Proof that God does not exist

Although I myself don’t believe in existence of God, or other supernatural entities, I find what I call proof game – both  parties, religious and atheists, demanding proofs from each other, or providing proofs for fellow members in order to tackle the enemy – quite amusing.

A typical scenario is this. A religious man, extremist or not, talks about existence of God and an atheist, extremist or not, demands proof. After some trying, the religious man resorts to saying “Alright, can YOU prove God doesn’t exist?” to which the atheist says “You don’t understand the concept of burden of proof. I am not obliged to prove his non existence, rather you are”, often in a very condescending tone. The condescension increases as his amateur knowledge of science increases. Such people I call Dawkinians.

The atheist is right in this regard. The accepted intellectual convention is that those who make extraordinary claims are obliged to provide proofs for their claims. However, what is not right is the idea held by the atheists that they have successfully proven non existence of God because the religious couldn’t prove the existence of God.

A cursory survey of such encounters reveals that almost all atheist proofs are a sort of initial condition problem, and like any initial condition problem, starting from a different point will yield vastly different result. Typically, the religious make the claim so hold the burden of proof, which they cannot handle optimally. A nice variation would be instead of the religious claiming existence of God, they simply pose it as a question to the atheists. When the atheists say “no”, emphatically, the religious come out on top – now the burden of proof is with the atheists.

Many atheists are quick to argue that proving a negative is against the principles and conventions of philosophy, thus making it absurd. However, the better informed among the atheists, the Dawkinians, recognize that it is not really absurd to do that and they set out to prove the non existence. They use a familiar method used in mathematics – assume something is true, show that it leads to absurdity, and conclude that it cannot therefore be true. A canonical example of this in mathematics is to prove that square root of two is irrational.

The  Dawkinians treat the claims made by religious people and their scriptures as true and show that there is an abundance of things that happen contrary to the ‘facts’ espoused by the religions, or that plenty of things happen despite the claims in the religions. For the first kind the preferred topic is evolution, and for the second kind the preferred topic is prevalence of crime and suffering. Therefore, the Dawkinians say, there does not and cannot exist anything like God.

However, if you look closely at the proof, you will see that the Dawkinians have only managed to prove that a particular religious doctrine is false. They haven’t proven anything about God. It is akin to disproving a theory that tried to explain an experimental result. Just because rules of logic concluded the theory to be absurd doesn’t make the result an illusion. A cursory look at history of science shows how many theories came and went trying to explain things like light and atoms. Did the disproving of the theories have any bearing on the ‘reality’ of light or atoms? Did it disprove existence of light or atoms?

Religion is also a theory to explain the universe and everything humans perceive, such as thunder, earthquakes, dreams and death. But this theory is based on perception and emotion instead of experiments and analyses using modern scientific rules and ideas.

There are plenty of things that science can’t explain. The standard response to that by Dawkinians is ‘we don’t know yet but we will find out eventually via science’. A religious person can never say something on those lines because religions are set in stone. This makes the atheists believe that they win, albeit in some future date. What the atheists don’t know is that the religious have a trump card of their own – “only god knows best’. Every god based religion can use this trump card and there is nothing Dawkinians can do about it, and it infuriates them to the maximum. The Dawkinains know they can’t counter this trump card because it is exactly same as what they say, albeit based on different theory. Some desperate Dawkinians claim such statements by religious is an informal conceding of defeat because we can’t possibly know what God knows, and God might know nothing. Of course, they don’t see the absurdity of their arguments. It isn’t surprising then that frustrated Dawkinians mock, insult and bitch about religion and religious people  at every available half chance, often unprovoked.

The proof game is indeed very amusing.

PS:

As for my belief, I don’t believe in any superhuman entity that has created everything, but if you ask me “then how did every thing come into existence”, and keep prodding deeper and deeper, we will reach a point where I would say “I don’t know, we don’t know, but we are going to figure it out as much as possible, and it certainly isn’t due to any God”. I guess that makes me some kind of an agnostic. You might wonder how can I be “certain” about non existence of God. The answer is two fold. First, the argument that life & universe is too complex and needs a creator means the creator itself is at least as complex and thus need a creator, which is paradoxical, as God is said to have no creator etc. Second, it is a gut feeling exactly similar to those who believe God exists. If you can accept the latter, why not the former?

 

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My verdict on the Ayodhya verdict

Today is Gandhi jayanthi. It has been two days of magical peace and harmony since the verdict on the Ayodhya dispute was pronounced by the Allahabad high court. Gandhiji would have really been moved to tears at this non violent gesture by the people. It is still unclear to me if this rare display of maturity is due to the heavy security deployment that thwarted the political parties always responsible in creating havoc or is it due to the majority community, the Hindus, having a sense of vindictive victory or if the people have really moved on. Whatever may be the reason, the end result is certainly a huge sigh of relief to every sane normal citizen.

But that doesn’t mean that the decision was welcome with open arms. What would have become a bloody street fight in the previous years has transformed into a raging debate. Is this India growing past its juvenile years? I certainly hope so.

There was a lot of talk, by everyone, prior to the judgment of completely accepting and respecting the verdict. And it seems these people didn’t really expect such a creative and sagacious judgment that would pave way for the long pending dialogue leading to harmony. And this, people could not take and have started whining about.

Some people may call it “Ayogya” verdict but I disagree.

I am a person who doesn’t respect any religion or faith. I am not a blind hardcore atheist but experience and history has provided ample evidence leading me to loathe. While every religion no doubt preaches love, peace and harmony among other things, the practitioners seem to overlook that and squabble about the superiority of what they follow, leading to deaths and destructions. They however do tactfully use the “love, peace and harmony” card when necessary to defend their faith. Yet, even I found this decision to be a good one and hence my description of sagacious.

I, like many, accept that the destruction of the mosque in 1992 was a shameful act, not only unlawful and unconstitutional at a legal level but also dividing people at an emotional level. The perpetrators must be prosecuted accordingly, irrespective of their supposed stature. But the main argument against the verdict is that it is based solely on faith and sentiments and not on hard evidence. That to me is a hypocritical and inane argument.

People’s lives revolve around some kind of faith and belief or the other and no one can deny it. Even atheists like me believe that belief and faith are futile. So it is impossible and impractical to leave out belief.

Why would a witness take an oath in the court of law that is supposed to be not a place for faith and sentiment? And why the statements of a witness under oath are trusted and why are witnesses committing perjury punished? Shouldn’t a scientific method like a polygraph be employed instead?

Then, it is incredibly bold and dumb of the “intellectuals”, that comprise of Muslims, including Zafaryab Jilani and “secular” Hindus, to argue that faith of Hindus alone cannot be a valid point that is central to the verdict and hence they are grieved. The very same people (Muslims) later go on to say that according to Shariah law, not even an inch of the site that had a mosque could be acceded and hence they will appeal to Supreme Court. Now, what is this Shariah? Is it some kind of scientifically moderated and proofread document or a document that is considered sacred solely by faith?

People argue that if such a precedent is set by the judiciary where matter of faith outweighs evidence then a lot of litigations may follow suit and win purely on the matter of faith. I don’t say it is wrong but it is a lot more complicated than such oversimplification.

Faith is like sedimentary rock. Over a period of time since its inception, layers upon layers of embellishments pile up. Every generation adds its own version that leads to amplifying the potency of the faith.

Let us suppose a building that was built upon a site previously owned by Nithyananda (the infamous scandalous sex guru from Bangalore) was demolished by his followers. When the followers claim faith in him for their actions, it won’t stand ground, at least in his own generation, as people will be fully aware of his “deeds”. How many skeptics are out there to expose the Sathya Sai Baba? But look what has happened to Shirdi Sai Baba. Because he belonged to a couple of centuries earlier, enough time has passed to strengthen his cult. That is same with Ayyappa, Raghavendra or even Guru Nanak, Jesus and Muhammad. In fact, that has what has happened to each and every historical or mythological prophets, god-men and good-men. Their cult has strengthened over time. Even Jesus and Muhammad had to famously face tremendous opposition in their own times. Whereas Jesus chose the path of peace, at least according to apostles, to maintain his claims, Muhammad chose a hardened path. But after thousands of years, their faithful outnumber their skeptics (who culturally belong to the same religion as the faithful).

The same way no one can prove that Abraham of Judaism, Christianity and Islam existed and corroborate his story, and yet he and the stone he placed at Kaaba, Mecca are revered unconditionally by the Muslims, it follows that Rama, Krishna etc of Hinduism and their associated places of sanctity must be understood and respected as well just based on the built up faith in the Hindus.

Faith and sentiments cannot apply to just one party.

Moreover, this has always been an issue involving faith and sentiments, which can never be resolved by any courts anywhere. But because people took it to courts, they would have to abide by the court’s decision. Our democracy and legal system sure allows the party dissatisfied with the verdict of lower courts to appeal to higher courts but that sort of hardened stance overlooking this golden opportunity of reconciliation is going to be disastrous. If and when the Supreme Court pronounces a clear winner and a loser, I hope people would have moved on further and would show absolute apathy and indifference to any provocations that may ensue.

I had been advocating a school or a hospital at that site. I believe that education and health are the basic building blocks for the development of our country. One more school/hospital will go a long way to help achieve progress compared to one more (or less) temple/mosque. I, like all, had never expected this kind of a verdict by the court. It truly reflects our secularism. Granted, I haven’t read the judgment like most but the end verdict is truly sagacious, despite what some pundits describe as “panchayati”.

Irrespective of further appeals, at least now,  that a verdict of sorts is out on this, we can move on to addressing the real burning issues that hold value to our future, like poverty, unemployment, corruption etc. As I said elsewhere, shall we now concentrate our energy and spending on prosecuting and awarding some prison time aka Krishna janmasthan to corrupt authorities, starting with Kalmadi and co?

Swami and his friends

The latest buzz about a sleazy video of Nithyananda is a bit puzzling to me. I mean, I don’t get what the fuck (pun intended) is the problem. Unless he was involved in human trafficking or pimping or any other such heinous activities, whatever happens behind closed doors is private stuff. I don’t know his preaching; I hadn’t even heard of him – I am not into gurus and stuff.  So unless he had preached that sex is a sin and must be done away with or unless he had preached abstinence, in which case he turned out to be fake and impressionable people got what they deserved, I honestly cannot see any issue here. By the same note, if someone hides a camera in his toilet, would people cry foul that god-man pees and poops?!

People may argue that he duped people into donating money but I say if most of that donation, if not all, was used to build charitable and/or humane institutions (I don’t endorse that however), what the fuck is the problem.  Are people, men mostly, jealous that god-men have easy “access” to actresses and other “beauties”, the ones who remain unreachable to the common folk?

Being a god-man is a viable and lucrative career option, especially for people who have panache and are too lazy or under qualified for conventional jobs. If you intend to give it a shot, just make sure you don’t get caught with your dhoti up.