DEEP THOUGHTS: God in the Spreadsheet
Kevin Drum over at CalPundit.com led me to this.
Odds on that God exists, says scientist
Stewart Maclean, Catherine Bolsover and Polly Curtis, The Guardian (UK), Monday March 8, 2004
Yeah, on this site I linked to a lot of things and made fun of Mel Gibson's movie quite a bit. But now it seems the odds are I will roast in hell for it. Mel gets to heaven, probably, and I don't. Why?
And what does this Brit in Ohio use to work out his assessment?
Wait a minute, Steve! "Goodness" makes the existence of God more likely?
Let's think about that. Remember the Crusades? Remember the Inquisition? Remember the Thirty Years War? Yeah, well, looking at it the other way, smiting the godless, torturing people and mass slaughters may be a form of goodness to some. I suppose that depends on your perspective. Making sure "bad folks" die in excrutiating pain has, as a very good thing, many adherents.
Goodness is, though, a slippery term. Ask Martha "It's a good thing" Stewart. Hell, some people (like me) think anchovies are "good."
I remember when first encountering Dickens or Shakespeare my English students would whine, "But that's boring." And I would then patiently explain that they were bored, which wasn't at all the same thing as Macbeth or Great Expectations being intrinsically and inherently boring, or not. No written work was boring as such. There was no such inherent quality. But there was one's reaction - "This bores me" - that is quite valid. Of course.
I suspect this Unwin fellow is confusing reaction to something with its inherent qualities. Perhaps he should read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" where Robert Pirsig chats about such things, bringing in the Pheadrus dialogs of Plato.
That seems unlikely. This fellow would have us use Excel spreadsheets.
Why am I reminded of Douglas Adams and the question at the core of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where, of course, the answer the meaning of everything turns out to be... forty-two?
Unwin says he's interested in bridging the gap between science and religion. And he argues that rather than being a theological issue, the question of God's existence is simply a matter of statistics.
Yeah, well, Unwin, we all have our issues.
So the probability that God exists is sixty-six percent, and Unwin maintains that he is personally around ninety-five percent certain that God exists. Good for him.
Two in three chances God is out there. For this guy a nineteen in twenty chance.
Fine. Suppose we grant this, even without downloading the spreadsheet Unwin has devised.
Does this not then beg the question, if there is a God, probably, what is God doing these days? What is this business with war and death and all the rest? God's messing with us? He, or she, or it has an odd sense of humor or Mel Gibson understands fully? Perhaps so.