Saturday, February 25, 2006


Martin Gardner's God

Martin Gardner (born 1914, Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American recreational mathematician, magician, skeptic, and author of the long-running but now discontinued "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American.

While critical of organized religions, Gardner believes in God, claiming that this belief cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed by reason. At the same time, he is skeptical of claims that God has communicated with human beings through spoken or telepathic revelation or through miracles in the natural world.

Martin Gardner's philosophy may be summarised as follows: There is nothing supernatural, and nothing in human reason or visible in the world to compel people to believe in God. The mystery of existence is enchanting, but a belief in The Old One comes from faith without evidence. However, with faith and prayer people can find greater happiness than without. If there is an afterlife, the loving Old One is real. [To an atheist] "the universe is the most exquisite masterpiece ever constructed by nobody", from G. K. Chesterton, is one of Martin's favorite quotes.

Gardner says in Skeptical Inquirer, "Shortly before he died, Carl Sagan wrote to say he had reread my Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener and was it fair to say that I believed in God solely because it made me "feel good." I replied that this was exactly right, though the emotion was deeper than the way one feels good after three drinks. It is a way of escaping from a deep-seated despair. "

Source 1, Source 2

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


On the Nature of Satan

Many of you may picture the devil as ruler of hell, inflicting physical and mental pain on others. But this portrayal of the devil is nowhere in the Bible. In the Bible, the devil is just another captive.

Jews and Christians refer to the devil as Satan, a fallen and arrogant angel. In parts of the Old Testament, Satan is not God’s enemy but rather a challenger or accuser. The word devil comes from the Greek diabolos, meaning "slanderer," or "accuser." The word Satan is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word for "adversary" in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, Satan gambles with God about the faith of Job. Later, in the New Testament, Satan becomes the "prince of devils" and has names such as Lucifer (the fallen angel of Light), Belial (lawless), or Beelzebub (Lord of Flies):

All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." (Matthew 12:24-27) What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:15-16)

For Christians, Satan’s job is to tempt man to commit immoral acts. Moselms believe in Iblis, the personal name for the devil. They also call him ash-Shaytan, which means the demon. In the Koran, God tells Iblis to bow in front of Adam, the first human. Iblis refuses.

Seven Old Testament books and every New Testament writer refers to Satan. In the Middle ages, theologians debated about how a supernatural being like Satan could exist in a universe governed by an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent God. Many came to believe that Satan was not an actual being but a symbol of evil.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Noah's Ark

Could Noah have placed all the animals on the ark? In this article, the authors note that it is "important to take the size of animals into account when considering how much space they would occupy because the greatest number of species occurs in the smallest animals. Woodmorappe performed such an analysis and came to the conclusion that the animals would take up 47% of the ark. In addition, he determines that about 10% of the ark was needed for food (compacted to take as little space as possible) and 9.4% for water (assuming no evaporation or wastage). At least 25% of the space would have been needed for corridors and bracing. Thus, increasing the quantity of animals by more than about 5% would overload the ark."

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Why Being an Atheist is Reasonable

"Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake.

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time." -- Bertrand Russell


Why Religion is Not Always A Great Thing

"According the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005), the most atheistic societies--countries like Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom—are actually the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest by the U.N. in terms of human development are unwaveringly religious." -- Sam Harris

Read more

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Nine Angelic Ranks

Angels are mentioned in the Bible over 270 times. Through history, humans have wondered how these heavenly beings are supposed to be organized. Around 500 A.D., the theologian pseudo-Dionysius developed a hierarchy of nine angelic ranks ordered by their perceived closeness to God and thus to omniscience. The names are all in the Bible:

First comes God. Next come:
1. Seraphim
2. Cherubim
3. Thrones
4. Dominions
5. Virtues
6. Powers
7. Principalities
8. Archangels
9. Angels
Who in the heck is this pseudo-Dionysius fellow? Scholars believe he was a Syrian monk. Known only by his pseudonym, he wrote numerous Greek treatises that blended Christian theology and mysticism. Pseudo-Dionysius believed that God was essentially unknowable.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Mathematics and God

Perhaps the most unusual argument for evidence of God has come from mathematics. Some have suggested that the compact formula ei*pi + 1 = 0 is surely proof of a Creator and have called this formula "God’s formula." Edward Kasner and James Newman in Mathematics and the Imagination note, "We can only reproduce the equation and not stop to inquire into its implications. It appeals equally to the mystic, the scientists, the mathematician." This formula of Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) unites the five most important symbols of mathematics: 1, 0, pi, e and i (the square root of minus one). This union was regarded as mystic union containing representatives from each branch of the mathematical tree: arithmetic is represented by 0 and 1, algebra by the symbol i, geometry by pi, and analysis by the transcendental e. Harvard mathematician Benjamin Pierce said about the formula, "That is surely true, it is absolutely paradoxical; we cannot understand it, and we don't know what it means, but we have proved it, and therefore we know it must be the truth." Mathematics certainly says more in fewer "words" than any other science. David Eugene Smith in A History of Mathematics in America Before 1900 wrote, "The formula, ei*pi + 1 = 0 expressed a world of thought, of truth, of poetry, and of the religious spirit ‘God eternally geometrizes.’"

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker