I put my faith in you, and you did nothing!"

"What are you talking about?" said God. "I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"

Nothing can’t have any properties otherwise it would be something. In which case something cannot emerge from nothing because that would make no sense.

Even God cannot make something from nothing, not because God has a limitation but because making something from nothing makes no sense. In which case the universe emerged from something, not from nothing.

Malcolm,

Yes, seriously. I would offer the same advice to Pascal, Newton, John Paul II, etc. Your joke is a fun play on circular thinking. Most circular thinking in religion is no fun at all, and there's certainly no shortage of it.

I gave up on philosophy long ago, but my favorite philosopher is still Epicurus. His Riddle:

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?

He also advises not to waste time on gods. If they exist, he wrote, we aren't interesting to them on a personal level.

Bob,

Yes, seriously. I would offer the same advice to Pascal, Newton, John Paul II, etc.

Kind of you. If only they could have seen things as clearly as you! Think of the trouble you might have saved them. (On the other hand, Ed Feser's still around; perhaps you might drop him a line. He's not too old for a career-change, I think.)

The problem of evil is a difficult one, but equally difficult (at least) are the problems of naturalism and scientism.

The suggestion that, if God exists, then all you'd have to do when confronted by a tiger would be to pray, was what I found hard to take seriously as an adult refutation of the existence of God. (I'm surprised that you would.) My little joke, meanwhile, was nothing to do with "circular thinking"; it was to point up the silliness of such a trivial caricature.

My advice to you would be: a) to be a bit less sure of yourself; b) to doubt, maybe just a little, that the whole question can be so easily waved away that any simpleton ought to do so; and c) to have a little more respect for the intelligence of those who, after deep reflection, think it can't.

PS: As for the problem of evil, what evil are we talking about? The evil that men do? That has an answer: it is a necessary consequence of the radical freedom of Man.

Natural evil is more difficult. See here.

Malcolm,

Thanks for the advice, but I come upon my confidence honestly through decades of study and observation. What point would there be in accusing you of a childish point of view?

I believe the scientific method is the best path we have to meaningful knowledge and that spiritualism of any type is fantasy and self-indulgence. That's not to say I'd deprive anyone of the right to it even if I could. Have at it.

Fair enough, Bob. I am certainly not trying to tell you what to believe; if you read my posts, you'll see that I can't even answer that question for myself. I was only urging a little less certainty that these great questions have been answered once and for all, and a little more respect for those of wisdom and intelligence who keep open the possibility of something that transcends the natural world.

Religion should be banned.

The 'new' religion:

In 2011, then-Czech President Vaclav Klaus noted:

“I’m convinced that after years of studying the phenomenon, global warming is not the real issue of temperature,” said Klaus, an economist by training. “That is the issue of a new ideology or a new religion. A religion of climate change or a religion of global warming. This is a religion which tells us that the people are responsible for the current, very small increase in temperatures. And they should be punished.”

Or at least made to confess!

You have made me a chatty mincer of words, Andra, as well as make me laugh out loud.

Religion began when the first fool met the first conman.

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