Class Warfare Blog

January 17, 2021

What is the Strongest Proof that God Does Not Exist?

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
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(I have a practice of trying to offer religious posts on Sundays. This is no exception. S)

The question in the title of this post was a question that popped up on Quora. It came with over 100 answers. I did not read them all, but quite a few of those I did read included some form of this tidbit “To be clear you can never say with 100% certainty that a god of some type does not exist.”

Maybe it is my scientific training but “100% proof” is something that does not exist except in our imaginations. We desire certainty in matters that are life and death. Even 50:1 odds in your favor don’t guarantee that you win. But 100% proof is an absolute that just doesn’t exist. And insisting on 100% proof that a god does not exist is a ploy to ensure failure for anyone who tries, a dishonest ploy. The request for the “strongest” proof is quite honest, however.

The example I use as my standard of a very high probability occurrence is the Sun coming up tomorrow. I predict that it will. I am very, very sure that this will happen. I understand why it has this high probability. Physically, either the Earth would have to stop rotating upon its axis or be thrown somehow off into space or maybe the Sun would have to disappear or explode or something of that ilk. The amount of force that would be necessary to stop the earth from rotating overnight (I did say the Sun will come up tomorrow) is so immense that the Earth would be sundered into pieces were it to be applied. Similarly if the Sun were to blow up, so as to not be there when the Earth rotates around through the night, it is unlikely the Earth would survive such an explosion.

So, the prediction that the Sun will come up tomorrow is secure and near 100% in certainty. I can imagine a scenario in which it does not, say involving aliens with advanced planet-busting weaponry (Like the Death Star of Star Wars!). It could destroy the Earth so that there is nothing to rotate around and no one to see the Sun “rising.” So, my prediction is not 100% certain.

So, is anything 100% certain? I do not think so. All quantitative laws in science are based upon measurements, none of which are 100% certain. All qualitative laws are based upon observations, which also are not 100% certain.

Human opinions, such as you may think Emily is a total Karen, a total bitch, but then you find out she dotes on her grandfather, so . . . not 100% certain. And so on. . . .

So, back to the God question. What is a reasonable sort of standard of proof? Since no proof currently exists, we should start with a low standard. I suggest 50+%. In words this would be “more likely than not.” This could be plugged into Bayesian calculations for our assessment.

So, can anyone make such an argument and have it be valid?

I have studied this question at some length. Recently I read a book entitled “The Non-Existence of God” by Nicholas Everitt. Doctor Everitt is a professional philosopher (I am only an amateur philosopher) and you can tell his conclusion based upon an exhaustive search through history for all of the philosophical arguments for the existence of a god. I say this so that you will understand that philosophical arguments will not serve our needs here. I seriously doubt that a philosophical argument can prove anything. At best they can attach conclusions to sets of premises, the outcomes of which are determined by the truthiness of the premises.

So, we need something other than a philosophic argument. The best option would be a scientific argument. So, start with some evidence, make a conjecture and then see if it holds up.

Any takers?

Note Obviously from the numbers of answers to questions regarding the existence of a god or gods, this is an important question to many people. I am hesitant to add another “answer” a question that already has 100+ answers as I am unwilling to read all of those answers so that I do not just duplicate one of them with my own. But I do take a stab every once in a while.

January 6, 2021

A Slight Difference in Approach

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:18 am
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In a online video (Mister Deity) one of the presenters being critiqued brought up a valid question—where did human consciousness, imagination, introspection abilities come from?

Science has an answer and some religions do, too.

Both see the same question. Humans are made of organs, the organs made of cells, the cells made of molecules, and the molecules made of atoms. In this there is no dispute. But all animals show these same characteristics, so why is man the animal different?

The religions, those which have an opinion (setting aside the Buddhists, et. al.) any way, claim that their god has injected something they call a soul into us at birth (exactly when this happens varies with the religion) and it is the soul which has these amazing abilities. The other animals lack this soul, you see, and so lack these abilities. This soul continues to exist after we die and goes on various adventures depending upon the religion.

Science’s answer to the main question is simpler. It is “We do not know, yet.” Science’s answer also has the advantage of science being how we found out that humans are made of organs, the organs made of cells, the cells made of molecules, and the molecules made of atoms. Since science has discovered every previous step in the chain, it seems more likely that it will continue to unravel this puzzle, and unravel the last bit.

The religious say, no, science will be confounded and the truly mysterious will happen, all orchestrated by a god that no one can provide any physical evidence of its existence.

So, what say you. If you had to bet on which approach is correct, which would it be?

For me, to abandon the scientific approach and favor any of the religious approaches is a little like taking a trip via horseback and when you had gone three quarters of the distance, abandon the horse and claim that a flying carpet will take you the rest of the way, having neither a carpet, nor any evidence that there has ever been a flying carpet.

I guess you just have to have faith.

December 25, 2020

The Toxicity of American Evangelical Christianity

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:47 am
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In my mind, religion has always been about division. We humans have always fundamentally wanted two things: the feeling that we possess special knowledge (“There is something (I know) that you don’t know” is a common childhood taunt.) and the feeling that we are right and “they” are wrong. This has led religion down the path of “we have special knowledge that you don’t have and we are right and you are wrong,” sound familiar? This is why there are tens of thousands of different versions of Christianity, for example.

So, by dividing one “flock” off from the other “flocks” a flock leader can feel “special,” the members of the flock can feel “special” and, well, let the gloating begin. (Bring back the Church lady! Wouldn’t that be Special!)

So, the evangelical Christianity leadership reaction to the results of the recent presidential election is hardly surprising, but in watching the video linked to below, which contains a sampling of such reactions, I see our grand American experiment in democracy circling the drain. Do we need any more evidence that mixing politics and religions is a very, very bad idea? I do not see us coming together with powerful forces like social media and religion creating positive reinforcement for divisive positions.

Is this the beginning of our end? It could very well be, if we don’t shake off these shlockmeisters, making money off of our demise.

PS I support the Holy Koolaid effort through Patreon, but I am not hawking their wares.

December 23, 2020

Making Shit Up, Part 12,691

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:15 am

You know religious faith when you see it, right? But how? Inspired by the writings of Napoleon Hill, the author of an online post came up with these ten “qualities of constructive faith.” The qualities or properties of something are how you recognize it. I also wonder why these apply only to “constructive faith” as that implies there is also “destructive faith” amongst other possible faiths (supercilious faith, wealth acquiring faith, etc.). In any case here they are.

  1. Possessing a definite aim in life supported by personal initiative and action.
  2. Taking one extra step in human relations and business dealings.
  3. Cultivating a Positive Mind Attitude (PMA) averse to rumor, gossip, hatred, and jealousy.
  4. Recognizing that every adversity carries with it the seed of equivalent benefit.
  5. Affirming your definite aim at least once daily in meditation or affirmation.
  6. Recognizing the presence of Infinite Intelligence, or Greater Force, which gives creative power to the individual.
  7. Participating in a support group or Master Mind alliance with people of similar values.
  8. Noting past defeats and adversities to identify patterns and blockages.
  9. Expressing self-respect through fealty to your personal ethics and sense of fair play.
  10. Recognizing cosmic reciprocity.

I don’t think these are much in need of discussion, although the author of this piece obviously did as he proceeded to do just that. But I take note of just two:
6. Recognizing the presence of Infinite Intelligence, or Greater Force, which gives creative power to the individual. and
10. Recognizing cosmic reciprocity.

Unpacking these is not easy but #6 seems to assume that there is a creator god and that all creative acts are based upon that god’s power passing through humans. So, when you fold a chewing gum wrapper into a little animal, a crane, say, your ability to do that you owe to this god.

I have written on this idea of “gifts from god” before and I consider the idea to be, knowingly or not, a con. By claiming that an ordinary human activity is based upon a gift given to you, it creates a sense of reciprocity, resulting in gratitude and money and labor being returned as a return gift.

I was aware of #10 as I have been around a great many people who think that if they “give” to the universe, it will give back. This is quite a lovely idea, with the possible exception that there is no evidence for it and, to the contrary, there are mountains of evidence as to the indifference of the universe to human beings. Victims of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes, and most recently forest fires hardly see those activities as being a return on their investment in good deeds. This is why so many TV preachers are quick to point out that such events are punishments for sinners, like gay people. Just like those who attribute their survival of such natural disasters to their god, they ignore the pain and suffering and deaths of all of the innocent others.

The universe doesn’t give a rat’s ass about us. It is entirely indifferent.

So, can you recognize someone, a person of faith, from these attributes? I would have a hard time attributing “qualities” such as #8 and #9 to many of the politically active evangelical Christians I see in the news today. Oh, and #3, too, yeah, that, too.

December 21, 2020

Sunday Leftovers

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:40 am
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I try to confine my religious writings to Sundays (The zeal, the zeal!) but since this is Chrsitmas week, I will indulge myself.

I am driven to write about the “holes” in various stories about the character Jesus. These are things that belong in the discussion but are almost always left out. For example, a pivotal action in the narrative is the crucifixion of Jesus. It is pivotal because “no crucifixion, no Christianity.” You couldn’t argue “he died to wash away your sins” if he didn’t die, and so forth.

People have written extensively about the crucifixion, made movies centered upon it, all of which attest to its centrality in a massive religion, but do not reflect upon the historicity of the event. This is assumed by most.

There are more than a few “holes” in this narrative. Here are a few of those.

  • Crucifixion was a humiliating punishment meant to dissuade others from taking the same path as the perpetrators did. Consequently, bodies were left “up” until they rotted and when taken down they were not buried with normal rites. Instead, they were buried in mass graves.
  • Supposedly, the Romans allowed Joseph of Aramathea to take Jesus down and bury him following all of the Jewish rites after only a very short time. The character Joseph argued that leaving Jesus “up” during the Sabbath would defile the entire nation.
    This is problematic for a number of reasons. Joseph was supposedly a member of the Sanhedrin which condemned Jesus for heresy, not a follower or disciple of Jesus. By what reason did this person, through influence or bribes, avail himself of that ability? Is a great mystery.
    What about the other two, the “Robbers” strung up next to Jesus? (Robbers was a term used frequently for insurrectionists, such as the Sicarii.) Were neither of these two Jews? I can’t imagine that the myriad Jews who were crucified were all taken “down” before the next Sabbath began. Where did this “defilement” originate from?
  • Many have commented upon the garbled stories in the four gospels of the discovery of the empty tomb, so I won’t add to those.
  • In gJohn, it is claimed that the ”resurrected” Jesus walked around Jerusalem for 40 days, drawing large crowds and meeting with many people. The other gospels contradict this, but either way, the Romans had extensive spy networks. Nothing happened that they did not get word of as they paid for information. So, the Romans somehow didn’t notice a crucified man, allowed to be taken down from his cross shortly after being put up, was walking around drawing crowds. If this were an imposter, significant damage to the Roman state could ensue from riots and increased seditious activities, so they would have rounded up this guy, and all of his close associates, and strung them all up, this time waiting until only bones were left before repurposing those crosses.
  • In Pilate’s judgment of Jesus, the representatives of the Sanhedrin asked Pilate to put Jesus to death, but the correct punishment for the blasphemy that Jesus was “convicted” of was stoning. Why didn’t the Jews ask to be able to stone Jesus? The reportedly callous Pilate surely would have said, “Sure, eliminate another troublesome Jew? Sounds good to me.” But what possible argument could the Sanhedrin representatives make that would result in Jesus being condemned for sedition, the act that he was crucified for. In the trial, it was the claim that Jesus was “King of the Jews” which got him condemned, not any sort of blasphemy. (Note the mention of the placard on his cross, naming Jesus “King of the Jews,” as an additional incentive to others to not do that. Sounds like entrapment to me. Their strategy seems to have been “get him in front of Pilate and talking and maybe he will condemn himself and we won’t have to do the dirty work of stoning this overly popular charismatic movement leader.”
    On what basis would Pilate have heard the Jews and not thrown them out forthwith? Why would he have heard the case in the first place? He apparently didn’t give a damn about the religion or the people. He was there as a tax collector and a maintainer of order, nothing more. Without an initial claim of sedition or insurrection, Pilate would have told the Jewish leaders to stick to their knitting.

* * *

There are similar “holes” in every aspect of the New Testament narratives, holes that make the stories seem more and more outlandish and less and less likely. Just one other example is “the cleansing of the temple.”

15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. (Mark 11:15-17, New King James Version)

The temple complex was huge. How could one man have done all of this? The money changers sat at their tables and in possession of quantities of coin . . . and had no personal guards? The Temple itself had temple guards, where do you think they would be concentrated the most? And, all of these “events” seem to be patterned upon Hosea 9 and bits of Isaiah and other books. Strip away these OT references and storylines and instead of an historical Jesus you have the invisible man unwrapped (thanks to Neil Godfrey for the metaphor).

Again, all of this is claimed to be “true” because the Bible says so, which is not an historical argument . . . at all. They are all literary arguments, yes, but literary arguments cannot be used to prove historical facts, otherwise we would be sponsoring archeological digs based upon The Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings.

December 13, 2020

A Brilliant Piece of Writing

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 10:36 am
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On Sundays, I like to share something of a “spiritual” nature. This is a brilliant piece of writing about reading “scripture.” I recommend it highly (albeit is a long piece).

Religious Faith in Scriptural Fiction

December 8, 2020

Really? Supreme Court Says that Limits on Religious Gatherings are Unconstitutional

The pertinent part of this “rulings” basis is the first amendment to the Constitution which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”

Plus the 14th Amendment includes:

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Clearly the state emergency regulations do not comply with the exact wording here.

I can understand the reasoning behind a literal ruling, albeit is a stupid one. If a religion decided that sacrificing babies was to be part of their ceremonies, do you think the government (aka all of us) would have any say? How about stoning people who are guilty of infracting the rules of the church? Yes? Well, obviously so. These are obviously extreme examples in which government intervention seems appropriate but most cases are between the strict literal interpretation of the words and such extremes. The divide is often decided upon whether the government has a “compelling interest for its actions.” In this case, the action of the government was to establish rules for mass gatherings, be they at football games, political rallies, or churches is irrelevant, the motivation is to save lives during a pandemic.

Seems compelling to me.

Wisdom seems to be lacking here in the SCOTUS majority. Nowhere did they seem to take into account that facts that such services are typically indoors, take hours and include people singing and speaking out loud . . . in close proximity to one another, all of which run counter to what behaviors are recommended to stop the spread of the disease. Visits to stores are usually shorter, with people being more spread out, with no singing, shouting, or speaking loudly.

But, I have to hand it to the religious, their exuberant behaviors are perfect tests of whether those rules were sensible if not. Already one church service has been characterized as a superspreader event, where one person infected around 50 others. All of those church goers who will die to prove these precautions are sensible for everyone, will no doubt receive special rooms in Heaven’s mansions.

Trump is the Test the Evangelicals Failed

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:48 pm
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“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The Biblical god likes to test people. We know this as such tests are described in great quantity in those books. Apparently, for evangelical Christians hate of some “others” (Blacks, LGBTQs, Mexicans, etc.) trumps the command to love your neighbor, cherish the little children, provide for the poor, etc. and, of course, every damned jot and tittle of Proverbs 6:16-19.

The only possible grade for his evangelical Christian supporters is an F, as in failed, failed, failed.

And the shocking thing was that Mr. Trump displayed all of the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, wrath, envy, pride), plus a few more thrown in while he was “serving his base.” They seemed to think those were irrelevant because Mr. Trumps was sticking it to the libtards and heathens and foreigners and illegals and. . . .

The Trump administration is a modern day manifestation of the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter, and the evangelical Christians bought in hook, line, and sinker. They will surely reap what they have sowed, or the Bible’s words are meaningless. (Did you see how I cleverly stated that so I win either way. Ha!)

December 7, 2020

How Do They Know That; How Can They Know That?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:30 am
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I was reading a book and the following sentence leapt off of the page:

“Christian tradition—especially Eastern Orthodox tradition—insists that God cannot be described or circumscribed; you can say what God is not, but it is beyond human powers of understanding and comprehension to definitively say what he is.”

This position or piece of dogma has a number of similar manifestations, such as “No one can know the mind of God” and “God works in mysterious ways.” All address the so-called ineffability of this god.

incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible: ineffable joy.
2. not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable: the ineffable name of the deity.

In this case the use of the term aligns with #1 above, and not #2.

When reading such a claim, all unadulterated bullshit meters should go off with alarms, fireworks, etc. This claim is like people who claim they are speechless with surprise and then babble on for another five minutes. They are making a claim that is clearly not true.

So, the question here is “how could they know that?”

How can anyone know what is incomprehensible to the human mind? If you were to engage a fine specimen of Homo erectus, and describe quantum theory to them, they would respond with the same incredulity . . . how can you know this?

Indeed, how can we know anything?

For each thing we know there is a conceptual history behind that knowledge. In order to be dealing with verifiable facts, we need to have a way to verify what we know and why we know it. At the cutting edge of any science these questions are to the forefront as new things are becoming known and how we know them is of fundamental importance. Everything we were struggling to learn 50 years ago is now settled and how we know what we know is in the books for anyone to read . . . and examine for errors.

So, how could anyone possibly know that there is a concept or object that is incomprehensible? What are the criteria for such a determination? Is there something parallel to the law of contradiction that applies? (The law of contradiction says that A and not-A cannot both be true.) Or is it just we tried and tried and tried . . . and failed to understand it. Is that the criterion?

I can think of no greater wet blanket to throw over a religious topic that “you cannot possibly comprehend, let alone understand it.” Basically they are saying “stop thinking about it; stop talking about it.” Gee, I wonder why they would adopt such a policy?

Yes, it is a policy, not a fact, because they cannot demonstrate how they know that. (All dogmas are policies, not facts.) Saying God told them does not suffice. That is equivalent to saying the Bible is true because the Bible says so.

How do they know that; how can they know that?

And, as many people before have pointed out, those who make this claim are also quite willing to tell you what God wants from you, what you are to do, how you are to behave to satisfy the wishes of this supernatural entity. They will say in one sentence that their god exists beyond space and time and in the next will say that it is everywhere? So, which is it? Ah, it is a mystery.

Also, we might want to know why such a being would create a species of sentient beings, specifically to worship it, but who could not really understand what they were worshiping, which kind of undermines the whole point, no?

December 3, 2020

The War on Christmas by Disingenuous Snowflake Christians

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:44 am
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You are aware, I am sure, of the phony “War on Christmas” dreamt up by virtue signaling Christians. (Participating in the war is a way of saying “See, I am defending the faith.”) The hallmark sign of this war being waged is all of the people who say “Happy Holidays” when they should be saying “Merry Christmas.” Those HH people are the enemy! (Only these folks could turn well-wishers into the tools of Satan!)

Even Saint Ronnie avoided saying Merry Christmas from time to time.

My cynical mind immediately came up with the whole phrasing of Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, etc. being created and promoted by Christmas card companies to increase their sales. And, as it turns out, Hallmark, founded in 1910, started producing its own greeting cards in 1915. The company’s first line of Christmas cards prominently featured the sentiments Merry Christmas, Christmas Greetings or Season’s Greetings on the front of each design,” But they didn’t invent the phrases, as Happy Holidays appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper in the late 1800’s, almost 20 years earlier.

And this, ah, dispute does seem somewhat political (as it must be with Fox (sic) News leading the battle). According to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2016, 66 percent of Democrats said that stores and businesses should greet customers with “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings” or some other general greeting, rather than “Merry Christmas,” as a show of respect for different religious faiths; while only 28 percent of Republicans felt the same.

Obviously this phony war is out of control.

It seems to be an effort by conservative Republicans (are there any other kind any more?) to signal their religious virtue to evangelical Christians, who have become a major component of the base of the GOP, but … the word Christmas comes from “Cristes Maesse,” or the Mass of Christ, the first usage of which (in 1038) described the mass held to commemorate Christ’s birth. And, don’t you know, that “a mass” is a Catholic ritual … shudder. Imagine … evangelicals promoting Catholic rituals! That rumbling sound you hear are all of those former evangelicals turning over in their graves.

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