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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Smarter Than Einstein

Bee has already written about Yahoo Answers, of course. It is every bit as awful as has been previously pointed out, and is served even better by the retarded behavior of those who administrate it.
The administrators seem to enjoy the endless parade of bigots and waterheads who comprise much of the traffic on their site. And if you have the temerity to tell people exactly what you think of their little question, your 'content' will be removed due to "insulting and demeaning language" or even your failure to "adhere to the question/answer format".

So let's review. Using insulting and demeaning (to say nothing of a-realistic and generally incoherent) language in your original question (which -nine times out of ten- isn't a question at all but some silly strawman argument like "Why do all women think that men R cashpockets and think they can laugh at me all the time?") : just dandy. But using any manner of pejorative to respond to said strawman argument -or worse yet, failing to "answer" the "question"- is enough to get the form emails a-comin'.
Above all else, I just feel dirty after using this section to vent my many frustrations. It went from Guilty Pleasure to Something I Don't Even Want Near Me in the course of about a week.

Naturally, when you get tired of the 'Gender and Women's Studies' section, it's a good idea to head right over to 'Religion and Spirituality'. I found a question ("Is atheism a religion?") that suited me as being one where you could answer very easily, call a fool a fool, and leave.

Then some guy named 'Jake' with a picture that showed him to be...Hm. How do I put this? He is attempting to look soulful, searching. But that doesn't change the fact that he's one of those guys who will say some half-clever joke and then stand there waiting for your mind to explode at all the profundity. He thinks this is his Big Scene In The Movie. And he answered the question with a much, much larger question.
Which I then answered.

He basically opened with Pascal's Wager: "... but if you don't believe in God and are wrong, you'll be punished eternally in hell..."
Well, according to all I've read, God is way less concerned with my lack of belief than the many, many other things I've done, so I'd be screwed if there were actually such a thing.

"You're only saying you're an atheist to rebel against authority. " Oh, okay!

"Why are you mad at God? God is love so something emotional is wrong with an atheist."
God spends a lot of its time acting in ways that are entirely un-loving, I'd say, based on what religious people have to say about it.
And why would I be mad about something that doesn't exist?

"Deep down you really believe in God." Do I? Prove it!

"You can't prove God doesn't exist. If he doesn't why are you trying so hard to disprove him. We all know what this means."
I have all the proof I need to form my own opinion about it. You can believe whatever you want, friend. I'm not trying to disprove anything because I Don't Care.
And that last sentence reminds me of how lucky I am to not spend my Sundays stuck in a building with other people like you.

"Without God there is no morality." How d'ya figure? It seems like *with* God there is only tribal taboo. Morality is the good that you do when no one's looking. And God's Always Looking, right?

"There is also no reason for living because that would mean there is no afterlife, which means there is no meaning to live and no point for you to ever be born if you will cease to exist forever when your life is over."
Actually, that sounds great. The fact that I am living right now is exactly everything that it should be, and some weird belief on my part that I should go on forever and ever would only mean that I'm some weird narcissist who thinks I'm (sob) just too special to dieee!
Which I'm not, and neither are you.

"If God didn't create humanity in his image, why isn't the world full of only wild beasts?" If sheer proportionality is the basis here, then God is a beetle.

"Christianity is big in the world and throughout history, and is the foundation of our nation, do you think billions of people throughout history are crazy? I'm sure you have a good answer for this."
I've got a Great answer for that: have you looked at history? Most people are crazy. And stupid! Just saying, 'Wull ev'rybody else wuz doin' it...' is bad reasoning and you know it. It is not the foundation of the United States, either. The Magna Carta is more like it.

"Jesus was either a liar, a crazy person, or the son of God." In this, he is exactly like lots and lots of people littering the Near East in those days. Or anywhere you look, today.

"He spoke against liars, and his behavior wasn't crazy because scholars and teachers marveled at his words of wisdom, there were eye witnesses that Jesus worked miracles and rose from the dead like he said he would, so the only remaining possibility is that he was the son of God."
Hey, I speak against liars, too! And you believe scholars and teachers from a couple thousand years ago, but got no time for that darn science now, I bet. Especially scholars and teachers whose words have undergone so many revisions and translations during the millenia that -unless you read Aramaic- you'll never know what they said.

"I know from personal experience that God exists." If a person said that because they were on LSD, people would either just laugh at them or lock them up for being crazy. What does it say about you that you're probably stone cold sober as you say that?

"You can't see air, but you believe in it. You can't see love, but you believe in it. You call yourself an atheist but you have 'faith' that God doesn't exist."
And I've never eaten dog poop, yet know with a great certainty that I don't want to. There goes that argument for what I hope is the last time.
And I don't have "faith" on the whole God thing; that's Your word. No, I just don't see the hand of a creator at work here. Just to pre-empt the follow-up: the universe looks ordered and planned to you because you lack another universe to compare it to.

"You say you don't believe that God exists, but the word 'God' is meaningless if there is no such thing, so you are admitting that God exists even as you deny his existence in detail. How can you describe in detail someone you don't believe exists?"
You should really stop trying to put words in my mouth, because you're not a good enough observer to do it in any sort of realistic way. Then you wander over into semantics. Yes yes...You cannot define yourself entirely in opposition to a thing without at least somewhat conceding that the thing you oppose exists. This is why I don't call myself an Atheist: even they are more doctrinaire on this subject than I will ever be.

" Why do atheists participate in religious things like marriage, funerals, Christmas etc? Isn't that being religious?"
No, it's being related to people. It's living in America. It's being nice to people that you like. And I do know atheists who won't exchange gifts around Xmas-time. I think they're silly. Who doesn't like presents?

"Einstein believed in God. Do you think you're smarter than Einstein? " Einstein was also wrong about quantum physics. BAM!

"How does humans evolving from monkeys make more sense than someone actually creating us? And how does the world just randomly exploding into something make more sense than someone actually creating it? I know this will make some of you think."
Actually, I've already answered this one above, so I'll use an answer that You would use: Learned Teachers and Scholars of The Past Believe It To Be True, So It Has To Be. See how silly that sounds?

"Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics." How so?

"And evolution is a theory and Creationist have already disproved evolution point by point." They haven't even come close. Unless they have scientific proof of God.

"Charles Darwin at the end of his life regretted even creating the theory of evolution and fellow scientists refused to let him say it was all bad science." Shaddap. He was probably just sad about all the trouble he caused.

"Besides, In atheist mythology how did the universe create itself?" Nuclear fission. Happy?

"There are so many wonderful things in the world that require a master artist, no random thing can create a hand, color, water, concepts of love sight, oxygen and a perfectly balance ecosystem all working in unison by precise calculations (some beyond what humans can understand), how can you say there is no God?"
Because there isn't one, and if there was, he would actually have some serious design flaws to answer for.

"What explanation is given to the questions, 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' and 'Where did it all come from?' As an example: If you say that the universe came from the big bang, well, where did the big bang come from? Surely it didn't come from nothing, right?"
Why couldn't it? And hey; since we got you here: why is there hate?

"Atheists do not pray. They do not observe feasts. fasts and ceremonies. They consider nothing either holy or unholy. Then where is discipline in their life? Where is scope for joy in the life of atheists?"
Actually, atheists do everything. Including prayer at various points in their lives, generally as an experiment to see what all the fuss is about. Where is my...'Scope for joy'? In everything, man! You're the one that seems all closed up and dour, not me.

"What is the source of math and logic?" Lots of people generally hated by the religious authorities of their time. Glad you asked.

"The existence of this remarkably fine-tuned universe aside, how is it that we have these 'languages of reality' to so elegantly describe and interact with it?"
You don't know the first thing about perception, do you? Like I said up there; the universe looks fine-tuned to you because it's the only universe you've ever lived in. Your brain takes undifferentiated stimuli and information and channels it into something it can use. If it didn't, you'd be schizophrenic. And the people who came up with math and science? They lived here too.

"Life looks dreary. Some times I feel like committing suicide. Why should I not? What is the atheist remedy? What is the purpose of life, if there is no other-world?"
What kind of crazy person would only live their lives on the basis of a life beyond? It looks dreary because you're no fun!
And what is the meaning of life? Dunno, but I'm living it right now.

"For atheists, there is no objective meaning and value to human existence. Yet your deepest longing is for your lives to count for something. Humans intuitively know that humans have rights and dignity. What is the atheist remedy?"
Took you a long time to come up with a decent question. (Or recycle it, most likely.) Well, the answer is solipsistic because the question is more or less unanswerable: the meaning and value are inherent within themselves. Except when they are not. The rights and dignity doubly so.
I would say again that the history of religion is mostly a long, depressing tale of people being denied their rights and dignity by some bastard who thinks he talks to God. My life will have some worth no matter what, but only in that limited way that all people do. I'm okay with that. Are you?

"Are you prepared to accept the idea that no one is really morally responsible for their bad behavior and, conversely, that virtuous behavior is not commendable?"
Not in the least. Good thing I never said that.

"In what way will you seek to convince me that I am really not a conscious and self-aware being; that"

And that's where it finally cut off. I notice that Jake's original religio-trivia challenge has since been deleted. It was probably Jake who did it, because unlike pretty much every other place on the Internet where I engage in debate, this one actually has the highest proportion of people that fold completely when they are disagreed with at all. They themselves lack the courage of what even somewhat passes for their convictions.
You also can't post multiple responses in single threads, so discussion is limited by that too. It encourages simplistic answers to what could be interesting questions, had they not been posted by dumb shits.

I really mean it: Yahoo Answers, along with providing a welcoming home to the dumbest fucking people this side of RedState, it is also a place where people pretty much never bother to defend their points, outside of (generally effectively) whining to get you "blocked".
If you say something to them at all, especially in a tone that is somewhat belligerent, they will totally fold. It's like they've never had a conversation, or that other thing about how the Internet makes playground bullies out of people who -if they were standing right in front of you- would be perfectly nice otherwise.

Hey, what can I do? I'm not God.



Blogger George Popham said...

"For atheists, there is no objective meaning and value to human existence."

This one always galls me; why is god necessary for "objective meaning and value?" First of all there are not one but possibly 3 or 4 major world religious movements that do not explicitly require belief in god or gods, but do think there is objective meaning and value in human existence. On the other hand, people who *do believe in god* tend to devalue human existence in deference to divine will or law. To hear some Fundamentalist Muslims or Christians or Ortho-Jews tell it human existence has no value and may be eliminated in the name of god at any time (the righteous will be elevated to superhuman status in the wake of said destruction, of course.)

and as for, "Yet your deepest longing is for your lives to count for something."

One of my favorite schools of religious thought holds that your "deep longing to count for something" is an illusory hope that is the cause of most if not all human suffering. Now that may or may not be true, but it is a fully plausible position and certainly can't hurt to devote some thought to.

Finally, the Darwin deathbed conversion thing is a lie that just won't die. It was started around the turn of the 20th in Northfield, MA. in a sermon given by Elizabeth Reid Cotton at, surprise, the Moody Bible Institute. E.R. Cotton was not present at Darwin's death, and despite the testimony of Darwin's own children who were there when he died and vehemently denied any recantation, her lie lives on.

4:18 PM  
Blogger George Popham said...

Oh, and, by the way, I've often wanted to put together a dictionary of arguments and responses used in debates regarding faith. It wouldn't take more than about 20 pages to cover the whole inventory of dance steps. The nature of the concept of faith really limits the range of debate - it really is more like a dance than a debate. Your post here goes a long way toward starting the dictionary. Also, it occurs to me that having this debate repeatedly is a good thing in that one's answers get increasingly concise, graceful and elegant, again, just like good dance moves.

4:25 PM  

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