11/28/09

PZ Myers is Refreshingly Honest: Doom, Gloom and a Positive Affirmation of God’s Non-Existence to Boot!

I suppose the best course of action is to let PZ Myers speak for himself as he wrote the following: Happy Wary Vigilance Day! (I added the images).

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Sorry, I don't believe in Thanksgiving Day.

This whole notion that one should have vague and aimless feelings of gratitude for the nature of one's existence is just too weird, and the bow-your-head-at-the-table and radiate-blessings-at-the-cosmos tradition is pointless and silly. Don't get me wrong: I can be appropriately and happily grateful to people who have gone out of their way to do good for me — Mom will get a phone call, and my wife will get a hug, and they really are appreciated — but for the most part, our existence is not the product of selfless altruism, and there is nothing out there that can be aware of just how glad you are to be alive, no matter how fawning and fulsome you may be.

The universe is cold and uncaring. You may be grateful that you weren't vaporized by a meteor falling out of the sky this year, but there's no agent out there who will feel pleased that you noticed, and the fact of your general relief that your existence continues will not be a factor in the motion of space rocks in the next year. I am happy that the microbes didn't turn me into a pile of putrefying goo yet, but it wasn't an act of thoughtful kindness on their part, since the little bastards are doing their best to get past my defenses all the time, and all that's keeping them at bay is my constant expenditure of energy to keep my immune system at readiness. And they'll also get me one day, for sure…unless that meteor vaporizes me into a cloud of inorganic molecules with minimal nutritional value first.

We're all doomed. We are currently survivors by luck, sustained by selfish processes, and I don't thank luck, because she (if she were an autonomous self-aware agent, and she isn't) will turn for me or against me without concern for my feelings. Nature is not appeasable, get over it.



That poor bird that most of you will have on your dining room table is a perfect metaphor. It went through its life dumb and mostly content, getting its feed shoveled in front of its face every day, and then last week the machineries of profit began to move, and it found itself trussed on an assembly line. Then a gang of people who were mostly concerned with trudging through another day and making a living wage decapitated it, gouged out its guts, stripped off its feathers, and wrapped it in plastic so you could thoughtlessly stuff fragments of its carcass into your hungry maw. The universe did not rotate about that bird, and neither does it spin about you.

If you're eating tofurkey, you aren't off the hook, either. Think of the soybeans!



So don't sit at your table and think you're being good by warmly thanking an indifferent universe for whatever. It doesn't care. Don't beam happy thoughts at the farmers who stocked your larder — they can't hear you, and they did it for their own personal profit anyway. Above all, don't be hypocritical and radiate gratitude at the corpse of the turkey, since it's dead and during its brief life would rather you hadn't fueled the market forces that led to its execution.

It would be far wiser to sit at that table and contemplate the threats to your existence, and scheme about how you're going to get them first.

Oh, and you probably do have people who have done good things for you, at personal cost, and without carrying out the calculus of profit. If you want to have a day of thankfulness, thank them personally. None of this nonsense of bland, undirected, unfocused, smug gratitude. Share human feelings with other human beings.

Also, gods don't exist, so they haven't done squat for you. Don't waste your time praying to them, either.
Some people seem to be misreading this, and think I'm telling everyone to have a bad day. Wrong: have a grand old day off, I know I am. Just forget this silly business of feeling blindly thankful. Gratitude is to be shared between sentient beings.

If you're feeling this strange sensation of being grateful for existence or for good fortune, though, I wonder…would you be resentful of nonexistence, or place blame for random bad luck?

8 comments:

  1. I read this post on the P Z Myers blog and was just amazed by how depressing and hopeless they are without God. I mean their whole existence is based on a meaningless fluke, no wonder they're depressed. Sometimes, when I read his blog, I think the only momentary enjoyment he can suck from life is mocking Christians, sad!

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  2. You Fail Basic LogicNovember 29, 2009 at 3:58 AM

    Your syllogism:

    Atheists are unhappy. (They're not, but pretend).
    Christians are happy. (They're not, but pretend).
    Therefore god exists. (He doesn't, but pretend).

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  3. Stuart,

    Don't you mean how depressing and hopeless YOU would be without God? Seriously, where exactly did you find the doom and gloom in PZ's call for direct and prompt communication of thankfullness to your fellow human beings?

    Also, the last time I checked, religion has offered no ultimate meaning to our "creation" other than some sky deity wanting it so.

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  4. Ah, interesting. I wrote a follow up story on this that includes references to some science on my blog:
    http://noumena.eu/?p=113

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  5. You Fail Basic Logic,
    You positively affirmed God’s non-existence; please prove it.

    Studies consistently evidence that atheists and agnostics are the least charitable, least sociable, least moral, most depressed amongst us: evidence here.
    I do not take pleasure in this, my heart breaks.

    Anon,
    How could you state that “religion has offered no ultimate meaning” and then go on to list such a meaning?
    And if that was all, would that not be enough, or not acceptable to you?
    As far as I can tell we are meant to enjoy relationships with each other (and the rest of creation) and with God—fine by me.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  6. Mariano,

    Don't go off on a tangent. "You Fail Basic Logic" should not have put snarky comments in parentheses, but his syllogism still stands as representative of yours:

    1. X sucks
    2. Y rules
    3. Therefore, X is false

    If that is your argument, your conclusion does not follow from you premises.

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  7. Martin,
    Even though your syllogism very nicely encapsulated the entire corpus of New Atheist literature; I know not of what you speak as I made no commentary on this post with the exception of terming it “gloom and doom.”

    I would like to see proof of God’s non-existence from Myers and "You Fail Basic Logic."

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  8. They won't have arguments against God because they operate on the "presumption of atheism," i.e., if no good arguments for God are put forth, God is presumed not to exist until such time as a good argument is forthcoming.

    ReplyDelete