Archive for December 1st, 2009
Over at Edge.com, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein presents an extraordinary collection of proofs for the existence of God. The problem with these proofs, however, is that they aren’t actually proofs, which Seltzer succinctly explains, one-by-one. Take, for instance, Goldstein’s analysis of the Argument from Holy Books:
1. There are holy books that reveal the word of God.
2. The word of God is necessarily true.
3. The word of God reveals the existence of God.
4. God exists.
Seltzer isn’t convinced:
FLAW 1: This is a circular argument if ever there was one. The first three premises cannot be maintained unless one independently knows the very conclusion to be proved, namely that God exists.
FLAW 2: A glance at the world’s religions shows that there are numerous books and scrolls and doctrines and revelations that all claim to reveal the word of God. But they are mutually incompatible. Should I believe that Jesus is my personal savior? Or should I believe that God made a covenant with the Jews requiring every Jew to keep the commandments of the Torah? Should I believe that Mohammad was Allah’s last prophet and that Ali, the prophet’s cousin and husband of his daughter Fatima, ought to have been the first caliph, or that Mohammad was Allah’s last prophet and that Ali was the fourth and last caliph? Should I believe that the resurrected prophet Moroni dictated the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith? Or that Ahura Mazda, the benevolent Creator, is at cosmic war with the malevolent Angra Mainyu? And on and on it goes. Only the most arrogant provincialism could allow someone to believe that the holy documents that happen to be held sacred by the clan he was born into are true, while all the documents held sacred by the clans he wasn’t born into are false.
Keep in mind that Goldstein’s analyses are rigorous and serious. Her collection includes many “proofs” that you don’t typically encounter in philosophy of religion classes, but you constantly encounter in people’s living rooms and on public buses. Consider these “proofs,” for example:
19. The Argument from Personal Purpose
20. The Argument from the Intolerability of Insignificance
22. The Argument from the Consensus of Mystics
23. The Argument from Holy Books
27. The Argument from The Upward Curve of History
33. The Argument from the Unreasonableness of Reason
If you’re in a mood to have a chuckle at those who conjure up supernatural beings through word-logic, try these humorous proofs for the existence of God.
Avert your eyes from Wall Street to see what is happening to America. These statistics are part of a terrifying article by Elizabeth Warren, who serves as the Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts:
Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.
There are many other statistics in this article. For instance, fully employed males haven’t seen a pay increase since the 1970’s. Warren also presents banks as villains in her story:
Boring banking has given way to creative banking, and the industry has generated tens of billions of dollars annually in fees made possible by deceptive and dangerous terms buried in the fine print of opaque, incomprehensible, and largely unregulated contracts.