July 21st, 2008

green rose

50 reasons (NOT) to believe in god

#42 Albert Einstein said: "A legitimate conflict between science & religion cannot exist. Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

Theists seem to forget that I value what Einstein said about relativity because he had evidence to prove his theory. It jived better with observation and fact than did previous theories. Einstein is not, however, a kind of prophet, whereby I have to take everything he said on any subject seriously. I believe I addressed this before when our theist offered us a quote on Darwin. I am under no obligation whatever to accept everything either of them said because I accept their scientific work.

I should also point out that Einstein was a believer in "Spinoza's god" and basically a pantheist. His notions of god and religion were not exactly the kind of thing our theist friend is likely to subscribe to. His god was abstract and certainly impersonal.

Later on, we get another of these, so let's jump ahead and dispatch them both together...

#45 Stephen Hawkins has admitted: "Science may solve the problems of how the universe began, but it cannot answer the question: why does the universe bother to exist at all?"

I strongly suspect that our theist means Stephen Hawking. There are also two ways to take this quote. One can take it as our theist does and claim that this "why" question has an answer and that only religion can answer it. Or you can take it as the atheist does: that "why" questions are meaningless and this have no answer; or more generously, it is not a question we are capable of answering, so it serves no purpose to waste time wondering.

But we are brought back to the point I made before. Stephen Hawking is a great physicist, but I accept those things with sound math and sound observation and experimentation to back them up. And the rest is beside the point.

Atlas Shrugged

I listened to a few more hours of Atlas Shrugged. I'm up to the part where Hank and Dagny have just found the engine and are trying to find the designer.

The book is full of 50s cliches and some of them are terribly offensive. Like the fact that every time Dagny takes a lover she is supposedly thinking about wanting to be conquered? Bullshit. To want that, a strong personality like hers really has to be being forced to lead when she doesn't want to, and nothing else about her suggests that in the slightest.

I was also struck by the corruption that is going on around them. I realize that this was not Rand's intention, but it reminds me nothing so much of the Bush administration. Sure, their motives were different, but their means are very much the same.

And for the book not being explicitly religious or irreligious, there is a definite undercurrent of anti-Christian sentiment. The notions of purity she keeps dissing, like with Hank's hang-ups. And with the motivations behind some of the laws being passed. They are extreme, but in their extremity, their Christian roots just stand out all the more. And they strike me as being particularly Orwellian. Like the "Equalization of Opportunity Bill". Opportunity, to me, always referred to things like equal access to public education, and not being discriminated against for no good reason. But what this bill is doing is destroying the meritocracy. And in sorta a quasi-socialist, quasi-fascist way. The scheme is nothing if not insane. And because it seems so terribly unlikely, it weakens the argument I think Rand is trying to make.

I'm a little bit past the 10% mark now, maybe 12%.

If nothing else, it's giving me an insight into the couple of Objectivists I know. I was chatting with one of them on Thursday, and I think he has a messed up conception of my viewpoint, not to mention political science in general. The biggest mistake he made was challenging me to a debate. He thinks I'm some kind of socialist, but while I do lean left, I'm not a socialist. I take what I like from dozens of worldviews. I haven't yet found a label I care to adopt, or one that fits me particularly well. He assumes that by labeling me he knows what to expect in such a debate. He would be mistaken. He also freely admits to being essentially a lazy debater: he likes logical debates, but doesn't enjoy the research. I do enjoy the research, which is why I'd walk all over him in a formal debate. Fortunately for him, I don't think he was serious.