Sunday, July 12, 2009

A little too strong?

Here's the body of my first response to A. Mitter, as yet unpublished:

Alan Mitter (letters, 9/7) wades into the debate, scattering unsupported assertions hither, thither and yon, quite possibly relying upon unnecessarily complicated verbiage to do the work of convincing us.

Unfortunately, he simply reiterates what is known as the Kalam cosmological argument, which may be a favourite of famed Christian apologeticist William Lane Craig (and dates back to the 9th century), but ultimately doesn't hold water. It certainly doesn't constitute evidence of anything other than that people will go to extraordinary lengths to defend their irrational beliefs.

The simple fact of the matter regarding the beginning of the universe is that we just don't, at the moment, know. We don't even know if the universe had a beginning, strictly speaking, although we do have some very interesting - and testable - ideas. Alan Mitter's argument is the 'argument from ignorance', which loosely stated goes along the lines of 'we don't actually know the answer, so I'll just make something up which fits my prejudices'.

Quite aside from anything else, this is all getting needlessly complicated and ridiculous. Even if the universe did have a beginning, and was caused by an "uncaused cause", that says nothing at all about the existence of souls, nor does it go anywhere toward supporting the notion that this uncaused cause is the Biblical God, or is in any way intelligent, conscious, or remotely interested in the doings of one species inhabiting an unremarkable planet in an unimaginably tiny part of the universe. It is an act of extreme arrogance to claim such a special place for humanity, the purpose and focus of the existence of the entire universe, and it is interesting to note that it is this same arrogance that allows us to claim a clean conscience whilst making laws designed to impose our opinions on others no matter the terrible cost to them - laws outlawing voluntary euthanasia, for example.

There is one other point to address, and it is this: even should the Biblical God exist and be intent on tossing people who end their own lives to cut short intolerable suffering into Hell (whatever that is), then that is fundamentally an issue between those people and God, and is nobody else's business. It certainly doesn't give license for Christians (or any other religious folk) to dictate laws based upon their dogma. The only reasonable approach to lawmaking is that it be for the greater good, and based upon what we can learn from evidence.


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