Monday, September 8, 2008

Two-Face is Real?

I really don't want to make light of a tragic situation, but a woman came in to the theater today with a terribly scarred face almost exactly like Harvey Dent's scarred face from The Dark Knight. I think I managed to stifle my initial fright, but, to my embarrassment, I was quite startled. The burn cut precisely down the middle and to the left of her face, just like Harvey, and her lip and eye were swollen in a grotesque shape, just like Harvey.

If you saw a person suffering and you had a magic wand that could stop that unnecessary suffering, then the kind, good-hearted thing to do would be to wish that suffering away. You wouldn't have to wait for the inflicted to acknowledge you, or to ask you for help; if you were truly good, you'd just save that person with no strings attached, regardless of whether or not the suffering was that person's own fault or purposeful.

If I was a religious person, I'd have to believe one of three possibilities. Either that person deserved the full extent of that suffering (a belief that runs counter to almost every tragic story I have ever heard or experienced), God is not all powerful, or God is not good. It's that simple.

But what really seals the deal is that a truly good and merciful entity would stop that suffering even if the inflicted deserved it. That is compassion. That is not eye for an eye, that is not turn the other cheek, that is love thy neighbor. In a world where you make the rules, suffering is never necessary. And yet God remains complacent. In fact, people claim he gets even more unforgiving in death.

Well, if that's the case, then God is not good.


SuiginChou said...

Unfortunately, this is easily countered by the old standby "God works in mysterious ways; He has a Plan; and as a mere human, you can't possibly understand this Plan. That's why it doesn't make sense to you. :p But trust me! It would make sense to you if you knew as much as God knows."

Frustrates me just about as much as I imagine it frustrates you, but that's just the way it is. This anecdote, powerful though it may be to the atheist choir, is impotent in terms of its ability to persuade Abrahamic theists that, in the words of George Carlin, "something is fucked up." (2:05-2:35)

Anonymous said...

I don't know about easily countered when understanding God's plan may be too complex for the average angry man. Why don't we pick on the Devil? Or is he taking to the tortured and offering them a good "deal" in the afterlife? My bet's on God. The only "deal" the Devil can offer is a quick escape route to Hell and leave your soul at the door.

SuiginChou said...

In professional debate, if I am the Con and I list to the Pro reasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 that I have for rejecting his proposed change to the status quo, it is considered an invalid response if the Pro says to me, "I am correct, and you are simply too ignorant to understand that."

The beauty of the Christian (and nearly all modern organized religions', for that matter) model is that it tells its followers, "Don't worry if what I tell you doesn't seem to make much sense. Don't worry if some of the things I say to you may even sound counter-intuitive. Simply believe that what I tell you is the truth." At that point, logic is made irrelevant to truth: a dangerous modification indeed! Logic should always be kept in highest regard alongside truth and not so readily discarded.

Religious apologists may claim that there are other teachings which seem counter-intuitive (e.g. some fundamental concepts in mechanics or in relativity or in quantum physics) and that skeptical atheists have no problem with accepting those counter-intuitive claims as facts, and that they should therefore be more open towards religion. But the important difference is that counter-intuitive teachings in math and science are highly scrutinized -- precisely because they ARE so counter-intuitive -- and are bombarded by empirical studies from all angles before being accepted as true. A purely faith-based counter-intuitive teaching, such as those proposed by Christianity, is not capable of being tested outside of purely thought-based (or logic-based) tests, which we have already established in the paragraph above as being rejected by believers in the first place.

Religion is its own impenetrable fortress. The believer either believes or he doesn't believe. We know of these four types of people in the world:
a) those who were raised religious and remained religious
b) those who were raised religious and became non-religious
c) those who were raised non-religious and became religious
d) those who were raised non-religious and remained non-religious

No one can deny the importance of external stimuli, i.e. of cause and effect, on a person's decision to believe in God or to not believe in God. But as to what paths lead someone to belief or non-belief, no one knows for certain. If he did, then surely one side or the other would have won out by now, or at the very least we would have seen B's and C's disappear and the world left to be populated by A's and D's.

Anonymous said...

At least there is cognisance that there is a battle ahead and one may never see the end of the road whilst busy navigating. When there is no dominion or type there will only be faith. Two face is the personification of beauty itself.

SuiginChou said...

"At least there is cognisance that there is a battle ahead and one may never see the end of the road whilst busy navigating."
To which battle are you referring?
a) the battle between religion and atheism, or
b) the (Christian religion's foretold) battle between good and evil (culminating in the End of Days)?

"When there is no dominion or type there will only be faith."
Your English is unclear to me. When there is no dominion ... over or of what? When there is no type ... of what? And why does it follow that when there is no dominion or type, of anything, that FAITH is what comes out of it? :\