I Can Take No Credit

Thoughts on Science And Religion – Maybe Mix In A Little
Has any religious doctrine ever supplanted a scientific discovery?

I’m still a great proponent of the idea that, if you throw enough horseshit at the barn, sooner or later, some of it will stick – but it’s still horseshit. There have been thousands – tens – hundreds – of thousands of weird-ass religious ideas, proposals and theories advanced. That one of them finally proved (somewhat) correct is not revelation, but inevitable coincidence.
Matt Dillahunty says that the time to believe something, is when there is evidence, and evidence is provided by science. They may have been right, but they were right for the wrong reasons. This seems much like Christians observing something, and then going back through the Bible to find some vague passage that proves a prophesy.

Archon, you wrote — ” That one of them finally proved (somewhat) correct …” I have to ask — which one?

This post of Jim’s, about the Hindu Upanishads Science and Religion—Maybe Mix in a Little? – TheCommonAtheist (wordpress.com)  I was being my usual snarky, sarcastic self.  In no way did I mean to imply that their beliefs and claims held any validity.  One particular group of Neolithic Lotus-Eaters, out of myriads of others, felt that reality depends on randomness, and quantum-type fluctuations.  Modern day physics is finding that the existence of the universe may depend on randomness and quantum fluctuations.  There is no way to prove that one led to the other.

It’s like the stopped clock, that’s right twice a day.  Actually, it’s more like someone fired a shotgun at a wall, leaving fifteen or twenty buckshot holes in it.  Five years later, someone comes along, paints a target around one of them, and declares, ‘See!  They got a bull’s-eye!’

It is highly likely that Newtonian physics was supplanted by the Upanishads—the ideas from Hindu philosophy called quantum mechanics.  What’s different about the Upanishad -vs.- say, Christianity, is the Upanishad can be made into math by the most skilled of all scientific minds. It can be tested, and it can be fit into what we know about the nature of duality, consciousness, mind, and matter.

My nit-picky, pedantic nature insists that ‘supplanted’ means took the place of (another), as through force, scheming, strategy, or the like.  It is, therefore, modern, peer-reviewed, fact-driven, science-proven Physics, which has supplanted the Hindu Vedas.  They make no mention of “Quantum Mechanics.”  It is only now that some people are aware of it, that they want to take modern science, and retrofit it into a religion.  No smoke some ganja and pull it out of your ass Woo can replace it, or even claim to help develop it.

Through its language of mathematics, it is the science, not the religion, which can be investigated and proved.  It can ‘fit into’ the rest, in the same way that a rotten tomato, a dozen doughnuts, a dead cat, or a handgun, can individually be forced to ‘fit into’ any given paper bag.

Science at this level is somewhat uncertain, but I still prefer my dozen Quantum revelation eggs neatly and safely packaged.  The truth is much more likely to be revealed by Stephen Hawking and CERN, than by Shiva and Ganesh.

Piss-offily

If you are looking for a good chuckle, here are a few of the funniest quotes ever.

Crossing the road

“I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” —Stephen Hawking, physicist

Insurance gods

“The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist.

Open-minded

“By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” —Richard Dawkins, scientist

Narrow-minded

“He was so narrow-minded, he could see through a keyhole with both eyes.” —Molly Ivins, author

Family debate

“I’ve come to learn that the best time to debate family members is when they have food in their mouths.” —Kenneth Cole, fashion designer

Marriage from heaven

“They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.” —Clint Eastwood

Get married

“My advice to you is get married: If you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not, you’ll become a philosopher.” —Socrates

Slow computer test

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet service to see who they really are.” —Will Ferrell

Someone you love

“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth, and you should save it for someone you love.” —Butch Hancock, country musician

Marriage gift

“Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.” —Rod Stewart, rock star

Everything has a consequence

“All the things I like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.” —Alexander Woollcott, actor

Bacon is everything

“When you have bacon in your mouth, it doesn’t matter who’s president.” —Louis CK

Spending foolishly

“Part of [the $10 million] went for gambling, horses, and women. The rest I spent foolishly.” —George Raft, film star

No character

“I was going to sue for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character.” —Charles Barkley, TV basketball analyst

Flash Fiction #242

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

SOMETHING’S FISHY

Fish – The only animal that grows to twice its size, between being caught, and being described.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he’ll sit in a boat all day and throw beer cans in the lake.

A Scottish fisherman was on his way home after a disappointing day, where he’d had, perhaps, a few wee shots of antifreeze.  Spotting a scarecrow in a field, he shouted, “Yerr a damned liar!”

Tranquility is knowing the difference between ‘fishing,’ and ‘catching.’

Think there’s something fishy about today’s philosophy episode??  Me too!

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Wanna join the fun??  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

I’m Philosophical About It

Bias And Presupposition

Like the student who was asked by his English teacher if he would begin stacking firewood in the middle of a pile, many people, (especially Christian Apologists) who believe that they are deep thinkers, unwittingly start in the middle of an argument.

A young writer who considered himself to be a (at least developing) philosopher, posed the following questions.  While innocent-enough looking, they are fraught with assumptions and beliefs.
What is the nature of the universe?

What is man’s place in the universe?
What is good and what is evil?
What is the nature of God?
What is fate and what is free will?
What is soul and what is immorality?
What is the order of man and state?
What is education?
What is mind and matter?
What is ideas and what is thinking?

What Is The Nature Of The Universe?

The Universe has no “Nature!”  It is a brute fact which each of us must endure in our own ways.  It is supremely indifferent and insensible to the wants and needs of any person, in the same way that we are unaware and uncaring of a red blood cell in our veins – more so, because we at least can become aware of a drop of blood, while the Universe sails serenely on, completely unaffected and unaltered, despite our actions.  There is no intrinsic purpose or meaning to the Universe.  Any ‘meaning’ is only one which each of us imbues it with.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players!

What is Man’s Place in the Universe?

Here is the first place where the presuppositions become obvious.  There is no Cosmic airline hostess to escort us to our preordained seat, from which we may not move.  People who ask questions like this often assume that our place will be in First Class, when in fact, we are lucky to get a spot in coach, and not be stuck in the Baggage compartment.

‘My place’ in the Universe is in front of my computer, trying to understand people’s thoughts and actions.  Your ‘place’ will probably be somewhere else.  Each (wo)man’s place, and each group of (wo)men’s place, is wherever we strive and succeed in making it.

What is good, and what is evil?

Good and evil are imaginary concepts, dreamed up by people who want to feel good about themselves, their lifestyle and their choices.  What they do is good – what you do is evil.  I have even had self-righteous folks who admit that “you” did good things, but you did them for the wrong reasons.

Good is what is beneficial to me, and evil is anything which causes me loss or pain.  This definition applies to everyone, so there are countless definitions of “Good” and “Evil.”  The only commonality is when evolution-caused empathy makes it apply to larger and larger groups of people.

Hitler did not think that he was doing evil when he invaded Poland, or executed Jews and Gypsies.  He was trying to improve the standard of living for him, and his German people.  The victors write the History.  Aside from becoming psychopathic about it, his main problem was that his field of empathy was not wide enough.

What is the nature of God?

This is another assumption, like the one above, of the nature of the Universe.  At least the Universe can be observed.  First, prove that God is real, then we’ll discuss/argue His nature.  Either He does not exist, or He is the winner of the longest game of Hide And Seek ever.  The Old Testament portrays Him as a vicious, vengeful, spiteful, capricious, contradictory, ill-focused, incoherent, destructive old man, while the New Testament shows Him as a petulant child.

What is Fate, and what is free will?

Fate is the delusional excuse that ‘believers’ of all stripes give to the evidence that the Universe is supremely indifferent to them.  It is almost always applied negatively.  If they win a lottery, it’s egotistic entitlement.  If they lose – “I guess it’s just Fate.”  Call it fate, luck, karma, God, Satan – they all operate at the exact frequency as blind, random chance.

If God exists, free will is another delusion that does not, and cannot exist.  God knows the future, and there is no deviation from His perfect plan.  If God does not exist, free will looks a lot like this.

What is the soul, and what is immorality?

The soul is another imaginary assumption.  There have been a number of, both scientific and non-scientific, studies searching for it, and the results have been universally negative.  If it is anything different from ‘consciousness’ (which is another big, not-completely-understood phenomenon), no-one has been able to demonstrate it.

Like ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ above, morality/immorality are subjective, man-made concepts, invented by power-hungry religious leaders, anxious to have and hold control over their obedient followers.  What is moral now, was not moral then.  What is moral here, is not moral there.

What is the order of man and state?

What is the meaning of this question?  These deep, ‘philosophical’ concepts are deteriorating into chaos and confusion.

Man came first, and when groups of men became numerous enough, they invented the concept of ‘state.’  Is he asking if the individual man should be more important than the state?  Clear, concise communication should be the first order of business.

What is education?

Why does he ask?  Did he not receive enough to know?  Does this person, who wishes to discuss philosophy, not have a good enough grasp of language to do so?

The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.  Modern usage generally assumes the transmission (or guidance of transmission) of knowledge from one person to another, but there are those who ‘educate’ themselves – known as autodidactics.

What is mind and matter?

If you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.

The mind is a delusion of self.  It is the mostly non-physical, bio-electrical, neurological process of the physical brain.

Matter is also an illusion, and a delusion.  While it looks and feels solid and strong, it is really 99.999% empty space.  Infinitesimal particles group together to form, what used to be called, The Basic Building Blocks – protons, electrons and neutrons.  Different numbers of protons dance around each other to form atomic nuclei.  Different numbers of electrons orbit around these nuclei at relative distances that make the Sun and Pluto look like close friends.

Despite the apparent distance, the electrons whirl around the center so fast that, no matter what side other atoms approach from, the electrons are ‘always there,’ shunting them away.  Various atoms get together to form molecules, but even there, they are none too cosy, leaving a lot more empty space.

Different numbers and arrangements of particles and atoms give different pieces of matter different feels, looks, and properties – but they are all made up of the same basic little bits.  What are these basic bits made up of, you ask?  Tune in to the TED Talk next week, when the smartest scientist in the world says, “Beats the Hell outta me!  We’re still trying to figure that out.”

What are ideas, and what is thinking?

I have no idea, and I was thinking that someone should have checked with a dictionary, which says that IDEAS are:

any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.
a thought, conception, or notion
an impression
an opinion, view, or belief

Thinking is:

Having a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions, etc.
Employing one’s mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation

Ideas are formed in the mind by the process of thinking, which is the action of electrons running around in the brain’s neurons, and leaping the synapses between them.  Serious, professional scientists are still studying the brain and the mind, but despite considerable investigation, are still not entirely sure how it all works.

If our amateur philosopher wanted to credit a God for this, or any part of the above, no indication, much less proof, has ever been found.  If he wanted deeper or broader information, his communication skills appear lacking.  He seems to have ended up right where he started – in the middle, and in a muddle.

Reality Is Weird

Weird

A Christian Apologist shut his mouth, and in doing so, (almost) shut mine.  I found him under the above title, making claims like

Either (1) an infinite and eternal consciousness called God chose to create our universe with a purpose… OR! (2) Our universe randomly appeared out of an infinite and eternal nothingness by itself for absolutely no reason at all. These are the only two reasonable options.

I left him a response that he apparently did not like.  He posed another question, but I could see that he wouldn’t like the answer to it either, and it would cease being a comment, and become a blog-post of its own.  I went back in my ‘notifications’ to pick up the beginning, but he had disappeared.  I accessed his post, and found that he had disabled all comments.  I did not realize that him doing that erased all existing comments on my site.  The following first bit is from fading memory.

Neither of your options is reasonable, and you limit your argument by claiming that there can only be two.  A little thought and research would show that there are more then that.  (1) You have not proved that “God” created the Universe, or that there is/was a purpose. (2) Your random appearance from nothing, for no reason claim is so highly unlikely that no reputable astrophysicist would espouse it.

Can you provide any other scenarios?  Either there is purpose, or there isn’t.

This is what he missed.

Imagine a race of spaceless, timeless beings.  One of them, the equivalent of an eight-year-old boy, possesses the singularity which will become our Universe.  Perhaps it is a function of the non-space where he exists, that it occasionally spits out singularities.  Perhaps he found and kept it, like a fossil – or perhaps it’s a toy that his kindly uncle made for him.  He’s been told to keep it safe on a shelf, but accidentally knocks it off, and it falls to the floor and opens up into our known Universe.

Forget about those possibilities, and let our little extra-dimensional kid grow up a bit.

Now he needs a project, like a volcano, for science class.  He decides to build a little mathematical model to demonstrate the laws of physics within material matter.  As he is winding it up, he gets a little goo from a non-material pseudopod on it, and one of the perfect orbs develops life on its surface, like mold.

In the first scenario, the entity which caused our Universe to exist, was not the Creator.  There was no ‘Choice.’  There was no purpose!  In fact, it was an unintentional accident.  The Instigator can hardly be regarded as “God.”

In the second scenario, the Creator, and the Instigator, are the same Astral Squid – which still doesn’t qualify as “God.”  The act of creation, and the resulting Universe, are both intentional, but the creation of life – Us – has no purpose.  In fact, if the Nebulous Nerd knew that his science project was contaminated, he/she/it/they might want to polish the planet clean…. Oh, wait, that Noah flood wasn’t rain; it was Poly-dimensional Purell.

Well, now, the question should be: out of these two equally-weird explanations, which one is best supported by evidence, logic, and reason? Which one is more Possible, Plausible, and Probable? Which one is most believable?

Actually, the question is: which of these two equally-weird pairs of explanations is best supported by evidence, logic, and reason? Which one is more Possible, Plausible, and Probable? Which one is most believable?

I know that most Apologetics would dismiss my hypotheses as childish, but they both are as probable – likely more so – than either of his restrictive offerings.  If a rank amateur like me can easily come up with two alternatives, surely intelligent, educated scientists can come up with more, and better.

Religion

Honest Discussion

Big Bang

Unlike many Christian Apologists, who can be very aggressive, argumentative and judgmental, this Christian lady just seemed to have an honest confusion and curiosity about non-believers. She seemed genuinely bewildered that non-believers’ actions, attitudes and opinions didn’t match what she had been brainwashed to expect. Of course, I felt that she was wrong about some of her assumptions, and blinded by her pre-suppositions, about others – so here we are again.

Why can’t the atheist accept what he can’t see for himself—at least when it comes to God. He can’t see gravity, but believes in it; can’t see black holes, but (most) would agree they exist.

When it comes to God, however, inferring His existence from the effect He has on life (which is how we know about gravity and black holes) is insufficient evidence.

The Atheist can see gravity’s direct effect, from dropping a pen, to black holes pulling stars into them, and there is a scientific explanation for all of it. The effects of God’s presence are only obvious to those who presuppose His existence, and every example offered has a natural explanation.

Some, of course, believe they have come to the only rational, intelligent conclusion possible, but that presupposes that the human mind can know all that is or is not in the vast cosmos.

You do not have to know everything, to have an opinion on one subject, even if it seems to be of cosmic proportions. Despite appearances, the argument is not usually about the existence of God, but rather, about the lack of convincing evidence for your definition.

Despite that uncertainty, atheists are certain God is not there. Life maybe; God absolutely not.

Despite that claim, the profound majority of Atheists do not believe that, nor do most of them claim that He does not exist. A small, vocal minority does, but there are ignorant, arrogant fools on both sides of the Bible.

I have reason to believe that the people holding to a strict 6 24-hour day for creation, are wrong.

Cherries

This is what is known as ‘cherry picking’ your arguments

So, you don’t believe what the Bible clearly says, but you want Atheists to believe it??! 🙄

(1)Steve, do you never ask the philosophical questions science cannot answer? Why are we here? Where are we going? What purpose does life serve? (2)Why do we think there’s a right and a wrong? You clearly do think there’s right/wrong as you demonstrate in this comment. (3) Where did your sense of truth come from? (4) Of morality? There are two things followers of the Bible have that those who reject God and the Bible do not have: a standard to go by and motivation to follow the standard. On and on. Science has nothing to say to these things.

(1) Damn, the woman wants infinity explained in a single comment. Of course, science can’t answer philosophical questions. So what??! Despite what she, and others, believes, neither can Religion. For Atheists to honestly say “I don’t know.” is not a mark of weakness. Steve and many others, have asked these questions. A surprising number of Atheists were once preachers/priests/ministers, or students in Seminary Colleges. Isaac Asimov once called the Bible “the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

(2) There is no right and wrong. What is right for me, is wrong for you. Evolution has taught us to consider outwards: self, family, clan, village, state, nation, world – and each level at a lower intensity. The greatest good for the greatest number. Do unto others what you would have done unto you. A little empathy, compassion, and consideration for others, helps to assure that the human species survives.

(3) “Sense of Truth” is like being a little bit pregnant – it either is, or it isn’t – and if it is, is should be provable. A claim that your religion, or your Holy Book, gives that to you, is quickly disproved by the existence of other religions, and other Holy Books, making the same claim.

(4) Morality is an invention of men who want to get paid to make you feel good that you are following their orders. Atheists, and other non-Christians, all have standards, and motivation to follow them. They just might not be exactly the same as yours, but there is no proof that your morals are the only/correct ones.

Her presupposition is that even Atheists believe in God, but reject Him, where most Atheists honestly do not believe that any such supernatural entity exists.

Science is merely the best methodology to investigate and explain reality. Just because many Atheists embrace and use it, does not mean that they do not also have Philosophical ways of explaining and dealing with these “Moral Problems.” It is not a panacea, as religion claims to be. It is just an effective one of many tools.

’20 A To Z Challenge – B

A To Z ChallengeLetter B

I’m writing less, and you’re enjoying it more. Even after urging me to start a blog, as a comment on my initial post, my first online friend remarked, “however: among your qualities, you failed to mention your verbosity.”  And this was from one of my friends.

Orator

Another fellow-blogger introduced me to one of the many 100-word Flash Fiction groups. I do like to spin a yarn. I’ve just had to learn to spin the yarn a little tighter. I have successfully completed the 12-step program for the terminally loquacious. When I considered availing myself of it, I researched to discover exactly what it contained, and was disappointed to find that 6 of the 12 steps involve submission to God. Since I don’t believe in the existence of any “God”, where necessary, I have substituted chocolate and French fries.

Since I am now well on the road to recovery, I thought that I might present a couple of archaic descriptors that I hope never to be afflicted with again.

BLOVIATE

I thought that this word might have been about that morbidly obese guy in the Monty Python movie, who consumed one bite too many, and exploded, but it turns out to mean

to speak pompously.
1850–55, Americanism; pseudo-Latin alteration of blow, to boast; popularized by Warren G. Harding

AA

Now that I’ve been linguistically clean and straight for several years, I swear on a Merriam-Webster Dictionary, never again to deserve to be called a

BLATHERSKITE

a talkative silly person
foolish talk; nonsense

To prove it, I’ll keep this post short and sweet, although I will invite you to come back on Wednesday, for a wordier edition of my monthly Philosophy and Religion discussion.

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky

In my Poetry In Motion post, I groused that the poetry of some WordPress authors didn’t make a lot of sense. YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!! There is a small group of posters who don’t write poetry…. but what they do write can’t be classed as prose, either. I think a couple of them have swallowed random word generators – or non-prescription medication. They may be the authors of some of those strangely-worded spam comments that you get. Here are some examples.

I was heard the sea and are like unto the leopard and made the great favour with his neck and said Figold was handsome.

At a little finger is the sky where she had given to divert the latest news who have his dead and cried but Horn stayed at sunrise.

That would not recognising him to seawhere may be preserved from his real name and as he heard a band of brotherhood we will give birth and he heard these saw her! Better thou wilt hear the guardians of some evil would sooner be the offing.

HUH?? That was actually one of the more comprehensible. Here’s another.

We have the hand when I shall rather live, we are unconscious life of April last are enigmas.

To us that I will superintend their Circulating and in a square hole in the mischief-makers in reforming and in the funny books too large results given by Christian name, which they cover.

The responsibility of Socrates.

It exploded in us.

They are the country as the medium of independence, of taking the mature age of that things unto this particular I lifted my mind.

Notwithstanding, we might after the mental, moral wound within him.

Perhaps he has furnished great degree, and cutting off his wide from her own personality, however great.

Even the tanks, you that for we read in the seen within it, the Patriarch Nerses to accomplish some old as sensibly alters their planes and artists, leisured people, whilst it can solve some observations on Allison’s Fort and butchered before we got another example of dealing out a chapter of Nerves preserve their fatherland.

Is this some kind of code?? Are we supposed to read every fourth word?? Who spends the time and effort to type out and post this kind of thing – and why?? There seems to be a group of about 6 authors, who each can publish 2 or 3 posts every day of this kind of nonsense gobbledygook. I am at a loss to find any meaning or justification. Are they Pentecostals, “Speaking In Tongues??” Anybody got any idea…. or a translation?

Flash Fiction #201

Alien Takeover

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd

ALIEN TAKEOVER

Apteryx reporting. I have managed to infiltrate the Humans, the ones who believe that they are the greatest species on this planet.

I have disguised myself as a ‘houseplant’ and am hiding in plain view. I plan to remain here for several time periods while I absorb all information about them from things they call books.

I have learned about ‘coding’, how they control their computers. I have begun to understand their social structure by scanning the writings of one of their respected philosophers, a being named Doctor Seuss. They communicate in short, simple groups of words.  Hop on Pop.  😆

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

’19 A To Z Challenge – Kludge

Calipers

Three Laws Of Practical Engineering
Force to fit
File to hide
Paint to cover

At the steel fabricating plant where I once worked, the difference between a welder, and a welder/fitter, was a ten-pound sledgehammer. Those storage tanks always fit.

Kludge

Noun – a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task.

Verb – the atypical act or action of achieving such a goal

Coined 1960/65 by American author Jackson W. Granholm.

Too often, ivory-tower engineers design things for the perfect, optimum conditions, and ignore reality. If you design something to be foolproof, someone will design a bigger fool. As James Bond said to Q, in one of the movies, “There’s a lot of wear and tear goes on out in the field.”

The concept of ‘Kludge’ indicates an open and adaptive mind, instead of one bounded by unchanging rules and regulations. Larry the Cable Guy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but you have to admire his Git ’er done philosophy.

I got this challenge done, and I’ve got a couple more, ready to post soon. Y’all come back now, y’hear?