Daily Archives: March 23, 2012

A universe from nothing?

One of the tragedies of religion (and there are many) is that by attempting to explain everything, it actually explains nothing.

Which is a shame because, for all the talk of “inner (or outer) reality”, the reality that we have is invariably much more fascinating. It’s just incredibly stupid that anyone would seek to deny, for example, the reality of evolution for the dogmatic reasons that some of the religious do. Giving up on that fascinating reality is so much of a shame, and ultimately to the detriment of future generations if allowed to thrive.

As with evolution, so with cosmology. Creationists, with their 6000-year-old Earth nonsense, would take us to a new dark ages given half a chance. “Teach the controversy”, they say. Which means nothing more or less than allow nonsensical dogma into classrooms. No doubt they’d allow the argument from divine hiddenness into Bible class – not.

Alternatively, we could increase our knowledge by taking reality and understanding it as reality. Scientific theories are by definition tentative and always subject to disproof and revision in a way that religious dogma isn’t. But this adds to their veracity, because they’re based on what we can sense and what we can measure. It might be that there was no evolution, no big bang, no quantum mechanics, but one thing is surer than most – if they aren’t true, they’ll be disproved by science, not by apologetics.

So for those with the time, the patience and the unlimited broadband, I’d like to share a talk about cosmology from Lawrence Krauss. Krauss has written a book recently that apparently is not only based on actual observation, but answers many of the spurious philosophical comments of the creationists. I look forward to reading the book when the paperback edition comes out in the UK.

Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy. [Carl Sagan]

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Thoughts on Christianity (part 2)

I left the last post of this series as a committed, yet indifferent, non-believer – indifferent in the sense that I recognised that both factually and morally, Christianity had nothing to offer me. Yet both facts and morals are inescapably features of the world, so something is true even if something else is believed.

As school students we were encouraged, commanded even, to accept as truth things which were obviously missing from our experience or conceptually dubious. The only thing one can say for sure about God is that he never shows up. People say he does, of course, and attribute all sorts of things to his presence, but all these things have other, more plausible, explanations. Of course we’re told that if we only believe in his existence and his function as a pre-requisite, then we will somehow understand it all in that light. It’s hard to think where to begin with this nonsense, save to say that if it was anything else that we were considering, then we would dismiss it with no more than a belly laugh. No test for God outside the subjective exists, and therefore there is no convincing or plausible evidence for the existence of such a thing. Theology – otherwise known as worthless drivel – and apologetics – otherwise known as dishonest dissembling – have for centuries duly engaged the minds of some of the smartest of scholars as well as some of the most gullible or most devious or most dumb. Continue reading