When does one no longer deserve to be called a “human being”?

Mehran Banaei

The most unpleasant part of my daily duties at work is when I have to attend a medical emergency at the gate when a flight arrives with a passenger on board in a critical condition. At airports, police and border officers are part of emergency responders who are required to attend the scene. My presence has the least priority among all who quickly show up. Thus, I stay out of the way and observe the situation. My involvement all depends on the outcome of the situation and what may transpire.

In my career, I have witnessed numerous situations where a passenger actually died during the flight or shortly after arrival. Usually witnessing this sad situation makes me psychologically dysfunctional for a few days.

The ubiquitous observation witnessed is that the paramedic team acts like a bunch of butterflies hovering over flower nectar. They are all over the patient trying to bring him/her back to life. One is engaged in CPR, another is measuring the vital signs, etc. Often every moment counts and could determine life or death. The paramedic team has no idea who the passenger is. What his or her religion, ethnicity or social status is, has no bearing. Yet, they act relentlessly like it is their own loved one before them. The efforts they make are indeed commendable. Their arduous actions are loud and clear, life is valuable and must be saved: “don’t you die on me”. Other secondary participants like me are staying aside observing with a grim look on our faces.

In many cases, the observer can tell the efforts of the medical team are not going too well, vital signs are dropping, and the patient is still unconscious and unresponsive. This is the moment that I always feel that to be a human is inadequate, and earnestly wish I was an angel with supernatural powers, could with the permission of the Divine heal and send off the revived person to his/her family. No doubt I am not the only one who feels that way. Who wouldn’t? It is the nature of human beings to help those who are in need, and we innately feel good when we do. That is indeed why many crooks and charlatans often con their victims by appeal to pity. Man is in essence noble with the potential to do evil. One can be a philanthropist, just as one could chose to be a con artist. Honourable or dishonourable actions are wilful choices that one makes.

The 13th century Persian poet and philosopher Saadi, has a famous saying which is inscribed at the entrance of the United Nations building in New York:

Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
The Unconcerned with Others’ Plight,
Are but Brutes with Human Face.

Saadi noted this trademark characteristic of human being so well, he continuously emphasized its importance through his poetry. But, was Saadi unable to see the dark side of human beings? That, we far from helping one another, often maliciously cause, contribute or capitalize on the misery of those who are in pain. There are other cases of reaction to emergency situations by different emergency responders that do the opposite. They severely injure a healthy and unarmed person, or as it is very prevailing in the United States and Israel nowadays, where the subject is instantly shot dead. The ambulance crew shows up last only to pick up the dead body. Contrary to the airport cases, here, their despicable actions demonstrates that human life has no value whatsoever. Race, ethnicity, or social status usually plays a major role. Taking life and putting the blame on the victim is the institutionalized state policy, so long as the officers involved can articulate the rationale behind their actions in accordance with the policy.

Saadi’s position on the interconnectivity of human community is clear. Collectively or individually, in uniform or out of uniform, if you are indifferent and have no sympathy for the pain and suffering of others, you are then unworthy to be called a human being. If we adopt his demarcation, what do we then call those who never show mercy, overwhelmed by hatred and greed who thrive on the misery of humanity, like the ethnic cleansers, the occupiers, the terrorists by profession disguised as good guys, the war mongers and war profiteers? All those who have no regard for the sanctity of life.

If one repeatedly acts in a cruel manner or lacks compassion and apathy, having a mere exterior of human form would not necessarily establish his or her humanity. No human carnage can be justified by “following orders” or “sanctioned UN resolutions”. No heartless inhumane behaviour, masquerading by international laws which results in the destruction of environment, properties and human life, can ever be legitimized as “collateral damage”.

 

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The Epidemic of Willful Ignorance

Mehran Banaei

It is reported that once a group of specialized promotional consultants from an advertising agency had just finished their presentation of a market survey to the board of governors of a client firm. The findings have appeared to be so conclusive, showing that the prior policies which were followed by the firm would only lead to unproductive and disappointment outcome. Despite the clear facts given during the presentation, the CEO of the client company had no desire to change the business strategy which had been previously implemented by him. At the meeting, he adamantly replied: “My mind is already made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” This is a classic textbook example of willful ignorance, when one is fully aware of existing facts or lack of them, yet refuses to accept the apparent conclusion. It is ignorance of the highest level, when a reckless wishful thinker assumes that facts start to vanish because they are ignored, or speculations and theories are true because one likes them to be.

This precarious attitude of ignoring facts and blind devotion to a cherished belief is notoriously prevailing in our society. Existing facts or lack of them seem to have no implications to many. Selfishness and vested interests often impair one’s judgments. Veteran journalist Ted Koppel during a recent interview with Fox News brought our attention to this predicament. He confronts his opinionated host that adherence to an ideology should not outweigh facts:

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Koppel was short of reminding his conniving host that one’s political convictions ought to be based on facts, otherwise why should any rational person adopt and be loyal to a baseless and fictitious ideology.

On the political scene, the United States political establishment prefers putting the blame for their socio-economic misfortune on Mexicans, Muslims and bogymen than ruthless capitalism, as though, over a century of U.S. imperial domination of the world has nothing to do with the subjugating nations resisting the U.S. military hegemony. “Make America great again!” is a myopic and flawed sloganistic ideology, arrogantly propagated to divert a nation’s attention from hideously insane and inane policies under the hidden agenda of the global elite.

In scientific discourse, evolutionary biologist: Richard Dawkins, the founder of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science launched a national campaign to promote atheism, an ideology which has nothing to do with science or reason. Dawkins abandons scientific objectivity and evidence-based ruling in favor of a preferred ideology. For months, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” appeared on UK buses.

Note “probably”. Indeed, since when has science started to operate on probability as the basis of its foundational principles? When did ever science or any other school of thought establish that the belief in a caused universe is sadomasochistic, inconvenient and at odds with the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of life? On the other hand, on what grounds has atheism foisted itself as being synonymous with the joy of life? The campaign makes it seem like one may perhaps win a lottery and live happily ever after, if one disbelieves in a caused universe. The Dawkins’ campaign aims to give the impression that an uncaused or self-created universe is a scientific fact. Anything otherwise is unscientific, resulting in unhappy life.

However, a closer analysis shows that a group of determined atheist academics are masquerading their personal opinion as science, and pretend that there are facts to support their assertions.

Society has become biased, unaccustomed to critical thinking, more fascinated by ambiguous ideologies than clarities, and less compliant to objective facts. This is certainly a disturbing trend, and it is clear to all those who are truly rational, and rely on evidence. But “probably” few will realize this.

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Have You Ever Wondered, ….

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Have you ever looked up at the starlit sky one night and wondered about the magnificent order in the Universe?

Perhaps you are a biologist and are struck by the remarkable complexity of even the smallest microbe.

Perhaps you are a farmer and are impressed by the harmony in nature.

Perhaps then, you might have wondered that given the amazing complexity of the structure of the universe, its laws and all that is within, that there sure must be a Creator who has put this master plan into effect.

Perhaps then, you too might be in submission to His laws.

Perhaps then, you might be a Muslim.

Warning: Please stop wondering any further, you are on the verge of being labeled a terrorist and deemed inadmissible to the United States of America.

 

 

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The Day My Parents Lied to Me: “Shame on Them”

Mehran Banaei

I must have been 3 or 4 years old. After half a century, the memory of that day is still vividly fresh in my mind with so many details. It was my mother who came to me the day before and told me that tomorrow is “take kids to work day”. With her innate caring charm, she asked if I would like to have fun by allowing my father to take me to his work. She got me excited and I replied “yes”, with so much enthusiasm.  My father was a civil engineer working on construction sites in the suburbs surrounded by natural beauties. I went to bed that night and looked forward to having fun the next day by running around in the prairie.

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In the morning, my mother dressed me up with nice clothes and made me wear clean underwear. She told me: “today your dad is working at the hospital.” I knew my father also had a second job in the local hospital in our home town. I was disappointed about not being able to be in nature, but still was excited about the opportunity to get out of the house.

On our way to his work, my father tried to explain his job, working as a radiologist at the department of Medical Imaging. It was my first trip to a hospital and I did not find anything exciting about the hospital environment. I recall, I spent the most of the day waiting in the waiting area full of sick people, or around the garden at the front entrance of the hospital smelling violets and daffodils. By mid-day I was getting restless and bored, told my father that I wanted to go home. My father then introduced me to a nurse colleague and said she can show me an operation room before heading home. The nurse holding my hand took me alone inside, straight to an operation room. She asked if I wanted to play the game of “doctor and patient” and I would be the patient being operated on. I agreed. She put me on the operation bed. The next thing I knew I was surround by a few doctors and nurses. I thought it was all a game, until a male doctor removed my pants and started to touch my private parts. Even at such an early age I recognized that to be ungentlemanly conduct, felt very uncomfortable being exposed and helpless. So, broke into tears. I remember too well another doctor with an unpersuasive smile put a black rubber on my nose and I quickly went into a deep sleep.

The next thing I recall, I woke up at home in my room, being slightly in pain, wearing a skirt with blood stains, surrounded with boxes of sweets and pastries, and couple of new toys at my bedside.

It took me a few more years to learn what happened to me that day was a simple medical procedure called circumcision, which all my peers have gone through. I do not recall either one of my parents ever lied to me again, not even a white lie. Despite that haunting experience, in my book, my parents never lost their credibility or my respect.

While growing up, for years I kept asking myself, why did my parents lie and set me up? Were they at fault? Would there not have been a better alternative than deception to handle what was coming to me? Foremost, how would I have reacted to any other possible approaches?

I suppose another option would have been for my parents to tell the truth at the outset and allow me to make that decision for myself, after all, as the civil libertarians advocate it is my penis. My father could have come to me saying: Son, Piaget the renowned Swiss developmental psychologist argues that you can handle the truth at any age. I see it in you, you will grow up to study philosophy and logic. You will be a man of reason and rationality. So, let’s talk man to man, let me give it to you straight: Your Mom and I are concerned about your hygiene. We are committed to prevent you from having penile problems, such as having a decreased risk of urinary tract infections. More so, when you grow up, we like you to have a decreased risk of sexually transmitted disease. We would like to avoid, you suffering from phimosis, which is an inflammation of the foreskin or head of the penis. Beware that the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis can be difficult or impossible to retract. By being more hygienic as such, this helps your future wife to reduce the risk of having cervical cancer.

Relax and do not confuse this simple medical procedure with a form of cruel barbaric genital mutilation or allow yourself to suffer from a Freudian notion of castration anxiety. The doctor involved is the best surgeon in this field. Trust him. He is going to cut just the top skin, not the whole thing.  It is recommended that this surgery to be done at an early age. I assure you that the idea is safe. It has been practiced for thousands of years by all Muslims, Jews and boys from certain aboriginal tribes in Africa and Australia. Despite what you may hear later from secularists and atheists, we are not trying to indoctrinate you or subjugate you to a cruel religious ritual. If you don’t believe me, I offer you a Popperian falsification, go head make my day, consult with the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP). I take it you understand everything. So what do you say, do you agree to a prepucectomy? If so, please sign the consent form after consulting this matter with your lawyer.

Regardless of how smart a kid may be, even a genius 3-year-old is still a 3-year-old child. In retrospect, when I think of it; my parents indeed handled this in the best possible way. They unconditionally served my best interest with no appeal to cruelty or indoctrination. The reason for their lie was to eliminate the fear factor for a 3-year old child. My experience was void of any imposed religious or cultural flavour. In fact, I would not have known what happened that day, if the medical team had acted more diligently, by putting me under anesthesia first before starting the operation. Far from child abuse, my parents’ actions were no different than when Western parents tell stories about the tooth fairy to a child who is about to lose a tooth. How is the former considered as indoctrination but the latter is not? Why is it that parents like mine must be “ashamed”, are accused of cruelty motivated by religious dogma, having indoctrinated their children like a cult leader?

From Hitchens point of view, circumcising a little boy is a “shameful” and “inhumane” act. However, Hitchens had no problem supporting the invasion of Iraq which resulted in the death of over 200,000 innocent Iraqis, most of whom were children. Is this not a case of hypocrisy, or perhaps a convoluted perspective on what is “humane” and “inhumane”? He blatantly ignores researched data which disagree with his position.

The other opponents of the practice of circumcision are the far right anti-immigrant groups in Europe and North America, who think in Rome, immigrants should only do what Romans do. They take an offence, if the penis of an immigrant does not look consimilar to theirs. Similar to opposing to Halal/Kosher dietary practices or observing dress codes, circumcision is also under attack. Its practice seems taken as a big threat to Western values, values which are supposedly built on Judo-Christian heritage, and loudly broadcast tolerance and pluralism.

Like atheists, this group is also arrogantly attacking the practice of circumcision under the pretence of intellectualism blended with a self-acclaimed superior sense of morality and concerns for children’s welfare. In reality, their campaign to demonize and ban circumcision is nothing short of racism and xenophobia.

What motivates me to write this article is because I am getting sick of seeing how secularists like Hitchens, Dawkins and Krauss elevate themselves intellectually and morally high by painting their opponents as being stupid and barbaric. The current anti-theist movement revolves around a campaign that we the atheists are rational, objective; believe in science, and the theists are barbaric and close-minded. For Nothingness sake, for the love of natural selection, in defense of atheistic view, at least say something rational, objective and scientific.

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Destitute and Displaced: It is all about Pilfering Natural Resources and Strategic Hegemony

Mehran Banaei

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A number of years ago my eyes were badly injured during a recreational soccer game. As a result of this injury, I was temporarily blinded for a few weeks. At the time, I had no idea if I could ever see again. Although this was a traumatic and frightening experience, it was not without its rewards. The whole ordeal was a lesson in blindness. It taught me how I took my vision for granted all along. It taught me empirically what it means to be deprived of one of the most precious senses. Above all, it taught me how easy it is for one to suddenly lose his vision. When I recovered, I began to cherish my eyes and used my sense of vision with a great deal of joy, care and appreciation.

Not long after this ordeal, I found the opportunity to work as a graduate intern at the UNHCR Head Office in Ankara, Turkey. I was responsible to interview asylum seekers and screen them according to the UNHCR’s refugee determination criteria.

This experience was similar to my eye injury, although it was very depressing, it was nonetheless very rewarding. It brought me close enough to witness the plight of those refugees who were in serious financial, psychological and even physical pain. The uniqueness of such an experience is the realization of the same ubiquitous reality that one witnesses night after night on the television screen, but this time perception of this reality is aided with more than one sense. The focus of this perception is on displaced people who are human beings like everyone of us with flesh, feelings and hopes, but are dehumanized by having been turned into file numbers. One of the most unforgettable incidents while I was there took place during an early morning interview. A middle-aged asylum seeker was just admitted to the office for his first interview. Although the man appeared healthy, he was under so much stress that as soon as he started to reveal his grounds for asylum he collapsed with a heart attack. He died in the office, right in front of the legal officer and an interpreter. I was told later that this was “nothing,” incidents such as someone burning himself in front of the UNHCR building or somebody throwing his sick child in front of a vehicle to relieve the child of the pain were common incidents there. The situation at the UNHCR camps was far worse than the Head Office.

My daily experiences were particularly depressing for a new employee who had to face the misery of destitute and then make a yes or no “moral” decision. Indeed, reading Locke, Hume, Hobbes, Kant and all other theoretical writings on ethics meant nothing when it came to a real life situation. It was striking to see that the permanent employees were very accustomed to this operational ennui. It frightened me to think that the same thing could have happened to me if I had stayed there a little longer. There, in the legal unit of the UNHCR, legal officers are involved in making decisions on the future of these applicants. They act like quality control inspectors on an assembly line filtering out unwanted goods. The irony in this process is that the needless determine the fate of the needy in accordance with ethical values which are relative and culturally biased. Being involved in this pedagogical process was indeed my greatest difficulty, especially when the system is known to be deficient from experiences elsewhere.

As one of the consequences of the U.S. rampant jingoistic military intervention in the Persian Gulf, the majority of the refugees coming into Turkey were Iraqis, who were fleeing the severe economic hardship imposed on them by Western economic embargos. The distinction between convention refugee and migrant worker is clear in the UNHCR Determination Handbook, and of course “the UNHCR does not act as travel agency” in population movements. Thus, those who do not fit the convention definition are doomed to be rejected. None of the asylum seekers get any benefit from the UN, unless they are first recognized as a convention refugee. The result is tantamount to a disappointing brush-off for a great number of those who seek asylum.

The standard and ubiquitous cliche: “we regret to inform you that …, thank you for your interest in UNHCR, we hope that you are successful elsewhere in your future objectives” appears in the only correspondence that a refugee receives from the UNHCR. Indirectly, the rejectees are treated as though they are guilty of committing an embarrassing crime like shoplifting or plagiarizing an essay, while their only “misdeed” is trying to provide better living conditions for their family. “You migrant worker, how dare you impersonate a convention refugee.” A “crime” that without any hesitation anyone of us would commit being in their position. Often both the needless and the needy are where they are due to an accident of birth and fate. The needless, seemingly immune from displacement, are indifferent to the needs of the needy. The needless never think that they too may easily become one of the needy, just as we hardly ever consider that we may lose our precious eyesight.

The rejectees often remain in Turkey illegally, hoping to reach their destination through smugglers. The smugglers, who can hardly be trusted, often prey ruthlessly on the vulnerability of these desperate people. They charge as much as U.S.$10,000 to provide them with a forged passport and an airline ticket. While in Turkey, if they are caught, they are subject to prosecution and deportation by the Turkish authorities.

As a result of this obviously faulty process, many NGOs and refugee rights advocates have campaigned for broadening the 1951 UN definition of a refugee. Although concerned for human rights, I personally never favoured the idea of keep changing the “outdated” definition of a convention refugee in order to accommodate the larger number of asylum seekers of 1990s and onwards. That is simply because we should always seek an optimal solution as opposed to a band-aid approach and false comfort. Therefore, we must handle any problems at the foundational level, to see what has caused the cracks in the structure in the first place. Thus, we ought to remove the sources which have generated the defects, rather than just dealing with symptoms. Furthermore, if we try to revise the 1951 definition of refugee in order to accommodate the current situation, then what are we going to do in the next few decades when the 1990s or 2010s definition is once again outdated? We have already tried this approach once in the 1960s through the added rights implementing by the 1967 Protocol and that soon after deemed to be insufficient.

Therefore, it seems that changing the definition every once in a while is far from being an optimal solution or a foundational approach. The curing solution does not lie in allowing more refugees to settle in the West. Our attention, if genuine, ought to be in eradicating the problem from its root, which is indeed viable if our priorities are just and correctly focused. For example, in the case of Iraqi refugees, if the UN enforced economic blockade against Iraq was never imposed, then many of these refugees whom I met in Turkey would not have abandoned their homeland, possessions, culture, way of life, family and beg for membership in a foreign and often hostile society. Why should Western powers punish Iraqi children by putting a ban on exportation of medicine and baby formula? The Iraqi refugees are the victims of the so-called “New World Order”, which evidently breathes disorder.

Three decades have passed; Turkey is once again a major gathering place of refugees from the Middle East. However, this time, they are not the downcast non-convention refugees who are escaping poverty. They are the genuine convention refugees, consisting of Syrians and Iraqis fleeing war zones, an internal war composed and conducted by Western powers.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen are the regional nations that one by one are being destroyed primarily for their natural resources or for their vital strategic location. The Middle East is deliberately destabilized by state sponsors of terrorism run by a bunch of well-groomed psychopathic warmongering criminals to ensure the survival of Israel and cheap oil shipped to the West.

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The democracy loving, human rights loving and freedom loving Neocons have turned the Middle East into an eerie graveyard where the masked scavengers feast. Destruction of properties, environment and human life, nothing seems to stop the perpetrators of these insidious crimes. The heartless imperialist strategy of divide and conquer in the form of “sectarian violence” is in effect to tear apart the Middle East, while cunningly pinpointing the collaborators of this tragedy as the people’s own “antiquated backward” religion. The crisis is painted to look like Arabs are victims of a domestic self-inflected misery. Seemingly, it has nothing to do with the dreadful Western intervention and piracy.

History attests that so long as the causative and interconnected factors for human displacement are left loose, the plight of refugees around the world will continue to persist. So long as there is profit in war and money is the be-all and end-all of human existence, there will never be peace on Earth. In essence, so long as Man refuses to humble himself and does not realize his unique place in the universe, there will always be wars and human misery. Surely, there is no other solution for our interrelated social ills.

Revised and expanded, a shorter version of this article was published in: Refuge, Vol. 13, No. 8, January 1994, pp. 25-26

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The Fallacy of “Supernatural”

Mehran Banaei

How many times have neo-atheists like Lawrence Krauss vociferously stated: “We [the scientists] don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans?” In an attempt to refute the notion of the First Cause, Krauss ubiquitously refers to the Big Bang Originator as a “supernatural shenanigan”, hoping to convince his audience that it is science which leads to disbelief in a caused universe.

Krauss is not the only atheist scientist who appeals to gimmicks to score his point. Like Richard Dawkins, he claims not to believe in “supernatural shenanigans” because he is a man of science. I suppose a man with a hidden agenda has no choice but to appeal to deceitful tricks, when he tries to promote an unscientific personal opinion disguised as a research based academic exposition. Indeed, it boggles the mind as to why would a scientist, if he were truly objective, inordinately adopt unscientific language to brag about what he does not believe?

The term “supernatural”, particularly when paired with “shenanigans” unconsciously conjures up the image of a mystical fairytale, magic or superstition. Whatever is labeled “supernatural”, connotes it being a relic of the past, an outdated pre-scientific thinking, sitting right next to the paranormal. A “supernatural being” sounds like a fictitious mythological character that does not exist, i.e. Zeus, Vishnu or Superman. By using such a term the neo-atheists are trying to make their opponents look like idiots before even the debate begins. Krauss is trying to shape the reader’s attitudes towards what caused the universe before he even presents his case, by implying that belief in “God” for lack of a better word is stupid, and the one who adopts such a belief is at the zenith of stupidity.

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An example of genuine supernatural shenanigan: the claim that one can levitate by meditation. Belief in the First Cause is put in the same category and then debunked by erroneous association.

Psychologically, people have a great aversion to being branded with terms that have a negative import. No one would wish to be stigmatized as having an antiquated belief. No one wants to have a negative title bestowed upon one, especially when it is often closely associated with some outlooks which indeed are primitive, superstitious, irrational or fanatical. This insidious attempt is deliberately used to disadvantage the other side at the very outset, by placing a negative label on them. This is nothing short of straw man labelization.

The strategy implies that whoever adopts a belief in “supernatural” is dogmatic. However, this type of stigmatization in essence, is a typical textbook case of cheap ad hominem attack and name calling, devoid of any substantiative arguments.

But, is the Entity which caused the universe supernatural? It all depends on the definition and our point of reference. Nothing is universally natural across the board. For instance, is it natural to be able to fly? For reptiles is not, for birds it certainly is. Is it natural to swim under water? For fish it is, for the cockroach it is not. Is it natural, to be uncaused, to be immortal outside of time and space dimensions, and not to have a face or physical body? For earthy beings it is not, but for the Big Bang Originator, the Creator of time and space it is. Who said that the Creator of the laws of physics must be subject to the laws of physics, and ought to be empirically verifiable? In fact, the Creator of the laws physics cannot be subject to them. That should be perfectly obvious to anyone with a modicum of logic. The Creator and creation cannot be of the same essence, not even close. One must be totally different than the other! How absurd to determine what is natural, unnatural or supernatural from a reductionistic self-centered point of view. Krauss ignores the limits of conceptualization of human understanding, and acts like he knows it all. For him what is universally natural, is what he perceives to be natural, anything outside of the limited realm of human perception is considered unnatural; therefore anything of such a unique attribute is categorized as nonsense. However, I guess revealing all of that information to the readers would have undercut Krauss’ attempt to dogmatize monotheistic theism.

Furthermore, note how Krauss subtly uses his academic status and the like-minded scientists to bolster the claim that God does not exist, even though the existence or non-existence of God falls completely outside the jurisdiction of science, the way modern scientists define science. This is a fallacy known as “Appeal to Authority” – we are supposed to believe the proposition just because someone who is supposedly an expert says so. However, it is Krauss the atheist, not Krauss the physicist who is stating his own opinion, and his personal opinion on God carries no more weight than the opinion of a hairstylist. Just as cutting hair in a barbershop does not lead to atheism, likewise working in a science lab does not lead to atheism. Surely, the opinion of another scientist could be diametrically at odds with his. Therefore, the appropriate thing for Kruss to say is that “We the atheists don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans”, to which a thoughtful theist could rightly reply: Big Deal! We, who acknowledge the universe is caused, don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans either.

But why should we be listening to Krauss? Do we know if he is trustworthy? Is he stating a fact, or merely his own slanted atheistic opinion? Indeed, why would a truly objective scientist assume that the universe is causeless, and degrade the theistic position as a “supernatural shenanigans”? If one is truly a man of science, then he does not need to appeal to these kind of cheap tricks. Atheists repeatedly use these tricks because they know well it is effective. The inappropriate usage of the term supernatural is now frequently picked up by the believers themselves to describe their faith.

If Krauss says that we the scientists don’t believe in the Uncaused cause, we believe that the universe is self-created, he would then have a hard time defending his position without looking dim-witted. For one, he is in no position to speak for all scientists. Prominent scientists, past and present like Isaac Newton, and all the Muslim scientists of the Golden Age who introduced science and scientific investigations to the Europeans, emphatically believed in the Uncaused cause. They openly believed in the existence of a Grand Designer.

Does Krauss the scientist believe in a rudimentary deductive logic and a priori reasoning? He should if he is truly objective. We now know that the universe had a beginning. Time, space, matter and energy suddenly came into existence from oblivious nonexistence. An Entity, call it God or what have you, must have triggered the creation of the universe. This God far from being “supernatural” the way it is suggested, is the Necessary Being, which is impossible not to exist. By Its nature, such a Being ought to be uncaused, singular, intelligent and powerful. His “Godly” nature is natural for what this Being is – as natural as water being wet.

What Krauss does not wish to acknowledge is that the alternative so-called “scientific” theories posed to refute the Uncaused cause seem more shenaniganic than any pre-historic religious dogma. For example, the multiverse theory operating on unguided automated natural selection, Dawkins’ postulation that complex organisms in nature are not designed, but have the illusion of design. Or Stephen Hawking’s assertion of chance hypothesis that the creation of the universe was “the ultimate free lunch”. All these are implausible loopy theories nicely packaged as scientific facts. The truth is the atheist scientists indeed believe in the ultimate supernatural shenanigan, they believe that out of “Nowhere”, for no reason, “Nothing” caused a massive explosion. Out of this explosion, everything somehow arranged itself in an orderly fashion, and then without any purpose a complex interrelated self-supporting web of life with an astonishing degree of diversity spontaneously came into existence. I suppose, atheist apologists feel they can believe and promote sheer nonsense, if it is labeled “science”.

Neo-atheists have hijacked science, turned it into a right-wing industry for manipulating public opinion, rather than appealing to objective rational judgments, and the sincere and noble pursuit of the truth. The industry’s whole aim is to market a peculiar Godless religion in order to make a fast buck. These atheist evangelists have made a lucrative career ironically revolving around the “nonsense” of what they themselves purport they could not have cared less about.

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“Dysteleology”: Bad Design or Argumentum Ad Absurdum?

Mehran Banaei

We live on a wonderful self-sufficient planet filled with endless beauty and bewildering complexity, complexity in interconnectivity of all elements involved in a life-sustaining system, complexity in structural design of each organism. The efficiency of nature`s superb design has been the focus of cutting-edge research and development in technology. Researchers look into nature for inspiration to come up with innovative hi-tech designs to be nature-like in conserving energy, cutting waste materials and to increase productivity. In fact, the entire universe is so intelligently designed that makes a humble person to spontaneously bow down to the Mastermind and the Power who put the universe together. Consider the complexity of single cell which develops to a fully functioning human body with hi-tech apparatus like eyes, heart, mind, etc. Can complexity, order, harmony and beauty arise from chance? Or, indeed it ought to be intelligently designed. Human experience firmly attests that systematic order cannot be caused by chance.

Yet, to deny the reality of a Caused universe, many atheists not only do not feel humble enough to acknowledge the beauty and intelligence behind the creation, they try so hard to find flaws in the system. They nag like a spoiled nit-picking child making excuses to have it his or her way; they stretch their imagination to find “defects” in this magnificent life-sustaining system. From their perspective the entire universe far from being impressive is ill-designed with no thought behind it, in particular when it comes to human anatomy. They have coined the term “dysteleology”, meaning living organisms have many weak features that make them suboptimal. Therefore, life cannot be a product of an Intelligent Designer.

The most common example cited is the pharynx, a single passage shared for three essential functions—the respiratory, digestive and communicative. To atheists no competent engineer would design such a “poor” system that could possibly make one to choke while simultaneously eating, talking and breathing through one single pipe.

Another example is our private part which concurrently used as the means to discharge bodily waste, as well as for sexual gratification and reproduction. To atheists we have “an entertainment complex built in the middle of a sewage system”. How awful!

Additional example given is that of our teeth, which is said to be “too many” for our jaws to accommodate, asserted that is why some people have crooked teeth. Or birth canal is too narrow to allow a safe passage for a newborn’s birth, endangering the life of the mother and her baby. These are all examples of presumed incompetence and dysfunctional design of the human anatomy. From these premises it is concluded the entire universe is uncaused.

Let’s assume they have a point. Are we now expected to overlook the marvel of DNA Double Helix structure comprised of chemical bases arranged in approximately 3 billion precise sequences, or the astonishing complexity of the human brain with 1.1 trillion cells and 100 billion neurons capable of conducting countless calculations, and adopt atheism? All because we use the same organ to have intercourse and urinate. Is this supposed to be an argument? Does the assertion made fall anywhere in the realm of science?

It seems that ironically, these examples are sufficient enough for the likes of Francisco Ayala to declare that I am a lousy defect, yet smart enough to figure out that there could be no Intelligent Designer for my being. Like Richard Dawkins, his attitude is that it is a bad design if one is going to conclude there is an Intelligent Designer involved, but it is a marvellous design if the credit is going to be given to evolution. Surely, he thinks evolution deserves the credit for his nut cracking cognitive capacity.

If the atheist scientists truly think scientifically, they would not then make such an embarrassing blunder. For instance, if all sewage systems could be turned into a popular entertainment center, would that not be an ultimate achievement in the preservation of environment, a triumph of the reduce, reuse, and recycle principle? To have a popular entertainment system in the middle of sewage is not at all a bad design; it is indeed an excellent design. Indubitably, there is a lot of talent and creativity involved behind such an operation which is simultaneously a sewage treatment plant as well as a fun theme park.

Multi-tools are not at a bad design. Consider a handy Swiss army knife or a popular iPhone. iPhone, one small gadget which is an audio and video communication device with radio, TV, camera, GPS, calculator, watch, note pad, calendar, books, photo album, and many more all in one. Is this a bad design?

Swiss Army Knife

iPhone

Atheists should put their money where their mouth is. These fellows are the smart scientists; they should enlighten us, and tell us what a better design for human anatomy is. Where is the best location, both internally and externally for a human genital to be? Is it better to have it on the forehead, center of the palm, chest, back of the neck, or perhaps on front of the neck where it could also be used as a permanent neck tie? How many openings should there be on human body to amend the aforementioned “deficiencies”? Viruses get into our system through mouth, nose and genital. Would additional openings not expose us to further risks, and diminish the beauty and symmetry of the human body?

Birth deaths have nothing to do with the diameter of birth canal as the canal has a great elasticity feature. This feature is common among all mammals. Are all mammals ill-designed? Is there a better alternative? Ayala may prefer to see expanded birth canal by 0.5 cm, have sex with a partner with an enlarged canal, and then tell us how satisfying that would be.

If indeed nature is a collection of poorly designed organisms, why researchers persistently look into nature for perfection and inspiration? The fact is the best sustainable designs that researchers ever came up with were directly plagiarized from nature. Some then have the nerve to act like nature is stupid and we, the plagiarizers are smarter than the plagiarizee.

Let’s examine the track record of what at the time was perceived to be the best manmade design produced by competent multi-discipline engineering teams.

The Titanic was designed to be unsinkable, but sunk on its first journey. The ship was in service only for five days.

The Concorde was at one point regarded by experts as an icon in aerospace engineering, but despite numerous costly upgrades the whole supersonic program was dismantled and declared to be a failure.

In January of 1986, the $5.5 billion NASA space shuttle Challenger, a marvel of human engineering, the most complex spacecraft ever designed exploded just 72 seconds into its flight. All seven crewmembers on board died instantly in an explosion in front of millions of television viewers around the world. The explosion was blamed in part on inadequate design of solid rocket boosters to function under unexpected freezing temperatures. After 10 successful missions, having travelled 42,000,000 km in space, the manufactures learned the inadequacy of their design in a tragic way.

The Challenger’s deficiencies were corrected in the spacecraft Columbia. Columbia had 28 successful missions, having travelled 202,000,000 km in space. Yet, once again in February 2003 at the end of its last mission, the world was stunned to view another disaster due to an unforeseen technological failure. As one expert put it, these accidents were planned by human hands at the moment of the project’s conception. We like to think we got all the variables involved, identified and tamed. Evidently we are unable to.

There are indeed countless examples of blunder in human engineering design. In fact, there is not a day that goes by, that the manufacturers of certain product in a variety of different industries do not recall a product due to a flawed design. There are countless court cases of class action lawsuits filed against manufactures of bad designs by consumers.

The point here is with such a track record, mankind is not qualified to declare what appropriate or inappropriate anatomical design is. The above examples confirm the nature of limited human knowledge. Man can never know the totality of reality, and must not be ashamed of its limitation. The problem occurs when he refuses to accept this and acts like he knows all there is to know, when he plays God. This arrogant attitude is well manifested in the bold claims that atheists so frequently make here and there and follow upon that which they are not certain of. Without pondering on what justifiable criteria should we be using to deem a multi-functional apparatus a defect or suboptimal. What criteria do we use to deem an alternative design a better design? What constitutes a “better” anatomical design? Having eyes at the back of the head, being able to swim under the water and fly like a bird, with life expectancy of 1000 years maintenance-free?

German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz believed God has created the best of all possible worlds, whether it is optimal or suboptimal world is a different matter. But regardless of how one comes to evaluate the degree of optimality, even a suboptimal design is still a design. The universe relentlessly displays evidence that it is designed by an Entity with power and intelligence. This is an unchangeable fact whether one likes it or not.

Moreover, in order to answer the question of what is optimal or not, one has to know the purpose of a thing. If the purpose or goal is uncertain, then one cannot determine if a thing is optimal. Could it not be that the universe itself is optimally designed for a purpose – the purpose being who regards it as optimal, and who arrogantly refuses to acknowledge its intended purpose and design: a test to see who falls into the dysteleological trap?

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