GOD

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H.E.A.Fulton

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Nov 10, 1994, 8:51:55 AM11/10/94
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Hello everyone !

I do not know very much about objectivism or philosophy but am willing
to learn ! I was wondering how you overcome the following problem; its
on the existence of God.

If a phenomenon like God is by definition a being which does not have to
show up in empirical evidence or behave rationally then how can an
Objectivist deny the existence of God ? If you can't deny the existence
of God, say the Christian one, then doesn't it leave you with a large
problem. Christianity with its fervent altruism contradicts Randian
Objectivism forcing you to make a choice. Whichever choice you make
none of the tenets you hold can be thought of in absolute terms as there
will always be uncertainty.

The above question has probably been asked a thousand times but I can't
see how the objectivist replies. Please furnish me with a response !

Thankyou very much for your time....

Harry.

joshua david zabriskie

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Nov 10, 1994, 11:14:36 PM11/10/94
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H.E.A.Fulton (ma92...@exeter.ac.uk) wrote:

: If a phenomenon like God is by definition a being which does not have to


: show up in empirical evidence or behave rationally then how can an
: Objectivist deny the existence of God?

The same way we deny the existence of invisible and undetectable
five-legged flying donkeys with purple lipstick: you've never given me a
rational reason to believe on exists and it is contradictory to
everything I observe in reality. The onus of proof lies with he who
asserts the existence of God (or gremlins or ghosts or five-legged
flying....)

Before you post any more to this list, you might wish to read Ayn Rand's
novel, *The Fountainhead*. It's a good book. --Joshua.


************************************************************************
My kindness isn't random and nothing senseless was ever beautiful.
************************************************************************

Tim Dion

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Nov 11, 1994, 5:05:13 PM11/11/94
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It is quite simple actually, just tell people that if they
define God, then you can disprove him. The problem with
God is that nobody can really say what he(it) is. Any definition
that anyone comes up with is bound to contradict reality.

The biggest contradiction (ie most basic) is: does God exist
within the universe? Think about it...

--Tim Dion


Mark Thomas

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Nov 15, 1994, 10:54:06 AM11/15/94
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In article <39ur3c$h...@lynx.unm.edu>

zro...@indus.unm.edu "joshua david zabriskie" writes:

> The same way we deny the existence of invisible and undetectable
> five-legged flying donkeys with purple lipstick: you've never given me a
> rational reason to believe on exists and it is contradictory to
> everything I observe in reality. The onus of proof lies with he who
> asserts the existence of God (or gremlins or ghosts or five-legged
> flying....)

Do you believe that people have a concept of God?

The phenomenon of belief in a God is universal - would you prefer people
to refer to the 'flying donkey' instead of God when they turn their
attention to the mysteries of life?

If 70 or 80% of the world's population found a need to worship the
flying donkey then would that make a lack of a visible flying donkey a
problem for you?

Your sense of God - the creator of the Universe - lies inside you, of
course you won't find any evidence for God when you search through the
external reality.
--
Mark Thomas

Randy Wiese

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Nov 15, 1994, 11:29:28 AM11/15/94
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Mark Thomas (ma...@reigram.demon.co.uk) wrote:

: If 70 or 80% of the world's population found a need to worship the

: flying donkey then would that make a lack of a visible flying donkey a
: problem for you?

No problem. I always base my beliefs on the majority opinion. Makes
things much easier. The only hard part is finding a poll that tells me
which polls are most accurate. :)

D. Dale Gulledge

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Nov 15, 1994, 5:14:10 PM11/15/94
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In article <Cz216...@exeter.ac.uk> ma92...@exeter.ac.uk (H.E.A.Fulton) writes:

I do not know very much about objectivism or philosophy but am willing
to learn ! I was wondering how you overcome the following problem; its
on the existence of God.

If a phenomenon like God is by definition a being which does not have to
show up in empirical evidence or behave rationally then how can an
Objectivist deny the existence of God ? If you can't deny the existence
of God, say the Christian one, then doesn't it leave you with a large
problem. Christianity with its fervent altruism contradicts Randian
Objectivism forcing you to make a choice. Whichever choice you make
none of the tenets you hold can be thought of in absolute terms as there
will always be uncertainty.

If God never shows up in empirical evidence then it does not matter whether it
exists. Something upon which I cannot act and which cannot act upon me has no
bearing on my life. If it does exist and does act upon the universe then
there are two possibilities. Either there is a pattern of some kind to that
action. Such a being is not constrained to act as we expect it to any more
than the universe is constrained to obey our models of it. Our thoughts do
not shape our world, but are an internal image and abstraction of it. If
there is no pattern, then there is no intelligence. It is merely a random
force. That is not the Christian claim, and it is of little importance since
there is no evidence for it anyway as far as I know.

- Dale
--
My employer's opinions are published | Lernu paroli Esperanton!
elsewhere. These opinions are strictly | Helpu dispremi unulingvismon!
my own. |
--
d...@cci.com, D. Dale Gulledge, Software Engineer, Northern Telecom,
Directory & Operator Services, 97 Humboldt St., Rochester, NY 14609

Mark Thomas

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Nov 16, 1994, 2:52:45 PM11/16/94
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In article <3aanl8$r...@crl2.crl.com> rwi...@crl.com "Randy Wiese" writes:

>
> No problem. I always base my beliefs on the majority opinion. Makes
> things much easier. The only hard part is finding a poll that tells me
> which polls are most accurate. :)
>

Perhaps I should have refered to the flying sheep.

What I was trying to say, but so obviously failed to say clearly, was that
the evidence indicates that we are born with a need to find a God ie that
we have a 'God slot' in our brains.

Were you to design an intelligent, highly adaptive, social biped then you too
would probably make him want to discover a God - it's a neat way of achieving
social organisation. Man succeeds when he can gang up - and he gangs up
best when he has a powerful 'God'(even if it is a flying sheep).

By way of analogy consider what the Gods, ie the rule givers, are in computing.

You can build yourself your own device, but it will be limited if it can't
co-operate, on standard protocols, with other machines e.g. TCP/IP

None of the Gods that people imagine actually exist - they are, as Nietsche
(or however you spell it) said: 'making God in their own image'.

However the belief that there are forces in the universe that are more
powerful than any individual, or group of individuals, and which need to
be respected, studied even, is an entirely healthy approach. If people
sum up and focus their feelings through worshiping a God or Gods then they
are doing what comes naturally - that activity is written into man's hardware.

Natural selection eliminates the Godless - they are just too weak when faced
with a hoard of religious zealots.

'God' exists alright. As a concept - as a part of the human brain.

Whether or not there is some intelligent being out there who operates a system
of eternal justice and gives out eternal life to the good is quite another
matter, and one which can't ever be examined by our senses.

If an all powerful being arived and gave us a five minute warning before he
destroyed the Earth, we would all die believing he was a psychopathic alien who
had a God delusion.


Mark Thomas

H.E.A.Fulton

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Nov 17, 1994, 6:13:39 AM11/17/94
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Why is it contradictory to everything you observe in reality if it is
invisible and undetectable ???

Thankyou very much for pointing me in the direction of 'The Fountainhead'
- I am in need of illumination !

Walter Turberville

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Nov 17, 1994, 8:43:31 PM11/17/94
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: Mark Thomas (ma...@reigram.demon.co.uk) wrote:

: : What I was trying to say, but so obviously failed to say clearly, was that

: : the evidence indicates that we are born with a need to find a God ie that
: : we have a 'God slot' in our brains.

: : Were you to design an intelligent, highly adaptive, social biped then
: : you too would probably make him want to discover a God - it's a neat way
: : of achieving social organisation.

It seems much more likely that a "God Slot" is created by our parents and
society teaching us that God exists. What we all have in common is a
society that teaches religion.

People have a need to understand their world. What the concept of God
does is provide a shortcut to understanding. That is probably one of the
reasons that the idea is so universal. It is easy.

Isn't it interesting to notice how various religions have adapted their
interpretations or religious works as time has passed. Same God. Same
Bible (or other document(s). Different interpretation. Science has been
chipping away at what the GOD concept can explain.

My first clue came in the seventh grade when we studied Greek and Norse
mythology. Note that we now call it mythology, not religion which it
surely was at one time. What clued me in was the Norse (or was it Greek
- I forget) nymph Echo. the mythology used the story of this nymph to
explain mountain echos. Well we now know that echos are a relatively
easy to explain physical phenomena and I realized that then. Apparently
what those people did was invent a scenario that could be used to
"explain" a difficult phenomena. That was when it hit me that perhaps
that was what our society was doing today. I later concluded that that
was the best explaination.

I believe that God was created in man's image NOT the other way around.
It is interesting that we generally do not accept information without
some supporting physical criteria. But with religion, many of us do.
GOd can enither be proved or disproved. what an individual must do is
decide what he or she believes. I eventually decided that I did not
believe in God. In fact, I cannot believe in God any more than I can
believe in Santa Clause (BTW note all the kids out there with "Santa
Claus slots".)

From the purely logical standpoint, God is no more proveable than than
the invisible flying donkeys (or my purple polka dotted monster that
always sits on my shoulder to protect me - course he doesn't always
protect me cuz he works in mysterious ways you know). Neither is he
provable. It is possible that there is a God. However, that seems very
improbable when the total of EVIDENCE is looked at.

People used to believe all sorts of nonsense. It pervaded cultures.
Science has proved much of that wrong. they stopped believing. Science
will NEVER be able to disprove or prove GOD. By definition, it cannot be
done. Neither will science be able to prove or disprove invisible flying
donkeys. We are left to our good judgement to decide what is likely.

If as I sat her keying this message a loud voice and blinding light
enveloped me and I found myself whisked out of my chair flying through
the universe by some nice looking gent with a long white beard who then
began explaining all about how the world worked and all about how he was
God, I STILL would not have proof. Then, however, at least I would have
some good physical or experiential evidence.

Fact is that many a primitive society has seen a more advanced society as
Gods. They goofed because they were ignorant of advanced technologies
and cultures. Being whisked away might lead me to make a similar goof.
Failing such a stirring experience, I am astounded how others keep making
the mistake of believing in God. History tells that in fact, a few
billion people CAN be wrong.

Jay

John Enright

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Nov 17, 1994, 12:22:06 AM11/17/94
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: Mark Thomas (ma...@reigram.demon.co.uk) wrote:

: : What I was trying to say, but so obviously failed to say clearly, was that

: : the evidence indicates that we are born with a need to find a God ie that
: : we have a 'God slot' in our brains.

Oh NO! I'm MISSING that slot!

-------------------------------------------------------------
John Enright from address: jenr...@home.interaccess.com
-------------------------------------------------------------

H.E.A.Fulton

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Nov 18, 1994, 12:33:34 PM11/18/94
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The God certainly wouldn't have to be constrained- but why can't it,
through its own choice act the way we expect it to behave.
I am an agnostic, not a christian but it seems clear to me that
objectivists still have a problem. They can't assert their tenets
absolutely. There can exist a number of things to contradict it which
can be undetectable and not disprovable.

Harry.

Dallas Kennedy

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Nov 21, 1994, 2:16:42 AM11/21/94
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I think it is safe to say that the GOD slot in our brains is simply the fact
that we need knowledge and understanding of our world to function, just as
much as we need food in our stomachs. Deprived of knowledge, we suffer the
same consequences as when we are deprived of food, only the effects are more
subtle and take longer to work themselves out. All "advanced" religions,
such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc., all address this need explicitly,
and are thus closer to a philosophical framework than "primitive" religions,
where this need is rarely identified. Some of the "advanced" religions,
such as Judaism or Buddhism, are so close, in fact, that they get the point
essentially correct. The scientific/objectivist objection is that even here,
supernaturalism and metaphysical dualism still remain --- the mind-body
dichotomy has still not been removed, in spite of the strong tendency towards
metaphysical unity.

As far as "primitive" religions go, they are closer in some ways to science
than to "advanced" (metaphysical/ethical) religions. The basic sense-perceptual
experiences we have are the same as the "primitives", but they "explain"
everything in terms anthropomorphic or animistic spirits/demons/gods that
inhabit the world and "animate" everything. This animistic tendency lingers
on even in advanced philosophical systems such as Aristotle's. The animistic
beliefs are the starting point for the development of science, as the history
of Greek science shows clearly. But there was a long process first of
criticism, leading to junking animistic concepts and language. Thus the notion
of a female nymph Echo in Greek mythology carrying back the human voice to
its owner was transformed into an abstract, non-animistic, cause-and-effect
explanation: waves of air excited by the voice, reflected back from solid
surfaces, with our ears in the way of the reflected waves. Not as charming
as Echo or angels fetching one's voice, but more accurate. Good books on this
are: Bruno Snell's The Discovery of the Mind, Walter Kaufmann's Philosophical
Classics, and Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough. The last is especially
fascinating, as Frazer demonstrates how magical/animistic habits are universal
in primitive and not-so-primitive societies and speculates about the relation
of magic, animism, religion, and science.

Here is an amusing/pathetic story to illustrate the point: Tractors are donated
to primitive farmers in Africa. But there is no knowledge about technology or
scientific habits of thought. There is also no infrastructure to repair the
tractor when it breaks down. So the tractor breaks down eventually, and the
farmers don't know what to do. After argument, they decide that there is a
tractor god (there's a god for everything, right?) and he is angry with the
farmers, for some unknown reason. So they sacrifice chickens in front of
the tractor for a while, but this has no effect. They then abandon the tractor
and go back to plows, probably thinking that Western technology is inhabited
by irrational, hard-to-please demons. Don't laugh -- a lot of people in
Western societies think in ways not much different. This story was reported
in the New York Times sometime during the 1980s.

"Them foreign cars, they have gremlins in them, you know." -- Gremlins

wilki...@cobra.uni.edu

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Nov 21, 1994, 5:37:40 AM11/21/94
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In article <3aphg...@no-names.nerdc.ufl.edu>, ken...@quark.phys.ufl.edu
(Dallas Kennedy) writes:
> I think it is safe to say that the GOD slot in our brains is simply the fact
> that we need knowledge and understanding of our world to function, just as
> much as we need food in our stomachs. Deprived of knowledge, we suffer the
> same consequences as when we are deprived of food, only the effects are more
> subtle and take longer to work themselves out.

I'd say the need for "meaning" rather than knowledge is what goes in the GOD
slot.

- Will Wilkinson

Michael Hardy

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Nov 21, 1994, 2:22:08 PM11/21/94
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In article <3ah0s3$5...@news.primenet.com>
wtu...@primenet.com (Walter Turberville) writes:


>My first clue came in the seventh grade when we studied Greek and Norse
>mythology. Note that we now call it mythology, not religion which it
>surely was at one time. What clued me in was the Norse (or was it Greek
>- I forget) nymph Echo.


When "ch" is pronounced as "k" in English the word in which it appears
almost always comes from Greek. Likewise with "ph" as "f", "rh" as "r", and
"y" as a stressed vowel. And with words like "parenthesis" or "basis" where
^ ^
the final "-is" becomes "-es" in the plural.


>the mythology used the story of this nymph to
>explain mountain echos. Well we now know that echos are a relatively
>easy to explain physical phenomena


Echos are a phenomenon, not a "phenomena". "Phenomenon" is singular;
"phenomena" is plural. Illiterate journalists started promoting this usage
about a decade ago. Similarly with "criterion" and "criteria". If one simply
must regularize nouns on the grounds that humans are incapable of understand-
ing irregularities (and that _is_ the belief of schoolteachers who want to
change these rules; they are projecting and think that everybody is like them)
then it would make much more sense to use "phenomenon" as the singular and
make "phenomenons" the plural.


>what those people did was invent a scenario that could be used to
>"explain" a difficult phenomena.

^

Aaaagh! Admit it. You're doing this to but me after I complained
about this a couple of months ago.


Mike Hardy


Michael Hardy

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Nov 21, 1994, 2:26:02 PM11/21/94
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P.S. to that last post. I wrote:

> When "ch" is pronounced as "k" in English the word in which it appears
>almost always comes from Greek. Likewise with "ph" as "f", "rh" as "r", and
>"y" as a stressed vowel. And with words like "parenthesis" or "basis" where


This gives away the fact that Echo was a Greek myth and not a Norse
myth, not only because of the name Echo, but also because of the word "nymph".
So we have three dead giveaways.


Mike Hardy


Jason Sproul

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Nov 21, 1994, 4:00:57 PM11/21/94
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Subject: Re: GOD
From: Walter Turberville, wtu...@primenet.com
Date: 18 Nov 1994 01:43:31 GMT
In article <3ah0s3$5...@news.primenet.com> Walter Turberville,

wtu...@primenet.com writes:
>: Mark Thomas (ma...@reigram.demon.co.uk) wrote:
>
>: : What I was trying to say, but so obviously failed to say clearly,
was that
>: : the evidence indicates that we are born with a need to find a God ie
that
>: : we have a 'God slot' in our brains.
>
>: : Were you to design an intelligent, highly adaptive, social biped
then
>: : you too would probably make him want to discover a God - it's a neat
way
>: : of achieving social organisation.
>
>It seems much more likely that a "God Slot" is created by our parents
and
>society teaching us that God exists. What we all have in common is a
>society that teaches religion.
>
>People have a need to understand their world. What the concept of God
>does is provide a shortcut to understanding. That is probably one of
the
>reasons that the idea is so universal. It is easy.
[snip!]

>I believe that God was created in man's image NOT the other way around.
>It is interesting that we generally do not accept information without
>some supporting physical criteria. But with religion, many of us do.
>GOd can enither be proved or disproved. what an individual must do is
>decide what he or she believes. I eventually decided that I did not
>believe in God. In fact, I cannot believe in God any more than I can
>believe in Santa Clause (BTW note all the kids out there with "Santa
>Claus slots".)

Erik Erikson wrote on this in _Childhood and Society_ (1950), considered
the seminal work in developing the modern formative psychology:

"In connection with the hunters and fishermen of prehistoric North
America we employed one key which opened certain primitive rituals to
interpretation. We pointed out that preliterate human beings try to
understand and to master the great Unknown in its expansion in space and
time by projecting the attributes of human structure and growth on it:
thus geographic environment is personified, and historical past is
endowed with the imagery of human childhood. In this sense, then, the
earth becomes a mother who, once upon a time, gave of her own free will.
The transition from nomadic to agricultural life implied the usurpation
of segments of land, and their partition; the violation of the soil with
coercive tools; the subjugation of the earth as an enforced provider.
Whatever inner evolution accompanied this technological step, it was (as
myths and rituals attest) associated with that primal sin which, in
individual life, consists of the first awareness of the violent wish to
control the mother with the maturing organs of bite and grasp."
The "cursed breed" then represents the children who in their rapacity
would jealously usurp and destroy the mother; and the men, whom the task
of collectively tilling the soil made ambitious, jealous, and exploitive.
Thus the sense of a primal guilt, which we discussed earlier, chains the
peasant to the cycle of sorrowful atonement and manic feasting as it
makes him dependent on the productive year. Christianity, of course, took
hold of this self-perpetuating cycle and superimposed on it its own
yearly calendar of sin and expiation, death and redemption."
(p377-8)

Clearly what Erikson is arguing for here is the psychological origin of
God.

>Isn't it interesting to notice how various religions have adapted their
>interpretations or religious works as time has passed. Same God. Same
>Bible (or other document(s). Different interpretation. Science has
been
>chipping away at what the GOD concept can explain.

Very true. For example, in CLEAR violation of fundamental Christian
principles, the British used religion to justify and support their
rapacious colonialism. Note that the people in power in Britain during
colonialism were *not* the ancient aristocracy -- they had begun the
process of colonialism, but in India at least had taken up local customs,
forbidden missionaries, and generally attempted to impose themselves as
little as possible -- but the *liberal bourgeoisie*, who saw the Indians
as savages to be "reculturated" (using a term from Theo. Von Laue's _The
World Revolution of Westernization_). And after India became a drain on
British power and wealth, it was liberal *altruism* which continued the
destruction of Indian culture and attempted to maintain control, because
of a sado-masochistic neurosis pervading the bourgeois culture (which
Marx identified, but in a very strange and misguided way, having to do
with his personal biases as a German).

>From the purely logical standpoint, God is no more proveable than than
>the invisible flying donkeys (or my purple polka dotted monster that
>always sits on my shoulder to protect me - course he doesn't always
>protect me cuz he works in mysterious ways you know). Neither is he
>provable. It is possible that there is a God. However, that seems very
>improbable when the total of EVIDENCE is looked at.

Just use Occam's Razor (and, as P.J. O'Rourke once joked, the rest of
Occam's toilet kit). Why hypothesize a fantastical being when science
does nearly as good a job? After all, G*d doesn't *really* explain
anything; it just makes it "unnecessary" to explain things. It's a
tremendous act of intellectual sophistry to avoid the trouble of
explaining things.

>People used to believe all sorts of nonsense. It pervaded cultures.
>Science has proved much of that wrong. they stopped believing. Science
>will NEVER be able to disprove or prove GOD. By definition, it cannot
be
>done. Neither will science be able to prove or disprove invisible
flying
>donkeys. We are left to our good judgement to decide what is likely.

True. But I fear science has not proved much of anything to most people.
The best this country has managed is an irrational science-worship, which
is just as dangerous as religion, if not more so. (Can the Pope build
atomic bombs? No -- but scientists can...)

>If as I sat her keying this message a loud voice and blinding light
>enveloped me and I found myself whisked out of my chair flying through
>the universe by some nice looking gent with a long white beard who then
>began explaining all about how the world worked and all about how he was
>God, I STILL would not have proof. Then, however, at least I would have
>some good physical or experiential evidence.

I would say that was pretty good evidence. But who would be crazy enough
to trust the word of a man who claimed to be G*d?

From Monty Python's Holy Grail: "If I went around, saying I was king just
'cause some moistened git threw a sword at me, they'd put me away!
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a
system of government!"

Well, if I went around, saying I was the Son of G*d, just 'cause some
strange old man said he wanted to nail me up to a cross, they'd put me
away! Loopy geezers hiding in the clouds, crucifying people, is no basis
for a system of morality or philosophy!

>Fact is that many a primitive society has seen a more advanced society
as
>Gods. They goofed because they were ignorant of advanced technologies
>and cultures. Being whisked away might lead me to make a similar goof.
>Failing such a stirring experience, I am astounded how others keep
making
>the mistake of believing in God. History tells that in fact, a few
>billion people CAN be wrong.

From Heinlein's _Time Enough For Love_:

"One man's "magic" is another man's technology. "Supernatural" is a null
word."

"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh."

"God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent -- it says so right
here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of
these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for
you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills."

........................................................................
Jason Y. Sproul (jsp...@wesleyan.edu, ja...@jsproul.buttb.wesleyan.edu)
"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity." -Robert A. Heinlein
"Write an idiot-proof program, and the world will build a better idiot."
-Unknown (and if someone could tell me, I'd love to know)

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