Thoughts on economics and liberty

Tag: God

A simple test of your God’s strength

Imagine that your closest relative has just been injured badly in a car crash and is bleeding profusely. His bones are broken and his brain is certain to get permanently damaged if he continues in this condition for another half hour.

Fortunately, I have good relationships with a lot of people and can assemble the following dignitaries (or experts) to help you. Whose help would you take? You canONLY PICK ONE!

a) The Pope of Rome. He can pray and apply holy water.

b) Baba Ramdev. He can give ayurvedic medicine. (Or you can choose Sai Baba who will apply some vibhuti.)

c) The King of Saudi Arabia. He can pray. (Or you can choose Ali Khamenei, instead.)

d) An experienced surgeon ("unfortunately", this guy is not only an atheist but he EATS BEEF!!!)

Pick one, my friend. Test your God's strength!

The only God worth 'serving' or 'believing in', my friend, is the God of Reason. The God who forces us to think for ourselves.

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Do not worship false Gods – such worship is fatal!

Thousands of years ago, the Advaita philosophy spoke of the human consciousness being the same as the larger consciousness – of God. But the 'Hindus' soon forgot this message – that gave ULTIMATE respect to their own mind and consciousness – and started worshipping false Gods, instead.

And the Muslims, who came later to India, did the same.

Thus, no amount of worship at the Somnath temple could prevent Ghazni's attacks. Instead of relying on their own mind and brain and ingenuity, they relied on a false God. That was fatal. Thousands were massacred. 

Later, the Muslims – supposed to be servants of the one God – became servile slaves of their own kings, instead, and blocked all independent thought. Therefore, when soldiers came from Europe to India, their fake 'Gods' – their kings – could do nothing about it.

It is a basic truth in life: No one can help someone who REFUSES to use his own brain. Choking one's own mind is not the smartest way of succeeding. It is, instead, the fastest way to commit harakiri!

So where is the True God?

And if God is not found in the worship of such things – idols or kings – then where exactly is God?

The answer is simple: only in one place: inside the human brain: the God of the Truth, the unadulterated Truth. 

This God of Truth, this God of Reason, is very demanding. He does not reveal his secrets easily (not through dreams and delusions, anyway!), but if you put in hard study and hard experimentation, he tells you EXACTLY what is going on.

Indeed, this is the most reliable God of all. He NEVER LIES. All other Gods are false, but this one is ALWAYS  true – because he is willing to change with new facts. The best part is that this God lives inside your own brain! How similar that is to the Advaita worldview. Perhaps the Upanishads were right, after all. 

The God of Critical Thinking arose somewhere between 1400 and 1750 AD. This God is really good, and offers all things that other Gods CANNOT! This God offers a long healthy life (through medicine), wealth (through freedom and capitalism), and even love (through a higher regard for each other – as we realise we are the same). The poor Pope hunts for years to find evidence of miracles to beatify one single saint. But the God of Critical Thinking purveys MILLIONS OF MIRACLES each day! Every doctor who saves a life, every scientist who produces things at a cheaper price and makes us better off: they are the TRUE SAINTS.

Millions of saints! And yet there is no church for this God. No one out there singing his praise.

This god of the HUMAN BRAIN is the ultimate God. Let us recognise the truth once and for all.  

The only way to succeed 

Nations or peoples succeed in this modern world ONLY to the extent they follow the dictates of the God of Reason. All others have no choice but to suffer poverty, civil war and short lives. That is what is happening to almost the entire Islamic world today, and to India.  

So the solution for India? Follow the God of Reason. Start using your own brain! STOP worshipping ANYONE, or ANYTHING. Investigate the truth diligently. Find the answers for yourself. Do NOT believe anything that your ancestors said. Ask questions and confirm everything yourself.

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God’s ongoing struggle against science

The topic of God is deeply tied to our existence in many ways – and continues to influence society both positively and negatively. The fact that politics and religion should be kept separate does not mean that this is easy.

However, this is also a topic on which evidence is sorely missing, and faith has to take its place. To be educated means to be a searcher for the truth through the exercise of reason. But the faith-based concept of God – with its potential implications for our lives and the hereafter (if any) – sits uneasily with the reality of our material world where evidence is king. Nothing that we do in our life is ultimately without reason. But not God. At that stage reason takes a back seat.

Surely this topic cannot be exempt from the application of reason. We must continue to research God rigorously and stretch reason till it reaches an end.  And that is what Victor Stenger's book God: The Failed Hypothesis, does (I wrote a short blog post a few weeks ago on this book).

The book is a fascinating battle against the concept of God. Those who have John Hosper's read  exposition on these issues (i.e. arguments in favour of and against God) in his book, Philosophical Analysis will find further food for thought in Stenger. 

I'm therefore providing below an interesting extract from Stenger's book, noting that there are people out there who dispute Stenger's arguments  (e.g. see here). Personally, I haven't yet finished this book nor will I attempt a rigorous and critical review of the facts of the matter at this stage (That is something I will do in due course when I have the time and inclination for such analysis). But I've learnt a lot of useful scientific information from this book. Definitely a book worth having in every educated person's library.

(Note: a recent issue of The Economist reported on work by Roger Penrose and Vahe Gurzadyan that argues that the world had no beginning and that data from the big bang show traces of a previous universe! This concept has been discussed in Stenger's book but empirical proof has only recently been published. Read this report here. Fascinating! 

To me, though, there remain many gaps in our knowledge about the universe, the most important being that we still don't know how energy is converted into matter – although I suspect there is a purely mechanical explanation for that process . If you are interested in such topics, then join me on Facebook here.)

==EXTRACT==

WASTE

The anthropic argument for the existence of God can be turned on its head to provide an argument against the existence of God. If God created a universe with at least one major purpose being the development of human life, then it is reasonable to expect that the universe should be congenial to human life. Now, you might say that God may have had other purposes besides humanity. As has been noted several times in this book, apologists can always invent a god who is consistent with the data. One certainly can imagine a god for whom humanity is not very high on the agenda and who put us off in a minuscule, obscure corner of the universe. However, this is not the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islarn, who places great value on the human being and supposedly created us in his image. Why would God send his only son to die an agonizing death to redeem an insignificant bit of carbon?

If the universe were congenial to human life, then you would expect it to be easy for humanlike life to develop and survive throughout the universe.

As we will discuss in chapter 6, the cosmological universe bears no resemblance to what is described in Genesis. Indeed, the biblical myth is more akin to what one might expect from a perfect creator. But that is not what we see. Earth is not the flat, immovable circle at the center of a firmament or a vault of fixed stars, circled by the sun, moon, and planets pictured in Genesis. Rather, Earth is one planet among ten or so (depending on how you count) revolving around an atypical star, our sun. On the distance scale of human experience, the solar system is immense. Earth is one hundred and fifty million kilometers from the sun. Pluto is some six billion kilometers away. The Oort cloud of comets, which marks the edge of the solar system, extends to thirty trillion kilometers from the sun. Although the space between the planets contains smaller asteroids, comets, and dust, the solar system consists mainly of empty space that seems to serve no purpose.

On this distance scale, the planets are tiny points. Yet they are huge on the human scale. The diameter of Earth is 12,742 kilometers. The largest planet, Jupiter, is 139,822 kilometers in diameter.

Beyond the solar system we find even more space. The next closest star (after the sun), Proxima Centauri, is forty trillion kilometers away. This is part of the triple-star system called Alpha Centauri. On this scale we should start using light-years as the unit of distance, where the light-year is the distance traveled by light in a year (9.45 trillion kilometers). The Alpha Centauri system is 4.22 light-years away. Note that multiple-star systems, which are very common, do not provide the kind of orbital stability we experience on Earth that is very important to our survival. It would seem that only single-star systems are likely to support life, another indication that life is not high on the universe's agenda.

Our sun and its planetary system are well away from the center of a galaxy containing an estimated two hundred to four hundred billion other stars. Called the "Milky Way," after the band of stars we see across the sky on a clear night, our visible galaxy is a flat, spiral disk one hundred thousand light-years across, and about ten thousand light-years thick.

The Milky Way is but one of perhaps a hundred billion galaxies in the visible universe. We have two satellite galaxies, just outside the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The next galaxy nearest to us, Andromeda, is 2.44 million light-years away.

And, you might ask, how big is the universe? The farthest observed galaxy at this writing, Abell 1835 IR1916, is 13.2 billion light-years away. Since it has taken 13.2 billion years for its light to reach us, and the current estimate of the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years, we are seeing this galaxy as it was only five hundred million years after the start of the big bang. Because the universe has been expanding since the light left Abell, this galaxy is now about forty billion light-years away.

The farthest distance we can ever hope to see, what is called our horizon, is 13.7 billion light-years from Earth. Beyond that, light would take longer than the age of the universe to reach us. As vast as is the universe within our horizon, cosmology suggests that a far vaster one lies beyond. If the inflationary big bang model of the early universe is correct, then in a tiny time interval (something like 10-35 second), the universe expanded in size by a factor that is almost impossible to imagine. Here is one estimate of that factor: Write down the number 1 and follow it by a hundred zeros. Then raise the number 10 to that power (10 to 10100). I have not been able to think of any analogy from common experience or science to help visualize that number. The size of the visible universe (1026 meters) is only 1061 times larger than the smallest distance that can be defined, the Planck distance (10-35 meter).

In short, if God created the universe as a special place for humanity, he seems to have wasted an awfully large amount of space where humanity will never make an appearance.

He wasted a lot of time, too. Instead of six days, he took nine billion years to make Earth, another billion years or so to make life, and then another four billion years to make humanity. Humans have walked on Earth for less than one-hundredth of one percent of Earth's history.

In fact, when you think of it, why would an infinitely powerful God even need six days? Wouldn't he have the ability to create everything in an instant? And, why would he have to rest when he was all done?

Let us also ponder the enormous waste of matter. The hundred billion galaxies, each with on the order of a hundred billion stars, are composed of "atomic matter," that is, chemical elements. The portion that is luminous, that is, visible to the eye and optical telescopes, constitutes just one-half of one percent of all the mass in the universe. Another 3.5 percent of the matter in galaxies is of the same atomic nature, only nonluminous. Just 2 percent of atomic matter is composed of elements heavier than helium. One-half of 1 percent of this is composed of carbon, the main element of life. That is, 0.0002 of the mass of the universe is carbon. Yet we are supposed to think that God specially designed the universe so it would have the ability to manufacture, in stars, the carbon needed for life?

Still-unidentified "dark matter" makes up 26 percent of the mass of the universe, while the bulk of the universe, about 70 percent, is "dark energy," which also remains unknown in nature but possesses no known miraculous properties. From this breakdown of mass, we see that 96 percent of the mass of the universe is not even of the type of matter associated with life.

Energy is wasted, too. Of all the energy emitted by the sun, only two photons in a billion are used to warm Earth, the rest radiating uselessly into space.

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The United Nations: a united voice against freedom?

The more I read and think about the United Nations, the less impressed I am with its output. There might be a few minor achievements to its credit, but we have paid too much to get too little out of this mammoth talk-fest with its bloated bureaucracy (not to talk of questionable organs like IPCC). Another problem is that it has deviated into activities that are simply none of its business.

This one, for instance, takes the cake – steps to actively destroy freedom of expression across the world. 

In March 2009, "A United Nations forum passed a resolution condemning "defamation of religion" as a human rights violation" (source). On 23 November 2010, "The Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday voted in favor of a resolution, “Combating defamation of religions" (source).

In an article in The Age today (1 December 2010), Barney Zwartz reports that "the United Nations General Assembly this month is likely to approve a non-binding resolution against 'defamation of religion'". The resolution is sponsored by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Apparently this conference seeks "an international blasphemy law that will make it a criminal offence to disparage Islam".

This is a highly retrogressive proposal, and one can only hope that the General Assembly will trounce this ridiculous resolution.Freedom has many enemies, and religions have rarely been its friend. Even the thought of proposing such a resolution can only come from religious fanatics who don't understand simple things like the following:

a) Humanity MUST be free to make use of its thinking capacity to analyse and question EVERYTHING. That includes questioning not merely material matters through science, but religions and even God Himself. Nothing is outside the realm of human questioning, and nothing can be kept outside its reach. We must remain free to find the truth. And if, upon careful consideration, a particular religious belief is found to be false, then humans MUST have the rights to express that opinion – including comments that DENY the scriptures totally and comprehensively. God did not give us a brain (assuming that God exists) for us to lock it and throw the key into the ocean. 

b) If God is omnipotent then let God decide whether something is blasphemous or not, and let Him take care of that on his own. It is not for us, mere mortals, to block freedom of speech of our fellow humans for the sake of protecting God! ‘For’, as Emperor Tiberius remarked, ‘if the gods think that they have just claims for grievance, they can surely take care of themselves’’.

Through such a resolution the UN is effectively demoting God and bringing him under HUMAN protection! Surely God can protect Himself from "blasphemers" like Salman Rushdie or Asia Bibi (- the poor woman, caught up in the primitive part of the world known as Pakistan) – without the UN.

Let the United Nations not make itself TOTALLY IRRELEVANT and even DESPISED by considering such matters which are none of its business. It has no business to adjudicate on matters related to religion. All it can say is that religion is a personal private business of each individual, who must also be ensured freedom of thought and expression. 

Its job is therefore purely to advance human freedom and security.

Let it stick to its knitting.

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