Tag Archives: Atheism

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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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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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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Can “Science” legitimately Dismiss “Non-science”?

Mehran Banaei

For years the Greek philosophers in ancient Greece were debating which part of our daily food actually feeds us and turns into energy, and which part is useless and purged after digestion. To end the debate, one Greek intellectual came up with the assertion that the part that feeds us is “the nutritious faculty of the food.” His seemingly fancy assertion was an interesting explanation, but it did not offer anything new. The subsequent question which immediately comes to mind is: which part of the food we eat is “the nutritious faculty of the food.” What was proposed only begged the question. The offered explanation is tautological. It is like saying, the part that feeds us, is the part that feeds us.

If you think perhaps this was the characteristic of scientific inquiry in ancient time, not of the modern era on more vital issues, you are mistaken. This approach is still prevailing today in scientific inquires. Consider the following case:

From the early dawn of civilization, the oldest existential question ever asked by Mankind is that why is there ‘something’ rather than ‘nothing’. Some consider this basic question philosophical, others think it is scientific, a few think it is inherently theological. The fact of the matter is, this is a simple commonsensical question, naturally occupying Man’s mind worthy of serious inquiry. Indeed, why is there ‘something’ when there could be ‘nothing’? The ‘something’ refers to an entire universe with bewildering complexity intelligently fine-tuned where the earth and the whole of mankind is only an insignificant speck of dust in the grand scheme of creation. A delicate sequential creation which gradually evolved from the moment of inception of time, space, matter and energy to the present state of nature. Indeed, what is the underlying cause of the universe’s marvelous rhythms and regularities?

Each group has proposed a solution for this deep-seated enigma. However, the solution offered by the scientists is continuously nothing short of begging the question. Indeed, from physicists, cosmologists to biologists, their explanation of why is there ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’ is anything, but satisfactory. The theologians and philosophers who attribute creation to an anthropomorphic cause are not in a better predicament.

Some ardent scientists would like us to think that they have unlocked the secrets of the universe and have totally eliminated the role of the First Cause or the Prime Mover. The creation of the universe is attributed to existence of gravity, quantum particles, Higgs boson, laws of physics, natural selection and so on. Some scientists attack ancient fairytales, yet propose modern fairytales like “multiverse”, or to say the least push a weak theory as though it is an established fact.

Like the above-mentioned ancient Greek thinker, these scientists do not seem to understand this rudimentary question too well and clearly have nothing to offer. Stephen Hawking for example states that “One cannot prove that God does not exist, but science makes God unnecessary… The laws of physics can explain the universe without the need for a Creator.” Really! Indeed, what an incredibly petulant and tautological argument coming from an eminent scientist! Similar to Richard Dawkins who asserts that natural selection did it, Hawkins reductionistic solution is that gravity did it all. In his revolutionary contribution, Hawking takes the liberty to avoid elaborating, I suppose from his perspective, on a minor issue: where did the laws of physics come from? Once again we see another scientist who looks for the cause of the universe within the already created universe. More so, he neglects to explain why the universe is programmed to gravitate. Is gravity self-created? How is it that gravity is acting up with an intended goal?

drawing-hands-by-escherThe drawer of this drawing is not in the drawing, likewise the cause of the universe cannot be within the universe

In answering the question, why is there ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’, any proposed mechanism for what caused the universe and how it came to be is still an invalid remedy. For one would still ask why is there, for example gravity, where there could be no gravity. Where did the precise required laws of physics come from? Why is there natural selection as opposed to unnatural rejection? Their utter inability to tackle this and other similar questions have forced them to declare that all “Why” questions are silly questions unworthy of pursuit. To cover up the irrationality of their position and to silence their critic, they do their best to belittle philosophy. Ironically, in so doing, they give philosophical arguments to elevate science above philosophy.

The reason for the inability of science to answer this fundamental question emanates from the fact that existential questions are not at all scientific questions, the way empirical science defines itself, i.e. the process of observation, experimentation, quantification, falsification, prediction and empirical verification. Thereby, any proposed explanation offered by any scientist is unscientific and a matter of personal opinion, particularly when such a scientist steps into realm of non-science and metaphysics such as the debate on if there is or there is not a “God”. In this regard, an opinion of a scientist is no more valuable than an opinion of a chef or an auto mechanic. Is there any relationship between the validity of an opinion on metaphysics with what the person who expresses it does for living? What is the connection between cooking and the proclamation that there is, or there is not a God? Absolutely nothing. Likewise, what is the connection between science and atheism? If all the chefs in the world claim to be atheists, does this make the idea of God and cooking mutually exclusive, incompatible with one another? Scientists like Dawkins and Krauss have built a career outside of their respective field and would like us to think that their opinion on why there is ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’ is more valuable than the opinion of the community of auto mechanics or chefs. Undoubtedly, their opinion is not the only possible explanation, or the best explanation.

These evangelical atheists have hijacked science and conveniently use their authority in biology and physics to give Fatwa in an area that they have no expertise in, i.e. there is no God. There is nothing scientific about the proclamation that there is no God. Where is the scientific objectivity here? No one would take these two scientists seriously if they ever give a Fatwa on economic matters, since neither one knows anything about economy. So why would anyone think that they their atheism is anything more than their personal opinion emanating from their inner desires and agenda?

Atheist scientists claim that they go where the evidence leads them. While there is plenty of evidence against religious dogmatism, there is nothing via science to conclude atheism. They project their own subjective opinion on non-existence of a Creator as though it is a fact of logic derived from science, while paint the belief on the First Cause as though it is fact of psychology derived from gullibility and insecure emotions, like it cannot be the other way around.

The modern scientists can have a better understanding of the universe if they do not narrowly compartmentalize human knowledge into science and non-science, and not easily dismiss anything, which cannot be subject of empirical verification. Existence of the First Cause does not require empirical verification in a science lab. For lovers of the truth, the ultimate criteria should be the usage of reason in its fullest sense and the overarching law of non-contradiction, to examine all claims, be they deductive or inductive in order to assess the possibility of existence or non-existence of anything.

 

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Human Disparities: Who is to blame, “God” or Man?

Mehran Banaei

In March of 1993, unknown South African photojournalist Kevin Carter, while covering the famine in southern Sudan took a photo of a dreadful reality which made the world weep. The infamous photo is of a hooded vulture preying upon an emaciated starving Sudanese toddler near the devastated village of Ayod. The dying child was crawling toward the UN feeding center for help. By his own admission, Carter waited about 20 minutes, hoping that the vulture would spread its wings and make a move on the child. It did not, Carter snapped the haunting photograph, chased the vulture away, then left the scene. At the time, the parents of the little girl were busy collecting food brought over by the same UN plane that Carter took to Ayod.

The photograph was soon after sold to the New York Times where it appeared for the first time on 26th of March 1993 as “metaphor for Africa’s despair”. The photo immediately re-appeared in many other newspapers around the world. It is reported that overnight thousands of people contacted the New York Times to inquire whether the child had survived or not, leading the newspaper to run an unusual special editor’s note saying the girl had enough strength to walk away from the vulture, but her ultimate fate was unknown. Journalists in Sudan were told not to touch the famine victims, because of the risk of transmitting disease.

kevin-carter-vultureCarter eventually won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for this iconic photo, but could not enjoy the prize and the overnight fame earned for what he captured in his photo. Carter also faced harsh criticism for not helping the abandoned little girl, but rather heartlessly concentrating on taking an ideal picture for his self-interest. In the wild, many animals such as buffalos do risk their life to save their own kind when attacked by predators. Elephants and monkeys are known to help their young ones in trouble. Should less be expected of humans? What were this man’s priorities, to remain unhelpful being only a few feet away from his fellow human child in misery? “The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene,” as one critic blatantly put it. “I’m really, really sorry I did not pick the child up,” he confessed to a friend. A year later, consumed with the violence he witnessed during his career, and haunted by the questions as to the little girl’s fate, he committed suicide. On July 27th of 1994 Kevin drove away to Parkmore, a suburb of Johannesburg, taped one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe, running the other end to the driver’s side window. He tragically ended his own life at the age of 33 by carbon monoxide poisoning. In a note he left in his car he said: “…. the pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist.”

The legacy of Kevin Carter’s revealing iconic photo is that he resiliently rejuvenated the centuries old philosophical discourse on the so-called “problem of evil”. How could the good loving God allow this innocent child to suffer and be eaten by a bird of prey? Why did God not intervene to save her? Why would He allow a young professional photographer be overwhelmed by depression for impartially doing his job?

Many theists have become convinced of atheism based on the fact that bad things regularly do happen to good people. Particularly, when their prayers for help seemed unanswered. I acknowledge that this is a very emotionally charged issue, and people’s experiences of pain and suffering are real, and often long lasting. I too have deeply entertained these questions in my mind and heart. Yet, I did not allow my frustration, subjectivism and lack of sufficient knowledge to blur my vision, at least not for long.

Pain and suffering are not unique to humans, in nature every species experiences pain, be that nature created for a purpose, or uncreated with no purpose and goal. This is exactly what maintains the balance of nature, and ecology at check.

Thus, why should pain and suffering pose a problem only for the theists, but not for the devotees of natural selection? If there is no First Cause, the issue of the “problem of evil” is still on the table, for natural selection has to explain why among all options it favours the strong and allows the weak to vanish. Why it allows innocent children to suffer, i.e. be born with genetic birth defects, etc. In fact, the “problem of evil” is more problematic in the materialistic ideology than in the theistic, since a believer in the Divine is aware that his belief in the Almighty does not give one special immunity from life’s usual ups and downs and one will be tested by the Divine in one way or another. Nor does being good 24/7 shield one from natural disasters and sickness; a believer is required to be steadfast and mindful of the Hereafter. Yet, in a naturalistic world suffering makes no sense, particularly in absence of the Hereafter an atheist has nothing to console with in a temporal earthly life.

Let’s analyze Carter’s powerful picture and see what it really tells and tells not.

One cannot even for a second blame the Divine for this child’s death or circumstances leading to her death. To depreciatively ask “where is God” when adversities such as famine strikes is a false comfort to cover up the most pivotal question which ought to be asked: Where is Man? We presuppose that in the state of existence, it is the Divine who is on trial not man, and the Divine is subject of Man’s judgment for approval. Further, there is an underlying assumption that man has no individual and collective responsibilities while freely walking on this planet.

Calamites are either natural or manmade. Civil wars, population displacement and food scarcities are manmade phenomena. We assume that deviation from natural laws has no socio-environmental consequences and are indifferent to concomitant effects of interrupting the inherent balance of nature which lead to famine. Centuries of hegemonic socio-economic policies, unjust trade rules and mismanagements have devastating tolls that are gradually surfacing: drought, global warming, hurricanes, etc. Man is often a victim of his own transgression, individually or collectively. We wipe out an entire rainforest to use the land for cattle farming as though the forest is there merely as a decorative functionless item. The hell with all other “redundant low-cast” species that are destroyed, we are the chosen species, and certain elite groups within the chosen species are the chosen-class that must rule the world. Nature must be subservient to the elite. Over 80% of world’s resources are being consumed by less than 20% of world’s population in the Northern hemisphere at the expense of all other human and non-human cohabitants of this shared planet. Even so, still all earth’s renewable resources seem not enough to satisfy their never ending insatiable appetite.

GoldDiggersMan is the only species with responsibilities and freewill. And when he exercises his freewill the possibilities can be endless. The course of reckless action taken may result in destruction of life, properties and natural environment. Nevertheless, as one engages in act of senseless destruction, others have the obligation to stop him and prevent the annihilation. Sadly, the world often turns a blind eye to atrocities and genocide committed by a single man or by one nation to another, leading to tragedies, one after another. And when calamity strikes, many stand facing sky blaming the Divine. We live in the universe of cause and effect, everything in this universe obeys this law and nothing can deviate for this principle. When natural laws and basic manmade social laws are tampered with, what kind of logic dictates that the Originator of the universe ought to intervene like the Superman, particularly when despite all early warnings signs, the optimally balanced natural laws set in motion, as well as the rudimentary moral laws and justice are arrogantly violated?

The confused and disillusioned atheist philosophers selectively focus on the “problem of evil” to argue that there can be no “God”. Their anthropomorphic concept of “God” in this context resembles more like a celestial Superman, Santa Claus or Genie leading to ill-conceived expectations and conclusions. Even, if there is any validity in their line of reasoning, then they should not be ignoring the existence of good, which causes the “problem of the good” for the atheists. The atheists totally miss that according to their own logic the overwhelming existence of good, love and pleasure ought to lead them to the opposite conclusion. For example, the existence of countless healthy, happy, well-fed growing children demonstrates that there is a Merciful Divine.

Children in Central African RepublicIt is puzzling that one keeps on insisting that the universe is uncreated or self-created because of pain and suffering, while our experiences of joy, laughter, love, beauty outweights pain and suffering. Where is consistency and fairness in this assessment? Clear thinking should indeed lead everyone to the opposite conclusion made by Kevin Carter that “…. the joy of life truly overrides the pain to the point that pain does not exist.”

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Dawkins and Tzu: Different Sides of the Same Coin

Mehran Banaei

The famous Chinese Taoist Master Chuang Tzu once dreamed that he was a butterfly fluttering around colourful flowers. While dreaming, his dream appeared so real to him, void of any awareness of his humanhood and his own individuality. In the dream, the entire world was just a garden and he was a tiny butterfly in that garden. In the middle of the dream, Tzu suddenly woke up and found himself laying in bed, being once again a human. Tzu was perplexed by this dream and questioned his own existence: “Was I before a man who dreamed about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?”

This anecdote is the naissance of philosophical skepticism spread from ancient time to modern era, advocated by Western thinkers like David Hume further giving rise to radical skepticism in philosophy and science where it is legitimate to pathologically doubt the most obvious notions.

For an honest thinking individual, the possibility of anyone actually being a butterfly, dreaming to be a human being is so ridiculously absurd, not worthy of serious discussion, let alone up for philosophical analysis. While between a man and a butterfly indisputably, there is a necessary and well-defined distinction, surprisingly for some, between reality and illusion there seems to be no distinction.

Consider skepticism offered by atheists against arguments for the Caused universe and fine-tuning. Lawrence Krauss postulates that the universe was created on its own from “nothing”. Richard Dawkins, argues that in this self-created universe what appears to be complex biological design is only an illusion of design. For ardent Darwinian atheists, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, flies like a duck, and even tastes like a duck, one cannot still accept that that it is a duck. Over three millennium have passed and these two distinguished scientists are so engulfed in pathological skepticism, that are seemingly like Tzu paralyzed to discern between dream and reality. Dawkins severely suffers from Tzu syndrome unable to tell apart an intelligently designed organism with its sustaining orderly system from mere illusion, in determination of which one is really which.

The two have managed to influence a great number of people. Yet, they do not realize, that firstly an explanation of an alternative theory is not a proof to validate the theory. Secondly, pathological skepticism is not a rational argument and cannot refute what it intends to refute. Such proposals are result of a deliberate effort to create confusion and cast doubt on the obvious and self-evident Truth. Radical skeptics in science often promote the existence of farfetched possibilities that are usually hard to define and impossible to verify by observation or empirical experimentation, where the mere postulation of such theories is socio-politically motivated, planned to cast doubt on concrete and ubiquitous facts that have undesirable implications. Multiverse theory and self-directed evolution by natural selection are a few typical cases in point.

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Furthermore, pathological skepticism is an exercise in sheer futility. It is a self-refuting proposition, for it can equally be used against pathological skepticism. If one wants to doubt and question everything, one should also be doubtful of doubting, and be skeptical of ones own skeptical initiatives and cognition. Thus, where and how does one begin to walk on a solid path? Seemingly, the whole intention of pathological skeptics along with their relativists counterpart is to undermine the solidity of Reality.

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The Anathema of Atheism and the Inescapable Glasshouse Syndrome

Mehran Banaei

Bertrand Russell, the outspoken British atheist once made the assertion that: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” Russell ironically advocates uncertainty in human knowledge with certainty. Is the human mind not capable of achieving certainty, and if it ever does, would it then mean that once an objective freethinker is certain, he has reached the point of fanaticism? Is certainty an unobtainable task for human brain, the most complicated object in the known universe?

For Russell, in order to prevent being a fanatic, an intelligent man out to be a full-time sceptic who can never trust anything and always ought to be doubtful of everything. There can never be a universal standard to determine right and wrong. There is no such a thing as absolute Truth, everything is mere conjecture.

However, every denunciation implies an employed value judgement at work; yet one cannot have a reliable value judgement, if all propositions are doubtful, uncertain or meaningless. Russell undermines his own mind; he does not pause for a second to realise that he is on a collision course with himself. His assertion is a pseudo-philosophical claim, a pretence of significant truth, totally void of substance. It falls on its own premise and is nothing short of a self-refuting paradox.

One should ask Russell, if he is certain about his own proclaimed belief, to which, if he says yes, then according to his own statement he is nothing but a tiresome fool and an outright fanatic. Subsequently, he has committed the cardinal sin of being certain in a pluralistic world of competing ideas. If he says, “No I am not so certain about what I profess”, then he is better not to make a universal truth claim, if he is doubtful of the validity of what he is promoting. It is ridiculous to make a universal judgement and then admit that it may not be true at all. If one wants to doubt everything, then one has to doubt doubting, which is a total non-starter in a rational discourse, leading one into the state of perpetual limbo, if not outright paranoia.

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Life-long examination, contemplation and critical thinking, may lead one to conclude with absolute certainty that an Intelligent Power designed and created this universe. Subsequently, anyone engaged in such a repast would have absolutely no doubt that this universe is pursuing a meaningful intention. I suppose according to Russell that makes such an individual a fool, guilty of being certain in a world that ought to operate on relativism and uncertainty. In parallel, a life-long of examination may lead a sceptic to the conclusion of agnosticism, that is, one can never know the Truth, or the Truth is solely via humanism. Who is it to say that the former is a fanatic and the latter is open-minded? Atheists arrogantly like to attribute their own belief to objectivity and relegate theistic belief to psychological delusion and fanaticism. It was Henri Poinare the French mathematician and physicist who sharply pointed out: “To doubt everything and to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both free us from the necessity of reflection.” On this issue Poinare seems to have taken a much wiser stand than Russell.ShootingBertrand Russell further declares with certainty, that science is the only source of valid knowledge, “what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.” The existence of the First Cause cannot be established by scientific inquiry; therefore “God” hypothesis cannot be scientific and true. Once again Russell shoots himself in the foot. The question that arises is: How did Russell acquire this particular knowledge? Is this proposition which is certainly not a scientific discovery duplicable in a lab exempt from the proposed universal rule? It seems so. Thus, it contradicts itself and fails miserably to establish what it aims to establish, which is the denial of the Uncaused Cause. Atheists like Russell, Dawkins et al. hijacked science to serve their atheistic agenda. Their defense of atheism severely suffers from the classic glasshouse syndrome, where arguments used against others would equally apply to one’s own position and arguments in defence of one’s own position are also equally applicable to one’s opponent’s position. Furthermore, they tend to scientifically elucidate the incredible complexity in the universe, and how the natural world functions. They then attribute the complexity and order involved to random cosmic chance. While their elaboration of the mechanism of the laws of physics may be scientific, their concomitant conclusion that there is no external Agent involved is a matter of pure unsubstantiated opinion. The opinion expressed has nothing to do with science or logic. The atheist scientists would like us to respect their subjective opinion outside the realm of science more than our own.

Likewise, Carl Sagan addressing theists asserted that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Fine, agreed. First and foremost, this claim itself is extraordinary; thus requires extraordinary validation. Is Sagan the scientist providing any scientific evidence for his non-scientific proposition? For atheists, it seems to be an extraordinary claim that there is an Uncaused Powerful Deity who created this vast universe for a purpose. They boisterously demand: where is the evidence for such a claim? However, every counter-argument presented by the atheists seems if not more, to be an equally extraordinary claim, without even a modicum of support. For instance, where is the evidence for a self-created universe, uncaused universe, multiverse, unguided evolution by natural selection, etc.? If something in itself is astronomically improbable, do we or do we not require compelling evidence before we accept it? Is it not far more extraordinary to claim that everything there is in the universe is all a result of random products of matter, time plus blind chance? Further, what would qualify as an extraordinary claim or extraordinary evidence? Are atheists not being selective of what is extraordinary and what is not, to support their untenable position?

Perhaps Russell’s famous statement needs to be amended to: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics always ignore the evidence, but wiser people attain certainty through it”. Further, if there is one thing that is more extraordinary than the universe, is the obtuse denial that it logically must have an Intelligent cause behind its creation.

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