Sunday, July 07, 2019

Gems from the book "The God Delusion":

Gems from the book - these gems are retorts for the many reasons why we need God:

We need a god for someone to protect us, comfort us:

Returning to humanity’s need for comfort, it is, of course, real, but isn’t there something childish in the belief that the universe owes us comfort, as of right?
That is maybe why some of my friends once found interest in the Diamond Cutter. There is this desire that karma does exist such that one will be “rewarded” for good behaviour.
Isn’t it good enough that we do good things because simply we understand it to be the right thing to do? That being said, there are gems in everything, and “Death Meditation” from the Diamond Cutter is one of the best reminders for me.
The consolation content of a belief does not raise its truth value.

Interesting reply if you asked if you are atheist:

I have found it an amusing strategy when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baa

I just go one god further.  All of us feel entitled to express extreme skepticism to the point of outright disbelief – except that in the case of unicorns, tooth fairies, and the gods of Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Vikings, nowadays there is no need to bother. In the case of the Abrahamic God, however, there is a need to bother, because a substantial proportion of the people with whom we share the planet do believe strongly in his existence.

Shall we take our responsibility for our own choices?

To take responsibility for one’s own action - can one lead a moral life without being religious?   Einstein: “If people are only good because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

 As written in the book:

“The temptation here is to abdicate the responsibility to think clearly and consistently about morality, and instead take the lazy route of slavishly following an ancient book of rules, rules invented by fallible men.
Or, worse, to base our moral decisions on the fear that our every move is watched by a great surveillance camera in the sky and so we need to suck up to an obsessively vigilant God.
As for the suggestion that we can’t define good and bad without God, it is falsified by the honorable and sophisticated discipline of moral philosophy. But even if it were true, the fact would have no bearing on whether God exists.”

In fact, the following experiment suggests that humanity has a basic moral baseline - Trolley problem :

It is okay to divert a trolley train to save 5 people even though it will kill an innocent bystander at the sidetrack.  However, it is not acceptable for us to push a very fat man off the bridge and directly stop the trolley train.  It seems that it is acceptable to have collateral damage but not to be directly involved in killing someone.

In fact, in the narrative that religion teaches one to be morally upright - perhaps it is right but only to people of the same religion.  As demonstrated by the studies conducted by George Tamarin where he gave the Battle of Jericho to a thousand children aged between 8 to 14:

When the loyalty to religion was removed and replaced by a Chinese General, the children then had the same moral judgments as anyone living in the modern world.

Some good guidelines for a moral living by a Moral zeitgeist:
  1. Always check your ideas against the facts and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
  2. John Rawls: ”Always devise your rules as if you didn’t know whether you are going to be The TOP or bottom of the pecking order”.
  3. Alleged Inuit rule - the individual who cuts up the food gets the last pick.
Easy way to explain natural selection: 

Mount Improbable - at the summit is a complex organ like an eye. it is a sheer cliff on one side- it is improbable and absurd that an eye can self assemble similar to how can one jumping from foot of the cliff to the summit. Evolution creeps up the gentle slope to the summit. 

Natural selection is a cumulative process - each of the small pieces is slightly improbable, but not prohibitively so.

An analogy of an arch: 

Built with the aid of scaffolding that was subsequently subtracted and not visible. In evolution too, the organ may have scaffolding in an ancestor which since has been removed. 

The entire paradox about promised life after death for the religious:

A believer in life after death can never be ultimately disillusioned. When a devout woman is told she has months to live, why doesn’t she beam with excitement as if she has won a holiday?  Why don’t faithful visitors shower her with messages for those that have gone before?

Why don’t religious people talk like that in the presence of the dying? Is it because they don’t really believe in life after death? Or is it that they believe but fear the process of death? 

Yet the most vocal opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide comes from the religious even though it reduces the pain of the process of dying.

The official reason is that assisted suicide is a sin.  But why deem it a sin if it is just an ACCELERATED  journey to heaven?

How can evolution explains the existence of altruism if we are all made of just selfish genes?

4 Darwinian reasons for individuals to be altruistic:
  1. Genetic kinship
  2. Reciprocal altruism ( scratch each other back)
  3. Reputation for generosity 
  4. Conspicuous generosity as a way of buying unfakeably authentic advertising- dominant dabblers assert dominance by feeding subordinates.
Why you can’t have an omniscience and omnipotent god:

Omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. If God is omniscient, he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can’t change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent. 

Karen Owens: 
Can omniscient God, who
Knows the future, find
The omnipotence to
Change His future mind?”

Other Little gems in the book:

The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.

Bertrand Russell Teapot Parable: the proof is not on the skeptic. In this thought experiment, one believes that there is a teapot floating in the middle of the Milky Way.  It is for the person who believes so to prove that the teapot exists, not for the others to prove that the teapot does not exist.

David Mills- When we die, none of the atoms of our body (and none of the energy) are lost. Therefore we are immortal.’

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