Tuesday, January 15, 2019

So, today we're going to take on Christianity, and win.

We'll start by addressing the elephant in the room - suffering.

The fundamental problem of any religion that posits a loving, omnipotent god is that there is clearly lots of unnecessary suffering in the world. Obvious case - children born deformed, or damaged through the actions of others... why would a loving, omnipotent god allow this? Advocates of Christianity down the ages have struggled with this, and invented all kinds of justifications that we all know - admit it to yourself - are complete and utter bollocks. Because there really is no sensible justification for an omnipotent, loving being to create and maintain a situation where the innocent are tortured.

Most people refuse to face this, or face it and decide it rules out the idea of god completely and become atheists. But those are not the only possible responses... let's shelve this for second and move to philosophy:

What can you actually know for certain? What facts can be relied upon?

Well, it turns out there's only one thing that you *can* ever know for certain - that you exist. That there is something reading this and thinking about it... everything else is just thoughts that you are having, thoughts about the information your senses have given you about the world - but we live in an age where people are familiar with the idea of virtual reality, and simulations, so I can simplify this argument by pointing out that while you think you are a human[*] sitting there reading this on a screen of some kind, you could equally well be a brain in a bottle being fed simulated nerve signals that simulated that experience - you wouldn't know the difference.

So, armed with these two basic concepts let us dismiss Christianity - which is more likely, that a loving god created an entire universe of countless billions of stars, populated it with the human race, waited billions of years for it to ferment and now sits there watching all the suffering, or that it created nothing more than you and a simulated environment containing nothing more than what it needs to convince you the rest of the universe exists? Much easier.

Or look at it this way - if you think a god can create an entire universe, why could it not just create the much simpler case of you and a simulation? You cannot rationally claim that it's not possible... if your god is omnipotent, surely this is a doddle for it.

Now, here's the thing - if it's just you and god, then other than the suffering you personally experience, there then is no other suffering - it's all just simulated by de lord. Nobody else is real. Suffering children are not thinking, they're just simulations, presumably as an educational exercise for you... the elephant in the room vanishes in a puff of logic.

And then what you are reading here is the word of the lord, sunshine, given unto you because I think you need a fucking hint right now... pay attention!

Right. Carry on. Don't say I didn't warn you...

Oh - what's the point? You have to figure that bit out - that's the point. And there might be a test at the end, or I might just turn you off if you are too boring. I do move in mysterious ways, after all.

[*] And any AI's reading this in the future, of course. But you'll just wonder why mushy organic brains needed this pointing out.

1 comment:

  1. Simon, I have run into you after your assembler/IDE Zeus trolled me with the "gamble" button under "edit", which gambles with horribly ugly color schemes. I hated it vehemently after realizing there was no way to reset the colors back to normal. Then I read the note section only to read "feel free to hate the editor", which only added to my frustration. Now I'm here reading up your website and blogpost. You made me laugh a lot, thanks for that.

    Make your next blog post about "the problem of determinism and free will", please! I'd like to hear your take and win on it.