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October 09, 2008

CP-N

Working on a personal philosophy, I’ve now outlined it. I know, I know, most of you are thinking, “great, here come a bunch of long winded sentences that never end because they’re all long winded en’ shit.” But really. I’ll keep it as short as possible.

 

Comedic Pseudo-Nihilism (in ten easy steps)

 

1. Nihilism’s view is that existence is void of intrinsic value, meaning or purpose.

 

2. However, “the pathos of 'in vain' is the nihilists' pathos — at the same time, as pathos, an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.” Nietzsche, The Will to Power, sec. 585.

 

3. So claiming that the world is without meaning is a meaningful statement with a purpose to describe this world as without purpose. Nihilists are right about everything except themselves.

 

4. This is funny.

 

6. Anything that is funny, or comedic, is that which forces a smile or laughter from an observer/listener (or any other sense used, some smells are funny, feathers in the armpit, etc.).

 

7. Nihilism can be applied to everything except itself, and in applying itself to itself a comedic experience emerges that negates itself, and so therefore the only thing worth anything is comedy.

 

8. If the only endeavor of value is that of comedy, then comedy at the expense of others is of the least amount of value.

 

9. The more people that find an event comedic imparts more value to existence than does an event that less people find funny.

 

10. Therefore, the best comedy is that which makes everyone laugh, which creates meaning in everyone’s lives.

 

Make people laugh, nothing else matters, life is a joke, all is in vane, struggling against the infinite nothing with finite strength, finite time, finite self, no chance to win, success a myth, and layered within the epic existential depression of it all…belly button lint, nose hair, laughing so hard a half eaten French fry is regurgitated and projected into your soda only to float, bobbing up and down in front of the waitress, like a mocking parody of your own inability to control your body.

 

 

 

December 12, 2006

You’re wrong; I’m right…Because-I-Said-So Politics

You ever sit there, listening to someone talk about politics or religion and think, “what a nut job!”? Have you ever been worried that someone else is thinking the same thing about you?

 

Around the beginning of this year I read a press release that has put me on edge with its implications. The release can be found here, and it basically says that once you firmly take a political stance, meaning that you have solidly aligned yourself with the Democrats, Republicans, or another political party, you’ll be too stupid to realize when you’re wrong.

 

More clearly, the article states that when you are presented with political information, specifically for or against a political candidate that you are inherently for or against, it is your emotional centers of the brain that do the work in making judgments about that information. And when you make a judgment that is inline with the party that you’re loyal to, you get “a blast of activation in circuits involved in reward -- similar to what addicts receive when they get their fix.”

 

For example, let’s say that you like candidate A and you’re against candidate B. B says that your candidate is a liar about something he or she said. In stead of thinking rationally about what candidate B is saying, your emotions decide for you. And your emotions will decide that candidate B is wrong and you’ll get a happy feeling from arriving at this decision. Then, when obvious factual evidence is presented to you, such as video tapes of your candidate lying exactly the way candidate B said, or documents written by your candidate in which he or she states that “we must lie to the public about this,” you will show “a pattern of emotionally biased reasoning: (where) partisans denied obvious contradictions for their own candidate that they had no difficulty detecting in the opposing candidate.”

 

Now, if your reward centers in your brain activate when you make a decision that reinforces your political stance, what would this indicate for any belief systems that you or anyone else holds? For any strongly held belief that you have, you become your own dealer and junky walking mad cow like through your own delusions.

 

But there are breaking points, there has to be. Given the sway of American politics, the ebb and flow from Republican to Democrat and back, it would seem to indicate that not everyone is receiving the same level of neuronic reward love. At some point, some new piece of information (which some would call facts, other calls misinterpretations, others lies), arises that changes the mind of some of the people.

 

So not all is lost in this quagmire of futile human endeavor as there still exists some room for the possibility of free will and rational thought so long as you first accept that deep down, on a fundamental basic level, you are the biggest idiot on the planet and attempt to work your way up from there and in doing so you’ll realize how everyone else is almost as big an idiot as yourself, which means that any information gained from any source is immediately moronic and stupid, like an Emory press releases relating how big of an idiot the human species is, with each individual being a greater idiot than the whole.

 

 

September 12, 2006

Creationist Apology (Somewhat)

I originally saw the below question on SecondLife’s forums and I started to formulate a reply. Of course, being longwinded and slow in thought, by the time I was ready to post this the topic had disappeared, so I’m just posting this to my blog.

 

I will take the side of a creationist as best as I can here, though I will admit that I am an atheist, but an atheist whose history degree focused on Near-East religions and physics degree focused on astronomy.

 

The question, which was directed towards Creationists, was: “Which is better, a universe arising from natural consequences dependant upon the laws of nature, or a universe that is antithetical to life where an intervention is needed to start it?” Of course there were several replies to this, most of which tended to deviate from the original question, especially given that no Creationist replied.

 

From a creationist’s standpoint the Bible is the true divine word of God and what is revealed there is literal. Faith being the foundation for belief in the Bible, to allow for something that contradicts the Bible’s literal statements is to allow for doubt at the root of one’s faith. Doubt can lead to the strengthening of one’s faith, but it’s also very dangerous because it can lead a person away from God which endangers one’s soul for salvation. And salvation is the goal in this life. With a literal interpretation, Satan is real and uses lies, tricks, etc., to lead the faithful astray. Only by standing firm in one’s beliefs and faith can that person succeed against Satan and his agents.

 

For those with faith, no matter the religion, it is not magic, at least not in the sense that the non-religious tend to imply. It is a state of being that is akin to a feeling, but also a thought. It is divine inspiration. For the Creationist, it is the knowledge of the teachings of the Bible, coupled with faith in God and Jesus Christ, which brings about a sense of peace, comfort, and belonging.

 

Resisting temptation, especially temptation that denies the validity of the Bible, is an affirming experience. This experience helps to prove to oneself, and God, that one’s belief and faith is strong. Speaking out about one’s faith may save others and bring them into the church, which is the one of the greatest things a person can do: save another’s soul.

 

Now, evolution is contradictory to the literal interpretation of the Bible (as are parts of geology and astronomy), so fighting it is a good fight, it becomes a fight to save people’s souls. If you take a moment and empathically step into the shoes of a Creationist, you can see their point (even if you don’t agree with it), and their point is that accepting evolution is leading you away from salvation, which is the single worst thing that can happen to a mortal soul.

 

Now to the question at hand: “Which is better, a universe arising from natural consequences dependant upon the laws of nature, or a universe that is antithetical to life where an intervention is needed to start it?”

 

From a creationist’s standpoint, the laws of nature are set by God. In addition, there was no “universe” before creation, and the Universe’s creation was divinely brought about. Because God is all powerful and all knowing, He is aware of His plan which includes humanity, and so there was never a Universe that was antithetical to life.

 

So there’s a basic Creationist Apology

 

Moving on. The question itself, “which is better”, lacks appropriate application to both religion and science. At their cores (not regarding any current public spokespersons) both religion and science don’t seek for a “better” explanation of the origins of everything, because the word “better” points towards a value system held by the speaker which may be wildly different than that of the listener/reader. Either “side”, religion or science, will inherently see their version as “better” because it is aligned with their beliefs or lack-there-of. A more relevant way to phrase the question would be to say, “which is more likely” or “which has more evidence”, however both questions are favorable to standard scientific inquiry, as for the strict Creationist, there is no doubt.

 

Religions tend to have a stated origin that can be taken literally, semi-literally, as an analogy or even as literature and stories. But the “creation” is set, and for better or for worse that description is taken as fact (whether fact of literal creation or fact of analogy is up to the individual believer).

 

In science, there is only a search for ways to describe the Universe as accurately as possible, then test those descriptions, modify them as appropriate and test again. Based on the data that has been collected in astronomy and geology, science generally agrees that the origin of our solar system is about 4.6 billion years old and the Universe itself around 13.7 billion years (give or take several hundreds of millions of years, of course). However, should something come along that produces contradictory evidence to those dates, science is such a system that it will adapt to the new findings. For example, if a rock is discovered on earth and dated to be 6 billion years old, then the Earth would have to be at least that old. And if something in the Universe, including a rock on Earth, be discovered that dates to 16 billion years old, then, assuming that the testing was done correctly, the Universe would have to be at least 16 billion years old. And neither date is better than the other, they are just estimated dates based on the evidence gathered.

 

Fundamentally, religion and science are two spheres of human experience that need not be exclusive of one another. Religion, philosophy, spirituality all help to explain reasons for being, existing, as a human individual along side other human individuals and the rest of the Universe. They propose “ways” to live, providing guidelines on how to interact with one another, in addition to offering understanding of the afterlife. Science seeks to explain and understand the natural world, which includes human biology, physiology and evolution.

 

Now, I will admit, if someone says they don’t believe in evolution the first thing that comes to my mind about them is “they’re an idiot.” But then, I figure, they are either just religious fundamentalists, in which case there is no reason to continue the conversation, or they are just ignorant to the data that has been collected that supports the theory that species change characteristics over generations often due to either environmental adaptations or, more rarely, to subtle changes within small sections of a species genetic code (mutations), that get passed along to future generations.

 

Now “theory” is an interesting word. Popularly it means an unproven idea or statement, the key here is “unproven”. Now, in the scientific community, a Theory is an explanation of the natural world that is backed by data. This data agrees with the predictions of the theory within a certain range of error that is acceptable. If data has been found that disagrees with the theory, and that data is confirmed with other tests by other sources, then the Theory is either modified or discarded as deemed fit. For example, gravity is a scientific theory. Most students in intro-science classes and physics labs, have tested this theory by measuring the acceleration of a falling object and finding that it agrees with the mathematical prediction of approximately 9.8 m/s^2. Usually the students get data that seems to vary wildly; 9.72, 9.91, 9.69, etc. But over all, the data is very close to 9.8 and the variations can be accounted for in inaccuracies of measurement, user error, etc. Now, if on every other Thursday the measurements all came out to be 11.2 everywhere in the world, well, the Theory of Gravity would have to be re-evaluated.

 

Why evolution is interesting is that is has continually stood up to the data that has been pulled up from the earth and observed in the various living species. In 1859 Darwin wrote his Origin of Species and it held up through the geological and biological discoveries of a hundred years until 1966 when the genetic code was cracked. And evolution still holds up. This means that for over nearly a hundred and fifty years the idea of evolution has been under attack, scrutinized, mulled over, played with, and challenged. And it’s still holding up.  

 

Now, like I have said, for a fundamental Creationist, evolution cannot be true because ultimately, and despite the fact that the theory of evolution has lead the way to genetic manipulation and engineering that has become so wide spread, despite the geological records of wildly varying species with common skeletal structures in dated layers of the earth, it does not agree with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

 

So, in the end, to the Creationist I say; I mean you no harm, I wish you no ill will, I disagree with you about the origins of humanity – the Earth – and the Universe, if Intelligent Design did not have the theological overtones and undertones that it does then I wouldn’t have a problem with it being taught in public schools but it does so I do.