Friday, November 26

Religious Intolerance

Today I am spine shivering, inconceivably disturbed by a handful of heinous events in history. During the 15th century Protestantism was established, and there was no possibility of religious toleration between the Protestants and the Catholics; none at all. The motto of the day was "Un roi, une foi, une loi," one king, one faith, one law. Their solution to religious intolerance? Whatever religion the king is, is the religion of the subjects whether they liked it or not. This meant people had to flee their homes to communities of their same faith during the reign of a king of the opposite faith in order to avoid being....well persecuted just doesn't seem to be quite the right word. The warring that ensued between these two idiot religions resulted in the massacre of infants and the starvation and slow roasting of French Catholics.

Isn't that nice? I think I'll go puke. Thank you Civilization in the West text book.

Monday, November 22

The Design Argument for God

This is an essay I just wrote for my Philosophy class. I thought I would share it, as it is a very close topic to my mind, and wandering thoughts. I hope you enjoy it. I have tried to culminate my Agnosticisms. I think it unwise to know these things. It is best to suppose, and to hope. Hoping will not shut out a wandering thought.

A complete solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes completely over the Sun. If you are located in the right place at the right time, you will see the perfect corona of the Sun while its body hides behind the Moon. When this rare event occurs, scientists use it to study the Sun’s corona, and anomalies like solar flares. What is brilliant about a complete solar eclipse is that is occurs at all. The Sun is approximately 400 times the size of the Earth, coincidentally (not coincidentally?) the Sun is also about 400 times farther from the Earth than is the Moon. What this uncanny set up of size and distance creates is the possibility for complete solar eclipses. It also creates the view of the Sun and the Moon that we have here on Earth; two vastly different sized solar bodies that appear the same size in our sky.
It is thought that the reason there is life on this plant is because of the Moon. There would obviously be no life without the Sun, but the Moon may play a bigger part than it might seem. At the cusp of the creation of life on Earth, the Moon’s gravity pulled on us, much in the way it does today. The Moon was much closer then, and it is thought that the extreme tides its close proximity created, helped to transfer heat from the Earth’s core to the poles, initiating the molecular evolution of DNA and RNA, or as we call it, life. It seems simultaneously possible, that this is the most fantastic display of luck and chance in the history of the universe, and that this precise balance of solar bodies was well crafted and thought out, like a clockmaker setting the hands of life in motion. The Design Argument for God is compelling; an apple fits perfectly within the palm of my hand, and it just happens to be one of the best foods for sustaining my life, health, and vitality. It seems slightly blind to look around at the perfect balance we each experience daily, and not see the craft in it. But it is possible that life has been perfecting itself for millions, or perhaps billions of years; that the chance in balance and order was just an uncanny and unprecedented one?

When I look into the sky I can imagine nearly any image upon a cloud. This one may look like a baby, that one a tree, the possibilities are endless. This is similar to the way the constellations were formed; collections of stars were anthropomorphized into heavenly beings, Aquarius, Andromeda, Virgo etc. We recognize their shapes in the heavens, and can imagine the human forms upon them. Though one could argue even the most striking likeness a cloud may have to an infant, it will always be slightly abstract; one must have a powerful imagination to see it clearly. Can we truly liken this to the imposition of design upon the Universe? However uncanny a baby in the clouds may be to a true baby, the cloud will never have the pink of a baby’s toes, or the open and rooting mouth. The cloud baby will be an outline at best. We may be able to impose any form upon a cloud, and find a meaning in it, but there is slightly more in play within the Universe. We understand the design in the clock. We understand the intelligence it took to create the clock, yet still not every clock made by an intelligent person will spin and give the accurate time of day. The most complex ships, the grandest of houses, nothing will ever match the unbelievable balance within the Universe.

When I was beginning to wonder about God and the afterlife, my Father told me a story about Einstein (though I am not certain today if it is an accurate story, the moral is compelling just the same). The story concerned an argument between Einstein and an Atheist. The Atheist wanted the ever genius Einstein to prove there was a God, and that the Universe was the result of intelligent and carefully thought out plan and execution. When argument failed him, Einstein resorted to convince the Atheist using his unrelenting intelligence and craftiness. Days later Einstein came back to the Atheist with a wondrous model of our galaxy, each planet in rotation, moving with a gesture of the hand; the Moon orbiting the Earth, orbiting the Sun, in play with Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and the rest. Astounded by its balance and beauty, and its careful and brilliant construction, the Atheist exclaimed “How did you do this? It is absolutely amazing, and must have taken you days!” to which Einstein replied humbly “I srew ze planets up into ze air and zey landed zis vay.”

David Hume’s argument opposing the theory of Universal design is a compelling one. It seems likely, given the amount of time it is possible to have taken for life to come forth, that the errors and imperfections of living organisms have been hammered out over the period of millions and millions of years. It also stands to acknowledge that if we are to use this analogy to the clocks and ships of humanity then we must impose the analogy fully, including gender, mortality, and collectivity. I anticipate collectivity. It has been a supposition of my own that if there is design in life and the Universe, like an interface, many minds and hands contributed to its design, execution, and ultimate creation. Oddly enough there are many minds and hands upon this Earth, all different, and free. This is very Hindu, hypothesizing that we are droplets, each of us containing a droplet of God, who has many forms.

If the argument from design is to work, it may be difficult to conclude the designer is a Judeo-Christian God. However, that does not mean there is no design in it; that may be too large a leap. It would not be the first time in history that humanity had missed the mark, and in this moment we are trying to hit a very particular target. After all, rocks do not fall to the ground because they will to be nearer to the Earth. The bubonic plague was not punishment from God, and entirely divine in nature, and the world is not flat. If we have gotten the idea of God wrong in many ways, well…how very human of us. Perhaps we are not meant to understand. The Hindus believe it is not possible for us to grasp the completeness of God; that individual enlightenment does not lie within God, for we can never comprehend God, enlightenment comes from within. The struggle must not be to know God, but to know yourself, and to maintain your personal karma. Trying to understand what, or why, or where God is, is a fruitless labor, it detracts from now. We must live now. But is seems very uncanny that this fruit fits so well in my small hand, that it is so good for me, that the Sun and the Moon appear as they do in the sky, that from the death of a star arises a new star’s life, that gravity holds us down upon our Earth, that gravity keeps us just close enough to the Sun that we are able to live and to create so beautifully. It surely is very odd. I may not be able to call it luck, for I have never seen such awesome chance do that sort of work on this Earth, nor do I suppose I ever shall.