My atheist friend-3


 

Dear oh Dear Nahida,

You surprise me for I see you as someone with a brilliant mind, undoubtedly one of the sharpest, I have come across in years.  Yet, when something arises that in any way clashes with your deeply held religious beliefs that incredible intellect seems to take a back seat.

I first noticed this when I queried why divinely inspired writings such as the Koran made no mention of the fact that the earth was round or that it revolved around the sun. Your response was to come up with an obscure passage from the Koran, which with a lot of interpretation
could be used to suggest the earth is round.  (I say obscure because I subsequently asked a number of Muslims about it, and they had never heard of the passage)

One would have thought that given the fact that the earth is round and that it revolves around the sun, is probably the biggest single contradiction between what we can see and the real world; there would be more emphasis of this fact in divinely inspired writings.  The
obvious answer is that “men” based on their knowledge of the world as they saw it wrote Koran.

I once asked you how two little boys, one growing up in the deserts of the Middle East and one on the ice flows of the artic, would relate to Koran. I am sure the Koran like the Bible talks of deserts, sands, camels, goats but how much discussion is there of glaciers and polar
bears?  Were the Koran not to have the religious significance that it does, you would probably be the first to point out that it was written by “men” based on their knowledge of the world as they knew it and that did not include ice flows and polar bears.  I do so wish you would give
free reign to your intellect and not constrain it with your religious beliefs.

You have done the same thing with this article on intelligent design. I am not an evolutionary biologist and thus not in a position to critique the article but I would be willing to bet that if I went to the subsequent issue of the journal, there would be quite a few letters destroying every argument the author makes.  Go into google and type in the words “evolutionary biology” and compare the sites that come up when you type in the words “intelligent design”.

I know this may be impossible but try to put aside your deeply held religious beliefs and objectively look at the material resulting from the two searches.  There is no doubt in my mind if you were looking at two sets of suggested mathematical proofs, you could look objectively
at them and see which was correct.  Why can you not do the same when comparing the material on evolutionary biology and intelligent design? How is it that as a mathematician you can ignore the vast amount of material that has been built up over the past 150 years about
evolutionary biology and then focus in on the nonsensical writings and the occasional pseudo-scientific article supporting intelligent design?

Again I ask you, please try and look at the material objectively, not through the eyes of your religious beliefs.

Sam,

 

—————————————————————————————————————————

13- September

Dear Sam

 

Yet, I am the one who’s at loss at your unbelievable responses (or should I say lack of response to my specific arguments).

 I am truly perplexed and puzzled at your incredible counter-arguments that you responded by to my arguments!

 

I tried to put forward to you -as clearly as I possibly could- my personal views onto why do I think that the idea of the existence of a Designer/ a Creator seems to my logic, my intellect and my commonsense more plausible than other theories; yet instead of responding to my points by trying to convince me otherwise and by refuting them logically and scientifically all you come up with is nothing but emotionally charged responses with no scientific validity what so ever; that can be summarized as such:

 

  • Firstly: you show your disappointment in my lack of ability to use my intellect.
  • Secondly: you keep referring me to google asking me to read more on the two arguments
  • Thirdly: you do more… you mock, and ridicule the scientists/ people who support my case rather than refute and challenge what they say.
  • Fourthly: your forth argument is that you come up with “presumptions” that appears to you and to your imagination as “facts”.

 

To illustrate to how do you do it from your own words, here it is:

1)     Showing your disappointment in my lack of ability to use my intellect.

 

.  “I do so wish you would give free reign to your intellect and not constrain it with your religious beliefs.”

 “You surprise me for I see you as someone with a brilliant mind, undoubtedly one of the sharpest; I have come across in years.  Yet, when something arises that in any way clashes with your deeply held religious beliefs that incredible intellect seems to take a back seat”

 

 

but dear Sam that is exactly what I have been trying to debate with you about, that something that arose –that you refer to- is the evolution, which I argue against in favour of Intelligent Design; I –very clearly­- have laid my case for the latter, and I am still waiting to hear your own response to my arguments; point by point rather than this vague and blurry reaction against my faith.

.

 

2)   you keep referring me to google asking me to read more on the two arguments

 

 

“Dear Nahida, please do me one favour.  Try to forget about the issue
and take a close objective look at some of the articles advocating intelligent design and some of those challenging intelligent design or explaining evolutionary principles”

 

“Again I ask you, please try and look at the material objectively, not through the eyes of your religious beliefs.”

 

“I know this may be impossible but try to put aside your deeply held religious beliefs and objectively look at the material resulting from the two searches.  There is no doubt in my mind if you were looking at two sets of suggested mathematical proofs, you could look objectively at them and see which was correct. Why can you not do the same when comparing the material on evolutionary biology and intelligent design?
How is it that as a mathematician you can ignore the vast amount of material that has been built up over the past 150 years about evolutionary biology and then focus in on the nonsensical writings and the occasional pseudo-scientific article supporting intelligent design?”

 

 Go into google and type in the words “evolutionary biology” and compare the sites that come up when you type in the words “intelligent design”.

Dear Sam what material? I am having a dialogue/ debate with you, not with google.

 

Don’t you think that by now that I’ve read something from both sides about what we are talking about?

 

3) You come up with more… you attack the scientists/ people rather than refute and challenge what they say

 

“I am very sorry to have to say this Nahida because it is obvious how strongly you feel, but I would not be honest if I said otherwise. The standard of the articles debunking intelligent design, the journals in which they appear and the reputations and previous achievements of the authors make the concept of intelligent design seem even more fanciful that I had previously thought.”

 

. “The vast majority of scientists treat these ideas as a joke for they add nothing to our knowledge of the natural world.  It is also apparent that as I said before that the actual numbers of scientists who accept the idea of intelligent design is
insignificant, and of those who do, few have any real standing in the scientific community.”

.  “I then went on to check the vast number of sites challenging intelligent design,
paying attention to the people writing the articles and the publications in which they appeared. (If interested go to google and type in “debunking intelligent design or challenging intelligent design”) and you will see what I mean.”

 

“Next time you see a so-called scientist who supports intelligent design, go on the web
and check out his/her background.  What contributions has he/she made?
How much has he/she added to our knowledge in their particular area of
study? How many articles does he/she have in reputable journals? What
positions does he/she hold in the scientific community?  
Nearly all
will be non-entities in the scientific world.”

The teaching of intelligent design in school science classes is more problematical for as I said, it does elevate it to that of a science and gives it a credibility it clearly does not deserve”

 

Those students who do go on to believe in intelligent design will have no more impact on the future of science than those before them who believed in intelligent design. It is hard to imagine a brilliant student with the potential to become a great scientist taking up the idea of intelligent design. If they do, then it is a loss to all of us.  Maybe that is what intelligent design is all about.”

“Challenging intelligent design also takes time and energy and I do not believe it is worth the effort.”

 

 

4) One more thing that you came up with, “presumptions” that appear to you and to your imagination as “facts”

 

“You have done the same thing with this article on intelligent design.
I am not an evolutionary biologist and thus not in a position to
critique the article
but I would be willing to bet that if I went to
the subsequent issue of the journal, there would be quite a few letters
destroying every argument the author makes
.  Go into google and type in
the words “evolutionary biology” and compare the sites that come up
when you type in the words “intelligent design”.

 

 

I first noticed this when I queried why divinely inspired writings such
as the Koran made no mention of the fact that the earth was round or
that it revolved around the sun.
Your response was to come up with an
obscure passage from the Koran
, which with a lot of interpretation
could be used to suggest the earth is round.  (I say obscure because I
subsequently asked a number of Muslims about it, and they had never
heard of the passage)

Dear Sam, the verse that you are referring to is very clear, is it my fault that your Muslim friends don’t know it?

 Is it my problem that you refuse to believe something which is there in front of your nose?

Further, there is more than one verse that explicitly refers to the fact that the earth is round. The evidence is there for people who want to see.

 

“He made the earth egg-shaped”  (79:30)

He has created the Heavens and the Earth for Truth. He wraps the night up in the day, and wraps the day up in the night. (Qur’an, 39:5)

In the Qur’an, the words used for describing the universe are quite remarkable. The Arabic word which is translated as "to wrap" in the above verse is "takwir." And the verb used is “yokawiru” which literally means make something into a ball shape. Its root is “kawra” which literally means “a ball”.  In English, it means "to make one thing lap over another, folded up as a garment that is laid away." For instance, in Arabic dictionaries this word is used for the action of wrapping one thing around another in a ball shaped such as making a ball out of woollen thread. The information given in the verse about the day and the night wrapping each other up includes accurate information about the shape of the world. This can be true only if the Earth is round. This means that in the Qur’an, which was revealed in the 7th century, the roundness of the world was specifically pointed at..

It is He Who created night and day and the sun and moon, each one swimming in a sphere. (Qur’an, 21:33)

 

. I am sure the Koran like the Bible talks of deserts, sands,
camels, goats but how much discussion is there of glaciers and polar
bears?
 Were the Koran not to have the religious significance that it
does, you would probably be the first to point out that it was written
by “men” based on their knowledge of the world as they knew it and that
did not include ice flows and polar bears.  I do so wish you would give
free reign to your intellect and not constrain it with your religious
beliefs.

Dear Sam, have you read the Quran and verified the above “facts” that you are so sure about?

Dear Sam, do you have any other more convincing arguments?

From a purely logical viewpoint; and as things stand today, evidence from, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, accumulative knowledge, commonsense and logic, increasingly support the theory of intelligent Design as a rational hypothesis.

Every shred of evidence points towards the plausibility of the existence of a Designer:

 

The mathematical probability, the fine tuning in the physical world, the existence of the physical and mathematical laws, the specified complexity in biological life that can’t be explained neither by random chance nor by natural selection.

 

As a mathematician; If I have the choice between two theories one of which the probability of it being true (happening) is one out of two; and the other the probability of it is happening is 1 out of an astronomical number, my logic leads me to assume that the first is more likely to be true.

 

I am not a scientist, nor am I a philosopher, and I don’t have to be either in order to have some understanding of the world around me. I can draw my own conclusions that correspond to my limited IQ, and that make the most sense to my intellect in terms of fathoming the basic scientific knowledge that I have.

I said time and again that based on the hypothesis of Intelligent Design, our experience-based analysis, and on our accumulative knowledge that we possess now; offers an adequate and logical explanation (to my logic, the most adequate) to the existence of our universe and to our own existence.

I am challenging you to give me a more adequate explanation!

Dearest Sam

*It is no good argument just to dismiss my case simply because it involves something you don’t like (a Creator). Examine the logical evidence instead.

*It is no good argument accusing me of irrationality (because I say a God might exist). Refute my case by presenting a better and a more rational one.

*It is no good argument to scorn and belittle those whom you disagree with because they have a different view than yours or because they are a minority, we as active peace groups are a minority; does this undermine the validity of what we stand for? Being a famous scientist does not automatically guarantee you a more favoured position to your argument. What you have to say and the logic you apply is the more important thing.

 Einstein was very famous and he always believed in God, does that make the case for God more plausible just because of his position in the scientific community? I can’t and won’t argue that.

*It is no good argument to tell me that you bet there is a better argument out there on the Web. Show me it in your own words, as I am debating with you not with google.

*It is no good argument to assume that the Quran says this and does not say that when you’ve never read it; while I’ve read it hundreds of times and I memorise by heart some of its chapters.

*It is no good argument telling me to wait for the future until we come up with an explanation.

 

Dear Sam I don’t have the time to wait a hundred years or may be a thousand. My life span does not give the luxury of waiting until something -in the very far future if ever- happens. I need to know now. I need to explain and justify my existence to myself; I don’t want someone to explain it when I am long gone. And I can only do it with the existing knowledge that we have now. If the future generations brings a more adequate explanation, then that’s great. Good for them.

Dear Sam

in my earlier email I told you how important my faith is to me, and that loosing my life is far easier to me than loosing my faith; however, and after a lot of thinking I am prepared to put my faith and my life at the stake! If you do me a favour,

I want to ask you for a simple request; if you do it I will be prepared to give up on my faith.

How about that?

Just out of raw elements; make me a fly.

 

—————————————————————————————–

13- September

Dear oh Dear Nahida,

Where is this all going?

You are so skilful with words and I simply do not have the time to unpick your arguments and research out the relevant information.  Your mastery of the language may well in the end defeat me but it certainly won’t be the force of your arguments.

Imagine I am faced with two competing mathematical theories and I have to choose which one I think is correct.  Naturally I would look at the arguments, but having very little background in mathematics, they would mean nothing to me.  I could ask that they be simplified so I could
understand the two theories, but this would not help as the differences are in the details, which I cannot begin to understand.

Next I look at the people advocating each of the theories and in particular what are their reputations among their fellow mathematicians and most importantly, what kind of a contribution have these individuals made in the field of mathematics?

Then I look at the weight of the evidence supporting each of the two theories.  What is the extent of the books, journals and papers published in support of each theory? Again what is the reputation and what are the achievements of those writing the books, journals and
papers?  Are the books published by reputable publishers and are the papers in established mathematical journals?

I would also look to the mathematical community as a whole and the countless number of mathematicians who initially did not take a view but after examining the evidence have come down in favour one theory or the other.  Once more what is their reputation and what is their
contribution to mathematics?

I might even engage in debate with others who advocate one or the other of the theories but I would be careful to stay at a level where I can understand the arguments.  It would be meaningless for me to challenge a mathematician on either side about the detailed arguments for they could convince me of virtually anything at the level on which they are
operating.

What do I do now?  Google has been a tremendous help.  Previously this process would have taken months even then there would be a questions of thoroughness.

What have I found? One theory has hundreds of books and journals and literally thousands of papers supporting it over the other theory. Whole departments have been created in some of the world’s most famous universities to develop this theory and whole new disciplines have been created to further explore it.

I also find that the vast majority of the world’s mathematicians support this same theory and they include the most famous and well respected members of the profession, mathematicians who have already proven their ability by their contributions to the field.  Perhaps even
more important, they also dismiss the other theory as being irrelevant and the arguments in support of it as being nonsensical.  They even go on to question the mathematical credentials of the few who support the other theory, labelling them as insignificant, despite the fact that
they get a lot of publicity and have massive support among people who know nothing about mathematics.

I am not a mathematician but I would have a pretty strong view as to which theory I support.

Curiously this process is similar to the one used by the judge in Pennsylvania last year when he ruled that intelligent design was not a science.  He spent months listening to testimony of numerous witnesses including the most well known advocates of intelligent design and went
on to find in behalf of those parents who sought to keep intelligent design out of the science classroom.

I guess if I am wrong, I will be in some very distinguished company.

There is one point, which I have raised previously and remain most curious.  The countless, books, journals, papers, university departments and disciplines such as molecular genetics all of which are based on evolutionary principles – what would you have done with them?

One final anecdote.  I ran into an old acquaintance who had worked as an ORT co-ordinator in Africa for Oxfam.  ORT stands for “oral rehydration therapy” and involves getting a packet containing a mixture of sugar and salt to a person, usually a child, who is suffering from dehydration.  The contents of the packet are mixed with water and if administered in time, will prevent death.  Sadly each day about 15,000 children around the world die of dehydration because they simply cannot get access to the sugar and salt solution.

My friend had to quit Oxfam for eventually the work got to him.  He could not say which was worse.  Was it watching a child continually vomiting and suffering diarrhoea, not knowing what was happening to them, screaming in pain until they gradually lost consciousness and
died or was it the agonised look on the mother’s face as she watched helplessly, unable do anything.

He was a chemistry teacher and is thinking of going back to teaching so in talking about science the subject of intelligent design arose. Suddenly his face tightened and I thought he was going to hit me.  What kind of intelligence, he asked, could create and design a living being and then give it the capacity to inflict such horror upon its own kind?

I did not have an answer but if you do, I will pass it on.

Sam,

13- September

————————————————————-

Dear Nahida,

To suggest that Einstein believed in God, in the way that you do is somewhat misleading.

Given your hesitation about using google, I have copied this from one of the many thousands of sites on this topic.

Sam,

———————————————————————

Einstein the agnostic

THINKERS ON RELIGION

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

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