Favourite Quotations from the Anti-Christ

friedrich-nietzsche

I recently finished reading Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ, and my, oh-my, was it a great book! Granted, I only understood about half the book, and to top that embarrassment of,  had to look at the dictionary for half the words he used (thank god — sic — Kindle has a built-in dictionary), yet it was still a riveting read. I can’t remember the last time an atheist’s words were this memorable, beautiful, and powerful. Let me tell you, Nietzsche can throw a verbal barrage unlike no one I’ve ever read before. Below are some of my favourite quotes from the book in order:

1 – “The histories of saints present the most dubious variety of literature in existence; to examine them by the scientific method, in the entire absence of corroborative documents, seems to me to condemn the whole inquiry from the start – it is simply learned idling.

2 – “The ‘salvation of the soul’ in plain English: the world revolves around me.”

3 – “If any one were to show us this Christian God, we’d be still less inclined to believe in him.”

4 – “Such a religion as Christianity, which does not touch reality at a single point and which goes to pieces the moment reality asserts its rights at any point, must be inevitably the deadly enemy of the “wisdom of the world,” which is to say, of science — and it will give the name of good to whatever means serves to poison, calumniate and cry down all intellectual discipline, all lucidity and strictness in matters of intellectual conscience, and all noble coolness and freedom of mind.”

5 – “Man has had to fight for every atom of the truth, and has had to pay for it almost everything that the heart, that humans love, that human trust cling to.”

6 – “The fact that faith, under certain circumstances, may work for blessedness, but that this blessedness produced by an idee fixe by no means makes the idea itself true, and the fact that faith actually moves no mountains, but instead raises them up where there were none before: all this is made sufficiently clear by a walk through a mental asylum.”

7 – “Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity.”

8 – “Faith means the will to avoid knowing what is true.”

9 – “I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian church the most terrible of all accusations that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. It is, to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruptions; it seeks to work the ultimate corruption, the worst possible corruption. The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseness of soul.”

What’s your favourite quote? I can’t decide between 4 and 8.

The Three Choices of Creation

creation

Out there on the interwebs, there is a war going on for the soul of something, and it is known as the fine-tuning argument. It’s essentially an argument that stipulates that the constants that govern the Universe as we know it were fine-tuned by an external creator to allow intelligent life—as are we—to flourish. If any one of these constants were changed just a smidgen, then life (as we know it) couldn’t exist.

There are three ways to look at this:

1. There is an external designer (God) who fine-tuned these constants to allow for our existence
2. It was sheer, blind luck that our universe had these constants and not some others—assuming that is, they could be anything else
3. These values are what they are because we live in a multiverse in which all possible values of the constants are instantiated and we find ourselves here simply because here is one of the few places we can be (the weak antropic principle)

(1) is obviously what the religiously inclined would choose. (3) is what many scientists and the scientifically inclined would choose, though of course, not all. There are many debates and discussions out there taking sides, giving evidence and reasoning for this and that, but I see very few people discussing (2). So I want to get some skin into the game, but with a different angle—I’m sure there are others out there who do see it this way. I just haven’t found them. The internet is a big place, or so I’ve been told.

Lets assume (1) to be true. How could we ever rule out (2)? The answer is, as far as I can tell, you cannot. Sure, we could say if we received a sign, we’d be sure: one night, we see the stars rearrange to spell the words “I Am That I Am”, or a book is beamed down from the heavens that explicitly details the spookiness of quantum entanglement or some such equally advanced knowledge we have not arrived at. But then, we couldn’t rule out an advanced alien species playing a practical joke on us, or giving us advanced physics we are not yet aware of, so we’re back at square one. There is no way to definitively rule out chance—or aliens. Theologians often make this statement against scientists (they call it scientism), insinuating that we can never be sure of what our scientific theories tell us, and in the next breath invoking God (the irony is lost on them).

Now, lets assume (3) to be true. How do you rule out (2)? The answer is, you don’t need to. It is part and parcel of the same package. Essentially both are down to chance. We might not might be able to say definitively we live in a singular universe or multiverse—although there are ways we might get observational proof of a multiverse. But we should be able to say with confidence that (1) could, in principle, be ruled out definitively and either (2) or (3) be true without fear of going awry.

One way or the other, something has to be infinite and eternal into the past. Either God or some other entity for (1) to hold true or the universe/multiverse of (2)/(3). The latter two have one less assumption (being that the wider reality of which we may be a part of has no complicated attributes; such as intelligence, creativity, and/or emotion that God is seemingly endowed with. We don’t need to explain why that wider reality, if indeed it exists, is simple, non-material, and non-sentient, though we would if a God was involved). Anyone else have an opinion? To me, this seems too easy. I feel like I’m missing something.

Did God Have a Choice?

A somewhat amusing philosophical problem has popped into my brain, and I wish to explore it in this post. Amusing to me at least, whether it has occurred to others, I’m not sure because I haven’t finished reading the internet (one day, I might), but I’ll jump right into it. The physics of today points (not proves!) to a multi-verse. That is, if ever it is experimentally verified, our universe will not be the only universe that exists, but rather just one amongst an infinite number of universes. In essence, the copernican principle at its grandest scale. This theory, which goes by a few names; string theory and M-theory to name a few, is accounted for in some of our mathematical descriptions of the universe, and we maybe on the verge of paradigm-busting physical evidence to prove it. Now when I say accounted for, what I mean is that it is a logical extrapolation of theories that accurately describe the universe we are in. (The BBC’s “What Happened Before the Big Bang” is an easily digestible primer on this, or this TED talk by physicist Brian C. Greene). Again though, the multiverse is a logical extrapolation of these theories, so when you hear people saying scientists invented the multiverse theory to do away with God, they are mistaken. The multiverse is a prediction of a theory that set out to answer questions about our own universe.

Continue reading “Did God Have a Choice?”

Immortality and Life’s Purpose

I’ve been recently reading and watching the works of futurists Ray Kurzweil and Jason Silva, and I am ecstatic about their optimistic predictions for the human race in the coming decades. I’ve also been coming across the claims of their detractors, and I want to highlight the most consistent statement made in response to the prediction that life will become indefinite as a result of advancements in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology in the coming decades; that people’s finite lives give meaning to their existence, and thus, immortality would rob us of the urgency of purposeful living. An existential crisis, in reverse if you will…

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God, Belief, and the Universe, in Context

Over the years, I have often debated on the nature of God and against religion. Over time, my arguments have become more refined (in a roundabout way), but today, a new thought popped into my head. In all my back-and-forth’s (which I’ve finally realized is futile, because people believe what they want, not what is true), I’ve always made my argument in a lack of context. The result being the sabotage of my argument, first by its lack of context, but further still, in its complexity.

Right off the bat, any argument instigated in such a way is crippled. So from now on, if I ever get into such a personal debate again (which I’m thinking not too), it will go something like this:

Since nothing can ever be thought of as certain, even in science, specifically quantum mechanics, which at its foundation, precludes absolute certainty (the highest is 99.9999…%), therefore, we are forced to deal with varying probabilities of certainty, and should tackle the question of God in such a way. So with that being said, and in light of my earlier contextual ambiguities and unnecessary complexity, I have boiled it down to these two questions:

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On Debating Non-Debatable Subjects: God, Creation, and Religion

creation

Last week, among a gathering of friends, we ended up debating for many hours, the subject of creation, religion, and god. It was a lively discussion to say the least, and one I was ill-equipped for, after drinking 10 glasses of wine, and on many occasions, found it difficult to articulate my proper thoughts, much as I imagine, did many of my friends. One rather large mistake we made, was not stipulating a suitable foundation to base our friendly discussion upon, which led to us going around in circles for far too long, as well as relying, far too much on our inter-cranial intuitions, thinking that because we can think certain things, that they must then be granted validity of truth, even in the face of objectivity and even when experimentation says that is not the case. But I want to express what foundation is required for this kind of discussion in order for it to be relevant, to others, as well as any future discussions I get into on the subject, and, somewhat selfishly, articulate my proper thoughts from last night.

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Wouldn’t Heaven be Boring? [Random Rationality Chapter]

Heaven

[Free Chapter]

Lets pretend that the Abrahamic god does exist, and that depending upon your Earthly actions, you will be met with a heavenly eternity, or perhaps a fiery one, like myself and perhaps even those 93% of scientists who selfishly work to improve the human quality of life developing new medicines, knowledge and insights into the Universe expanding the tools we have at our disposal.

You lead a good life, you help the poor, you follow the 613 commandments and so on; and upon your Fortunate death you are received at the pearly gates.

How will you spend your first year in heaven? Re-connecting with loved ones perhaps.

How about your first decade? Long walks on cloud 9 picking the brains of Jesus, Abraham, Mohammed, Einstein, Elvis, and perhaps even the big G himself, exploring the vast sanctum of his infinite knowledge using the heavenly version of our own big G; Google.

God = Google? I’m just throwing it out there and seeing what sticks.

How about the first century? Trying all the experiences you were too scared to do while you were a lowly mortal, only to find out the thrill is gone now that Death no longer lingers close by.

What about the next thousand years, and the million after? And then the trillion after that, and the next 10 trillion years after your first big T party? Now what?

I guarantee you one day, you’re going to want to not be there. What could possibly make eternity fun?

If you have ever eaten more than 5 chocolate bars in a row, then you probably know what heaven will feel like it. The first one tastes amazing; by the second your taste buds are a bit desensitized, but it still tastes good, ditto with the third and fourth, until you finally try on a 5th one for size, and it tastes like nothing, just a bland paste while your mouth goes through the motions.

We all had this feeling as kids, and perhaps as teens for the sweeter toothed among us, and even now for myself. But take that feeling, multiply it by a really large number and you’ll get a taste about how boring heaven would eventually get. One day, it will be no different from death.

Does the eternal darkness seem so scary now?

This is chapter 4 from my eBook Random Rationality: A Rational Guide to an Irrational World available on Kindle and Paperback.