The Absurdity of Theological Debate

April 15, 2009

At present time, all accounts of the physical world are wildly incomplete.  The biggest issue, of course, is how the universe came to be.  Neither religion nor science can explain how, for example, a higher power could be self-caused or where all of this physical matter came from (specifically, what created God or what happened prior to 10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang).

Yes, most religions claim something like God has always existed or was the cause of him/her self, but it’s quite obvious that these explanations fall well short of complete understanding – for there exists no account of how anything, let alone God, could be the cause of itself (or have always existed).

Similarly, modern day scientific understanding stops at “approximately” 10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang, and prominently lacks a unified theory of the physical universe (we use two very different models – Einstein’s theories of relativity and quantum theory – to govern large and small bodies).

New discoveries suggest it may even turn out that time does not actually exist – which is not nearly as implausible as it may seem at first glance (for we already know that time is not a constant, a nice explanation of this is here – choose the 4th video link).

The point is there are gaps in our understanding.  Huge gaps.  Consider the following (paraphrased) metaphor from Baruch Spinoza’s letter to Henry Oldenburg:

Imagine a worm, living in the bloodstream, able to distinguish by sight the particles of blood, lymph, etc., and able to think about how each particle is related.  This little worm would live in the blood [a part of the body], in the same way as we live in a part of the universe.  The worm would consider each particle of blood, not as a part, but as a whole. He would be unable to grasp the larger truth, namely the role the blood plays as a part of the body, and that the blood (his entire world) is only a part of something larger [the body], which in turn is part of something larger still [the universe].

It is impossible for the worm to get on to the larger, ultimate, reality of the universe from the evidence of his world (the blood).

While it may be possible for mankind to expand its understanding beyond that of the worm’s at some point in the future, modern day knowledge of some ultimate reality is on par with the worm.  This is evidenced by our inability to answer the most fundamental of all questions – how we came to be – and those referenced above.

The tired athiest/theist/agnostic debate – three worms in blood, confusing hubris for enlightenment.

This is Stupid

March 16, 2009

The University of Virginia recently published the results of a study aimed at discovering when human mental abilities begin to decline.  They evaluated 2,000 well educated, healthy people ages 18-60 over a period of seven years, using visual puzzles, memory tests and pattern recognition.

The results?  Human cognition peaks at 22 and begins to noticibly decline at 27.

Hmmm… anything special about the magic age of 22?  Well, yes – that’s when most “well educated, healthy people” graduate college.  The average 22 year old will have spent the past 16 years in more or less full-time academic settings, challenging his or her mind daily.

Chances are at 27 that same person will have been removed from academia for 5 years (and anyone who has a “real” job can attest the professional world is not nearly as mentally stimulating as the academic – generally speaking).

What happens if you don’t exercise your body for five years?  Isn’t it reasonable to think the same might happen to the mind?  Thus, the study would need to evaluate three separate groups of people who have (1) high school degree only (2) undergraduate degree (3) graduate degree to prove mental abilities truly decline at 27 and the recent findings are not simply the result of 5 years of brain rot.

Education is a pretty huge variable not to account for in a cognitive study…