Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oh Goodie! A Dialogue!

h/t Dispatches

Why the hell don't I get these emails? Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the "Meet hot girls now" and "date hot Asian ladies" spam in my mailbox (not really; spamfilters GO!), but why can't once in a while get something like this? Maybe I don't know enough creationists, or I'm not on enough mailing lists. Whatever the case, while browsing Dispatched from the Culture Wars today, I came across this excellent little dialogue that Ed had posted.

As my readers know, I love a good chance to snark at something. So there's no way I'm going to pass up this opportunity. Picture the scene: The back drop is set. The lecture hall is full, and the professor is getting ready to give a lecture. It could be a professor of anything; cosmology to astrophysics to nanochemistry to unicorn biology - Fundies who write and enjoy this stuff can't tell the difference. The point is, he's getting ready to give his lecture. In steps the brave and noble (always White, always Male) student. He clears his throat and interjects, interrupting the classroom. The mandatory black guy in the corner is going "Aaawww hell naw" and the room is a deep hush. The stage is set for an intellectual Battle of the Titans - but because that would outstrip our budget constraints, we give you these two strawmen, instead:

Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?
Student : Yes, sir.
Me: Because, hey. That's how professors always start, right? 
Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?
Student : Absolutely, sir.
Me: No shit. Numbnuts just said he was a Christian. Now, if you'd asked him which god - I'm sure he'd be honest and say Mammon, the God 90% of Fundamentalist Christians in America serve. I'm being serious, you people in the peanut gallery, stop snickering! 
Professor : Is GOD good ?
Student : Sure.
Me: Is GOD all caps?
Boneheaded Student: Sure. 
Me: So is God good because he does something, or is it something he does good because he's God?
Boneheaded Student: *blink, blink*
Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?
Student : Yes.
Me: Why is GOD all caps? Oh, wait - hang on, I know why:

For I, your GOD, am an ANGRY God...

Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?
(Student was silent.)
Me: Why start here? Why not just go after the fact that there's no evidence? SPOILER: Strawprof does later. Also, take note of these questions, because they won't get answered.
Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?
Student : Yes.
Me: Notice how the student is the victim here. Aggressive asshole strawprof is using all the strawatheist tricks in his back to demolish poor asshole stupid strawstudent's faith. Damn dude, just get a fucking wrecking ball and drop it on his head already. It'd be faster and it wouldn't kill so many electrons. Won't someone please think of the electrons?
Professor: Is satan good ?
Me: Yep.
Student : No.
Professor: Where does satan come from ?
Student : From … GOD …
Me: From... GOD.... and... Iamdoingmybest... William Shatner... impersonation! 
Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Me: That's right son. Now tell me, why do I insist on being a condescending asshole? Could it be because no real professor in their right mind would ever act like this?
Student : Yes.
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?
Student : Yes.
Professor: So who created evil ?
(Student did not answer.)
Me: This is called Theodicy, and I've heard it described as "what separates the theological children from the theological adults." Theodicy is also called "the problem of evil", and stated basically, it posits that if God is all good, all knowing, and all loving, then why do people suffer and why is there evil? This is handwaved with some voodoo shark about freewill, but you can sidestep the whole issue neatly if you just say there's no God. But it's fun to think about anyway.
Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor: So, who created them ?
(Student had no answer.)
Me: Still pressing the point, I see. Damn you're a horrible Bond villain - just kill the poor schmuck already before he escapes from your elaborate deathtrap! 
Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?
 Me: UH OH. Professor is gonna get his words thrown back in his face by the clever student. HAW HAW HAW. 
Student : No, sir.
Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?
Student : No , sir.
Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?
Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?
Student : Yes.
Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?
Me: Uh, no. Science says nothing about the existence about God, mostly because science is a fucking process and not a person. Also, it's not a proper noun. None of those words are proper nouns. Why the random capitalization? Oh, wait, could it possibly be that bonehead fundie making this shit up believes that people view science as a replacement for God? I'm sure somewhere in Strawtopia, where Strawatheists flock and abide by the rules of Strawscience, this is the case. Back here in the real world, though...
Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.
Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.
Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?
Professor: Yes.
Student : And is there such a thing as cold?
Professor: Yes.
Student : No, sir. There isn’t.
(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)
Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.
Me: Heat is energy. But heat is not good energy. An ideal thermodynamic system makes use of as much work as possible, with as little heat as possible. Heat is just one type of energy; it's waste energy called "entropy." The perfect thermodynamics system, one that violates the second law, is one that doesn't just do work and not produce heat, but also produces more work. Think of a batter that recharges itself the more it's used. This is called a perpetual motion machine; it's operating at over 100% capacity. It's also impossible. But while not right, he's not really wrong, either. And it's -459.67 degrees. I'm not just being a pedant; at -458 degrees you still have molecular movement. Matter exists in a solid and supersolid state, but there's still that movement. The coldest spot in the known universe, the Boomerang Nebula, is warmer (but not by much).

Me: Also, while I'm here, Go stand outside in the cold here in Michigan buck naked, and then get your ass back here and tell me it's not cold, it's just "not hot". Cold is a relative thing; at it's heart, cold is a biological reaction based on your body and mental state. What's cold to me certainly wouldn't be cold to a creature who comes from a planet where ammonia is in a liquid state; in fact, cold to me - a night in Alaska in the dead of winter - would be blistering hot to such a creature, and they'd likely boil. There is such a thing as cold, and it's more than just the absence of heat. Cold is a physiological reaction. I can test the existence of cold. But being a physiological reaction, it's going to be different test subject to test subject. The point I'm getting at here is that we use cold and hot as means to describe subjective perspectives; heat as we use it to describe really hot days outside is not in the same sense it gets used in physics and to compare the two (one defined subjective, the other defined objectively) is intellectually dishonest. Le gasp. A fundie being intellectually dishonest. What's the world coming to?

Me: I'm also not sure where he's getting those classifications of heat. Those are like, redneck measurements or something: One, A Couple, A Few, A Handful, A Lot and a Ton. That's the redneck scienfici scale of measurement. Somewhere in there you can stick "A bushel", "a smidgen", and "a pinch" if you so desire.
(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)
Me: They're all astounded at how stupid this student is. Wasn't the professor talking about geography and political science a few minutes ago?
Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?
Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?
Me: Haha wrong again. "Light" is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum ranges from radio waves to gamma radiation. Visible light is what we humans see, and "darkness" to us is what happens when the visible light goes away, or there's only a small amount of it. If you could see into the ultraviolet spectrum or infrared spectrum, the night would be a lot brighter. The same is said if you locked yourself in some area where there is no possible way for outside light to get in, where it's utterly dark. With "standard" color vision, you couldn't see jack. It'd be dark. But if you could see in the infrared spectrum, you'd see clearly - because you're not dead, and you're giving off heat. Like cold, darkness is relative. It exists. My cat sees just fine without your flashlight, thank you.

Me: About the only point I could think to give him would be what happens literally tens of trillions of years from now, when the universe dies from heat death. Then it'll be dark, I promise you. And it'll be as dark a dark as you could ever see.
Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?
Me: Indeed. What is your point?
Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.
Me: Because I compared a subjective perception to an objective definition and talked about how cold is different from light, your philosophic premise is flawed.
Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?
Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.
Me: O RLY? A thought is the firing of two or more neurons. There. Problem solved. Now, if you meant consciousness, then no, we're not quite there yet.

Me: Aren't you the people who divide the world into duality? Us verses Them? Good and Evil? Real (Read: Flyover Country) American and presumably East Coast/West Coast Liberal? Isn't this childish duality your world view? Christianity has duality built into the heart of it; this is one of the major points of dogma where it differs from Judaism. Judaism lacks that duality. God is all and everything, and Satan is a servant of God all the same. Christianity is a dualistic religion because it adopted that duality from Zoroastrianism (hint: Zoroastrian priests are called "magi". Who was it that visited baby Jesus in the manger?). Christianity is one of the most dualistic religions on the planet, and you're griping about how the professor is taking a dualistic approach? Hello pot, I'm kettle. Did you know that you're black?
Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Me: Ape-like ancestor, you stupid fucking moron! And no, because this is a goddamn geography classroom
Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)
Me: Strawprof just realized he's in one of these stupid chainmail letters written by an idiot fundie. He's probably thinking "Aww shit. This again. Damn it, I just got done with this in one of those Chick Tracts."
Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?
(The class was in uproar.)
Me: Uh... he's a professor. That's not a scientist. That doesn't mean there aren't any overlap; everyone is a scientist every day because we all use the scientific method at least once a day, but I can guarantee you he doesn't likely work as a scientist. Because if he did, then he wouldn't be made of straw. They tend not to let people made of straw work in science. Straw catches on fire too easily and isn't very good to wear while performing experiments.
Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?
(The class broke out into laughter. )
Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?
Me: Uh... CAT Scan? MRI? Brain surgery? Is there anyone here who's seen your brain? Because I think it might be lost. As in, it ran away from you and all the abuse you put it through.
(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)
Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.
Me: Well, son, I guess I have to take them all on faith. Because for the last goddamn time, this is a fucking geography classroom. Now sit your ass down and shut up. 
Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.
Me: Nope. Caloric intake works better for keeping things alive and moving than faith does any day of the week. Faith is no replacement for a good slab of steak. 
I believe you have enjoyed the conversation. And if so, you’ll probably want your friends / colleagues to enjoy the same, won’t you?
Me: Oh, believe me, I enjoyed this conversation. I always enjoy watching two strawmen gang up on one another and beat each other up. 
Forward this to increase their knowledge … or FAITH.
By the way, that student was EINSTEIN.
Me: OMG LE GASP AN ASSPULL A TWIST ENDING. This is complete and utter bullshit. Einstein was not a Christian. Einstein was best described as a pantheist, but even that label is disputable. Einstein did clash with authorities at Luitpold Gymnasium, where he was sent following grade school, but it was over the rigid teaching methods. Einstein was sent to a Catholic grade school despite (or, perhaps, because of ) being born to a nonobservant Jewish family, and by then, the Catholic laity, like most people, had accepted evolution as true. And he would've known the damn difference between a monkey and an ape! For the love of God, you twits, monkeys have tails! They have fucking tails!


So what's the moral of the story, class?
Fundies and emails do not mix. Please, if you know a friend who happens to be a Christian fundamentalist, do not let them use their email while being fundamentalist. It can only end in humiliating shock and disaster for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Why is GOD all caps?

    Because GOD predates the invention of lowercase letters?