Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Arguments for the Existence of Cthulhu III

The Argument from Time and Contingency

(The closest this comes to making me believe in a god is it makes me say, "Christ, this argument is a mess," but here's my attempt to disentangle the active premises in a coherent manner.)
  • If an entity has the possibility of not existing, then in an infinite time, it must realize this state of non-being.
  • There has been an infinite period of time,* and the universe still exists.
  • Therefore there must be an entity that does not have the possibility of not existing, from which the universe derives its longevity.
  • Such a being is called a necessary being.
  • This necessary being is Cthulhu.
This jibes well with scripture: "That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die." - Nec. 3:16.

*remember folks, we're not discussing the validity of the logic, or the accuracy of the premises, just seeing if the arguments as given can equally apply to Cthulhu as to Yahweh.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arguments for the Existence of Cthulhu, Part Two

The Argument from Efficient Causality

Everything that exists does so due to some cause. The only thing that might conceivably exist without a cause is a supernatural being which is self-existent. Therefore, Cthulhu must exist: an uncaused being who could move to cause the universe.

(I apologize/say "you're welcome" for trimming these arguments of their excess curlicues of language and making them slightly more coherent. I suspect part of the apologist's tactic is to give people a headache, making them give up and assume he must know better than they do.)

Arguments for the Existence of Cthulhu, Part One

The Friendly Atheist provides an apologetics link that would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic. Let's see if I can use all the arguments to "prove" the existence of Cthulhu.

The Argument from Change

We can see that things change. And in order to change, they must have some outside force act on them. A seed cannot grow into a plant without soil, water, and sun acting on it. A planet cannot move without the gravitational force of other objects affecting it. And each item that changes things is itself acted on, ad infinitum.

Since the universe is full of constant change, and is itself changing, it must therefore have something external acting on it. This being, outside space and time, is Cthulhu, who lies dreaming in the inky void.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Argument from Placenta

Last week I heard the dumbest Christian apologetic I've ever encountered. I'll just let that sink in for a moment . . .

Ravi Zacharias was being interviewed on the Christian radio station. The interviewer mentioned a talk by Dawkins and (IIRC) Lawrence Krauss. Krauss had said that arguments against homosexuality are claimed to be based on the Bible, but that's inconsistent when the same Christians don't advocate other biblical imperatives like stoning disobedient children. The interviewer wanted to know Zacharias's answer to this.

His response was in two parts. First, he failed to address the question as such, and used a lot of meandering words to say, "Times have changed since the Bible was written." Yes, that doesn't address why we would retain some prohibitions and not others, and it's theologically problematic when Yahweh is supposed to be unchanging, but that's not even the dumbest part.

His second "argument" was to reference a story told by Dawkins about a chef cooking and serving a human placenta. He made sure to include gross and shocking details, and then said, "Is that the kind of world you want to live in?"

This is the level of discourse on the ground. All those snooty theologians who complain that atheists don't address deep theological theory need to realize that "the great apologist of our time,"* when confronted with a thorny question, replies, "But, but, but, LOOK OVER THERE - people are eating placenta - EWWWW! Therefore, Christianity."

(For the record, Dawkins recounts the placenta story in A Devil's Chaplain, where it's clear it wasn't necessarily atheists doing this, and he doesn't endorse it in any way. It was an example in his discussion of stem cell research and how we decide what is ethical and what isn't.)

*a quote from Chuck Colson, via Wikipedia

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Catholicism Exit Interview

The Friendly Atheist links to an article about taking a marketing research approach to plummeting attendance at mass. Seven "starter questions" are outlined in the article. Here are my answers.

Why have you stopped attending Sunday Mass regularly?
When I stopped going to the Catholic Church I was a teenager - it would have been around 1989 I guess. It's difficult to recall the specific chain of events and thoughts. But generally speaking, I would say that the attitude towards women in the church, the colossally silly ban on birth control, and the whole top-down, "you need this old guy to talk to God for you" structure drove me to explore other options.

More importantly though, apprehending the mere possibility of questioning church teachings led me eventually to atheism. Like many people, I just kind of assumed what I taught was The Way Things Are, and that other religions were different and wrong. Once I opened the door to scrutinizing church teaching, a giant vista of skepticism opened up, and I couldn't go back to complacent belief - in anything.

Are there any changes your parish might make that would prompt you to return?
Sure - just drop all supernatural dogma, apologize extravagantly for the abuse scandals, give all conspicuous riches to worthy causes, and start functioning as a social support group much like Ethical Culture. Can you get right on that please?

Are there any doctrinal issues that trouble you?

Yes. Everything.

Does your pastor or anyone on the parish staff know you by name?

No, but they might once I get off my duff and send that letter of defection!

Are you in a mixed-religion marriage?

Yes. I'm an agnostic, atheist, secular Buddhist, non-practicing naturalistic pantheist. He's an apatheist/post-theist.

Do your children go to church?

Not yet. I'm too lazy to take them to the UU congregation. If they get invitations to visit friends' churches, once they are old enough to comprehend instead of simply absorbing, they will be allowed to go.

Did you ever really consider yourself to be a member of a parish community?

I guess. My hometown had both kinds of people: Irish Catholics and Italian Catholics. Again, Catholicism was just what you did, like going to school or shopping at the grocery store. I remember going to youth group activities and confirmation class. But weirdly Catholicism was so pervasive, it became like wallpaper. And as I said, once I realized that it wasn't a given of the universe, it evaporated quite quickly for me.