Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God debate in Malayalam - II

(Part 1 and Part 2 of debate)

Rahul Eashwar keeps saying that Richard Dawkins uses the words 'Intelligent Design' although he never reads out a full sentence in which he does so although he is repeatedly asked to do so. If you searched on Google for 'Dawkins Intelligent Design' you will find thousands of hits. You will find plenty of hits on YouTube too. Nowhere will you find him even remotely defending the commonly held idea of ID.

The most famous argument for ID was given by William Paley who said that if you find a watch lying in your path, you will think that there is a watchmaker so Creation should have a Creator. Dawkins wrote a whole book, The Blind Watchmaker to explain how blind natural processes create the illusion of design. In this talk, Dan Dennett says that Natural Selection is 'a strange inversion of reasoning' which gives rise to 'competance without comprehension'. In his book, Dawkins writes:
There is no reason to think that the laws of physics are violated in living matter. There is nothing supernatural, no 'life force' to rival the fundamental forces of physics. It is just that if you try to use the laws of physics, in a naive way, to understand the behavior of a whole living body, you will find that you don't get very far. The body is a complex thing with many constituent parts, and to understand its  behavior you must apply the laws of physics to its parts, not to the whole. The behavior of the body as a whole will then emerge as a consequence of interactions of the parts. 
In this video where Dawkins talks of taking back the words 'Intelligent Design' from religion (which presumably is one of  the videos that Rahul Easwar was referring to) ,  he warns at the outset of being wary of quote mining It is a type of lying in print in which people are quoted in part and out of context to show that they  actually have different views. It is a  favourite tactic of creationists to show that evolutionists actually support their view as shown by the Quote-mine Project. A well-known example is of creationists quoting Darwin's statement on the eye in Chapter 6 of On the Origin of Species:
To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.
But they never quote what he goes on to say in the rest of the paragraph. Nature is full of Rube Goldberg machines sculpted by evolution tracking changes in local conditions over Millena. If there was a Designer, he doesn't appear to be very intelligent. Bertrand Russell said, “Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.” People who accept ID easily fall for the Deepak Chopra brand of arguments. Bertrand Russell was once asked what his reply would be if he met god and was asked why he didn't believe. He replied that he would say, "God,  you didn't give enough evidence." Similarly Rahul Eashwar doesn't give me enough evidence to change my views.

Kerala is reputed to be  the most literate state in India but going by the  proliferation of superstitious beliefs and the ease with  which godmen fleece  people, the evidence seems to be lacking. As Lawrence Krauss says, “The purpose of education is not to validate ignorance, but to overcome it”.  People who are intelligent and rational in all walks of life suddenly suspend their critical faculties when it comes to religion. I have often heard extremely religious people hum a hit Malayalam humanitarian song with obvious relish although their views will be exactly opposite to what the song says. It is like me enjoying a favourite Malayalam song even though I don't know many words in it. The difference is that those people know Malayalam a lot better than me.

Religion asks to be mocked. As Stephen Hawking said 'heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark'. Even moderately religious people say that god-soaked people tend to think that their god  will take care of them and other people don't count. But then they don't take the next step and say that religion is highly over-rated. It has to do with the social climate where even unbelievers are reluctant to proclaim their unbelief. The Internet helps to make them realise that there are plenty of people with similar doubts.

What really irritates me is the blatant hypocrisy displayed by many god-soaked denizens . For eg., they will boast about having donated thousands for some temple function. They will characterize it as a good deed and strut about like vain peacocks. But if a servant or a driver approaches the same people for a raise of a couple of hundred rupees, they will be reluctant and shop around for cheaper labour. It is a mind-set that I detest.

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