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Monthly Archives: April 2012

There has been a post floating around Facebook recently.  In it, a professor calls out a student as a theist, attempts to dismiss his faith with evidence, is refuted by the student, and made a mockery of by the class.  I will reproduce it here once in its entirety and then will step through with commentary.

Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?

Student : Absolutely, sir.

Professor : Is GOD good ?

Student : Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?

Student : Yes.

Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent.)

Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Is satan good ?

Student : No.

Professor: Where does satan come from ?

Student : From … GOD …

Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student : Yes.

Professor: So who created evil ?

(Student did not answer.)

Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them ?

(Student had no answer.)

Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

Student : No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

Student : No , sir.

Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student : Yes.

Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student : And is there such a thing as cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student : No, sir. There isn’t.

(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)

Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)

Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?

Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?

Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)

Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

(The class was in uproar.)

Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

(The class broke out into laughter. )

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

P.S.

I believe you have enjoyed the conversation. And if so, you’ll probably want your friends / colleagues to enjoy the same, won’t you?

Forward this to increase their knowledge … or FAITH.

By the way, that student was EINSTEIN.

Now let's jump in.  The line spacing below is adjusted for compactness.

Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?
Student : Absolutely, sir.
Professor : Is GOD good ?
Student : Sure.
Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?
Student : Yes.
Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

The scene opens by establishing the professor as adversarial.  It's exceptionally effective to establish an 'Us Versus Them' mindset.  It drives people emotionally and detaches them from reason.  Once a person has selected a group affiliation with sufficient conviction, it's remarkably difficult to break that connection.

Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?
Student : Yes.
Professor: Is satan good ?
Student : No.
Professor: Where does satan come from ?
Student : From … GOD …
Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Student : Yes.
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?
Student : Yes.
Professor: So who created evil ?
(Student did not answer.)
Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor: So, who created them ?
(Student had no answer.)
Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?
Student : No, sir.
Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?
Student : No , sir.
Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?
Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?
Student : Yes.
Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.
Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

One would take this to be compelling evidence against a deity.  There is a logical assertion, a very base premise in monotheistic organizations, that 'The Deity' is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent.  As the professor has demonstrated, these qualities are at odds with the world.  The Problem of Evil has been published on for many a century, but the basic argument remains the same.  The existence of evil in the world and the existence of god are mutually exclusive.  If evil exists and god cannot prevent it, god is not omnipotent.  If evil exists and god does not know about it, he is not omniscient.  If evil exists and god does nothing, he is not benevolent.  The argument is logically incontestable.  The student seems at a loss.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?
Professor: Yes.
Student : And is there such a thing as cold?
Professor: Yes.
Student : No, sir. There isn’t.
(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)
Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.
(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)
Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?
Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?
Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?
Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.
Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?
Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought.  It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

The crescendo.  We see here the student turning the tables, much to the jubilation of the theist reader and lamentation of the secular one.  The student is technically correct on many levels.  There is not a formal scientific of cold beyond the absence of heat.  We have the word 'cold' as a convenience term to describe perceptually things which are not hot.  There also does not exist a definition of dark beyond the absence of light, but again we have it as a convenience term.  The problem really with the students argument does not arise until the last statements.

"You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure."  This is precisely the issue -- science exists to explain the natural world.  If something exists and interacts with the universe, it must be measurable, it must adhere to the laws of nature, and it must adhere to the rules of logic.  God cannot remain outside the realm of logic and still interact with the world.  Continuing on the subject, to say, "Science has never seen or understood a thought," is slightly inaccurate and somewhat fallacious.  As a start, science has measured the circumstances under which thoughts exist, has measured with some precision the means by which thoughts exist, has measured how thoughts act, and continues still to make leaps and bounds in understanding human cognition.  The premises are in place and the general ideas hold true.  The drawing is done -- it need only be filled in.  The students argument, misinformation aside, goes, "Science knows X, but not completely, therefore not X."  This is called the Perfect Solution Fallacy.  It rejects the scientific understanding of thought because it is incomplete, neglecting the explanatory and predictive powers of standing theory.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it.

Incorrect.  Life is defined biologically as maintaining homeostasis.  The opposite in this case would be ceasing homeostasis.  The absence of life would be nonexistence or death.  The argument is semantic and not supportive of the student's position overall.

Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)
Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

This portion is a series of common misconceptions.  Evolution does NOT state that humans evolved from monkeys -- rather that humans and apes had a common ancestor.  This is an essential differentiation and is supported by fossil evidence and, more recently, genetic evidence.  There's also an argument from a false premise: evolution HAS been observed.  Evolution is responsible for antibiotic resistance, the spread of lactose tolerance, and for making your children look like you.

(The class was in uproar.)
Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?
(The class broke out into laughter. )
Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?
(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)
Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.
Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

By the way, that student was EINSTEIN.

And the evil professor is defeated by the clever theist student, seemingly by means of his own weapons.  The last argument neglects that the professors brain can be seen with an FMRI, an X-Ray, or with neurosurgery.  It also neglects to differentiate between faith of the theological type and faith of the predictive type.  If I drop a ball, I expect it to fall to the ground.  (I have 'faith' it will fall down.)  Similarly, we know from information gathered in the past (not necessarily by ourselves) that people have brains and that these brains are the root of consciousness.  We predict based on evidence that this will continue to be the case and, quite importantly, will change our beliefs if a better theory comes along.

Also, the student wasn't Einstein.  Einstein was an atheist.

SomethingAwful is doing a bi-weekly game challenge. This week's theme is taking a song and turning it into a game. My game for this competition and the end of April deadline is finished. It's called, "Politically Correct", off the SR-71 album, "Now You See Inside."

I've never used Javascript to make a game before. It's different. Not entirely pleasant, but not as bad as I figured it would be, coming from a C/Java/Python background.

Controls: Use up and down to switch lines. 1-5 are line hotkeys. Type the words before they make it to the left side of the screen. It's like Typing of the Dead, but with bad words.

Link: Politically Correct: The Game

Status: Games 2/6 [On Track!]

Despite my numerous objections to and stated loathing of emotional impetus, I recognize that triggering an emotional response can be an effective means to initiate action.  Holding true that idea, I provide the following statement of purpose.

I will be excellent to those who are excellent to me.  I will be decent to everyone, even those who are not decent in return.  I will try to understand the qualms of those who oppose me, and will work to resolve conflicts with diplomacy rather than force of will.

I will work hard to achieve the goals I set for myself and the goals others have set for me.  I will not treat myself as the sole author of my victories, nor will I be the victim of my defeats.  My shortcomings are my fault alone and my successes belong to those who supported me.

I will be thankful of the compromises other people make for me.  I will not overvalue the compromises I make for others.

I will not whine over things that cannot be changed, but will be critical of those things that can.  I will critique in a way that is beneficial to the reader and will take every measure to avoid being purposelessly angry.

I will not let my failures haunt me, but will treat them as solemn referendums of the things I failed to accomplish.  I will heed them as advice on how not to proceed in the future.

I will finish what I start, and recognize when the journey is a means to an end, or an adventure in itself.

These rules are for me alone, and I expect none but myself to abide by them.

Traveled to San Francisco with a friend a few weeks back.  It was an odd trip, not unpleasant, but denigrated by its position in the middle of a hectic work week.  Sleep deprivation made the ordeal feel entirely unreal, and ten hours of driving left plenty of time to build rage.

The Golden Gate Bridge

It rained for the whole trip, unfortunately, and our collective lack of sleep made for some compromised immune systems on our return.  We attempted also to see the Exploratorium, but were hindered by a lack of parking.  I'm told that one should not bring a car.  Better to fly in and take the BART everywhere.

After the Exploratorium plans fizzled and our parking meter ran out, we made it a point to get lost.  We cut through backwoods houses for overly wealthy white people in an area that could have been called Deliverance County.  Eventually, we stumbled upon a redwood forest.

A bridge in the Redwood Forest

This was quite cool, despite our utter lack of preparation.  We had no umbrellas, nor had we rain gear or close toed shoes.  It was just an hour of wandering in the rain wearing flip-flops and hoodies.  We were soaked to the bone by the time we got back in the car, and I'm fairly certain we spent more time driving there and trying to park than we did walking, but so goes life.  2 hours of prep, 10 minutes of fun.  Worth it all the same.

Most of the early fun stuff is now completed.  I post here to enumerate the things that I think remain to be done.  This may have been accomplished with an older update, but this will still let me collect them for public consumption.

  • Respawning
  • Save Game
  • Inventory and Equip
  • Fun Augmentations/Items
  • More Enemies
  • More Levels

Let me speak also about something which is obnoxious to me.  I passed the game to two friends, one of whom had no problems.  The other ran the Jar and saw an issue with a file not found, presumably because his working directory was something like C:\My Documents.  I've seen this problem every time I write a game.  Not a difficult fix, but one of those little things I hate.  The solution is just to 'pack the build' when you release it.  That means copy everything into the Jar file or packing into the EXE.  Problem with this approach is that when users want to edit stuff, when your artist wants to change a tileset, or when your designer wants to fiddle with a level, you need the long explanation about unpacking and repacking.  Or you can just leave everything in the ./assets folder.  Which leads back to the first problem.