To Infinity and Beyond

godI have the complete works of Shakespeare on my bookshelf. I no longer have a typewriter, but let’s say there are 40 keys. And let’s avoid the problem of the shift key. There are, I very roughly calculate, six million discrete key strokes required to compile the complete works. So the odds of a monkey in front of a typewriter producing the complete works is about six million raised to the power of 40 to one. ‘Not very likely’ is somewhat of an understatement.

What are the odds of other intelligent beings existing outside of Earth in our universe? Well I don’t know because I don’t know what the odds are of life emerging by chance from inanimate matter and then, through random mutation and natural selection, going on to form intelligent life. The fact that there are apparently 100 billion stars in our galaxy and 100 billion other galaxies doesn’t help me. One hundred billion times 100 billion is a very small number when compared with 6 million raised to the power of 40. And just maybe the odds of intelligent life emerging are much, much longer than the chance of a monkey typing the complete works? If that were the case, the chances of intelligent life existing elsewhere would be remote. But wait! Infinity is the new God.

I glanced again at two books by eminent scientists. One is by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees (Just Six Numbers) published in 2001; the other by Francis Collins (The Language of God) published in 2006, when he was head of the Human Genome Project. They each give the same three competing theories for our extremely unlikely universe. One is that it just happened this way, so there. The other is that there is a Creator. The third is that our universe is part of a multiverse and therefore its unlikely characteristics are explicable despite the long odds against it. Neither scientist favours the first theory. In rejecting it, both quote philosopher John Leslie’s parable about fifty expert marksmen in a firing squad all missing their target. It is unbelievable.

Now it is self-evident from the title of his book that Collins favours a Creator. Rees favours a multiverse. It’s the multiverse that I would like to focus on.

Rees quantifies the multiverse in two ways in his book. He describes it as ‘many universes’ and as an ‘infinite multiverse’. Now to me there is a large difference (pun aside) between many – say the number of stars in the universe – and infinity. For example, if an infinite number of monkeys set to work to type Shakespeare one is bound to succeed. No, that is not right. An infinite number must succeed. I will leave you to think about that.

Infinity is a spooky concept. To me it is much spookier than God. If in fact there are an infinite number of universes then there must be an infinite number exactly like ours. And, in every detailed way; including you and what you had for breakfast this morning. To me it is absurd. Occam’s razor points me to God.

Of course, if the multiverse is just a large number of universes I want to know how many there are. Are there ten or ten million, or ten billion, or ten trillion? And then, if there are only ten trillion, I want to know why so few? Or, I suppose, alternatively, why so many? More to the point, why is the number what it is?

This all came to my mind when reading Phillip Adams some weeks ago and listening recently to our visiting dripping-progressive US scientist Lawrence Krauss on 7.30 and on Q&A. Both are unashamed God-bashers. Both obviously think that belief in God is risible.

I find this attitude to be unscientific. The scientists who I refer to above treat the idea of God with respect, even though they come to different views. Personally, I believe in God for a numbers of reasons. But one, certainly, is that I find it tortuous to get my mind around the alternative. However, I don’t treat the views of atheists with derision. I wonder why so many atheists in the commentariat feel obliged to be so aggressively anti-religious.

It might be a coincidence but it seems to be the case that God-bashers tend to believe in global warming, in the power of government to right societal ills, in human rights legislation, in gay marriage, in open borders, in anything which appeals to the sanctimoniously outraged of the inner city elite. I am reminded of the aphorism attributed to G K Chesterton, “He [she] who doesn’t believe in God will believe in anything.”

35 thoughts on “To Infinity and Beyond

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    Wow – what a great piece … an eloquent scientific defence of God …and when I got to the last quote from GK Chesterton, I found myself thinking that without God, not only will they believe in anything, but that they ‘must’ believe in anything…because the alternative, to believe in ‘nothing’ – is terminal to human beings. If the ‘belief’ in Gay Marriage ( a God-like decision) is anti evolutionary – the survival of the weakest … then we are mired in decadence.

    • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

      Dear Patrick, thanks for you kind comment. I am taken these days to ask self-confessed atheists; well, now that I know what you don’t believe in, what do you believe in? It’s an interesting question to ask. Seldom is the answer comprehensible.Peter.

      • Jack Richards says:

        I’m a self-confessed atheist and there are many things I know to be true without any need to believe in fairies, flying horses, original sin, heaven or hell or a divine being causing any of it. I know that 2 + 2 is always equal to 4. I know that human beings are a very clever class of primate, some of whom can do truly remarkable things and make truly astonishing discoveries. I also know that not one of them is worthy of complete trust, that they’re all incapable of complete loyalty to anyone or anything, and that everyone has a price. I have a very low opinion of my fellow hairless apes. Although I’ve heard of them, I’ve never met a single saint, a person who was motivated to do anything out of pure altruism, but I’ve met plenty of con artists. I believe that most of what is said and written in this world is probably bullshit. I know that people are weak and stupid and easily led. I know that there is no after life, no eternal reward (or punishment), and hold in complete contempt anyone who thinks that there is. I know that this life is the only one I’m ever going to have so I’m not going to waste a second praying into empty space on the chance (which I know is zero [0]) that there is.

        So what I believe in can be easily summarised: don’t believe anyone, don’t trust them, and don’t expect them to hold up their end of any bargain. Do that and you’ll never be disappointed though occasionally you’ll be pleasingly surprised.

        It never ceases to surprise me just how stupid most people are – but that doesn’t stop them from voicing an opinion on every possible topic. Everyone loves a really good spine-chilling horror story or prediction of impending doom and thus we now have the Great Global Warming Scam which is almost as good as the Religion advance fee fraud that’s been around for more than 5,000 years now. The trouble with Global Warming is that it is measurable and has been predicted to happen within a very short time frame. Religions, the people who invented them, never bothered with specific time frames and you only get your reward after death – it’s the perfect con: pay now and you can collect just as soon as you’re dead.

        Being an atheist doesn’t mean believing in nothing, or anything, or everything, it means you’ve outgrown the childish need to believe that you have an imaginary friend who can beat all those monsters making noises in the night.

        • rosross says:

          Some of the most sensible people I have met are atheists although I find they are not dogmatic about their position and in fact are no more sensible than some of the religiously committed people I have met.

          Too many atheists today take a position which counters the Gods of religion which is like shooting fish in a barrel since those forms of God are about men, not any God who might possibly exist.

          One may have a relationship with what they call God without having anything to do with any religion. It works well as a form of spiritual expression.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    I don’t believe in a God, global warming, gay marriage, That Islam is a peaceful religion or that Kevin stopped the boats.

    I’m a radical thinker and very much a reactionary.

    Chesterton along with Bert Russell and Jaques Barzun are my philosophical heroes from the twenty first century.
    I tend to subscribe to all of Einstein’s thoughts on the universe, including his private thoughts expressed in his letters to his daughter. In them he said he believed the universe was held together by love.

    Hey he was a scientist and didn’t believe in the traditional god either.

    He was no leftie nut job either.

    I think he’d be highly skeptical of the religion of climate warming, gay marriage, Islam and that Kevin stopped the boats too.

    • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

      Dear Keith, I should have made it clearer. I don’t think atheists are “leftie nut jobs”. But God-bashers, among atheists, tend to be, in my experience. Einstein of course was no God-basher. If my recall is right, he did believe in a higher power (God doesn’t play dice with the universe) but not a personal God. Peter

      • Rob Brighton says:

        With all due respect you are misquoting Einstein, his comment about God not playing dice with the universe was relating to the theory of quantum mechanics and can not be reasonably regarded as Einsteins support for the existence of God (the word be used as a generic).

        He stated on numerous occasions that he believed in Spinoza’s view of God.

        kind regards
        Rob Brighton
        Atheist (nut job variant unknown).

  • aertdriessen@gmail.com says:

    Thanks Peter, a great piece. I had not before considered the logical consequences of infinity before, probably lazy thinking, but your logic makes perfect sense. I like the reference to Einstein and his thought on love holding the universe together. I know that love holds families together and I see sound evidence that it holds societies and countries together. So what comes next in that progression? I also believe in some form of ‘God’ or ‘Creator’ whom I now address and refer to as ‘M’ for ‘My Maker’. That sort of thinking is incompatible with Catholic dogma and so I walked away from institutional religion a few year ago. Keep up the good work.

    • rosross says:

      Love, from what I can see is the word we use for connectedness. Human beings are hardwired to connect with each other and everything in this universe is connected. The deepest forms of love involve the greatest connections whether it is with a person, animal, art or God.

      Love as connectedness, or connectedness as love, can be understood in everything from Quantum Mechanics to religion.

  • en passant says:

    I generally like your writing and logic, but to abbreviate: I am an atheist who finds the idea that ‘something’ created this dysfunctional mess we call home – well, unbelievable.
    I do not believe “… in CAGW, in the power of government to right societal ills (in fact all the evidence from the Iron Law of Unintended Consequences is that the opposite is true), in human rights legislation, in gay marriage, in open borders, in anything which appeals to the sanctimoniously outraged of the inner city elite”.
    As I near the end of my allotted lifespan I neither worry about where we came from, nor where I am going (though I am immortal as I have gifted all the working physical bits to others who may find them more useful after I die). To me infinite life would be hell as every ‘day’ (if time continues to exist) would be infinitely boring.
    So, which is your preferred creator from the misogynist, physics law-breaking, psycho-sociopath tyrannical supermarket of gods? Any favourites, or just a vague unscientific idea that there may be ‘something’?
    Mankind made god, not the other way around. And what an unfortunate consequence for civilisation as each religion claims its right to slaughter every other one because its messengers heard voices in their head. I mean, what was god thinking when he/she/it entrusted the most important message to illiterate carpenters and traders in semi-desert lands (until Joseph Smith received the updated version of the message and started the latest Mormon religion). More people and more societies have been destroyed as a result of a belief in (….) [insert your preferred god here] than even because of smallpox (still the greatest pandemic killer of all time).
    Just because you do not know the answer does not mean that you can revert to a personal Dark Age of Unreason for comfort with impunity.
    I know all the valid doubting questions: “Why is evil allowed to exist?”, “How do you rationalise bone cancer in innocent children” (Stephen Fry), “Why did their god allow the deaths of 6M believers in the holocaust?” Add Boko Haram, muslim massacres of each other, 911, etc and god is clearly a malignant, tyrannical psychopath, or a manmade malignant, tyrannical psychopathic construct.
    I don’t want to influence you) but it seems the options are:
    1. A totally irrational belief in a malevolent sky dragon, or if
    2. No. 1 is not an option, we do not know and worship rationality, life itself and the wonders that fill the world around us, while rejecting all forms of evil, religious unreason, nonsense, ritual and irrationality.
    Your choice, or no need to make a choice at all.”

    • Egil Nordang says:

      I like Peter Smith’s way of thinking too, on most subjects, but “en passant’s” thoughts , IMHO, nails it on this occasion.
      The idea that a self created something created this limitless [?!?] universe, in all its forever changing detail,
      is way outside rational human comprehension/intellect and probably best left that way.
      Fight evil.
      Evil can easily be identified without the guidance of any book of “god”.
      Be good and rational and Bob’s your uncle.

    • rosross says:

      There are many other options for those not taking a materialist reductionist position.

  • Jack Richards says:

    I can announce, with considerable pride, that I have been a devout atheist since I was all of 6 years old. I still am the best part of 60 years later. It’s all very well to talk about monkeys, type-writers, multi-verses, Shakespeare and all sorts of absurd philosophical questions and, at the end, say: No-0pne can answer that! Therefore God exists! QED!

    Mr Smith refers to “Occam’s Razor” but he doesn’t use it severely enough. Let’s get back to one basic belief that is shared by all the “Great Religions” and without which they all fall apart – and that is the belief that there is, up in the sky, an old man who created the earth, solar system, and the universe and everything and everyone in it and, amongst this huge and complex creation, he has the time and the interest to listen in to my thoughts, take note of what I eat, and has an absolute compulsion to know what I do in the bedroom, with whom and how often. Not only that, but two of the Great Faiths will tell you that a ham sandwich is enough to get you eternal punishment in the fires hell because it will so displease God who is also all forgiving and really loves me.

    Ha, ha, ha, ha.

    Now lets have a look at a few other “beliefs” that you have to hold, and proclaim publically, to show your faith:

    1. To be a Muslim you have to believe that horses can fly. After all the hoof-print of Buraq, Mohammed’s trusty steed on which he rode up to heaven, is still visible at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

    2. Human levitation, completely unaided by any mechanical device, is possible. After all, the Virgin Mary never actually died but “ascended” into heaven in exactly the body she’d had on earth.

    3. Rising from the dead used to be a common occurrence. After all, in the space of the few weeks recounted in the Gospels it happened three times i.e. Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, and Jesus. Bizarrely it was so common that no-one even thought to ask Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter what it was like. But even that pales into an unremarkable event when we’re told that, at the time of the crucifixion, the graves in Jerusalem cemetery opened and the dead jumped out and went tear-arsing around the city and were “seen by many”.

    4. That God created Adam, gave him intelligence and curiosity, and then created Eve (from a rib, a clot of blood or a handful of dust – take your pick). Despite designing them in a particular way, that is, mostly unable to resist temptation, he tempted them and then punished them and their descendants forever for behaving exactly as they’d been designed to behave.

    5. It is perfectly possible for man to be swallowed by a whale, vomited up three days later, and live to tell the story.

    6. An appropriate punishment for cheeky children is to have them torn apart by wild she-bears – as God did when his prophet Elisha copped a bit of cheek.

    7. Atonement. This is the curious idea that I should be forever begging forgiveness for crimes I didn’t commit and that someone I didn’t know chose to die a horrible death to absolve me of those crimes 2,000 years ago even though I didn’t ask him – and besides, he didn’t really die or suffer because he was God and knew he was going to rise again in 3 days anyway and was quite capable of turning of the pain.

    But here’s the thing that I’ve got to believe as a Christian: Jesus/God knew that one day I’d be born and he knew all the sins I’d commit once that glorious event happened in 1951. Peter Smith likes to bamboozle with giant numbers so let’s try to calculate the “probability” that Jesus/God/Holy-Ghost knew that one day I’d be born and one day I’d commit the sins of Onan and that in 1958 I’d defy the Pope and eat a meat-pie on Friday!

    There are 4 generations to a century. Therefore, going back to the year 0 there are about 80 generations. So I have 2 to the power 80 direct ancestors (and so do you)just back to the time of Christ. My calculator runs out of numbers at just 36 generations ago when I had 68,719,476,736 direct ancestors – not even half way there! Now, we also have to factor in that the fact that each one of those ancestors was attractive enough that a member of the opposite sex wanted to have intercourse with them; then we have to factor in the fact that each of those trillions of female ancestors are only fertile for 3-5 days a month, then we have to multiply all that by the 1 in 150,000,000 chance that one particular sperm would get lucky, then we have to multiply that by the chance that all those female ancestors would have a normal pregnancy, that a healthy baby would be born, who would live long enough to reach breeding age him/herself – and that meant surviving all the untreatable childhood illnesses that took probably 3 out of 5 children for most of recorded history.

    I don’t know what the final number is, the final odds offered by Tom Waterhouse, but it would be in the same order of magnitude as the monkey randomly writing the complete works of Shakespeare.

    All the talk about morality and arguments about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and so on all overlook the one great fact that instantly relegates all religions to “piffle and twaddle” shelf of the Museum of Human Stupidity: the Religious are adults who believe in fairies!

    No Virginia! There is no Santa Claus.

    • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

      Jack, What no Santa!? Just one point on the numbers. I simply say that if atheist scientists are going to rely on an infinite multiverse as their best guess it creates bizarre outcomes which to me are stranger than God. I am not trying to bamboozle with giant numbers, they are. I take it from your comment that you don’t believe in a creator god. This at least must leave you to ponder whether this all could have happened by sheer chance? Scientists struggle with sheer chance. Do you struggle with sheer chance? Peter

      • Jack Richards says:

        You are correct, Peter, I don’t believe in a creator God or any God of any kind. It’s all utter nonsense left over from the infancy of society. It was invented maybe 10,000 years ago to explain everything that was then completely inexplicable.

        I don’t have any problem with “sheer chance”. The very fact that you and I were born is a chance so remote as to be almost non-existent – but it happened. The chance of winning Power Ball is 162,901,200:1 which means that if Jesus had bought a ticket in 18AD and played the same numbers every week since then the probability is, overwhelmingly, that he still would not have won – and yet people do win.

        The chances of a planet forming just far enough from a medium sized star for water to collect as a liquid and that also contained all the possible elements is infinitesimally small- but it happened and we’re living on it.

        Apart from that, if there is a “Creator God”, who created him/her/it? Was there an earlier God who created the creator and then died? It’s all bullshit. Humans have created thousands of Gods over the millennia; the Hindus still have thousand; but most have faded into history. It’s worth remembering that the Abrahamic religions haven’t lasted as long as the Egyptian belief in Isis, Osiris, Ra and so forth that lasted for at least 4,000 years.

        There are many things in the natural world we just don’t know and/or don’t understand – but that doesn’t mean there is a God – the “God of the Gaps” that religious fools like to insert. I don’t know the extent of the universe; I don’t know whether there are multi-verses; I don’t know if life exists anywhere else in the total enormity of everything; but I know for certain none of it was created by Sky Fairy, Jewish or Gentile.

        The idea of a God is beyond childish. The various religions with their Saints and martyrs and ridiculous rules and rituals is nothing but the most benighted superstition.

        I’ll believe in a God when I see the evidence. So far I haven’t seen anything that can’t be explained or about which we can only say “Nobody knows”. I’ve never seen any evidence of a God or any evidence that praying achieves anything. I’ve never seen anyone rise from the dead and I’ve never heard of anyone miraculously re-growing a severed limb.

  • MickL says:

    This piece supports a deist position, not a theist. As an atheist I can grant you that A God created the universe. I can’t prove this isn’t so. But you still have all the work left to do. You have to show that God actually is personal, intervenes in natural law by answering prayers, cares who you sleep with and in what position and can convict you of thought crime. You have to make the infinite leap between a deity that created the universe and a personal God, and I am yet to find a theist who can.

    Then you have to prove the this personal God is actually the Christian one. Considering the vast chapters of babble in the Bible it managed to miss some very important things, and these omissions must eliminate it as being truth. Some brief examples; The bible got Pi wrong. It failed to condemn rape or slavery. It condones genocide, and values women only slightly more than the cattle. I think it’s reasonable that a personal God, who is omniscient by definition, would have got these things correct when inspiring the writing of his book. Alternatively, if my position on rape is wrong and it’s acceptable to God then I wouldn’t worship him/her/it anyhow. I am happy to be a single issue atheist, I am happy to call BS on God based on his position on rape alone.

    As for why some atheists are angry it’s because of theists willingness to impose their faith based beliefs on others. It’s not enough for theists to have their faith, they need everyone else to believe it too, or at least acquiesce to their desire to model society based on certain chapters of their holy books, even when they are directly contradicted by other chapters of the same book.

    Of course The Left is totally guilty of this too, imposing their faith on others, and can be similarly condemned as a theist. Global warming requires nearly as much faith as Yahweh.

  • Homer Sapien says:

    Dear en passant, Job had the same questions like you have, God answered him. Read them in the old Testament under “Job” and you will be enlightened.
    On a different note life= matter, energy AND information (DNA).Information is outside chemistry or physics, doesn’t that point to a Creator?
    Just finished reading the book “A World without Time”by Palle Yourgrau about Einstein/Goedel. Nothing is simple….

    • en passant says:

      Several years ago I was planning a trip to Oman & Muscat. As Oman is the reputed gravesite of Job I took the trouble to read the whole Book of Job. Obviously we have a different interpretation of this god and his behaviour to a good man who never loses faith. Let’s check some of the actions and compare it to pulling the wings off flies or torturing people or helpless animals. Firstly, the sadistic Satan challenges god to prove that Job is a true believer and a Green Party member. He kills all Job’s sons. So, in an arm-wrestling between Good (God) and Evil (Satan), Good kills all the sons of a great supporter. Brilliant! I have friends who have had children die before them and they tell me the experience was worse than losing their own lives.
      First strike against a psychopathic Stalinist god who thought this was a neat way to test the loyalty of his worshipper. Now let’s afflict Job with a horrible disease – now equivalent to pulling the legs off the fly and putting it into a bowl of water to slowly drown. Honestly, I am not warming to this approach, but Stalin perfected it, as you would expect as he had been a candidate for the priesthood, so he had read Job and learned the ways of effective torture.
      Having physically and psychologically tortured Job – and Job comes through, he is restored to great wealth and fathers ten children, seven sons and three daughters. Pity about those dead ones, we can catch up with them later, but I am sure wealth was a great comfort and compensation for dead children. It is just the price that we need to quibble over.
      What if Job had cracked? Does that justify the torture Stalin, sorry god had inflicted on him? I think not. All it would have proved is Job’s humanity and god’s inhumane psychosis.

      Matter and energy are NOT outside of Physics, but since the Dark Ages we have added biology (which includes DNA), pharmacy, nuclear science, telecommunications, electricity, robotics, space travel, bio-mechanics and dozens of other new sciences never considered by any religious book. We have tried (unsuccessfully) to consign to the dustbin of history alchemy, astrology, numerology, eugenics, phrenology and CAGW, etc.
      Yet, I can see nothing in any religious text that PREDICTS and CONFIRMS future technologies that would come to pass. Why not? God must have known they existed and would have known they would come to pass in due course. A nudge along would have been nice, but instead billions of people died horribly of preventable diseases. How benign is it to allow good people to die slowly and painfully when penicillin was right there in 1389, yet remained undiscovered for centuries more? And before you point it out, the Naztec lines and the nuclear holocaust that wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, turning Lot into a pillar of salt are a little vague as examples for my liking.
      As for the big picture: unless it affects my daily life it is not of great or immediate concern as I have less important things to do as part of my daily routine, one of which is reading Quadrant and the comments.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    For what it’s worth, Martin Rees became one of the most aggressive CAGW advocates in UK, using his platform on the Royal Society to propound the usual warmist doomery and give sceptics a good bashing.
    Re the three options, why is option 1 viewed as less probable than the other two?

    • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

      Tony, religion/God obviously engenders more passion than economics or politics. Option 1 is contemplated by Rees as a possibility on the basis that it might be shown in future that our universe is the only way, by the laws of physics, that it could have happened. He doubts this will come about but it remains a possibility. I didn’t realise Rees had become an ardent warmist. Maybe he eventually found belief in an infinite multiverse too much to handle and needed something to replace it. Peter

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

    This must be a record for comments attracted. Congratulations Peter Smith!

    It appears that god-bashers – including those commenting above – are constantly and vehemently endeavouring to prove the rational validity of their stance, which is an unmistakable indication of their ever-nagging insecurity. When you are comfortable with your outlook on life, you don’t feel the persistent urge to prove it to all and sundry.

    Bill Martin.

    • MickL says:

      So how do you explain Peters article? Is he uncomfortable on his outlook on life?

      • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

        Peter is amply capable of speaking for himself, as indeed he did in this and many other excellent articles, never with the slightest fervent anxiety typical of the “god-bashers”. Questioning him this way is to say “I might be insecure but so is he”.

        • MickL says:

          Not at all, I was questioning you, indirectly, perhaps the subtlety was lost.

          What I was saying is that your comment is nonsense. If believers were comfortable with their beliefs then this article would not have been written, or published. There must be some nagging insecurity (your phrase) that explains this article. The fact Peter and you both chose to write on this issue invalidates your point.

    • Jack Richards says:

      ” are constantly and vehemently endeavouring to prove the rational validity of their stance ”

      Not at all. Pointing out the absurdity of believing in sky fairies is a civic duty. Most people wouldn’t stand around and watch someone beat a dog; and religion forced upon children and the feeble minded is a far worse crime of abuse than cruelty to an animal.

      I am very comfortable with my outlook on life and I have no “persistent urge” to do anything other than oppose the preaching of demonstrable rubbish anywhere and everywhere I find frauds, fools and psychotics saying “Follow Me! I Know the Truth! I spoke by mental telepathy with a fairy who lives in the sky and he told me to tell you that you have to give me money!”

  • en passant says:

    bemartin has commented without apparently reading or understanding what Peter said as Peter’s opening words are: “It seems God-bashers tend to believe in global warming, the power of government to right societal ills, gay marriage, open borders and every other flawed cause that stirs inner-city hearts to gales of sanctimony. I don’t think that is a coincidence” And don’t forget racist.
    Peter brought up the subject of the sky dragon and made the insulting and unsubstantiated connection that we atheists also seem to have a lot of other crimes to answer for. I do not apologise for defending rationality over flights of fancy.
    About 50 years ago when I declared my atheism in school there were many shocked faces. So, I offered to buy god, any god a coffee if ‘he’ would join me for a chat about his unintelligent design and flawed engineering. Over the centuries many gods have appeared to many different people, so I figured I had as much chance as anyone else. Maybe the popular one(s) is just socially inept, painfully shy, or unable to personally explain the horrors unleashed on his flock under his watch, unless of course and abattoir is part of the design? Well, that currency is no longer even valid and not the slightest sign that he exists. Anyway, there is a whole supermarket out there, including many dead ones and even more who are dying.
    It does not take too much research to realise that the greatest barbarism and human sacrifices that have taken place down through the ages are more often than not rooted in some form of religion, any religion. Given time and resources, every society begins to grow and establish order, but then the psychos take over, hear voices in their heads (or so they say – and send in twenty more virgins) and we are off on another Ride to Hell. Read about the Tai’Ping Rebellion if you want to see something almost (but not quite) as crazy as the CAGW religion that cost 60M lives based on the ravings of a lunatic. Watch the ‘bodies in the bog’ on History Channel about people sacrificed to improve the weather – which is exactly what the newest religion is doing today.
    There is a serious flaw in the psychological design of humankind which, for Christian believers, was inherited from even before they were born.
    Apparently we are given ‘free will’, so if I have chosen incorrectly then there should be no Hell for me as I was given a choice. In the zero event that I am sent to Hell then I really did not have a choice at all, did I?

    • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

      Dear en passant

      Just a small correction. The opening words are the editor’s (as they are in all blogs). Mine begin with “I have the complete works…” Peter

  • Geoffrey Luck says:

    Brian Cox spent an hour of ABC broadcast time on Tuesday night explaining that everything since the Big Bang is explained by physics. Energy is never lost, it simply changes form; all life on this planet shares the same genetic form and origin. He obviously believes it all started with a nuclear fission but didn’t think it necessary to explain why. I found several internal contradictions in his theorising; for example, he considered that energy could degrade – the heat radiated by the beach sand was not as powerful as that of the sun which originally heated it – but did not put a percentage figure on the degradiation. From this he went on to propose that the entire planet was in fact in a state of degradiation and decay and would eventually disappear. That seemed to disprove his view that energy was indestructable. Throwing around the first and second laws of thermodynamics did not convince me. I noted he did not use the word god, as obviously an irrelevant concept. Cox is correct however in stressing that none of the evolution of life on the planet has anything to do with a personal deity. Deism and all religions were invented in primitive times as unscientific explanations of the observable. They were the inventions of extremely ambitious and manipulative powerful individuals and synthesised into structures which could similtaneously provide explanation, maintain servitude and offer hope. Simply, fraudulent teachings which explained nothing.

    • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

      Dear Geoffrey

      I think you have to ask why deities were ‘invented’, or even thought of, and not something else. But you seem to be adamant, which I find disconcerting when there is so much mystery about. I don’t know, I just think it is easier to be adamant that there is a God than that there isn’t. Why, because God explains much of the mystery whereas a big fat question mark exists otherwise. Many scientists struggle with the ?mark in spite of Brian Cox’s view and many stick with God; perhaps not as many don’t; still many do – which I find more significant. Mind you, I have to admit to buying Darwinian evolution only as a hypothesis, which perhaps rules me out of the received scientific consensus. Ah well, plenty of good company down the ages. Peter

      • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

        This is straying somewhat from the subject Peter, but it links to it nevertheless. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that creation and evolution were not only perfectly compatible, but in fact mutually supportive. Consider the mind-boggling complexity of computer coding together with the fact that even the most advanced of these were created by the rather finite human intellect. Juxtapose that with what seems to be also a “code”, embedded in every living cell and even lesser evolved forms of life. Are they not all equipped to respond to whatever befalls them? Is it not utterly reasonable to presume that all life forms from the very beginning were coded by the creating Supreme Intelligence to make the best use of any and all situations they might encounter? Is that what has been and continuing to play out and we call it evolution? I hope I don’t appear arrogant to believe that it is so.

        Bill Martin

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    Hi Peter

    Generally you were perfectly clear in your introduction.

    Einstein trashed the idea of a religious god but he believed in a higher power and he believed part of that higher power was Love.

    I do the same. I believe in a higher power but I don’t think of it as a god.

  • Rob Brighton says:

    I would like to think that I am not a “god basher” but rather one whose personal beliefs are kept just so, it would be nice if others afforded me the same courtesy.

  • rosross says:

    Well said. I suspect the reason why those who rail against God, swallow the global warming theory, see Government as instrumental in righting social ills, human rights legislation, gay marriage, open borders, etc., is because they have lost the capacity to think and merely process, mechanistically, because they are converted, committed and brainwashed by the scientific paradigm of materialist reductionism.

    The capacity to apply common sense, reason and logic to any issue requires a high level of objectivity and anyone who takes a fixed or passionate position on any topic, will be operating more from the shadow than the mind and will therefore unconsciously if not consciously be coming from a position of high subjectivity. In other words, prejudice. The fact that ignorance to differing views is also present just reduces the capacity for logic, reason, common sense to play a part in decision making.

    The problem with such modes of thinking which utterly reject God is that they are irrational, in fact equally irrational with those which are convinced there is a God, particularly given the God constructs provided by religions.

    The sensible position is agnosticism where one is not sure, because quite simply we cannot be sure. There is more evidence that some sort of intelligent organising entity is at work in this world than that there is not, but there is little or no evidence for the sorts of Gods which religions manufacture.

    And this is where the atheists go so wrong. They think they are arguing against God in general, but they are not, they are arguing against the God made in the image of men, which can be found in religions, particularly the most fundamental. And, in the doing, they completely miss the point and simply place themselves at the opposite end of the fundamentalist spectrum, making as little sense as the religious fanatics at the other end are making.

    High levels of objectivity and an open mind are more likely to perceive and obtain truths than fundamentalist positions ever will and those who take a fixed position on one issue, as in, it must be about right or wrong, are likely to do the same on other positions.

  • rosross says:

    Having explored in depth, quite a few religions including Anglicanism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism – Indian, Japanese, Tibetan, Jainism, along with the Gnostic, Wicca, Great Goddess and a few other esoteric explorings of the spiritual, I reached a point a few decades ago where I decided to drop religion and stick with God, or what I define as God.

    I had, however, cherry-picked all of them for insights and wisdoms and continue to ‘dip my toe’ into writings which combine the religious with the scientific. It is very clear that they all emerge from the same source, since in essence their basic teachings are the same. This is not surprising and it is in fact what one would expect.

    Having read for decades on spirituality, mythology, anthropology, biology, psychology, psychiatry, physiology, archeaology … so many ologies, as well as science, medicine – Allopathic and non-Allopathic – physics, mathematics, music, art and anything and everything which offers insight into this world and all that it contains, particularly the human psyche, I came to the conclusion that there was intelligence at work in this world, in terms of design (laws) and probably function.

    What that intelligence might be I have no need to define, but it is the one thing which makes sense of most mysteries – I call it God for want of a better word. It is not the God of religions as generally expressed, but rather a consciousness which is all things in this world and beyond this world and which manifests, in this world, as you, me, the plant, the tree, the grain of sand, the ant, the could. You get the picture.

    There is a wealth of written material which draws together science, particularly physics and the spiritual, and in fact, much that the terminology of physics can now explain when related to some religious teachings.

    While modern science has had a materialist reductionist mindset for a couple of centuries, the fact remains that most of our greatest scientists before the mechanical age, if not all, were both spiritual and scientific. Descartes and Newton both practised alchemy and astrology and had no problem balancing their work as scientists with religion, in fact, I suspect the mix contributed to their greatness.

    But, at the end of the day, all that matters is each one of us comes up with a set of beliefs/explanations which work for us. to each their own in other words since who is right and who is wrong may never be known, if death brings oblivion, and will be irrelevant if it does not and we leave this material world to return home.

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