ChristWire: 404/502 (You’re doing it wrong!)

May 25, 2009 at 10:51 am (Wrongs of the World) (, , , , )

I am opposed to any sort of theism, but I do not hate particular people whom I meet who happen to be theists. I am sure that I am friends with many of them, so I keep my views in check when discussing religion with them. Often times I am regarded as negatively for being an atheist as I regard them for being theists, but when the topic is not religion we usually get along great.

And I know that when it comes to organized anything, including religion, people are bound to blog, make web communities, start organizations. Atheists have certainly done so, just like marine biologists, nuclear physicists, poets, etc. But when someone comes out with a message along the lines of

404 Server Error – Page or Article Not Found
Our holy servers are currently experiencing miraculous amounts of high traffic and atheistic evils.

I have to stop because my otherwise boring day has just been interrupted by an uproarious fit of laughter. My coworkers are looking at me like I’ve just been shot (or had a violent seizure). And its not even done! They redund the message a little lower on the page:

404 Error Page Not Found
Refresh to find the article you wanted, and if that doesn’t work please keep praying for an hour and then check back.

Which isn’t quite as funny, but wasting an hour to make a page not found error resolve is just nonsensical. (If the page doesn’t exist, your prayers will do nothing to make it happen. One of the webmasters needs to actually upload that page.) There’s more! They took the time to (incorrectly) explain why 404s occur.

Why do 404 error messages occur?

Evil Democrat

Evil Democrat

The 404 Error message was created by an unholy menagerie of vile atheists, Democrats, liberals and Godless Soviets in the Year of our Lord 1992. We’re told through electronic pathogens and demonic incantation rituals, they managed to create ways to electronically limit the amount of lost souls and seekers of truth that ‘web servers’ could process in a given minute.

Though their machinations are evil and everlasting, through hope, prayer and clicking refresh you can eventually overcome these wicked limits during times when tens of thousands of people flock to ChristWire per hour to discover the works of True Christians.

Yes, that is indeed taken from ChristWire wherein any non-existent page will (hopefully) redirect you to that compendium of knowledge.

Christians: how can you take that? Do you wholeheartedly agree with ChristWire’s message? Or are you appalled at this blatant defamation of your faith via ignorance and hatred? If you find that this portrayal of your faith hurts Christians everywhere, send ChristWire a message via The Holy Mailbox.

By the way, as per Webopedia, the error that they incorrectly describe as a 404 is actually a 502 Service Temporarily OverloadedServer congestion; too many connections; high traffic. Keep trying until the page loads. Though I’m in doubt as to whether that has ever actually happened to them.


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Flying Spaghetti Monster vs God

April 15, 2009 at 6:13 am (Wrongs of the World) (, , , , , )

I read the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and just now read some hate mail they received (and was compelled to comment). I’ve echoed my comments below. Normally, I put up with people who I know are theists (more so now than I had before, thanks to the influence of Hemant Mehta who was kind enough to visit us at CMU last Friday, where much pasta was had). The letter below is nonsensical idiocy, complete with irrelevant references to the Holy Babble which I have attempted to rectify. Maybe it is okay to base your faith on personal beliefs, but how is citing a book, written by people two thousand years ago, with no requirement for not exaggerating and no knowledge of science (and an eye for spotting coincidences and ignoring non-coincident incidents) at all acceptable? This only reinforces my skepticism, and caused me to find the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible (which surely does not help ANY Christians get their apparently convoluted point across).

Anyway, onwards with the aggravating hate-mail:

How can you know that God is a F.S.M. if he is invisible? If he is invisible how can you see him?

If something is invisible, then those wavelengths of light that we perceive are not emitted by the object at hand. However, just because you cannot see it does not mean that you cannot feel His Noodly Appendage.

What is said on this website, in your books and amongst yourselves doesn’t change what the Bible and the real word of God says. Gods word is like gravity, just because people don’t believe in it doesn’t mean it’s not true and doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to jumping off of a cliff. Someone can easily say “I don’t believe in gravity because I can’t see it, etc..because it’s an old belief….” but that doesn’t change the fact that it is there. This is like Gods laws for all of humanity.

His Noodliness allowed for heretics to create the fake book so titled the Bible, for it amused His Meatballs. Additionally, the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not speak; consequently, whatever word you think is His is surely the lies of some B.C. fiction writer(s) out of a job (goat herding).

Have any of you ever seen your own brain? Does that mean that it isn’t there? Have any of you ever seen your heart? Does that mean that it isn’t inside your body still beating? Have any of you ever seen your soul? Does that meen that it isn’t there?

I cannot claim to have seen my brain, but if you volunteer, I will check that yours is indeed in your head. The same goes for your heart, though I’m sure a CT or an MRI would suffice. And have you ever seen the FSM? I have. In fact, there is an IMAGE of His Noodliness on my bumper sticker (and apparently, on t-shirts, sidewalks, potted plants, clouds, and other locations worldwide).

The fact is that we do have souls and I heard it put this way “If God did not exist than man would create one” and this is what has been done with the F.S.M. group. You have created a God and the Bible calls this idol worship. Often times groups in the Bible would create an idol to worship because they couldn’t see or hear or touch God.

No you! (OMG BEST COMEBACK EVER) I remind you that writing that your fake sky-daddy’s book is the word of sky-daddy does not actually make it an actual book of sky-daddy’s words. Even the unemployed goat-herders failed to get their stories to agree while wandering all about Israel as hobos.

God’s fingerprints are on all of creation and more and more scientists and peole are recognizing this alike. Antony Flew, one of the worlds most famous atheists has recently said that there is a God and one who is intelligent. The Bible does say clearly that man was created in his image (Genisis 1:27) so we know that God is not a flying spaghetti monster.

Actually, DNA (of humans and otherwise) is full of USELESS CRAP that was only necessary back before viruses mutated and in the direction of Archeans. It’d be pretty cool if we were at all efficient, but apparently there were a lot of mistakes along the way. Your sky-daddy figured it’d be fun for people to doubt his awesomeness, so he dropped those in. You know, for fun, since people on the whole are egotistical, inefficient, uncooperative, corruptible, and physically frail (at least, compared to Rhinos!). Your sky-daddy doesn’t sound like much, if we are made in his image. Also, She would also be a sky-mommy. FSM solves this problem by having Two Meatballs, many Noodles, and no sex. And clearly created a delicious Italian dish, if we are speaking of image.

On another note, God’s word was written because He loves us and showed his unending love for us through his son Jesus Christs death on the cross and ultimatley, His resurrection from the grave. Romans 10:9 says that “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Salvation comes through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6).

That’s cool. Letting your children die must be one of your sky-daddy’s virtues, according to precedent. But then, isn’t killing also uncool? So killing your own (or others’) children wouldn’t be right (since you’re against abortion), but maybe not having any children would do the trick, right? You know, emulate your sky-daddy and feel closer to him? I’d appreciate the lack of Your children, and I’m sure His Noodliness wouldn’t mind. He’s pro-choice, after all. Also, John and the Romans didn’t get the memo. Way to not read the Bible, John and Romans. Heretics!

I would recommend that anyone who is a follower of this group to read not only the Bible but a series of books from a former atheist called “The Case for Christ” and “the Case for Creator” and from there you can draw your own conclusions. If you are truly seeking for answers in life than I would encourage all of you to search for those answers and don’t just give up by creating your own religion/idol.

I’m going to guess that a lot of atheists have read the Bible, unlike yourself, who appear to be selective in reading only pro-sky-daddy books. And we think your literature is CRAP. (Plus, the writing style is horrendous! Who edits it? The Church?)

Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. That means you, me and everyone else in the entire world.

Romans are also the guys who killed Joshua (for real, it’s not Jesus). They also had some pretty awesome military tactics, as well as advanced forms of government, and even almost-modern plumbing. Plus, they would have orgies and were cool with homosexuality and ate a lot for fun before throwing it up on purpose, so really, I don’t think they cared much for your definition of sin. Also, sinfo.

Think about it, if all the people in the world were on a boat in the middle of the ocean and the ship was going down and there were no lifeboats, everyone would need a Savior no matter how hard they tried to save themselves. That savior is Jesus Christ. Every other religion in the world is saved through works and Christianity is the only one where we are saved by our faith alone. Once a person proclaims that Jeesus is Lord it is up to that person to live his/her life for Him.

Or, they could resign to their fate, and die like 1,517 people on the Titanic died. Joshua didn’t seem to help them with getting out alive, and so far as history shows, all the scientists, comedians, entertainers, and the majority of beautiful women wouldn’t get saved. I’d prefer to die with/like them, than with boring dudes who really like to pray. It’s not like living a boring sinless life will allow me to sin like a pro in the afterlife, will it?

I hope that this has been some help to all of you.


I hope that you go to your sky-daddy’s heaven and spend all of eternity BORED.

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Strike that, Reverse it!

November 22, 2008 at 8:33 pm (Making Sense of Things) (, , , , , , , , )

So much time, so little to do!

Delta Tau Delta has recolonized at Carnegie Mellon, and despite my initial reluctance I was drafted into the Delta Beta Crescent Colony. Despite my dislike for extra work, I was appointed by the consultants as Sergeant-at-Arms and Honor Board Chairman. I am now stuffing my nose into every committee as they are forming, involving myself in nearly every bit of colony business, working towards building the colony’s website, and writing the colony bylaws.

I also went through SafeZone training, which is GLBT awareness/sensitivity/Ally training, and I think falls in well with Sexual Assault Advisor training. Although unrelated, my binder of being a community resource is growing. Coupled with the experience I will gain from running the Honor Board, writing the bylaws, helping with the New Member Education committee, and my involvement in the Service/Philanthropy/Fundraising Committee and the Social Committee… Well, I believe I will have, in this one semester, introduced an extracurriculars section to my resume as well as gaining a wide assortment of skills.

Luckily, Thanksgiving is coming, and I will be giving thanks to the holiday break for giving me a chance to sit down and write those bylaws.

Moral of the story: I have no gods, and yet I am somehow moral enough to be appointed to a position of authority in a fraternal organization. I am ethical enough to have been selected to write the ethical code of this organization, and I apparently have enough integrity to have been chosen to conduct the honor board. I have no gods, and yet I now have a social network that connects me to thousands of people who share my values. What is the tenet of Delta Tau Delta? “Committed to Lives of Excellence”. Not “Committed to the Service of God”. If I can have all of these things without gods, what is the benefit of believing in gods at all? I have already discounted the promise of an afterlife, I have discounted the necessity of religion for morality, and just now I have discounted the necessity of religion for community. What are the other benefits of religion, if any? Perhaps “security”, or “hope”. I’ll have to think on how to discount the necessity or success of religion with regards to each of those.

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Bullshit Makes the World Go Round

November 1, 2008 at 1:32 pm (Wrongs of the World) (, , , , , )

I used to bullshit for the fun of it. Bullshit can be compared to compulsive lying: you start making something up based on what you know, and with enough resolve and confidence everyone in the immediate vicinity will take you for an expert. Bullshit gives people a sort of social high: the attention, the apparent expertise, a sense of accomplishment and a personal appreciation for one’s wit.

Well, as a student at Carnegie Mellon, I no longer bullshit for no reason. Not only has the deception lost its luster, but outwitting the bright, high in IQ, and up-to-date on the latest in science, politics, world news is damn near impossible. However, I study physics, and I find that I no longer “bullshit” so much as I correctly explain the world. I know enough and I have imbibed enough physics-oriented thinking that when I make something up, it is not far off from reality.

Theists fail to approach this standard of basing their explanations of the world on the world itself. If I see my friend making something up, I catch those nuances in his voice and those slight incongruities in his arguments: he is bullshitting, and I can call him out on it. It is a public service because his falsehoods don’t get passed on to others. In fact, catching him in the act makes him less likely to bullshit in the future, at least with me around, and might drive him to actually research the subject before speaking on it.

So why is antitheist and antireligious speech quenched so strongly by society? Why can’t I, when hearing people discuss God and the Bible and the Torah and Jesus and the Messiah, call them out on putting their beliefs into some books and some stories? Hell, when Wikipedia has an article about anything they have to cite sources, and those sources have to correlate to the material. Of the “sources” available for religion, there are the Holy Books. Unfortunately these books barely correlate among each other, let alone with the religious views of the people quoting them. What sort of close-minded decision allows Christians to believe in the New Testament while not acknowledging Dianetics as the Holy Word? How can any theist claim to be correct with all others wrong, when the sources for ALL the groups are merely imagination-augmented renditions of various moral codes?

I call bullshit when I see it, and I see a lot of it. Every time I hear theists discuss their personal religions I cringe. But what hurts the most is when they discuss atheists: oh, those non-believers are fine, so long as they don’t speak out against my beliefs, seeing as how they are my beliefs, not theirs.

Well, theists of all faiths: speaking authoritatively on a subject that you not only have not researched but can do no research in to anyone publicly is a violation of the no-bullshit policy. Bullshit is fun, yes, and it makes you feel good for having outwitted someone. But bullshit is unnecessary. Take some physics courses, if you really do wonder about the creation of the universe. But please, PLEASE don’t speak about your religious beliefs as though you are right. Every scientist, if they don’t want to get ridiculed, has to gather massive amounts of supporting evidence before their theories are even tested by the scientific community. As a theist, you KNOW that your beliefs cannot be tested and proven right. So yes, your beliefs are personal. Keep them inside.

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Blagospherology, Status Quo, and the elusive Anton Liebowitz

October 31, 2008 at 3:52 pm (Wrongs of the World) (, , )

I took a break from blogging because I realized that I wasn’t breaking ground: not only has the ground I’ve been hammering at been thoroughly tilled and reseeded, but… In fact, the metaphor I didn’t bother to come up with has likely been worn out many times over. My thoughts on politics are moot: the institution is corrupt, and any replacement institution will also be corrupt (or will fail). Or both. Most of society (at least, that part of society that maintains a profitable standard of living) survives thanks to that corruption, so I find it awkward to do either of 1) start or 2) join an anti-corrupt government crusade.

In similar news, my crusades against religion are no better than others’ crusades for religion. In fact, I can recommend nothing more than everyone reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins during or immediately after high school, and that parents not force religion onto any children who resist it.

However, I do have a new mission in life, which I am sure others will be more successful at: spread the science seed. In literal terms. Just because a person doesn’t understand your views (on science) doesn’t mean they are worthless. In fact, they are necessary for assimilation into the science sphere. If you have any interest in science, have many children, even with someone who doesn’t understand you. With any luck of genetics, your children will share your passion, at least to some degree. And, if your spouse happens to not particularly enjoy science, at least you have taken them out of the non-science mating pool.

A friend of mine, Emily Orthogonal, has always been active in the Mornington Crescent community. This win against Anton Liebowitz was a rather exciting game, and so I have resolved to perhaps once again peruse the rulebooks and get back into the scene.

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Communication, Confidentiality, and Open-Ended Prompting

October 8, 2008 at 10:57 pm (Making Sense of Things) (, , , , , , , )

I have recently been accepted into SAA training at my college. SAA stands for Sexual Assault Advisor – a confidential peer that a sexual assault survivor can speak to and get information from (regarding various legal and college related processes). When I started this blog I thought, for the very first time, about the repercussions of not having grown up with any sort of religion (and thereby not having any morals and ethics hard coded into my childhood). Some time back in middle school I had developed an uncanny habit of stealing – breaking into lockers at the YMCA and extracting cash. When I was finally caught I received a brutal non-physical release of anger from my parents, in the form of the grandiose maxim “imagine if you were in their shoes”. I most certainly do not want anyone stealing from me, and that episode is the first time that I distinctly remember using my imagination. (Everyone uses their imagination, but how often is that memorable?)

So I wondered, when I wrote the first entries of this blog, about what ethics and morals and humanism and whatnot meant to me. And I honestly couldn’t say. One of my “proposed” theological models is the queue of souls, lining up for their turn on Earth to experience it, feel it, sense it. And death on Earth is non-permanent: the soul simply lines back up and gets another creature the next time around. However, given sentience, a soul in a human can lose its spot in the queue permanently (“burn in hell for all eternity”) by ruining this sensory Earth for others (for example through deforestation, genocide, rape, murder, etc). So by my model, we should all strive to make the world a better place (for our soul and others, the next time around the queue).

Let me add a caveat here. I don’t “believe” in this theological model. That is illogical, and “quantity” of total souls comes into question among many contradictions and incongruities. Still, just as (some) stories of the Bible are useful for illustrating socially acceptable and unacceptable behavior, so does this model loosely dictate some “rules” to live by.

Despite providing this model as a reason to be “good”, I reflected and did not find myself actually doing anything “good”. What kind of humanist was I, preaching (or at least accepting) humanism as a way of life, but not actively promoting it through my actions? To alleviate my internal conflict, I applied for SafeWalk and SAA. Safewalk sends teams of two out, from 10pm-2am, to walk any caller between any two locations on and around campus, to promote safety and security. In large part, to prevent violent assaults (and unwanted attention from passing drunk students). SAA then is a program to help survivors of sexual assaults (rapes) come to terms with their lives, accept the event, and move past it.

Communication (starting with body language) is the very first element of being an SAA. Poor posture, tension, or an overtly laid-back attitude can all break a survivor’s confidence and prevent the session from being at all effective. Then there is confidentiality – while I can describe the methods used by the SAAs, I obviously cannot disclose the details of any particular case. Confidentiality helps maintain the integrity of the SAA program, and keeps survivors willing to call us for help. If their confidence in our confidentiality was lost then they would not seek our help (and would be less likely to receive help from elsewhere).

And last is the mode of conversation: open-ended prompting. I wrote an article on Play-by-post forum-based dueling for the Role Play Academy, and started it with Open-Ended Prompting. The premise there was to keep the duel going by giving that person something they had to respond to, and open-ended prompts in SAA conversation are no different: to make a session productive, the SAA needs to keep the survivor talking (or at least able to talk, as pauses in conversation are not only allowed by are encouraged when necessary). To keep the conversation going, the answers to questions need to be long but possible to recall (rather than requiring analysis). As such, yes-or-no questions are a bust due to their one word answers (great for ending a conversation, but not necessarily on a good or useful note). But also “why” questions are a taboo. Questions that start with “why” require active analytical commitment to respond to. As the survivor is likely preoccupied with overwhelming emotions (rage, terror, hate, disgust, etc), requesting that they take a moment to analyze the situation objectively and answer your “why” questions is both selfish and unlikely to be successful.

It is one thing to speak on a subject; it is a whole ‘nother to do. It is easy to say that we should all be supportive of each other, so as to make the world a better place. I’m not saying that I’m now making the world a better place, but I think that I’m en route to figuring out how I would go about doing so. Baby steps.

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Incentives, Fear, and Organized Mindrot

September 29, 2008 at 4:55 pm (Wrongs of the World) (, , , , , )

The most painful part of my daily routine is my laziness to do the things that I should do, like go to class and do assignments and prepare for tests. I have no incentives to do these things, nor any fears of not doing these things, but I still do, however, accomplish them, most of the time. While not doing them will create problems with my tuition, I do not consider this when the question of being diligent or slacking off comes up. Many parents, however, egg their children on with fears (You’ll be working at McDonalds for the rest of you life!) or with incentives (Do your homework and you can play with your friends!).

This is okay, but only because children, until some uncertain age, are not self aware. They cannot draw those extended conclusions themselves (that studying should eventually lead to a larger salary and better quality of life), nor can they fully comprehend these conclusions even if parents tried their hardest to explain. So incentives and instilled fears are an acceptable substitute for understanding and logic, for children.

What is NOT acceptable is when these children grow up and are still self-unaware! Adults who need to be scared by Hell or induced with Heaven just to be moral and ethical people most certainly skipped a necessary step in their adaptation to adulthood.

I run a Roleplaying Academy at RPGFO, and a few months back I abolished the old “class” system for a new tutoring based system. Graduation from the old classes was “rewarded” with a medal that appeared beneath the avatar on every one of that user’s posts on the forum. My new system did not, because there were no distinct classes and because I did not feel that learning required any more sugar on top. Well, just recently I got a very determined, perhaps socially challenged member coming out and saying that he wanted those old and no longer attainable medals, and simply would not accept that the medals were abolished in part because knowledge is the greatest reward for learning (and that public flaunting thereof is socially stupid).

Similarly, it seems that the greatest reward for being a good/ethical person is knowing that you either contributed to making the world a better place or that you helped slow the worsening of the world. If you want to be self-centric, then your good deeds hopefully inspired more good deeds from others in a chain-reaction of goodness, which will eventually ripple back to you (and make your life better). The incentive of a deity’s favor (or the fear of a deity’s disfavor) based on the presence or lack of ethics in a person’s daily life seem like childish sugar coating to me. And you know what too much sugar leads to, right? Rotten teeth. By indoctrinating people into religion before their mental development can take hold, organized religions are eliminating the need for asking questions and finding answers: the religion becomes a necessary crutch that dictates that individual’s actions and prevents that individual from forming their own opinions.

Incentives and instilled fears rot the mind just as much as sugary treats rot the teeth. Induced and fearful individuals then depend on, and often expect, incentives in other facets of their lives, meaning that the person is willing to give only when he/she gets something back as well (or give to cancel out something they don’t want to get, like hell for all eternity). Why not be unimpeded by incentives and be willing to give just for the good of it? Increase the net goodness without looking for personal benefits? Incentives make me sad on the inside. Dropping off religion and leaving just the doing good thing is called humanism… which needs no indoctrination from birth, has no set of laws or code of conduct, makes no promises of heaven nor any threats of hell, and has a huge support network of just about anyone and everyone who bothers with websites like Richard Dawkins Forums (and there are a LOT of us that do)! If the point of organized religion is to promote ethics (read: humanism) then simply learning about humanism is a better method of getting that point across. If organized religion has any other agenda, then that agenda is most certainly NOT within the bounds of an ethical organization. Organized religion is obsolete in our day and age, and we would all do better without incentives and instilled fears, at least in adulthood. After all, we eventually give up the notion that Santa Clause, Saint Nicholas, Ded Moroz, and others are just our father dressed up in a funky coat with a stick or strap on beard acting to demonstrate a kid’s story. So why do so many people keep believing in God and Satan and all that, well after they have graduated from childhood?

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(ir)Rationality in Beliefs and Necessity in Assumptions

September 29, 2008 at 2:07 am (Wrongs of the World) (, )

I am Jewish by blood, but as a recent (1996) immigrant from Russia I hold no theism: my parents did not participate in organized religion as per government dictates and so I was not exposed to organized religion until we immigrated into New Jersey. Luckily.

So I have lived my life relatively free of beliefs in general, and frankly find them useless. Allow me to explain before the offense level peaks. Semantically, belief is equivalent to assumption in meaning and usage. However, I want to make the following distinction: an assumption is made to explain some observable phenomena. Two protons repel, so we assume they have charge and their charges are the same. We also know this, but back in the day we had to make some assumptions about nuclei, about atoms, etc. Beliefs, then, are assumptions made without a necessary reason, as in just for the sake of believing. This makes me rather unhappy.

In science we seek to explain things, and until we can prove something (that we believe to be true) we postulate it and assume it to be true. If we were wrong, then we reconsider everything that the assumption led to, when we are right we find something new to assume, test, prove or disprove. Whenever I find myself making assumptions I always ask myself why I am making them. What am I trying to explain, and why is that important?

Most of the reasoning for “believing” in any sort of deity seems like a waste of time to me. What does that belief lead to? That the world was created spontaneously rather than evolving from big bang dust? I could understand rationalizing a god if we were first given proof that the earth was, indeed, created. If all of science pointed to one great incongruity that the earth only is seven (or whatever) thousand years old, then yes, the question posed would be “How did the seven year old earth come about?” and possible answer would be God. Contrariwise, the preemptive belief in god seems like a waste of rational thinking: a lazy answer requiring little thought.

Some deities seem to want their believers’ repentance, love, fear, whatnot. I don’t cite examples because I don’t care (or admittedly know) about the nuances of specific organized religion. So more often than not, these deities require that believers gather and show their love and following to their god en masse. Why? Does it make them better people? Religious beliefs are independent from ethics, especially when priests can molest altar boys and atheists can participate in anti-pollution endeavors, among many other examples of crossconnection. So what are churches for? To promote ethics? If that is the case, then perhaps ethics can be instilled via other means, like schools, work places, internet forums. Why label the moral-providing-facilities with faith flags? Or are churches for the purpose of bringing the community together? Religion is such shaky business that it requires reinforcement, so attend weekly or you are no longer a believer in good standing! While yes, humans do not always accept easily things that are true, maybe here breaking from religion is a valid response. If churches and such are for the purpose of bringing the community together, giving them unity, why add beliefs to the label of faith? God and creation are not necessary assumptions for friendly interaction between members of the community.

Religion is a crutch or an impediment: it either helps those weak of reasoning get a leg up on their day-to-day lives, or it prevents those indoctrinated into it from getting past it. The only religious people that I have seen that are not negatively affected by their faiths are those that don’t let those faiths rule their lives. They take the ethics and morals learned in the stories of their holy books, the lessons read and preached by their reverends and rabbis and pastors, and they apply them to their day to day lives. They don’t spend time worrying about God, the afterlife, creation, nor do they spend time arguing with atheists and theists of other religions about who is wrong and right.

The thing about those people is that God is not a necessary belief for them to be as they are. Instead, their belief in God is a necessary assumption to give them entrance to their religious communities, and thus access to those ethics, morals, etc. Given a community with similar but non-religious gatherings I have no doubt that they would with the same conviction not believe in God while maintaining their life styles.

Assumptions are often necessary, but also often incorrect, causing us as scientists to constantly rethink what follows. But the assumption of God has only one result, and only is some religions: afterlife. Which leads me back to a question of how do you know there is an afterlife, and how do you know that you image of the afterlife is correct? If we had some sort of scientific observation of afterlife then I might ask “What determines one’s qualification for the afterlife?” and I would still not necessitate the assumption that there is a God. Just as like charges do not need to be dictated by some higher power to repel one another, so wouldn’t any “being” be specifically necessary for the universal laws to classify my as deserving (in a good way of bad) of an afterlife. But we have no observation of afterlife, so believing in God to explain it is wholly unnecessary. More on incentives (and how they make the world a worse place) another time.

The moral of the story is that beliefs are useless. A person can (and should) be an ethical being regardless of their faith (or lack thereof), and more often than not faiths seem to transcend the bound of social ethics with some facet or another, some interpretation or misinterpretation, and thus be seen as unethical generally and by other faiths. So why bother with it? Make only those assumptions that are necessary to explain observable phenomena, and then yes, find God if it becomes necessary. From what I have seen and from the observations and data that we have, God is not yet necessary in the least.

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God, Sims, Spore, Matrix, Reboot, MiB

September 27, 2008 at 6:11 pm (Metaphors and Allegories) (, , , , )

In ninth grade I watched Men in Black and had a thought: Why not? The last scene, where the locker door reveals a window to a meta universe of exponentially larger life to contrast the aforementioned Orion Galaxy, coupled in my mind with the Sims and The Matrix, and I came up with Username God. Since then I have made several revisions after playing Spore, watching Reboot, and learning to program.

Username God

Setting aside the beliefs of the usual everyday religious activists, and those who believe in the generic all-powerful God, I observe that the world evolves in all aspects, starting with us. Of course, other creatures evolve as well, but only our evolution is truly notable, for no species is able to comment upon the evolution of all others save for ourselves. And as time marches inexorably, and as we watch the incessant sway towards entropy, we find that intelligence and will and thought can no longer be housed within a set of singly instincts, but rather within a pseudo-infinite processing unit that is our brains. Why pseudo-infinite? Our brains are only matter, in our eyes, and thus, cannot hold more than their limit. However, since so few neurons are at work at any given time, the true capacity of the human brain is really quite large, by proportion far greater than any amount of knowledge needed for basic day-to-day survival.

But how was all of this created? The big bang, the spontaneous generation of the first cell, the proper conditions and a well placed bolt of lightning. All by chance, or by God we say. But God is inexplicable or so say the Saints. We are told God is omnipotent and then try to disprove that with paradoxes life “If God is all powerful, and can create and destroy whatever God may wish, can God create what God cannot destroy?”. Surely God can, if God is all-powerful. This would mean God would by no means be able to destroy it. And thus, with an infinitely recursive set of negations we define paradox and move on. But does it matter that God is omnipotent? Why would we even bother with such a premise, if it were not to rebel against him and his word. Are we that unhappy, that to stifle our blather we need to be told that our powers against him are null and void? Perhaps that is true. So what is this “miracle” we call life, and who is this “God” that is so much more powerful than us?

Life is a game. Cliché, and yet, this expression might shed some light on the essence of God. Life is a game, a personal game of the Sims or Spore where the user has called himself God. Why? For preparation for the multiplayer gameplay, where new worlds and other beings are introduced and can interact. If we are in a game, then we are in some form virtual, programmed. Our world is quantized, composed of elementary particles, bits. There are fundamental laws, just as in programming we define how addition and subtraction works. And there are objects and routines and functions, and we are cells and people and our cells do things and we do things. We are the not-yet-conscious sprites of Reboot. We form corporations and objects interact in subroutines, and we theorize and philosophize and programs produce output and error codes. But our world, as much as it evolves, does not change at the most basic states: atoms are atoms, electricity is electricity, cells are cells. The game has been written, and God is just playing. So no, just as we are not omnipotent with regards to our creatures in Spore, God is equally not omnipotent regarding us.

The repercussions? We, as what appears to be the chosen race of God, share his personality just as our Spore creatures reflect who we are inside, if not outside. We are omnivorous, ruthless, and reflective. So must be God, a conqueror, considerate afterwards, willing to do what is necessary but at times depressed and angry for the decisions he has made. God is no figure to be idolized: he may very well be one of many such players and we are one of many sentient races. We’ll find out when we finally enter the Heinleinic Diaspora of the space age and meet some ETs. Perhaps adoring our God will make him happy with our performance: or perhaps he will be frustrated with our stale inaction and actually pleasing him lies instead in ruthless progress. So who is right, the capitalists or theists?

Written by Yuriy Zubovski, 2003, edited 2008.

I also had a frivolous discussion about “afterlife” just now, and had an alternative set of thoughts. It seems rather unfair that we live for ~80 years on Earth and are then thrust into an eternity of suffering. Which leads me to ask: did we sign up for this? We must have, if “sinning” leads to eternal damnation in the pits of one hell or another: something on Earth is so worth it that our meta selves, our souls, made the choice to dive in and experience life. So worth it that an eternity of damnation is totally worth it. Could it be love? Maybe souls can’t experience love. Physical love? Physical sensation in general? Or maybe there is no eternal damnation, and souls just line up, waiting for their turn to get a body, any kind of body, and experience the greatest attraction of the meta-existence? Choose humans, and you get the widest range of sensation and emotion, the largest variety of physical experiences, but also eternal damnation for a social misuse. Meanwhile, pick some other being and forfeit sentience, but once you’re out it’s over, line up again. Perhaps it really is worth it to live, to sin, to deserve hell and then experience it, for the sake of living and loving it. So yes, maybe being faithful to the higher powers, preserving the world order, maintaining existence for the next souls that come is some form of meta-public service, commendable and unrewarded. Destroying others and ruining the world for future generations then is the true sin, what really should be reciprocated with eternal damnation. If there is a limited number of souls, then the good will cycle while the bad will rot, and unless we screw up the world too early, the only souls left to fill the bodies of Earth will be the good souls.

So going back to that, the moral of the story: realize for yourself what is good and what is bad. Will the consequences of your decision directly harm the world, for others and for future occupants? Do your actions now bring an end to the sensation for some else? Don’t rape, don’t kill, don’t pollute. Perhaps those are the cardinal sins, the sins worthy of eternal damnation. Don’t live with malice in your heart or malicious intent on your mind. Perhaps that, and just that, is the key to fulfillment. Forget the other rules, laws, maxims, ultimatums, lessons, and the word of whatever gods: Live for yourself but together with others. Oh, and progress. God likes progress.

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