Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

March 6, 2010

Responses to Lea Anne

Filed under: Education, meta — codesmithy @ 10:23 pm

Lea Anne was a commenter on the “90 Minutes in Heaven: One Atheist’s Perspective” post. I decided to answer in another post because it was getting off-topic and to give it more space.

In my first response, Lea Anne expresses her frustration with me making a big deal out of stuff I say doesn’t happen. In the context of the “90 Minutes in Heaven” post, I told her that I didn’t feel I was making a “big deal” out of it. I had merely read the book, at the prompting of another Christian, and wrote what I thought about it. Lea Anne felt that I had misconstrued the context of her question.

The “Big Deal” that I was talking about was the fact you don’t believe there is a God, not about the book. You’re whole website is devoted to disproving that God is real.

Let’s look at the most popular pages on this website:

Yes, “90 Minutes in Heaven” is top, followed by
Energy Ignorance: Making Saltwater Burn
Marie Antoinette and “Let Them Eat Cake”
Reuters Falls for Water-Powered Car Hoax
Aftermath of Spanish-American War Applied to Iraq
Robert Murray: Sociopath

So, I wouldn’t say the whole website is devoted to “disproving that God is real.” In fact, depending on define God, there are some claims about God I have no quarrel with. For example, pantheists say God is the universe that we are one with. That seems perfectly true to me, but indubitably confusing. So a truer statement would be: a portion of the website is devoted to explaining why claims for the existence of the Christian God are invalid or insufficient. I’ll have to work on making that a bit pithier.

I brought up Jephthah, and Lea Anne asked:

What do you like about Jephthah?

There is nothing I like about Jephthah. It is a cruel story in a book that is filled with cruel stories made all the more tragic by the fact there actually isn’t a celestial dictator pulling the strings, just a father killing his daughter for no good reason. Just like all the “witches” that have been burned to death for giving the “evil eye” or “cursing” people. Superstition kills.

What seems to me to be the best way to prevent future tragedies like these is to diffuse the lunacy before it becomes a dangerous cancer. This can be done by exerting social pressure by expressing incredulity.

You think there are aliens behind the Hale-Bopp comet who will transport you to paradise? Give us your evidence.

This wisdom has been with us for ages and was probably put best in this fable by Aesop.

A certain man who visited foreign lands could talk of little when he returned to his home except the wonderful adventures he had met with and the great deeds he had done abroad.
One of the feats he told about was a leap he had made in a city Called Rhodes. That leap was so great, he said, that no other man could leap anywhere near the distance. A great many persons in Rhodes had seen him do it and would prove that what he told was true.
“No need of witnesses,” said one of the hearers. “Suppose this city is Rhodes. Now show us how far you can jump.”
Deeds count, not boasting words.

Lea Anne also asked me some questions about my education after I tried to explain that the exact and spontaneous formation of the Y-chromosome was unbelievable as a leap in one generation, but can be explained as a result of a long history of evolutionary change.

How do you know all that you know?

Skeptical and critical inquiry.

Did you read it somewhere? I’m curious to know where all this expertise comes from?

A lot of it comes from books I read, but the books aren’t an end in themselves. Good books are like good teachers, and they take you through a process or a journey.

For example, I’ve been reading “The Great Equations” by Robert P. Crease. The first equation it gives is the Pythagorean theorem: the square of the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, or c*c = b*b + a*a. The book explains the profound impact Euclid’s proof of the Pythagorean theorem had on Thomas Hobbes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually give the proof. So I looked it up online and went through it until I understood it. Understanding the proof wasn’t just memorizing the steps Euclid took and regurgitating it. In fact, I probably can’t reproduce Euclid’s proof word for word. What I can do is produce a proof based on the same ideas and arguments Euclid used. Instead of having a bunch of disconnected facts, I have a bunch of ideas that take me in the right direction. Finding specifics is as simple as using Google.

But you just can’t read it, you have to apply it also. One could read Terry Eagleton for ages and all you would have at the end of it is a brain full of mush like he does.  This is what I think was the major failing of medieval scholasticism, they never questioned the book.

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