Tuesday, 20 November 2007
09:43:10 PM (GMT)
There are few things I dislike more than propaganda. So today will be dedicated to
the deconstruction of a particularly nasty piece of writing I spied in the
suspiciously named "God's Army" kupika group. LET'S BEGIN SHALL WE.
A science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students, "Let me
explain the problem science has with religion." The atheist professor of philosophy
pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.
"You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"
"Yes sir," the student says.
"So you believe in God?"
"Is God good?"
"Sure! God's good."
"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"
"Are you good or evil?"
"The Bible says I'm evil."
The professor grins knowingly. "Aha! The Bible!" He considers for a moment. "Here's
one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can
do it. Would you help him? Would you try?"
"Yes sir, I would."
"So you're good...!"
"I wouldn't say that."
"But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us
would if we could. But God doesn't."
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. "He doesn't, does he? My
brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal
him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?"
The student remains silent.
"No, you can't, can you?" the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass
on his desk to give the student time to relax.
"Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?"
"Er...yes," the student says.
"Is Satan good?"
The student doesn't hesitate on this one. "No."
"Then where does Satan come from?"
The student falters. "From God"
"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this
"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?"
"So who created evil?" The professor continued, "If God created everything, then God
created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works
who we are, then God is evil."
Again, the student has no answer. "Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness?
All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?"
The student squirms on his feet. "Yes."
"So who created them?"
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. "Who
created them?" There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace
in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. "Tell me," he continues onto
another student. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"
The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor, I do."
The old man stops pacing. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and
observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?"
"No sir. I've never seen Him."
"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"
"No, sir, I have not."
"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever
had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?"
"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."
"Yet you still believe in him?"
"According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says
your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?"
No, no it doesn't. Science is a movement dedicated to finding out the truth about
our environment. It does not, and all good scientists will agree, decide that things
do not exist because there is no evidence to say that they do. Science is, for the
most part, nontheist. It cannot perform tests to determine whether god exists, and so
it does not. Science does not say that god does not exist.
"Nothing," the student replies. "I only have my faith."
"Yes, faith," the professor repeats. "And that is the problem science has with God.
There is no evidence, only faith."
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own.
"Professor, is there such thing as heat?"
"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."
"And is there such a thing as cold?"
"Yes, son, there's cold too."
"No sir, there isn't."
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly
becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. "You can have lots of heat, even
more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat*, white heat, a little heat
heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit up to 458 degrees below
zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such
thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458
* Actually, I don't think you can. The amount of energy that a particle can hold
In addition, as the student says later, cold is defined as the absence of heat. So,
in fact, the professor was right. This example is a form of 'homonymy', a technique
in debate detailed in The
Art of Controversy. Basically, it is where you present a word with two meanings
and then use the interchangeably. Here is an obvious example from the book:
Every light can be extinguished.
The intellect is a light.
Therefore it can, be extinguished.
This considers physical light as the same as intellectual light.
In this story, the sensation of cold is considered the same as the physical
property of cold.
"Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and
heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F)
is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe
the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units
because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a
"What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?"
"Yes," the professor replies without hesitation. "What is night if it isn't
"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something.
You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have
no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the
meaning we use to define the word."
"In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker,
Again, he's using homonymy, considering the perception of darkness the same as the
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good
semester. "So what point are you making, young man?"
Blah, standard storyline. If you identify with the professor (as most will,
because he has mostly sound reasoning) and then the professor is disproved by the
student, you are led along in that.
"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with,
and so your conclusion must also be flawed."
The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. "Flawed? Can you explain
"You are working on the premise of duality," the student explains. "You argue that
there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God.
Come on, as if Christianity doesn't do this.
You are viewing the
concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't
even explain a thought."
"It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood
This has nothing to do with the current thread of conversation. It's just inserted
in there because it's right and so it adds force to the argument.
To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that
death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just
the absence of it."
I was going to point out some more homonymy here, but it occurred to me: Who views
death as the opposite of life anyway? Dead and Alive maybe, but not life and death.
Anyway, I was going to point out a perhaps-homonymy confusing the act of dying and
the state of being dead.
"Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a
"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course
And why would a philosophy teacher teach this? It's just convenient to set up the
"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the
argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
"Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even
prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion,
sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?"
Anyone who actually understands evolution properly would know that it's an
incredibly simple and obvious concept, not even needing to be 'proved' as such. And,
though it doesn't address the student's point directly, people have observed
evolution. A new flu virus evolves each winter. Where do you think they come from?
God spends his free time creating them or something?
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has
Representing the student as 'in control'. A dishonest portrayal of one's
"To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you
an example of what I mean."
The student looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen
the professor's brain?" The class breaks out into laughter.
"Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's
brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So,
according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol,
science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir."
Already went through this. It is a problem with both atheism and theism.
"So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?"
Not what philosophy is about. Philosophy does not prescribe, it shows you.
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face
Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. "I guess you'll have to
take them on faith."
"Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life*,"
student continues. "Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?"
Uh... what? Where did he agree to that? In addition, I don't think that the
professor ever denied that faith existed. In fact, this might be a BIG homonymy.
Faith meaning spiritual whatevers, and faith meaning belief without any
Now uncertain, the professor responds, "Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It
is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime
and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist
unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a
word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil.
Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his
heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that
comes when there is no light."
Standard Christian viewpoint. You'll notice it doesn't seem to make an awful lot
of sense. So God is to evil as hot is to cold? Are we assuming that good is God then?
I was under the impression that god was a being of some kind.
This completely side-steps the whole point of the problem of evil. We have the power
to keep things warm if we so choose, and we have relatively limited power. God is
omnipotent (yes, the bible says this), and so why can't he keep earth from getting
too evil? Is it because he doesn't care?
The perfected form of the problem of evil, to me, is this: God created Satan, Satan
tempted Adam and caused original sin, and in doing so introduced evil into the world.
God knew this would happen (since he is all-knowing) from the very moment he
considered creating humans and even Lucifer himself, and god is all powerful so he
could have easily made Lucifer or Adam so that this would not happen. The bible
claims that god is benevolent, all-good, which doesn't make sense because he allowed
the original sin to take place (and thus all sin and evil afterwards).
The professor sat down.
Last edited: 20 November 2007