The Wall September 10, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in About God, Art, Literature and Culture, Religion.
Tags: creation, creator, god, infinity, Poetry, religion, roger hollander, stephen hawking, theology, time
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Stephen Hawking tells us now that there is no need for a Creater God. The believers say he’s missed the point.
Here’s my take on the subject.
( by Roger Hollander)
Then what about infinity plus one?
Ok, a Creator
But who created the Creator
And who created the Creator of the Creator
Infinitum plus one?
What was there before the first day?
But a day is nothing more than how long it takes the earth to revolve on its own axis
It has no meaning anywhere else
Before the first second?
A second is a sixtieth of a minute, which is a sixtieth of an hour
Which is a twenty-fourth of how long it takes for the earth to revolve on its own axis
We are earthbound
Even as we go out into space, gravity sucked by the earth binds time and matter to it
The earth, one tiny dot in the universe
(What is there on the other side of the universe? Dumb question)
We keep hitting the Wall
One grain of sand, what percentage is it of the entire universe’s matter?
(Our most powerful computer can bust its guts on that one)
It’s one big Mystery
Protected by an insurmountable Wall
(What if I climbed over the Wall? Another dumb question)
You cannot know
Some say they know
What do they know?
What do they know?
I don’t know
It’s a Mystery
Protected by an insurmountable Wall
(Look up the definition of insurmountable, dumbbell)
It’s a Mystery
Let it be
Live with it
(Die with it)
Blasphemy is a Victimless Crime: a Book Review February 25, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in About God, About Religion, Religion.
Tags: atheism, Bible, Christianity, creation, creationism, darwin, evolution, faith, fundamentalism, god, intelligent design, islam, judaism, religion, richard dawkins, roger hollander, science
www.rogerhollander.com, February 24, 2010
The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, Transworld Publishers (Random House), London, Black Swan edition, 2007.
If it didn’t go against the very spirit of the author’s work, it would be tempting to call Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” the Atheist’s Bible. Dawkins is no fan of Bibles, Korans, or scriptures of any sort. He is a fan of science; he is a renowned evolutionary biologist; but he does not make a religion of it. That is an important point because many of his critics have accused him of just that.
For Dawkins the dichotomy is not the religion of God versus the religion of Atheism, rather it is belief based upon evidence (science) versus belief that is founded upon faith (religion). He argues passionately and, in my opinion effectively, against those who say the two spheres are mutually exclusive; that faith has nothing to say about science and, more to the point, that science has nothing to say about faith. If there is a God, for example, as millions of believers believe, who can simultaneously enter into the mind of every human being on earth and listen to prayers and communicate back, then scientists who study the human mind surely would be interested to explore, understand and evaluate the phenomenon. Dawkins shows how “faith heads” are quick to discount science when it contradicts belief but jump on any shred of scientific evidence that might verify a Biblical notion. The case study of religious “scientists” who with diligence attempted (using double blind studies, control groups, etc.) to prove that God answers prayers (the result: He doesn’t) is both humorous and grotesque. I am reminded of an experiment I once read about where religious “scientists” took the weight of dying individuals just before the moment of death and just after, in order to determine the weight of the human soul (which they presumed left the physical body at the moment of death).
If you appreciate the scientific mind, you will love Dawkins. Along with a comprehensive and penetrating knowledge, not only of his own field of Darwinian studies, but in many other areas of science, Dawkins has the gift of explanation, he is lucid and logical to a fault, and he writes with equal doses of humour and passion. He is highly opinionated, and that offended many of his wishy-washy post-modernist critics, but his opinions are painstakingly based upon careful and reproducible experimentation, analysis and sound reasoning.
I will not attempt here to review the entire work for it is of epic proportions, but rather to underscore what I consider to be some of its most salient points. I urge you to read it for yourself.
The God whose existence Dawkins undertakes to disprove is the God of Abraham, the founder of three of the world’s greatest religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam; the alleged Creator of the Universe. By giving the reader what amounts to a mini-course in Darwinian evolutionary biology, he shows the high degree of improbability that such a deity could have done what He is alleged to have done. Along the way he dissects, excoriates, and destroys the arguments and theories of those latter day Creationists, who have come up with a false science called “Intelligent Design” in their weasely attempt to introduce Biblical “science” into the science curriculum of public schools through the back door.
Dawkins makes the distinction between agnosticism and atheism, and his major reason for opting for atheism is that agnosticism as he understands it posits an equal possibility of the existence or non-existence of God, whereas he believes the probability is almost nil. From my perspective it is not that important a distinction; but after having read his entire argument, I tend to agree, especially in this era of the resurgence of totalitarian religious fundamentalism at a global level, that it is important to counteract vigorously and mercilessly conclusions about the reality of our universe that are based upon faith or revelation rather than scientific observation.
It should be noted that this work is not so much an assault on the belief in God as much as it is an attack on religion itself. When criticized for concentrating on the more extreme fundamentalists, he counters by demonstrating how to a large extent fundamentalist based totalitarian theocracy has moved into the mainstream. But more fundamentally, he demonstrates that the kind of moderate religion that sees the Bible as metaphoric, for example, rather than literal, nonetheless is telling us to base belief on faith as opposed to evidence, a notion that makes us vulnerable to deception and manipulation.
He bemoans the fact that we tend to treat faith-based notions with kid gloves, that we bend over backwards not to offend religious belief in a way that we would not allow, for example, for political ideas. Evolutionary cosmology, for example, tells us that our earth is millions of years old, whereas the Bible tells us it is some six thousand years old. He cites respected scientists who accept the Biblical version “on faith” when forced to choose between science and faith. Kurt Wise, an American geologist, for example, “… if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.”
Dawkins would ask us not to credit, in the name of religious tolerance, such deliberate blindness (to give an idea of proportion, believing the Biblical data on the age of the earth would be like believing that New York is about seven yards from San Francisco).
Dawkins is perhaps most passionate when it comes to children. He asserts, for example, that there is not such thing as a Catholic child, rather a child of Catholic parents. He sees the indoctrination of children, who are incapable of weighing the evidence and making judgments for themselves, as tantamount to child abuse, an assault on the development of their critical faculties. He cites Victor Hugo: “In every village there is a torch – the teacher: and an extinguisher – the clergyman.”
In an interesting section of the book, one where is scientific evidence and reasoning is more speculative and open to different interpretation, he gives theories on why religion is so universal and all pervasive from a Darwinian evolutionary standpoint. To survive the evolution process of natural selection, one must have positive, advantageous characteristics; so if religion is so destructive, how come it has survived and prospered? One theory is that at one point in human evolution the need to trust (especially parental) authority without question was necessary for survival; organized religion based upon unquestioned belief then is an aberration, a left-over from an earlier evolutionary stage.
From Thomas Jefferson to Bertrand Russell, Dawkins cites respected sceptics who have chosen reason over faith. Let us here give the final word to Thomas Jefferson:
“The priests of the different religious sects … dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live.”