Wednesday, February 25, 2009

[the existence of g-d] maglev trains and macintosh osx

This blog sees its purpose [given that it is sentient, a contestable claim] as tackling any topic, no matter how uncomfortable.

The antidote to that is your clicking finger.

An epithet I like to give to the phenomenon of Jesus of Nazareth is ‘the man who came to earth to make you feel uncomfortable’ and I’m really comfortable with making you feel uncomfortable on that.

Let me employ three really weird analogies – the Macintosh OSX, electricity and a train.

Two men go to a train station to take the Intercity. One gets on and makes the journey, the other is stuck at the station. Later, the second makes out, on the phone, that the train refused to take him and anyway, it probably wasn’t going to his destination.

The man who travelled says, ‘Well first you have to buy the ticket. Only then will you know or not know.’

You can extend that analogy to the lottery. Someone’s bemoaning the fact that nothing good seems to happen and he has no money. Why do some people win the lottery and he gets nothing? Same thing – first you have to buy the ticket.

In other words, you have to get off your butt, physically make a move and buy it.

Let me ask you one. ‘How do you know sex feels exquisite?’

There’s a man with a PC which has broken down and a man with a Mac. The first says there’s nothing special about a Mac – it’s just a bloody laptop, after all. The PC can do so much more than a Mac ever can. The second only wants a simple, reliable device, with an elegant operating system which is a joy to use on an hour-to-hour basis. He says the Mac does what it does and does it in luxury. No more, no less.

Someone says, ‘Prove there’s a G-d and a Christ.’ I say, ‘I can’t prove it.’ ‘Aha,’ the first leaps onto this answer, ‘there you are, you see – it doesn’t exist.’ Then he goes into a long diatribe about how he can ‘prove it doesn’t exist’, how the gospels were written after 70CE and how this superstition needs to be stamped out.

I look at him and think, ‘You should take a recording of yourself – why are you so passionate about this?’

A fellow blogger comes over, apoplectic and asks me why I need to invent a G-d when there are perfectly rational explanations. I say, ‘Yes, there are rational explanations and one of them is that He exists.’

‘No, no,’ he says, ‘rational, scientifically provable.’

‘Ah’ I say, ‘like global warming.’

If you were to ask me what electricity is, I can’t tell you. Well yes, I can parrot back to you about volts, amperes and Charlie but I don’t know what it actually is. I know it works but I couldn’t begin to tell you how.

Well yes, I can tell you how but not what it actually IS.

I do know, coming back to the train analogy, that I bought the ticket way back in the past and immediately life became like a Mac in a PC world – just a better way to do it, serenely arrogant bstd, as Adams would say. Personal things just fall into place, while the extrinsic things like no job and the constant worry of being on the street continue but the thing is, I know the direct correlation between when I am doing the right thing, fulfilling the contract, so to speak and when I’m off on my own tangent.

In the former, things really do click and there are enough anecdotes to fill a library. What’s more, the correlation is not seventy or eighty percent – it’s 100%. It always works, like a Mac [in the first few years anyway – you can only take the analogy of a piece of machinery a certain way].

For example, a cheque arrives or I meet a nice lady and have a good afternoon or something just appears out of nowhere. When I’m not doing the right thing, it’s just like everyone’s life – some ups, some downs, mainly downs.

It doesn’t give you actual things. You’re still going to die, you won’t be left a fortune by a rich uncle - it won’t give you anything material, you’ll still find yourself on the Titanic, the same as all the other passengers but it does give you the mechanism to cope and the most important one of all – it gives comfort. In your head, if you really have faith, you also have comfort. One follows from the other.

Why this elicits such anger from people, why the fire comes out of the nostrils of someone intent on saying you’re a bloody idiot if you believe that long-exploded guff – this is a mystery to me. I don’t get apoplectic over your beliefs.

Returning to the train, how do I know maglev works? Actually, I think it’s flawed; I think that if you’re relying on electrically induced magnetism and with the ease with which circuits can be broken, that at any time out there, the connection can be broken and the train hurtles into the valley.

You’d answer me, ‘Have you ever been on maglev train?’ ‘Well no.’ ‘Then stop talking through your a-se. Until you’ve bought a ticket and gone on one, how can you say? It works fine and there are many people who can testify to that.’

Now it’s my turn. I ask, ‘Do you believe that there are other planets with sentient life forms out there in some galaxy?’ You say, ‘Of course.’ I say, ‘Prove it.’ You say, ‘Well on the law of averages, there have to be.’ I ask, ‘Why are you so obsessed with inventing the existence of other life forms? There’s only us.’ You say, ‘That’s such a blinkered view.’


dearieme said...

God is otiose.


Lovely ending!
Your love of your Mac is cute. You should be getting a commission,James.

Lord T said...

Well, where to start?

Almost evrything is a balance between facts and belief. After all, some people still believe Gordo is a financial genius.

So although a belief in life on other planets cannot be proved. Logic says it should exist. Doesn't mean to say it does. Same with God. How can you disprove him? You can't. It's all down to weighing up the facts adding a bit of belief and then coming out with your results. The size of your beliefs are usually the deciding factor in areas where the facts do not disprove one way or another. Although if your beliefs are strong enough they will even overide facts.

The Mac example is somewhat different. Each of us have most, if not all, the facts but our requirements are different. Thus someone who simply uses a WP, EMail and browses the web would be better off with a Mac someone who plays the latest games as well would find it not so good and would go with a high end PC. Horses for courses. Swings and roundabouts. Add your cliche here.

Liz said...

well said, james. It always puzzles the vehemence with which some challenge a belief in God.

BobG said...

Personally, I'm an apathetic agnostic--don't know, don't care. I have my beliefs, other people have theirs. I can't see any good reason to try to convert them to mine.

Sackerson said...

Dearieme: "God is otiose."

Leisurely, playful? Some might agree.

CherryPie said...

What a wonderful way of explaining it :-)

Gracchi said...

James doesn't the same argument justify the existence of Allah, Jehovah, Brahma, Odin, Thor, the entire set of Greek gods, the entire set of ancient Babylonian, Palestinian and other Gods, the flying spaghetti monster, etc etc. I can conceive of all of those as easily as I can conceive of the Christian God.

The argument about science is about what set of assumptions you need to explain the world. Electricity is not an assumption- but a result of scientific assumptions- those assumptions are that the world is rational, intelligible by human beings and that those rules are constant over time and space- big assumptions but assumptions that are neccessary if you believe that the results that science gives you are correct. Global warming is a scientific thesis that is produced when you look at the results of various observations and experiments- but neither it nor electricity are assumptions.

For God to exist, you need to add another assumption which is that there are beings that exist outside the observable world who have an effect on that which lives within it. To assume aliens (which by the way is not 'science' either) merely is to assume that something similar to us might exist in a situation which was similar to our planet- as we know taht there is a finite chance that conditions similar to our planet exist out there and there is an infinite number of planets- the mathematics resolves that there must in a LOGICAL universe be aliens- and that comes back to the existence of aliens being a consequence of a scientific assumption about the universe.

But God involves a new set of assumptions. My argument would be that all you need to explain the observable phenomena are the scientific principles- that the world is internally logical, intelligible and consistent over time and space. I do not see that you need to assume that there are beings which effect that world from a supernature- that is the issue.

I think here you forget how emmense a claim the existence of God is- it is on another plane to a claim about aliens or global warming. It is a claim that there is another standard of truth- theology- which explains something in the world that science does not. I have yet to see that something and remain unconvinced.


God does exist! He presides at Winchester Combined Courts!

James Higham said...

Otiose, eh?

Uber - thanks.

Lord T - sheer wisdom.

Liz - yes, it certainly is.

Bob - each to his own, of course.

Sackers - yes.

Cherie - thanks.


'big assumptions but assumptions that are neccessary if you believe that the results that science gives you are correct.'

Which, of course, as has been shown in recent years, is a false assumption.

'For God to exist, you need to add another assumption which is that there are beings that exist outside the observable world who have an effect on that which lives within it.'

They're quite observable. The fact that you haven't observed them does not automatically mean they're not observable.

'I think here you forget how emmense a claim the existence of God is'

That's why he's called G-d.

Gracchi said...

Well which of the assumptions that science makes do you disbelieve James:

Do you disbelieve that the world is rational- ie that there are laws of nature which come together in a rational framework?

Do you disbelieve that the world is intelligible- ie that it is possible to describe the world in any way whatsoever?

If you don't believe the world is rational- then I'd suggest that the whole concept of a rational God vanishes. If you don't believe the world is intelligible- then I'd suggest that you become a fairly extreme Calvinist.

When I say you don't seem to see the emmensity of the claim you are making about God what I'm saying is that God's existance is of a different order to most other things. To accept that aliens exist, to accept that global warming exist or to deny both ultimately does not invent a whole new order of being outside the world and what is observable in it. To suggest a God does- does invent that order.

Lastly you say the evidence that God exists is manifest in the world- tell me about something then that cannot be explained in any other way than by invoking the existance of God.

Anonymous said...

Gracchi, 2.

James, 0.