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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Natural Religion

Assume for the sake of blogging that there is a God, an all powerful creator with an aim. Thereby assume that there is a purpose of the Universe, that our lives and suffering are part of some great plan. Let us attempt to deduce the plan, let us attempt to understand the creator by observing his or her creation. What could we deduce about God under these assumptions ?

J.B.S. Haldane was a brilliant population biologist, a libertarian communist, and (redundant perhaps) one of the craziest people who managed to stay out of an asylum. He was asked what he could deduce about God from His creation. He responded "He must have been uncommonly fond of beatles." That would be the order colleoptera not the rock group (hmmmm were they inspired by the divine spirit to the enlightened understanding that, for reasons incomprehensible to mere mortals, many people would become fans of a band named after an order (or class for all I know) of insects.

So what can we tell about His or Her intentions ? First I think it is clear that God is not benevolent. Theodicy rhymes with idiocy and I think this is not fair to idiots. However, God is not simply a sadist. Things could be worse (McCain didn't win I rest my case).

I incline to two possibly competing hypotheses (both conditional on the assumption that God exists on which I put a subjective probability of 0). First it seems to me entirely possible that God is motivated by a really sick and twisted sense of humor. I mean otherwise why would sexual intercourse be both so desired and so silly looking ? Is pornography an offense against the Will of The One because they try to do it in a way which doesn't make the audience laugh ? Why isn't there comic porn ?

I mean is merely human idiocy alone capable of producing libertarians for imperialism ? If that's not a joke, what is ?

Ah yes idiocy. The other hypothesis is that He (or She) is seeking the utter abyss of idiocy. This is alarming, because I fear that, once we achieve utter idiocy, the Universe will have served its purpose and will cease to exist. This possibility causes me to feel alarmed whenever I watch TV. I think we are flirting with nonexistence and dancing on the edge of the abyss of utter idiocy.

Hmm not to get megalomaniacal, but, if the purpose of the universe is to find the nadir of total stupidity, will it continue to exist after I click teh "publish post" button ? Only one way to find out. Here goes.

update: As far as I can tell the Universe still exists. Looks like the post above wasn't the nadir of idiocy or maybe my thoory is all wrong.


Michael Drake said...

"That would be the order colleoptera not the rock group."

I don't know how you can be so sure. For one thing, He didn't make Coleoptera bigger than Jesus. (On the other hand, they do constitute much more biomass.)

Anonymous said...

Quoting Haldane, you wrote: "He must have been uncommonly fond of beatles."

I suspect that what he actually said was "He must have been uncommonly fond of beetles."

The name of the rock group was a pun, playing on the name of Buddy Holly's group, The Crickets (see Wikipedia article, though I'd heard this elsewhere).

Robert said...

A deep philosophical question : How does one say "beatles."

It's hard to misspell when you are talking (even I haven't managed except by spelling words out).

Anonymous said...

Yes, but the reference, I think, was clear, if only from the absence of the indefinite article. We don't say "I love Beatles" when talking (or writing) about the musical group; we would say, "I love the Beatles." Anyone hearing a native speaker say "I love beetles" would understand this to refer to the insect. Hearing "I love the beetles", anyone would assume that this actually refers to the music group. If the speaker wished to refer to some specific beetles, the statement would be "I love these [or those] beetles."

I'm neither a grammarian nor an entymologist, but I think that in English, use of a plural noun w/o a modifer (the, these, those, etc.) indicates that the noun is used as a category. I can't think of any reasonable way, in this context, that "Beatles" could be a category rather than a specific group of individuals, i.e., the music group and its 4 components (6 if you want to include Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe).

File this under the category "Dead Horses".

anonymous from 4/21/9, 8:11PM