Friday, December 15, 2006

God is not mocked

The forces of atheism are coming up with some new in-your-face tactics. One guy has issued a $50000 challenge:
This is an open challenge to any American citizen who passes a lie detector test that I will specify in a moment.

We will both take the math SAT or GRE (aptidude test). Your choice. We will both have only half the normally allotted time to lessen the chances of a perfect score. Lower score pays higher score $50,000.

To qualify you must take a reputable polygraph that proclaims you are truthful when you state that:

1. You are at least 95% sure that Jesus Christ came back from the dead.


2. You are at least 95% sure that adults who die with the specific belief that Jesus probably wasn't resurrected will not go to heaven.
But I'm betting fifty grand they are not. Their beliefs make them relatively stupid (or uninterested in learning). Or only relatively stupid people can come to such beliefs. One or the other. That is my contention. And this challenge might help demonstrate that.

This is a nice idea but it might backfire. I'm sure the mean believer is pretty dumb, but I would not be surprised if there are some believers who are mathematically adept. William Dembski of the Discovery Institute is a jerk but he does have a PhD in Mathematics, for instance. And what about all those brilliant Jesuits? Do they still have them? I'd like to think that there is a class of brilliant and perverse people who are believers simply because it is intellectually challenging. Anyone can believe the possible, but believing in the impossible requires either stupidity or genius.

On a related note, The Blasphemy Challenge will offer you a free DVD of The God Who Wasn't There, and all you have to do is risk your immortal soul by posting a video clip where you deny the Holy Spirit.

I was going to do take the challenge, but then I realized that I didn't really want to deny the Holy Spirit. I'm not afraid of a little blasphemy, but I'm not sure exactly what the Holy Spirit is, so don't feel very secure in denying its existence.

Actually, I'm fairly sure that whatever the referent of "The Holy Spirit" may be (and it may be nothing more or less than an idea) I'm pretty sure it is not a thing, like a teapot orbiting Saturn. If it's anything then it is beyond existence or non-existence. Neti neti.


goatchowder said...

".. believing in the impossible requires either stupidity or genius."

That's excellent. I suspect that successful entrepreneurship, scientific exploration, revolutionary leadership, and "vision"-- requires a rare mix of both stupidity *and* genius.

Long ago I found a study that claimed that the personality trait most closely correlated with entreprenerial success was an inability to correctly and accuratly size or scope a new task.

I see that as a very particular kind of stupidity, in other words: the ability to believe in the impossible. Or at least the ability to ignore how impossible it is ahead of time.

The test studied only entrepreneurship, presumably because it was either interesting to them (IIRC it was a business school that did the study) or because it was relatively straightforward to quantify entrepreneurial success. But I believe this particular genius/stupidity trait is shared by successful inventors, artists, writers, or anyone else who endeavors to make the impossible possible.

And I agree, the leaders in many fields-- including religion-- probably posess this trait too, and might be bright enough to beat this guy at the challenge, alas.

mtraven said...

Yeah, and I'm thinking of probably the same guy you are: Richard Stallman. It was stupid to think that people would write software without getting paid for it...