Effect Measure

I will be the first to concede that religion can be extremely interesting (although not to me). My general rule of thumb is that virtually any topic is interesting once you really get into it, and religion is no exception. One can study it from within its own logic and set of doctrines (theology or Talmudic scholarship), from outside (anthropology) or through many other lenses (political, economic, etc.).

The same is true about special topics in the subject of religion, like God or gods or The Gods or however you want to express it. Now there’s a quick and easy way to get into the subject: The Official God FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), which boils the subject down to the essentials without getting into needless complexities, you know, in the spirit of Einstein’s advice, “You should make a subject as simple as possible but no simpler.”

So if you want to get into the subject of God, here’s the link to the Official God FAQ (h/t Garth2)

Comments

  1. #1 DebP
    October 18, 2009

    That is quite funny. Of course, I could also hedge my bets and pray every single night to a different god. I think I would start with Ceiling Cat (see LOL Cats), because every day I wake up with a 25 pound, grouchy, 17 year old cat on my chest. I have to pray to something that she at least lets me sleep at night.

  2. #2 Vern Rutter
    October 18, 2009

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

    Thanks for this!! Added to my favorites for ready linking!

  3. #3 Comrade PhysioProf
    October 18, 2009

    The only thing interesting about religion is what it is about human history and human cognition that has made human beings so susceptible to delusional bullshit.

  4. #4 Lynn
    October 18, 2009

    Brilliant (as are the comments)!

  5. #5 caia
    October 18, 2009

    Comrade PhysioProf — I disagree! I took a bunch of academic religion classes in college because they allowed me to learn about various (mostly Asian) countries’ history, literature, and art as well as religious traditions.

    And yes, I’m an atheist.

  6. #6 Otto
    October 19, 2009

    By Gum, if the October 1977 Reader’s Digest “attests” an Einstein quote, it must be Fer Real.

    The usual irony behind invocations of Occam’s Razor still applies, though–monist materialism, when coupled with shuffling about over the nature of “mind,” most certainly needlessly multiplies “entities.”

  7. #7 Allan
    October 20, 2009

    Good FAQ site, very funny!

    Comrade Physioprof, well said. Perhaps not the only interesting thing, but the most interesting by far.

  8. #8 Neil B ♪
    October 21, 2009

    It is a fallacy to pretend that a negative claim can be confidently asserted without our really knowing what the answer is. As for Occam’s Razor, it is a heuristic rule of thumb and not a rigorous logical necessity (as would be, mandated from symbolic logic etc.)

    Here’s a irony that most people into “materialism” aren’t even award of: thinkers involved in “modal realism” (see Wikipedia etc.) cogently argue that there isn’t even a way to logically define material existence – that is, what it means for some possible worlds to be incarnate as a “stuff” and others, not. Hence all possible worlds (say, “descriptions” per the MUH) exist with equal status. (Logic can only deal with the mathematical ideals themselves, not anything else they supposedly represent.)

    Yeah, intuitively “we know we exist” but ironically that is more about experiential givens and not logical properties. Given the messiness of even defining what material existence is, saying whether or not “God” exists is rather challenging and not for glib assumption.

  9. #9 Neil B ♪
    October 21, 2009

    It is a fallacy to pretend that a negative claim can be confidently asserted without our really knowing what the answer is. As for Occam’s Razor, it is a heuristic rule of thumb and not a rigorous logical necessity (as would be, mandated from symbolic logic etc.)

    Here’s a irony that most people into “materialism” aren’t even award of: thinkers involved in “modal realism” (see Wikipedia etc.) cogently argue that there isn’t even a way to logically define material existence – that is, what it means for some possible worlds to be incarnate as a “stuff” and others, not. Hence all possible worlds (say, “descriptions” per the MUH) exist with equal status. (Logic can only deal with the mathematical ideals themselves, not anything else they supposedly represent.)

    Yeah, intuitively “we know we exist” but ironically that is more about experiential givens and not logical properties. Given the messiness of even defining what material existence is, saying whether or not “God” exists is rather challenging and not for glib assumption.

  10. #10 revere
    October 21, 2009

    Neil B.: The same goes for lepraucans and the tooth fairy? What about Hamlet? Fine with me if God is in the same basket with them. I won’t argue.

  11. #11 Neil B ♪
    October 21, 2009

    I was talking about the principle of the thing, not the relative merits or not of this or that possible entity. (And it looks like you didn’t get my point about modal realism.) Those who don’t believe in leprechauns etc usually have a specific reason, not just “proposed entity does not exist.” It could be, they aren’t consistent with the current knowledge we have (why haven’t we found tiny humanoid remains or implements, etc.) In the case of God, that’s supposed to be outside and a priori of the universe, so it’s not the same context.

    Here’s another one to try:

    Question: “Are there ‘other universes’?”

    Answer: “No.”

    In the quite unlikely event that you were to discover any omissions or inaccuracies on this page, they may be reported to the international headquarters of The Official Other Universes FAQ, at aod@400monkeys.com, where they will be thoroughly investigated, submitted to rigorous scientific testing and, if substantiated, included in a subsequent update. Thank you.
    ~~~

    Yet it’s funny how many “scientists” believe in other universes, many-worlds of quantum mechanics, etc. Hypocrites.

  12. #12 Neil B ♪
    October 21, 2009

    I was talking about the principle of the thing, not the relative merits or not of this or that possible entity. (And it looks like you didn’t get my point about modal realism.) Those who don’t believe in leprechauns etc usually have a specific reason, not just “proposed entity does not exist.” It could be, they aren’t consistent with the current knowledge we have (why haven’t we found tiny humanoid remains or implements, etc.) In the case of God, that’s supposed to be outside and a priori of the universe, so it’s not the same context.

    Here’s another one to try:

    Question: “Are there ‘other universes’?”

    Answer: “No.”

    In the quite unlikely event that you were to discover any omissions or inaccuracies on this page, they may be reported to the international headquarters of The Official Other Universes FAQ, at aod@400monkeys.com, where they will be thoroughly investigated, submitted to rigorous scientific testing and, if substantiated, included in a subsequent update. Thank you.
    ~~~

    Yet it’s funny how many “scientists” believe in other universes, many-worlds of quantum mechanics, etc. Hypocrites.

  13. #13 revere
    October 22, 2009

    Neil B.: Looks like you didn’t get my point. You can’t say, “It was a lot more sophisticated. I was pointing to the difficult issues that come up when you consider modal logics,” because a weekly piece at a rhetorical and satirical level isn’t about Kripkean semantics (talk about missing the point!). For the majority of scientists and most atheists god is like a lepraucan or the tooth fairy for exactly the reasons you indicate. The questions of other universes is something else. It is a question about what the world is like if the formalism of quantum mechanics is a valid representation of it. You may understand something about logic (I’m not exactly clueless; I took a graduate course with Kleene), but it doesn’t sound like you know much about science and scientists. This is primarily a science blog. Consider the context.

  14. #14 Neil B ♠
    October 22, 2009

    Well, I don’t see why not make a shot at some notions – I don’t think they’re above criticism just because it’s mostly a fun post. Scientists should have their glib, often stale philosophical notions challenged from time to time. And some people brought up issues I thought debatable. In any case, “God” is a concept tied up with causality and necessity about the universe, whereas any given notional entity doesn’t have a logical role to possibly play AFAWK. Sure, it’s scientist’s job to deal with theories and observational givens, but many of them dabble in speculation about philosophical things like this. They can’t have it both ways.

    Other universes: Check out my link. The “worlds” of MWI may be a way to imagine what happens in QM, but they still aren’t “found”. (I wonder too, why for example the first beamsplitter in an interferometer doesn’t split the wavefunction, rather than the second one – in which case, we wouldn’t even get the interference.) What “we” actually observe is the experiment turning out one way or the other, so any pretense that the WF just “has to” continue manifesting all the superpositions is wishful thinking, and violates empiricism however good the argument is (it isn’t anyway, as I and many have argued.)

    Second, there are the other kind of postulated “other universes” independent of QM: worlds with different laws of physics etc, often postulated to avoid facing up to why our universe is fine-tuned in a way beneficial to formation of life etc. There may be theoretical reasons, but again: no empirical reason to believe. Yet many physicists believe in them.

    BTW: Occam’s razor says, the simplest explanation is “to be preferred”, not that we must disbelieve in something with no evidence. Not all entities are “explanatory”, there are arguments too and not just empirical findings, and finally: the argument about a First Cause depends on whether the universe/s needs another cause at all. The simplest explanation would be “one cause” rather than “no cause at all.” Saying there is no cause needed at all, is to disagree with the premise rather than to limit the number of explanatory entities required; if accepting the premise.

    At this level arguments is what we have. Philosophy is about what to make of what we already know and encounter. Science is about finding more to know. They work together for the most part.

  15. #15 Neil B ♠
    October 22, 2009

    Well, I don’t see why not make a shot at some notions – I don’t think they’re above criticism just because it’s mostly a fun post. Scientists should have their glib, often stale philosophical notions challenged from time to time. And some people brought up issues I thought debatable. In any case, “God” is a concept tied up with causality and necessity about the universe, whereas any given notional entity doesn’t have a logical role to possibly play AFAWK. Sure, it’s scientist’s job to deal with theories and observational givens, but many of them dabble in speculation about philosophical things like this. They can’t have it both ways.

    Other universes: Check out my link. The “worlds” of MWI may be a way to imagine what happens in QM, but they still aren’t “found”. (I wonder too, why for example the first beamsplitter in an interferometer doesn’t split the wavefunction, rather than the second one – in which case, we wouldn’t even get the interference.) What “we” actually observe is the experiment turning out one way or the other, so any pretense that the WF just “has to” continue manifesting all the superpositions is wishful thinking, and violates empiricism however good the argument is (it isn’t anyway, as I and many have argued.)

    Second, there are the other kind of postulated “other universes” independent of QM: worlds with different laws of physics etc, often postulated to avoid facing up to why our universe is fine-tuned in a way beneficial to formation of life etc. There may be theoretical reasons, but again: no empirical reason to believe. Yet many physicists believe in them.

    BTW: Occam’s razor says, the simplest explanation is “to be preferred”, not that we must disbelieve in something with no evidence. Not all entities are “explanatory”, there are arguments too and not just empirical findings, and finally: the argument about a First Cause depends on whether the universe/s needs another cause at all. The simplest explanation would be “one cause” rather than “no cause at all.” Saying there is no cause needed at all, is to disagree with the premise rather than to limit the number of explanatory entities required; if accepting the premise.

    At this level arguments is what we have. Philosophy is about what to make of what we already know and encounter. Science is about finding more to know. They work together for the most part.