Evolution of the gaps

“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.”
― Jim Butcher, Vignette

I contend some people attend bad schools or get a poor education. And I am unable to tell whether the author of evolution of the gaps is jesting or is being serious.

I am not sure I have read anyone who writes

I don’t know how it happened so it must be evolution

so I may have to widen my reading.

There is a difference between

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose – Richard Dawkins

and concluding the world is designed. They are worlds apart.

A retelling of Paley’s watchmaker argument, in this case, as

Let’s say Atheist Scientist Sam is walking along in the jungle. Lots of organic life mingling together in one place. Awesome! Now let’s say that Sam comes across a wall with “Andrew is a Sexy Tiger. Rawr” engraved in it. Why doesn’t he say, “My! What a marvel of evolution!

is fallacious. An engraving on a wall is recognizable as human endeavour. From experience, Sam knows only humans write or engrave walls. He can’t for a moment think it was evolution that resulted in those words. So the theist who trots this argument either hasn’t read the objections to the watchmaker argument or simply acting dumb. I will go with dumb.

And Dawkins doesn’t say

Simply put, things that appear to be designed, even as Dawkins admits, have a designer.

To talk of something being designed, you must at least know or have a way of knowing the end to which the thing is designed. I have seen beautiful natural landscapes that have resulted from erosion but would seem to have been designed. What are we to say about them?

When we see things that appear to be designed, it is reasonable to always remember, it is appearance. We shouldn’t infer from appearance to being.

A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”
― Bertrand Russell

Religion does no good to society

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich

Napoleon Bonaparte

Hold on to your horses before you attack me. I know you are likely to charge me with sweeping with a large brush and ask maybe that I retract or use a smaller brush or maybe change the undertones in the pigment to somewhat light grey, but I will not.

Religion, as I understand it, is the belief in the supernatural. Before we continue, I contend that Buddhism stripped of its supernatural associations is not a religion in the real sense of the word. Many people use religion to mean many things. Some have gone so far to say doing good is their religion. I will only say in passing that has nothing to do with religion per se.

You may ask me now what about missionary schools, hospitals and charities run by the religious and I will tell you they have nothing to do with religion. On the other hand, for religion to continue to hold its sway among people, it had to, over time, associate itself with those things that we value and are important to us.

It is for the above reason that religion associated itself with morality. Our ancestors having created gods have them issue forth moral edicts in the hope they would be obeyed if they came from a god. It is no wonder, while reading the Hebrew fairy tale, anyone who goes a-killing has support of god.

Next, it may be argued that religious people have been at the forefront in the struggle for reformation and justice. And I will say yes but further add that Calvin was tolerant as long as you agreed with him. Servetus who didn’t agree with him ended up at the stake. The same is to be said of Martin Luther and so many other of the reformation leaders. As men they were intolerant of dissent and as religious people, they had support of their gods to treat others with disdain and even burn them.

This is my sketch, Christopher Hitchens wrote a whole book I think on the same. I haven’t read his book. Maybe I should go off and read it now.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the rulers as useful.

Lucius Seneca

Chronicles of YHWH 39: Drunk Noah

Drunk Noah

 

The story goes that after the great flood, Noah made wine from his vineyard, got drunk from it, and shed all his clothes. He then run around and danced naked. YHWH spotted him, and got pissed off:

 

YHWH (In a thundering voice): NOAH! Wear some clothes, you idiot!

Noah (Running away, stark naked): No! I will not!

YHWH (Running after Noah): Come on, Noah. Out of the entire human race, I chose you as the most sane, and spared your life. Behave like a sane person.

Noah: I don’t wanna!

YHWH: I’ll curse you and your descendants to the 25th generation if you don’t wear some clothes right now, Noah!

Noah (Prancing around): Ha ha! The curses will wash off my naked, sweaty body!

YHWH: I regret saving you from the flood, Noah. I should have chosen a different family!

Noah (Rolling in a muddy puddle): Come, let’s roll in this mud together! I feel like a filthy swine right now, and I like it!

YHWH: You are such a filthy person, Noah.

Noah (Clapping muddy hands together): Yes! Yes! I am! Most filthy!

YHWH: Please wear your clothes. Your sons will see your shame if you don’t, Noah.

Noah (Jumping up and down): My shame is completely shameless! Look at it, dancing around as I jump! Dance, my gorgeous shame, Dance!

 

N/B: For access to all anecdotes in this series, check out List of all “Chronicles of YHWH” notes.

On the importance of miracles to the Christian faith

However skillfully the modern ingenuity of semi-belief may have tampered with supernatural interpositions, it is clear to every honest and unsophisticated mind that, if miracles be incredible, christianity is false. If Christ wrought no miracles, then the gospels are untrustworthy… If the resurrection be merely a spiritual idea, or a mythicized hallucination, then our religion has been founded on an error.
Dr. Farrar

On freewill and god

man is his own work before all knowledge and knowledge is merely added to it to enlighten it. Therefore he cannot resolve to be this or that, nor can he become other than he is; but he is once for all, and he knows in the course of experience what he is.

Arthur Schopenhauer

In my last post on freewill, I did point out that the biggest problem lies in misunderstanding especially by the freewillers on what they mean. I can confidently say most of those who argue for freewill don’t know what they are talking about. They regurgitate what others have said and go on from one absurdity to the next and that I contend is what James does in god’s sovereignty and freewill.

He starts by creating a false dilemma. He writes

If we surrender free will, life becomes bleak and hopeless. If God possesses exclusive control over our destinies, why should we do anything? What difference does anything make if life is all mapped out? If we surrender divine sovereignty, life loses transcendent meaning and purpose. We exist and then we die.

which I contend is not the case. That our actions are determined wouldn’t stop us from acting. Why shouldn’t we not act? In fact, the trouble arises if the theist proposes a god with plans for us. Why should we do anything while god has a plan? What if we go against his perfect and holy plan?

It is in describing the nature of will that James goes of the rails completely. He writes

The will expresses our heart’s desire. Whatever we want most, we do. The will surveys the motives in the heart and always, always acts upon them.

and a causal reading of the statement implies that we are separate from the will. I must wonder whether the will takes long walks and only returns when we want to act to do a survey and present its results?

He makes an erroneous conclusion from an analogy he presents about being forced to empty your wallet to a mugger. He writes

[..]The thief tells you that if you don’t empty your entire account and give it to him, he will take your life. You really want your money—and you still want that TV—but you decide to give it all to him so you can live.

and then concludes thus

In that instance, were you prevented from exercising free will? Not at all. You simply did what you desired most. Being an ever-so-smart person, you desired to live more than you wanted a full bank account or a new TV. Whatever you desire most, your will acts on.

which isn’t evidence for freewill but for determinism in the sense that all our actions are caused. In this case, the cause is easily identifiable as a thief. In other instances the causes are not so obvious.

In the next instance, he is equivocating. We would say a country is free if it is not under siege or a person is free if they aren’t slaves and this is appropriate in sociology. But when it comes to human action, to want to apply the same meaning for freedom is misleading and erroneous.

And how he doesn’t see it as a contradiction when he on the one hand writes

Apart from gracious divine intervention, we simply don’t make God the north star of our life.

and shortly after blame us for not being divine. It is either we can do it on our own or we depend on god’s graces but not both.

And as a final note to my good friend Barry; as we pointed out with Jeff, the Christian apologist doesn’t argue for any other god but his own. James writes

Jesus is the only person who did this perfectly. His heart was pure. He chose to follow the Father’s will, even when it meant suffering and death. He did it for us—for stubborn, short-sighted people who insist on their own way.

a position that a Muslim wouldn’t accept, a Buddhist may not accept, a Jansenist will find ridiculous and I am guessing you are likely to reject.

And I agree with Messlier, quoted below, that if a god were to exist, even it would not have freewill.

The world is a necessary agent; all the beings which compose it are united to each other, and can not do otherwise than they do, so long as they are moved by the same causes and possessed of the same qualities. If they lose these qualities, they will act necessarily in a different way. God Himself (admitting His existence a moment) can not be regarded as a free agent; if there existed a God, His manner of acting would necessarily be determined by the qualities inherent in His nature; nothing would be able to alter or to oppose His wishes. This considered, neither our actions nor our prayers nor our sacrifices could suspend or change His invariable progress and His immutable designs, from which we are compelled to conclude that all religion would be entirely useless.

Jean Messlier