Selected Fiction I: Dear Prof. Jones, Is God Smiling?

1234 Evening Road,

Filaba Trans Company,

Zimbabwe

            Sept. 25, 1959,

Professor T. Jones,

315 Borbon Street,

University of Trifton.

 

Dear Professor Jones,

My name, as you can see, is Mukasa. I am a Mathematician in Zimbabwe; and you can say I am a mathematician by day, a philosopher by night. We met once in 1946 when I came overseas. At the oriental lecture on science and religion. We had a nice chat, as far as I can tell.

Let’s see, how should we do this. I was this black guy with a transparent glass, who claimed to have read all your books.  That, after that, you invited me to a close door dinner with your friends, only to be disappointed by my arguments; and, of course, the dinner didn’t end well.

Remember? Remember?!

Anyways, enough of the introduction, I must start bluntly: God is smiling, and at the end of my letter, you might not be, but you might learn a few things. That, professor might sound harsh, but let’s make do with just that, with what I have.

Professor, this will be a long letter, and I implore you to read it carefully. It must not be read as a one of Charles Bell’s or Amanda Dawn’s novel, but as what it is – a philosophical piece.

I have just finished your new book ‘Is God smiling?’.  Where (and you will have to forgive me); where you claimed to have buried any form of intelligent designer without much reasoning.

I must confess, sir, and with utmost respect, the book was a wash. I thought your penultimate book was a low, but this one, this one right here, is a wash.

And, perhaps, if we can humanize reason, and make her speak with regards to your recent book, here is my guess – In the first few pages, she will be in rage. From pages 174 to somewhere around 376, 378; reasonwill find no use of anger, but a lot of utility in sadness, depression. In the finally pages, I wager, she will attempt suicide. If you catch my drift, professor. If you don’t, I call it what it is – you killed reason in your new book.

But, what I’m going to do next? Am I going to stand here and continue to mourn the death of reason with the way you have treated this matter? No, that, I will (and can) not do. On the other hand, I will attempt to clean up your mess: to resurrect herover the following very long words.

I wonder where to start from. Probably, believing without evidence? To start from the start of your book, that seems, alright and logical to me, if you get what I mean professor.

And, I forgot to say, I am going to wine a little bit.

Just a little bit.

Believing without Assurances: I will start with the happy part: Let us take Dr. Desk, right in your department as an example. Yes, the same Dr Desk, the bald one. And, am I right to believe that he is an integral figure in your militant atheism club? Am I?

Anyways, I have heard him say, “it is completely irrational to believe in God” several times, using the same choice of words, almost without any error. For example, in his 1947 lecture at Durban, which I attended he said that sentence at least 16 times within the space of only a meager 30 minutes.

Because, he had continued “God has failed to show up himself in a non-metaphysical sense, he had left us, if he exists, without assurance”. Professor, didn’t you share the same sentiments with him, in this matter, in your new book? Hell yes, you did!  And, more aggressively so.

Here is what you said, and I quote. “To believe in God – and someone has to say it – is sheer stupidity. To believe in something supposedly that important, without any assurances, makes me want to puke.”

With enough background on this matter, we can now switch to the sad part: A week after the Durban lecture, I heard the very sad news, that his set of triplets died (along with his wife) in the ghastly 1949 Kuba plane crash. Could you help me do the following when you see him? I mean Dr Desk.

1) Extend my sincere condolences to him for his loss;

2) Ask him, gently, if he had any assurance(s) that his triplets will outlive him – If he answers genuinely, he will say “no”, as no one can afford such assurances;

3) If no (which will certainly be the case) could you ask why, he, back home, decided to have a set of triplets with his wife despite a lack of assurance?

4) If he keeps mum (which he will most certainly do, at first), could you help me help him, and push a little bit, and ask again, probably using different choices of word, something like this:

“Why did you opt to bring 3 human beings into existence without an assurance that they will live, at the very least, as old as you are now.”

If he could muster enough humility, he will say something like “faith” or “belief”. If he doesn’t, you can fill the blanks for him. He will also protest and say he had no hand in the three kids thing, that all he wanted with his wife was just one. Tell him, it doesn’t matter.

6) If he was brave enough to be humble, that is, if he was able to recognize, and vocalize his ‘leap of faith’. Could you ask, very gently again, (I will even request that you whisper the question to make sure no one hears, except you two):

“Is that rational?”

I presume he will not tally for a bit and say “yes, it is rational”. He will then proceed to give you a short reminder of some basic theories and, or, laws of probability, and how you can’t be sure. And I hope that by the time he is done you will start puking

7) if he says no, kindly discontinue the conversation, it’s not worth having.

Dear Professor Jones, what am I trying to say here?

This is what I am saying: something has to fill the gap between the evidences in your, say, brain (or whatever), and the real thing, since rarely speaking, no one has proof for either positions (on God) in the mathematical sense of the word ‘proof’.

That is to say, for the most important decisions in life, there are no certainties.

Again, what am I saying? I am saying that, faith is an English word, which was borrowed from the Latin word fides, which happens to mean belief or trust. Just beliefor trust.

I am also saying, as strange as it might sound to you, a price must be paid to belief in God. That price is called faith. Because – unfortunately, you are wrong –  God will not fall from the sky to declare himself God, nor would Dr Desk ever, ever have any assurance that his triplet would outlive him.

And please note that the faith that we are talking about here is not faith without evidence, as such does not exist, there must be an evidence for faith to exist. In other words, faith is an outgrowth of evidence. And my argument does not justify any form of blind faith, so no need for explanation here, as the term rightly points out: blindbefore faith.

Perhaps, our next junction should be just about evidence and evidences, if you will.

Feel free to take a break, professor, like I said, you are in for a long, long sweeeeeet treat.

Evidence and Evidences: I will not take much time to ramble about theistic evidences in this email, as it was well articulated in your book, so you know evidences when we talk about evidences (and, one only had to wonder what sort of assurance you will need). One more round of re-reading your manuscript would have gone a very long way. Anyways, let’s talk about your book, and your evidences. That is, the alternative theory here. You will notice I italicized your evidences in the penultimate sentence. Yes, I did, and it was not unintentional. And why did I do that? We will get to, precisely, that point. Just read on very carefully.

This is what you tried to do with your entire book: to dish God into the bin and embrace something called nothing– big bang, T-Theory, F-Theory, Z-Theory, or whatever you called it? Here is the deal: I don’t buy it. How can nothingbe something, and something, nothing?

Professor Jones, that I can answer: most definitely, it can’t!

Let’s unpack this a little bit more: You made a case for gravity. That the law of gravity gave us the universe, that the law of gravity solely birthed the universe. Really? Do you really mean that? Or was that supposed to be a joke or something? The truth is, that right there would have been funny had it not be so tragic.

And here is the tragedy. A law of anything only explain that anything. Nothing more, nothing else. And I will illustrate. There is a sack of potatoes staring right at me now as I write these words. If I stretch out my hand and pick one of those and I drop it. It will fall.

Did the law of gravity solely caused my potato to fall? No, it did not, even though you might be (very) tempted to say otherwise – you fell for that temptation in your book. The law of gravity only explains what happens to the potato when I drop it.

What am I saying Professor Jones? I am saying that a law cannot cause sh*t to happen on its own. How the hell will it then CREATE a universe.

I will suggest to acquaint yourself with Aristotle’s four causes, this might help you clear more debris in this space.

In the meantime, let’s move on.

Abduction, Abductee, and The Abductor: I know you know about something called abduction – not the abduction everyone knows about, but the one philosophers like to talk about. Sounds familiar?  No worries, I will refresh your memory.

Let’s say we both work for a local security agency in your home town, like the newAmerican intelligence service formed a few years ago by Truman, CIA? I think yes, CIA. Anyways, let’s say, a popular pop star was found dead, in say, God forbid, say, the attic of an isolated shingle house at the outskirt of the town on one distasteful summer afternoon.

Because of your familiarity with the terrain – (you could literally walk the entire town blind-folded), and enough skin in the game to get your blood boil (you had been a perennial friend to the deceased) – the boss selected you to lead the investigation, with yours truly as the assistant superintendent, most likely to check your biases.

When we stepped into the premises for our investigation, we were greeted with the expected – sorrow and tears dripping from friends and families; and right inside the attic, blood, red cold blood. The scene was as gory as we could imagine. Actually, it was a bit more than what we could have imagined. Mr Z. was found dead with a knife in hand, a huge pool of blood on the ground, a closed door (the first responders had to jack their way into the attic), and a neatly arranged room – as if no human had ever stepped in there.

So, we put forward the following hypotheses a) it was a suicide, given that you had know of a recent depression bout Mr Z. had to endure due to the loss of his wife. But we did not stop there, as there was more to the story.

  1. b) Mr Theophilus did it. Mr Theophilus had promised to make life miserable for Mr Z, after Mr Z was caught last week on Mr Theophilus’s bed, doing that thing with Mr Theophilus’s wife, while Mr Theophilus’s wife, unknowing to her was screaming at the top of her voice (passionately) the last name of Mr Z, not knowing Mr Theophilus was not far from the war zone. And unfortunately, Mr Theophilus happen, just happen, to be a capo of one notorious mafia in town. It was rather unfortunate.
  2. c) Mr Z. did it for Mr Theophilus. Probably because of the shame, or he just couldn’t wait to be hacked by some mafia foot soldiers strolling in downtown on a hot Friday night. Note that a) and c) are perfectly miscible.
  3. d) It was a mistake. Mr Z had just been awarded a movie role in which he was to act one unlucky Mr Jack who committed suicide in the attic of a house, in the outskirt of his hometown. Perhaps, we thought, Mr Z was just being too dramatic, too dedicated, and too fervent practicing his role as Mr Jack as best as he could but got himself killed in the process.
  4. e) It was the first responders etc. etc.

And we went on and on but let me stop there. I wouldn’t like to bore you.

So, we worked hard, really hard, several months passed, nothing much to show for it, it suffices to say it was a tough case. But we finally concluded and submitted it to the boss, say, one grumpy old fat guy who love to curse in the afternoon, and only just in the afternoon.

What it is the whole point of my long story, you might be asking. I will get to that but let’s take a short trip into the world of science (and sciencing).

If I have a hypothesis about something in nature. Let me take a ridiculously simple example: if two seeds of corn are placed few inches below a particular kind of soil, followed by daily watering for three days, the seeds will germinate.

If this experiment were to be carried out anywhere in the world, under those conditions, we will always get the same result save a few nature variations. That, Professor Jones, is an inductive reasoning whereby we generalize from a specific case to a general case, (and I wouldn’t get into Hume’s fuming on the subject). Anyways this is one of the most powerful concepts in science. That is what makes science, science, so to speak. The testability. The objectivity. The rigor. That is why we trust science (and scientists).

Now back to our local-CIA-job, and your question – what was the point of the story? Briefly, if we had managed to conclude that Mr Theophilus did the dirty job, that is Mr Theophilus killed Mr Z. I will not for the life of me, and certainly you will not rate the credibility of Mr-Theophilus-killed-Mr-Zconclusion similarly as the result from the germination experiment.

Why? One was inductive, the other was abductive. One was a fact, the other was not. One could be wrong, the other can’t be. One could be tested, the other cannot. And so on.

I don’t want to waste your time here, but I hope you get the gist.

What am I saying? I am saying the death of Mr Z. event was a singularity, it had happened, it had happened, we just needed to figure out what we needed to figure out, which we had figured out. Plain and simple. Hopefully we were not wrong.

Now, back to God: this was the same way you (and your colleagues) concluded a universe that existed out of nothing – through pure, clean, skinny abduction. But here is where I have a problem as you guys are playing fraud here (huge fraud).

How?

You played fraud with the way you present this to the average Joe on the street, and the average Jane.

You present the nothingness-origin-of-the-universeas a pure fact, as something that arose from inductive reasoning, as if it were from the rigor of experimentation in the lab, like our germination experiment. You took the abductive and presented it as the inductive.

Was that not what you portrayed in your new book?

If I am wrong, professor, let me know and I will eat my hat.

I know, I know, this is getting rather long, you are tired, and you would love to take a break now. I am tired myself. However, I will conclude now with one last request professor.

Please do me a favor if and when you will be writing the second edition of Is God smiling?Don’t lump religions. That is malicious. You are unable to kill an ant, I have learnt, even if it hurts you. Your works on abating animal suffering, and effective altruism are well known in our district.

Therefore, clearly, you would not want to be lumped with the following atheists on page 157 of an apologetics book: Stalin, Hilter, Mao, Palpot etc.

Thank you for reading, and hopefully, we have reasonback with us. She is going nowhere.

And sorry for any typos that you might have encountered, I wrote this in a rush.

Yours truly,

Mukasa. A. Faliba

 

 

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