Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

When religious law within politics interferes with society.

leave a comment »

I was browsing Reddit as usual and apparently there was a hot debate at the moment in America – should abortion be legalized? As expected, Conservatives politicians will say No based on religious ground and Liberal politicians will say Yes based on secular ground.

And then Obama came out with the following statement, which I thought to be pretty inspiring ….

Image

That’s right. Subject to argument and amenable to reason. Universal value. And the reason of the separation of church and state in earlier American history. (Apparently, Socrates was forced to kill himself when he advocated this same idea in ancient Greek history)

From Malaysia’s context, I think the recent case where Erykah Badu’s concert got banned because of the (impermanent) Allah tattoo for one of her album art covers highlighted exactly why religious law interference is logically appalling. I will explain why.

Image

What enraged most non-Muslim Malaysians is it does not make sense to pass on an Islamic law which blanket every Malaysians when clearly not all of us are Muslims. Maybe 60+% of Malaysians will be offended, but the rest of 40% of people may not comprehend why it is offensive at all. Of course it is important to respect Muslims’ view, but respect is always both ways. Some people call it tolerance. So, why impose something which non-Muslim don’t believe on? Why not just disallow Muslims but it is ok for non-Muslim to go for her concert just like casino and pubs? Just a thought.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. What offends one man, might not necessarily will offend the other. Why treat it as though we are all offended?

Of course, Malaysia has been generous to non-Muslims by giving us plenty of freedom, and i recognized that, but the occasional religious interference doesn’t really make sense. Just like France disrespect Muslims there by banning hijab, i think most non-Muslim Malaysians are feeling the same when these moral police go on banning spree which affects non-Muslim. Of course, the degree of severity is different but the gist of it is the same.

I never believe in religion and divine power. However, I respect everyone has their own belief system. I just think religion should be an individual personal relationship with God. Let God judge if an individual is right or wrong. When moral polices act and impose beliefs on behalf of God, and tell us what is right and wrong through media and politics, I’m skeptical. Very skeptical.

And lastly, here’s one of my all time favourite intelligent video by Richard Dawkins who discussed about religious morality vs secular morality. He just said it all.

Advertisements

Written by elan85

March 2, 2012 at 1:34 am

Posted in Atheism, Philosophy

Thank you, Alter Ego.

with 2 comments

One evening, I was with my friends to have a drink with them in an open-air eating place. Then, I saw a rainbow and spontaneously, I was drew to it. Noticing my deep observation, one of my friends joined in my observation and promptly said ..

“Isn’t that beautiful? God’s creation is really marvelous…”

By an instant, my immediate reaction was –> (o_O)”!! > ALERT! Hot button engaged!!

I quickly turned on my idle mind and activated my logical reasoning mode and went – If the rainbow, a natural process where sunlight deflects off water droplets thereby creating a spectrum of light, is God’s creation, then by logical consistency, even our feces, a waste matter from our digestive system, should also be God’s creation.

But why is there no Christians or Muslims after defecating, look on their toilet bowl and proclaim emphatically:

‘Praise The Shit’ or ‘Shit is the Greatest’ or ‘Shit is Beautiful, God is a Genius’?

If you think that I was mocking or degrading religion, I can tell you I’m not. I was only talking about some logical consistency. Crediting God with only beautiful things but ignoring the ugly things is not rational thinking. It’s called as Selection Bias. If God indeed created shit, as His obedient followers, we should appreciate how nice shit smells as a sign of acknowledgement to God’s creation. Hence, ‘Praise The Shit’.

Just when I was about to open my mouth to reason out with my dear friend, suddenly something interrupted me – It was my alter ego…

Alter Ego : That’s rude, Ronn. I hereby refuse you to voice out your thoughts.

Ronn : Ah!! Damn you alter ego! How is this rude?

Alter Ego : Because you will sound very offensive, especially to devoted religious people. You will hurt their feelings and they might think you are not respecting them.

Ronn : Hey, I’m merely reasoning out and NOT spreading false beliefs, OK! Can’t you see how he is practicing Selection Bias in crediting God? Truth hurts, no? Being Truthful is not the same as being Rude!

Alter Ego : But it will hurt you more if your friends, including the neutral ones, do not understand your points and then perceive you as rude. Remember, everyone thinks that they are right and everyone also has ‘Ego’ too. There’s a reason why people avoid discussing anything about religion and politics while socializing, because it has the most chances to hurt the self-image.

Ronn : Is my image more important than Truth?

Alter Ego : Then tell me, are you going to commit your whole life championing this cause?

Ronn : No.

Alter Ego : Then either you go on a mission and do something to change the world or else you better shut up. Nobody will take you seriously unless you are being serious. So, in the mean time, act like you’re a well-mannered boy for now.

Ronn : Sheesh, what a superficial world. Again, Being Truthful ≠ Rude!! No wonder the world is getting dumber and dumber because everyone is hiding behind their alter ego all the time.

Alter Ego : You should had expected this since people think with their cached thoughts.

Ronn : You have a good point. So, can I blog about this thought, then?

Alter Ego : I think that’s fine because nobody reads your blog.

Ronn : Truth hurts. *sob*

And so, my alter ego just smiled to my friend and then we continue with our light conversation.

Few months later, which is now, I’m glad that my alter ego has vetoed to stop me from speaking my mind out, thus saving me from unnecessary embarrassment. Along the way, I achieved several realization ..

1. Seeking gratification by reasoning or debating with other people is part of my cached thought. Being agitated by my hot button is also part of my cached thought. Acting as if I’m an Intellectual giant is also a product of my cached thought. It’s only meant to boost my ego – And it’s an illusion. Like a storm cloud, it may look to be powerful and fierce, but if you go near enough to grab it, it is just all mist. It’s an illusion.

2. Before critiquing other people of thinking with cached thought, I must first break free from it or else I’m just being hypocritical.

3. Atheism is meant to be kept to myself, not to be preached. I almost forgot that my ultimate personal goal is to study the way how Life and the World work, not sticking to a belief system (of atheism). To me the Truth is clear – there is no God. So why should I need to seek immediate personal gratification of spreading atheism to a mere few people around me? And I know the most effective way for people to discover the Truth is not through my preaches and persuasion. It is only through self-effort that people can understand it.

4. It’s always in human’s blood to correct injustice, banishing evilness and enlightening the ignorant. The idea of goodness has always been an eternal idealism for human being. However, at the same time, injustice, evilness and ignorance have always been and will always Exist. So, how do you create harmony between idealism and the reality? It is to strike the balance between the two – The Middle Way.

If you want the Truth to stand clear before you, never be ‘for’ or ‘against’. The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is mind’s worst disease. – Jianzhi Sengcan, the third patriarch of Zen Buddhism in China.

Therefore, this will be my last piece of writing on Atheism.

And Thank you, Alter Ego.

Written by elan85

October 27, 2008 at 7:35 am

Posted in Atheism, Philosophy

Applying Multi-Dimensional Thinking To Atheism

with 8 comments

01022-01

On one fine day, I got a mini-Eureka while playing with my Rubik’s cube (which is my daily toy). I realized when I twist one block away, it doesn’t just affect the front face but even the top face, left face, right face and bottom face will all be affected. For instance, based on the diagram on the right, if I turn the white face clockwise, the blue and red face will be messed up along with the other 2 faces on the other side. And this is just a single move. If I move random blocks 4-5 times, the entire cube will be pretty scrambled. In other words, to solve Rubik’s cube you can’t fix it by just looking at one face but you also have to take into consideration of all the other sides/faces. You got to think in 3-Dimensional.

Well, that seems pretty obvious at first. Duh. However, my way of thinking do not stop there. I always look for the ‘Essence’ or ‘Gist’ of whatever that I’ve discovered and then asked myself – ‘How do I apply this Essence to my philosophy?’. I understand that Detail tells you the small picture, but Essence show you the big picture.

So, from the Rubik’s cube, I learned that when solving a complex problem, I can’t just do one-dimensional thinking, but I also have to look from the 2nd and 3rd dimensions point of view to grasp the full picture, hence, multi-dimensional thinking.

“Hit the tree but missed the forest.”

“Hit the tree but missed the forest.” – Unknown.

This is actually not an official proverb but something I came across around 3-4 years ago in a Malaysian blog. And this quote, has then changed the way of how I construct my thought ever since. The idea of this quote is simple yet profound – sometimes, when we try to solve a problem, we might get the small details right but in a bigger picture, it doesn’t apply to the essence of the problem. (For example – the delusion that creationist can dismiss Evolution by attacking macro-evolution). And to solve the big picture problem, we will need multi-dimensional thinking due to its complexity.

Imagine you are going for an adventure to search for the mystical ancient forest – Gugukaka forest, which the location is not known to any man. All you know is that the Gugukaka forest contains Popululu trees, and so you start searching for the forest. One day, after many years of searching, you finally found the Popululu tree, but are you sure that’s Gugukaka forest? You hit tree, but are you sure that’s the right forest? If you claim without any hesitancy that this is the right ancient forest by mere recognizing the one tree, then you are just applying one dimensional thinking.  Perhaps, other forest also do have this Popululu trees, you never know.

To understand whether it is indeed the Gugukaka forest or not, you need to grasp the essence of ‘mystical’ and ‘ancient’. If this is a mystical forest, there should not be many common inhabitants or else it wouldn’t be mystical anymore. If this is an ancient forest, it should be tricky or difficult to find or else everybody would have found this forest and it would not be ancient anymore. Or if I walk along the forest and get roasted by a phoenix or impaled by an unicorn or BBQ’ed by ogres, then I will know right away that this is a mystical forest.

You get the idea.

Atheism

There was a time when I heard someone said ‘I don’t see anything that disprove the existence of God’. Immediately, I told myself silently ‘But I, on the other hand, do not find any evidence which support God’s existence!’. Clearly, a major contradiction happens here. Looking from a simplistic point of view, since these two statements are mutually exclusive, we are basically sharing 50%-50% chances to be correct with our views. In other words, one of us has to be right, and another is downright ignorant.  At the same time I know that when tackling such question, it is not something I can solve by flipping the coin and say I Win! Or stick to my own biased beliefs and say “I’m Right and You’re Wrong!”.. By default, there’s a faith system within our psyche which trigger us to consistently believe that we are right and anyone against our beliefs are wrong. That’s why more often than not, our unconscious priority when getting into argument or debate is to ‘Win’ the argument rather than finding the truth. I’m perfectly aware of that.

Not only that, I also can’t just go and say ‘people who believe in God are idiots and totally wrong in their beliefs’ because not only this is a logical fallacy, but also very one-dimensional thinking. Therefore, I need to argue this case looking from my different dimensions point of view. I will present my argument now, so, read carefully.

In the modern world justice system, we commonly adopt the famous stance – Innocent until proven Guilty. This is not a perfect system because not every criminal who deserve punishment are in jail, but nevertheless, this is the best justice system that we could have. Something equivalent to capitalism in economics – not perfect but the best.

So, basically – You are innocent by default until there are evidences which prove you guilty. In other words, you are ‘nothing’ until evidence prove you to have/be ‘something’. Nothing until proven something.

Therefore, when it comes to arguing God’s existence, the burden of proof is not with the non-believers but with the believers. Because by default, we have to assume that there’s nothing in the sky until proven to have something. Again, this is not the perfect system to argue against mysteries but surely the best we have. ANd it appears that we have zero concrete evidence for God’s existence – Absolutely zero, or else many theologians will rush and hold this evidence to prove to everyone that God exist. But so far, theologians only argue from philosophical point of view or by interpreting doctrines. Therefore, we have to assume that God do not exist, until concretely proven to be so.

OK, hold that thought of ‘Nothing until proven Something’, because I’m now entering to another dimension. Hold tight.

Here I will want to pose a simple question – Assuming that God do exist (Abrahamic’s religion), will it be his intention to want us, all of us the human beings to recognize his existence, accept him, worship him and submit to him? I can safely assume the answer is yes and sending Jesus Christ to earth was one of his intention to do so. Now, here’s my another argument:

A God who created such massive universe and a complex thing called Life must have a great massive amount of intelligence. Let’s call it uber-intelligence. But wouldn’t a God who have uber-intelligence do not have simple common sense (that even me a mere mortal could think off) that if He reveal himself even for just a few seconds to all of us right now, JUST A FEW SECONDS, then once and for all, ONCE AND FOR ALL, there will no longer be any debates of His existence, atheist will cease to exist and you will see myself praying everyday – once and for all. He could also choose to perhaps show us some miracles as evidence, like sending down angels … or healing a lost limb … or splitting the oceans or creating 3 new moons. Whatever. Any form of evidence that even scientists and Richard Dawkins will bow down and have no choice but to say – EVIDENCE!

But we see zero miracles or evidence from God throughout the history. Zero. Now, it appears to me that it’s either there’s no God available to perform miracle or God want to keep people playing the guessing and contemplating game. I have a funny thought that if it is the latter one, then it is as if God is playing a game of Poker with me.

god

God : Hey mortal, do you believe me if I am to tell you that I have an Ace underneath my card? That will give me triple Aces. I can easily beat your pair 5 and pair Kings.

Man : Yo, I’m not convinced.

God : Oh yeah? All IN! $1000!

Man : *Gasp*

God : Do you believe me now? I advice you to fold. It is foolish to follow and go all-in with me, because you will only end up losing like HELL.

 

Man : Are you playing psychological games with me? Are you bluffing me?

God : You can try me, young one. You think you have nicer cards? Let me tell you what, my card is better than yours, any time because I’m superior. Now, either you fold and call me the God of Gambler or you can try to go all-in with me which you will certainly lose like HELL.

Man : Oh dear. *dilemma dilemma* But wouldn’t it be much easier if you have just revealed your card, show me your triple Aces and I, once and for all, will fold my cards and call you God of Gambler from today onwards? Or are you really bluffing me?

God : Reveal my cards? No way! I love to play mind games with ya. I like to keep you guessing without giving you any clarity in hints. It’s up to you to judge and interpret my words… bwahahaha~ So if you think I’m, bluffing, why not go all-in with me?

It will take plenty of writings to make this a full blown essay by incorporating topics from psychology, biology, historical and perhaps astronomy to really see the combined big picture of why God’s existence is improbable. But I will leave it short and sweet.

Conclusion: Nothing until proven something. God did not show proofs, therefore there’s nothing.

Certainly, to rebut my argument above using counter-argument like “You never know God’s intention” or “God has no reason to reveal himself” or “God has no reason to comply with your demand” will not help at all because my argument is constructed purely based on logic, step by step, piece by piece, while the rebuttals are faith-based and also, one dimensional.

You can’t compare goldfish with koi-fish .. they are 2 different class breeds.   

Written by elan85

October 9, 2008 at 9:03 am

Posted in Atheism, Philosophy

The Evolution of Religion

with 2 comments

The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black, while the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.

Yet, if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw, and could sculpture like men, then the horses would draw their gods like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own. – Xenophanes, ancient Greek philosopher.

I won’t dare to claim that I’m an expert in the field of religion. But I would just like to summarize what I have generally learnt throughout the past 4 years of the history of religion.

The most early form of religion is Animism, where the ancient people believed that everything in the world, from water to fire, tree, animals, grass, and fruits contain souls and spirits.  It is no surprise why the primitive people were so superstitious during those days. They probably just attained the ability of higher intelligence and everything around them must have looked to be super-mysterious and strange.

Why does it hurt to touch the fire? Why do I need to drink water? How does the tree grow taller and taller by itself? Why do we look so different compared to other animals? Why do fruits turn brown several days after being plucked from the tree? It is very important to understand that the root of religion’s existence is due to human’s inherent thoughts of seeking Cause and Effect. They were seeing the Effects clearly with their eyes but the origin of Causes bewildered them badly. They basically do not have any answers to mysteries.

Not knowing the answers, they concluded that if the nature is so mysterious and they do not know any answer to it, then it must be a deep mystery. There must be something controlling the nature. There must be some little souls in the fruits and trees, animals… and lightning…. and the sun and moon. Everything. Hence, ancient people worship anything which they came across to ‘appease’ these mysterious objects.

Few thousand years later, human being began the art of mastery and started to manipulate the nature to our own benefits. We learned how to light up fire to provide heat. We learned how to do farming (agricultural) and channel water to the farm. Human chopped down trees to build homes. Human starting to have grasp of the nature and utilizing it to our own benefits.

Inevitably, human doubted and questioned Animism and gradually it slowly faded away because it no longer bears any fundamental mysteries. But there were still many mysteries which were unsolved especially things on the sky such as sun, lightning, rain, wind and etc. Those people hypothesizes that Animism couldn’t be right. There must be a higher level of Gods and Deities to complement the higher level of complexities.

Hence, the rise of Polytheism took place in places like Egypt, India, Greece, Rome (Italy), Scandinavia and China. They are all identical – all these countries have became a civilized nations and they started to believed in pagan Gods. Plus, all these Polytheism religions contained stories and tales conveying the role of all the Gods and Goddess. And it is also not short of ‘Politics’ where often you will come across stories of the Good triumph over Evil, The God slaying the Devil which tried to harm humanity and a complex family tree linking all the relationship between Gods and Goddess.

(African and Mesoamerican people on the other hand, who were largely tribal, practiced shamanism which involved rituals and sacrificial).

If you notice these pagan Gods, you will realize all these Gods often represent the nature and also human emotions. Zeus, God of Lightning. Poseidon, God of Sea. Ra, God of Sun. Amun, God of Creation. Pluto, God of Death. Saturn, God of Time. Brahma, God of Creator. Krishna, God of Love. Etc.

As time goes by, scientific advancement in areas like astronomy, mathematics, physics, and philosophy especially by the Greeks shed some doubts on the concept of pagan Gods. Ancient philosophers and scientists believed that the reality ‘makes more sense’ if there’s a coherency in nature instead of looking at them separately. For instance, rain could not happen without water and heat. And without water, flowers and trees will not grow. And if flower and trees do not grow, animals will not have any food to eat. Hence, there must be a form of coherency.

This lead to the idea that, instead of multiple pagan Gods in the sky governing Earth, perhaps there’s only one God who orchestrate the design of the nature? With this, the age of monotheism gave birth to Abrahamic religions which focuses in answering the ultimate mystery that nobody could dissect until 1,800 years later, and also giving a massive improvisation to Polytheism’s version – Where do life and human being came from? 

And so, until today, we are still living in the age of monotheism. Just like polytheism, monotheism religion also tell fables. Isn’t it hypocritical to claim that the Zeus summoning lightning is a myth but the story of Noah’s Ark is the truth when both fable have the same degree of irrationality?

I live in Southeast Asia and I find it quite an amazement to see three neighboring countries – Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines have different official religions. (Malaysia – Islam, Thailand – Buddhism, Philippines – Christianity). Why such situation exist when these three neighboring countries are just few thousand kilometers away from each other? Because historically, Malaysia was once a busy trading port frequently visited by Persian and Turkish traders, while Thailand is the only country in Southeast-Asia which was never occupied by colonial rule, hence repelling the European’s cultural influence and Philippines was occupied by the Spanish.

This actually highlights several important points:

  • The belief of religion was purely spread and packed with human’s influence.
  • As Xenophanes mentioned, human being created God based on our own image. So, we need to know that every religion was raised based on specific cultural influence.
  • For instance, look at the names in the holy books/scriptures. Bible is consist purely of European names, the Quran consist purely of Arab/Middle-Eastern names, Hinduism scriptures consist purely of Indian names. Same goes for societal values.
  • You will not find out of place names like .. the Lord Meng Huo or King Murugan in the Bible – That’s because Christianity is originally an European religion, just like Islam which was largely an Arabian religion. You will not see that cow and monkey are sacred animals in the holy books. That’s because these animals are only sacred in India and not in Europe.
  • There is not even a single religion in the world which highlights the diversity of people around the world but rather, focusing only on their own people.
  • Isn’t it strange and funny that Asians are actually indulging in a religion which is only meant and written for European/Arab people (Christianity and Islam)?

Therefore, based on the trends above, I believe that monotheism religion, sooner or later, will become obsolete as the scientific area advances. Like now, there are already some branches of Christianity which has openly accepted Evolution. Don’t forget, Evolution was fiercely rejected by religion only in the last century ago.

Religion will never go away as, for the mean time, human couldn’t psychologically break away from the Cause-and-Effect-delusion – I can see the Effect but what is the Cause? If I can’t/don’t understand the Cause, therefore it must be a mystery. If it’s a mystery, it must be miraculous or magical and must be the work of divine. Hence, God must exist.

We often, without our awareness, adopt a very self-centric view in perceiving the reality. Many people will go – I’m logical, I’m rational, I’m Intelligent. I can understand this and that. If i don’t understand something, it’s not my fault but the subject’s fault because it is hard to understand. If there is something which is nearly impossible to understand, it’s not because my brain is lousy and couldn’t understand it but rather it must be magical or a miracle. It must be the work of divine power, or else why couldn’t I understand it?

We have to understand that whenever we encounter a mystery, it’s not because the thing is really a mystery. Rather, we have an ignorant mind -We simply do not know. If you could expand your mind, and see the big picture, you will realize religion which preach to believe in God actually is not significant at all to humanity. Individual human’s life span is around 70-90 years old, but compared it to the history of 10,000 years, our life span is nothing. To understand religion, we just can’t look at the history of the past 50-100 years but it is essential to understand the root of religion over several thousand of years.

Human being loves super-heroes in comics and manga. But we can worship them only in our fantasy and imagination. However, in religion, we could actually openly worship this super-hero called God without being labeled as lunatic or crazy … I will be glad to link it as psychological glitch in our mind.

Religion will continue to evolve to keep up with the progress of scientific work. Once there’s a new discovery, some theologian will alter their holy book/scripture interpretation to keep up with the reality. I will not at all be surprised if one day religion evolves to something similar as in the movie Matrix where our God is basically a computer program. Religion’s role is about coping with mysteries and uncertainties, therefore, take away mysteries and uncertainty, there’s no longer any reason for the existence of religion.

That’s why we are not worshipping fire anymore.

Beside that, we must also never forget that before the age of secularism, state religion is pretty common where a nation endorsed religious beliefs and incorporate it as law and code of ethics. What better ways are there to control the masses than rallying them with divine being as a form of motivation, albeit a delusion?

The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. – Einstein

Written by elan85

September 22, 2008 at 5:36 am

Posted in Atheism, Philosophy

Morality, Animals and Religion

with 12 comments

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate Physicist. 

When I was 12 years old, there was a time when I came across a few stray kittens on the roadside. Seeing these little helpless and hungry kittens purring, I took my precious 50 cents and bought some bread to feed them. Thinking back, it’s kinda silly since bread is not a natural diet for cats.

When I was 18, I came across a baby bird on the ground with its leg broken and it just kept chipping. I presume its crying in pain. When I looked up, I saw the mother bird and father bird depressingly looking down at our direction. It clearly fell down from the nest. My first reaction was to carry this baby bird to the closest vet to heal its leg. But I realized there isn’t any nearby. My second thought was, if I can’t help the baby bird, maybe I should use my bottle to crush and end its life so that it doesn’t need to suffer any longer. But I thought perhaps it is too cruel to do it in front of mother bird and father bird. Not knowing what to do, I’d decided to leave it alone.

I kept thinking of the baby bird for the next several hours. In the late evening on the same day, I return to the same spot to see the bird. And its dead. Perhaps its a good thing for the bird but nevertheless, it left me with a moment of sadness.

Back in my teenage days, I wasn’t as actively inquisitive as I am today, therefore I’m sure there isn’t any rational actions behind my encounter with these animals – it’s all emotionally  instinctive. Clearly, altruism plays a big part in our human being’s emotion.

Think of all those small things you did which you do not expect any direct reward or acknowledgement. Like saving a drowning bug in the pond and place it on the ground. Or perhaps you give some coins to the poor beggar on the street. Or helping an old lady who tripped on the road. Or feeding the hungry stray dogs on the street. Or any other deeds which you did that gave you a sense of gratification without expecting any reward or favour back. That’s altruism. And I truly believe, for some reasons, it is innate to human being.

Thus, we need to abolish the notion that morality comes from God and religion. Yes, of course, religion plays a big part in spreading the idea of morality, albeit being hypocritical in some instances. But before I explain what those hypocritical things are all about, first look at these two remarkable quotes below.

‘If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.’ – Albert Einstein, Nobel Laureate Physicist. 

‘Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God’s approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That’s not morality, that’s just sucking up and applepolishing’. – Richard Dawkins, Biologist. 

One of the most ugly arguments from religious people is – If there’s no God, there will be no morality and human being are please to do all sort of evil and this world will become a dark world. Then I will just echo Richard Dawkins answer – so do you mean that you’re doing good things because of sucking up to the God?

Actually, both the argument and reply above are stated from a very extreme point of view. Hence, I do not think it bears any significance or worthwhile thoughts to ponder on. But I guess a garbage argument deserve a garbage reply. Let’s look at other points.

The holy books gave a very simplistic view of human morality saying that human are basically born sinful and we can choose the path of whether to do good or evil in our lifetime. And God list down all the moral values that we should adhere. God defined what is right and what is wrong. And so I was thinking, assuming that the holy book is right, I wonder how the conversation will turn out to be should I get a chance to speak with a Pastor/Priest/Father on this topic…..

Ronn : Is saving life, even if it just an insect’s life is a good moral deed? Like saving a bug from drowning in the pond?

Pastor/Priest/Father : The answer is clear. What do you think?

Ronn : I guess it would be a good moral deed since its a pathetic act to just watch the bug drown and die. I will certainly feel bad and guilty not doing anything to save it from suffering when all I just need to do is to take a stick to lift it away from the water. What do you think?

Pastor/Priest/Father : I think that’s a good answer.

Ronn : But thinking about it logically, even if I save the bug, since it is in the bottom of the ecology’s pyramid food chain, it will eventually be eaten by bird, frog or lizards. It will basically die sooner or later. Plus, the God clearly says in the holy book that human is his special creation while animals are second class life to human. Which means all other animals are inferior to human being. Why do I get some sense of gratification from saving an inferior species like a bug even if I don’t get any direct rewards or acknowledgement from the bug? Why is it a morally good deed to save a bug?

Pastor/Priest/Father: No, I think you get it wrong. Jesus taught us to love and that’s not limited to only human but also including animals. We must spread the love. God knows your good intention when you save the little bug.

Ronn : If we are supposed to love animals, then why religion condone the fact that human being kill animals for their meat? Why is it a morally good deed to prevent suffering by saving the bug but it is also morally okay to slaughter a chicken for its meat? Don’t chicken also value their life and struggle in pain when slaughtered? So what’s exactly morality?

Pastor/Priest/Father: Morality is something defined by God not by us. According to the bible, God created animals and put them under our command. We control their fate and we can choose to love them or eat their meat.

Ronn : For the sake of seeking consistency in religion’s definition of morality, can we love animals yet putting them in our stomach at the same time? Or is there a double standard where we can love some animals like dogs and cats and not love some animals like chicken and cow and put them in our stomach instead? So, it is suppose to make sense and be accepted even if its logically contradicts and void of consistency? How about mosquitoes, the number 1 bio-terrorist in the world which we will never think twice to exterminate. Why do God put something which we will never love on the face of the Earth?

Pastor/Priest/Father: God do not think the same way as we human do. We can never understand his thoughts. We need to keep the faith.

Religion is never short of contradictions, no? That’s exactly what morally hypocritical I’m talking about .Another moral hypocrisy is the point that it says Thou Shalt Not Kill but condoning the act of killing in war (because they are enemies, so the double standard applies).

However, putting the imaginary God and religion aside, this contradiction still applies if perceived from an objective secular point of view.  Why do we feel the emotion of sympathy when we see a dying bird or a drowning bug but yet, we do not feel any remorse or guilt when eating, let’s say chicken meat or beef? Believe me, you just need to watch some videos of how animals are slaughter in big farms or dens to turn yourself a vegetarian overnight. In this sense, ignorance is bliss, really.

But think deeper another level again. Why do we feel so uncomfortable watching an animal getting slaughtered alive but it is okay if we put a piece of cooked meat into our mouth? Unless you’re a professional butcher who has already adapted in slaughtering animals, else chances is that you could not bear watching the gore of animals being killed alive. As it turns out, apparently, it’s a psychological flaw that we have which creates such contradiction. A bug. A glitch. A faulty evolutionary psychology.

I will explain that more in the next post.

Written by elan85

September 10, 2008 at 4:07 am

Posted in Atheism, Philosophy

Random Atheists and Agnostics Quotes

with one comment

Before i wrote my previous two pieces of articles, i looked around on the net seeking inspirations. All the stuffs below are very well worth reading …

An interview with Sam Harris on the Colbert Report:

Sam Harris: None of us believe in Poseidon. We all know what would it be like to be an atheist to Poseidon. Anyone worshipping Poseidon,even at sea, is a lunatic. Even Christians know how it feels to be an ‘atheist’ in respect to the beliefs of Muslims.

Steven Colbert : I know what it is like to be a Christian in respect to the beliefs of Muslims, OK? It’s not inherent in my belief that you are crazy, it’s inherent in my belief that you are wrong. Even that God can exist. He can just be a false God that my God will smite.

I’m not saying Poseidon is not there. For all i know he is down there with his big green beard at the bottom of the sea with his little trident and you know ….. finding Nemo. I’m just saying my God is a greater God. My God … can kick your God’s ass.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sam Harris: I think either you have good reasons for what you believe, or you don’t. If you have good reasons, those beliefs are part of the worldview of science and rationality generally. If there were good reasons to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that Mohammed went to heaven on a winged horse, that would be part of our rational worldview. And it’s only when people lose their purchase on evidence and argument, when they have bad reasons, that they talk about faith.

Steven Colbert : I’ve got a strong evidence that the Bible tells me that Jesus was born from a virgin. There are also witnesses in the Bible.

Sam Harris : Unfortunately, the Quran says that anyone who thinks that, is going to spend an eternity in hell.

Steven Colbert : We are not talking about the Quran! We are talking about the Bible, Ok? The Bible is without flaw. It is inerrant. And we know this, because the Bible says IT IS WITHOUT flaw…. So, you are talking about rationality and reason, what part of my logical loop you want to get on?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I laughed my ass off …

Below are some of the extremely constructive and rational quotes from several of the greatest thinkers in history.

“The idea of God was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed to be decoded by psychology. A personal god was nothing more than an exalted father-figure: desire for such a deity sprang from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father, for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever. God is simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshipped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness. Religion belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity. It had promoted ethical values which were essential to society. Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left behind.”Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst.

“The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…logic can be happily tossed out the window.” – Stephen King, Novel Writer.

“I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don’t have to waste your time in either attacking or defending.”Isaac Asimov, Science Fiction Writer

“I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”Isaac Asimov, Science Fiction Writer

“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, Physicist

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.  It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology.  Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity”.Albert Einstein, Physicist

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”- Charles Darwin, Naturalist.

“God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you’re taking away from God; you don’t need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven’t figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don’t believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time — life and death — stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don’t think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out.” Richard Feynman, Physicist.

“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe”. Carl Sagan, Astronomer

“One kind of honesty has been unknown to all founders of religions and their likes — they have never made of their experiences a matter of conscience and knowledge. “What did I really experience? What happened in me and around me then? Was my mind sufficiently alert? Was my will bent against fantasy?” — none of them has asked such questions, none of our dear religious people asks such questions even now: they feel, rather, a thirst for things which are contrary to reason and do not put too many difficulties in the way of satisfying it — thus they experience “miracles” and “rebirths” and hear the voices of angels!” Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher

The most heinous and the must cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives. Gandhi, Political & Spiritual Leader.

Written by elan85

May 22, 2008 at 1:43 am

Posted in Atheism

Does Randomness Exist?

with 15 comments

I have a new addiction recently … i just can’t stop watching The Colbert Report for the past few weeks. His great wits and intellect underlying his humour is really something great to watch. I’m officially a fan of Stephen Colbert.

While watching the newer episodes of Colbert Report, I also dug around the net looking for his old ones. (Unfortunately, YouTube has removed all the popular videos, so it’s not easy looking for them). And guess what i found? An interview with – Richard Dawkins! I can’t embed flash videos apart from YouTube directly here as WordPress doesn’t allow any Javascripts stuffs. So, i guess you have to watch it here:

http://www.boreme.com/boreme/funny-2006/dawkins-colbert-p1.php

In his real life, Stephen Colbert described himself as a progressive Catholic who strongly value intellectualism. I could imagine he is the sort of religious person who is devoted to his spiritual beliefs yet accepting science such as Evolution as the answer for our existence (although it go against the conventional beliefs of the church and bible).

And i know very well the fact that belief system is not really a big factor. It is the open mindset of embracing intellectualism that counts. That’s exactly a problem with most religious people – sticking to the holy book while cherry-picking science which support their belief and dismissing science which go against their belief. It is like they are intellectually trapped in their own world accepting nothing else but ‘the book’.

Back to the video, Steven Colbert who often portrays himself as an egomaniac and anti-intellectual in the Colbert Report show, appeared to ‘dumb-down’ himself in order to bring the message across. At least it looks like it to me. Notice that he said things exactly what anti-intellectuals would have in their mindsets especially when dealing with Evolution.

– “It’s too complex for us to perceive”

– “I’m lost. It hurts my head. You see, if i just think that God just did it then i can understand.”

And at the end of the video, Stephen also briefly and indirectly described the process of existence of the universe and human being, a general knowledge which everyone should know.

But one of the question was unanswered in the video above – Richard Dawkins didn’t address Colbert’s Pachinko analogy (LoL). That may sound like a stupid question, but i can tell you it’s not. So, i will attempt to answer it.

I’m not really familiar with Pachinko machines. So, maybe i will use other things which deal with randomness as example. Let’s take Golf.

Imagine, you are at the Golf driving range. You hit the ball across 100 yards and it lands on a certain spot. Then you hit a second attempt. Now, what are the chances that when you hit the ball on your second attempt, the ball will land exactly on  the same spot as it was previously? You have no idea what are the probabilities are but you know that it will be extremely low.

You see, when you hit a ball, you could roughly predict the radius within an area where the ball will land. But you can’t tell precisely for sure which spot the ball will land on. Common sense tells us that the ball lands ‘randomly’ within the radius.

But the fact is, there are so many variables involved when you hit the ball. We have to consider the power, angle, position, velocity, momentum, type of club, wind, etc. when we make that shot. And the thing is, as a human being, we simply don’t have the ability to make the same exact shot twice in a row which result the same value in all the variables.

However, if you know the variables of the power, angle, position, velocity, momentum, type of club, wind, etc. of the shot, through mathematics, you could possibly calculate and know where the ball will land. Imagine a Golf robot is created which can hit the ball at the same power, angle, position, velocity, and momentum consistently every time (nevermind the wind). I bet the ball will fall always at the same place twice, or more than that.

Putting this simply, there is always a reason why a ball land in a certain spot and this is influenced heavily by the mentioned variables. Things looks random simply because … well because we are human being and not robots? We don’t have the ability to precisely control the variables and that’s what makes sports fun.

Therefore, in conclusion i echo the thoughts of Richard Dawkins that there’s nothing in this world which is totally random…. apart from Quantum Mechanics i suppose (Or is there a hidden variable?).

Oh, btw, the video of Colbert vs Rain … funny like hell.

http://www.milkandcookies.com/link/103751/detail/

Written by elan85

May 6, 2008 at 12:37 am

Posted in Atheism, Philosophy