Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Goat fixes airplane. Or does it?

Read this article, and see what you think:

Goat Sacrificed to fix Nepal Jet

now scroll down.

Were you shocked? Are you apalled that there are people in this world who think the best way to go about repairing a technological device is to sacrifice an animal to appease a god?

Next question:

Do you profess to be a person of faith? Do you follow any religion?

Because if you do, if you genuinely believe in divine intervention, than this story should be perfectly reasonable to you. But would you get on that plane? I'm betting not. I would wager that even those among you who practice a religion find this sort of behavior rediculous, as well you should.

But that should tell you something about just how much you actually believe in supernatual, superstitious, religious hocus-pocus.

If you really, truly, deeply, at the very heart of your being, think that there is/are sky fairies who watch our every move, pay attention to what we are doing, give a shit about what we are doing, answer prayers, intevervene, and all the rest of that, than there should be nothing at all strange about how the Nepalese maintenance went about repairing a malfunctioning jet.

If you really believe in god, put your money where your mouth is: fly Air Nepal.


Rimshot said...

Oh my, what a sweeping generalization.

What if I don't believe in the pantheistic dogma of Hinduism? Do I still have to fly Air Nepal even though my personal faith in the One True God and my understanding of salvation lead me to believe that their (the goat sacrificers) acts are either impotent at best or blasphemous at worst?

I would think that you, dear C.B., being the intelligent, broad-thinking individual that I've gathered you are, would know better.

I would be happy to discuss my understanding (imperfect and rudimentary that it is) of the differece between Faith and Religion, as well as the difference between how one acts and how one ought to act.

Rimshot said...

Sorry for the double-post.

You asked, "Were you shocked? Are you apalled that there are people in this world who think the best way to go about repairing a technological device is to sacrifice an animal to appease a god?"

My personal answer is, no. I'm not at all shocked. It's not like this sort of thing is uncommon. There's craziness all over, every day. That's why I don't watch the news. I'm also not shocked that otherwise intelligent people can believe that life can spontaneously pop into existence from non-life or that the universe could magically come into being from the absence of time and matter all on it's own.

Nope, not shocked at all. Saddened, but not shocked.

Rimshot said...

Besides, everyone knows that to fix a plane, you don't sacrifice a goat. You need to use a lamb and two doves (unless its on a Tuesday). Sheesh, the things that pass for knowledge.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

ah, rimshot rimshot rimshot. thank you thank you thank. you made exactly the point i was hoping you (and in fact counting on) to make.

you've said that the goat/plane thing is silly not becuasuse using magic to fix technology is silly, but because that particular magic/religion isn't true. what you've done is put yourself in the position of having to demonstrate the actual truth value of your beliefs. in order to successfully employ the arguement you put forth you need to show why any one religion is more ACTUALLY TRUE than another, which, I shouldn't need to inform you, can't be done.

i agree with you that there is craziness all over the world, but the craziness of trying to fix a technological device (which required SCIENCE to create) with magic struck me as a new, unique, and particuarly upsurd form of nuttiness. when your car breaks down do you make a burn offering of a sheep? when your radio breaks to light candles and say incantations over it? of course not! duh.

don't apologize for the double post. that is not in any way an offense. :o)

regarding your misunderstanding of the (current) scientific explanation of how life originated, it did not appear spontaneously out of nothing. (that is the view you are advocating.) rather, chemicals that existed in abundance in our ancient oceans formed more complex chemicals (not alive). some of these more complex chemicals had the ability to replicate themselves (such as short RNA strands, which are still around today, contained within modern life forms). These self-replicating chemicals became more abundant and more complex. They still weren't life as we would define it today. (This process, by the way, took millions and millions of years.) During this time between the formation of the first self-replicating molecules and the emergence of simple life like unicellular aglae and bacteria were many, many transitional stages of entities with some life-like properties (such as self-replication) but not all the properties that we today would require to call something "alive" (such as metabolism). It wasn't just a *poof* there's a fish, *poof* there's a flower, *poof* there's Adam.

Richard Dawkins gives a much more thorough and lucid explanation of our best scientific understanding of the origins of life than I could possibly offer here in "The Selfish Gene." Or for a slightly less in-depth explanation, but slightly more readable for the lay mind, try chapter 4 of "The God Delusion." Go on, I dare you. :-p

Rimshot said...

CB: I will be most happy to explain in the best detail I know how (which probably is quite rudimentary and insufficient) as to why, by the preponderance of evidence and/or simple logic, why Monotheism is more likely to be correct (by a great margin) than any alternative. But then, since none of it could be proved (much like the non-life to life stuff), it would, as all things do, ultimately require an act of faith to believe. Unfortunately, I doubt the confines of this comment section would allow for the length of explanation required, nor, I believe, would your kind readers be very interested in the innane ramblings of some crazed theology-head.

Also, I'm not so sure that the story says what you think it says. I would be more inclined to believe that they fixed the plane with conventional, technological means and the goat sacrifice was more for the benefit of the passengers and patrons (more symbolic than diagnostic). A more elaborate "God bless you" as it were.

I'll gladly re-read Dawkins if you'd like, but since, as before, I'll read it with a page or two of notes on logically errors and fallicies along-side, I doubt I'd do little more than find even more unsupported assertions and straw-man arguments. But, if it'll make you happy... :)

also, there's no misunderstanding about the current evolutionary explanation of first all amounts to about 200 proteins/amino acids getting together and saying, "Hey, if we work together, something might happen" A discussion for another day, I fear.

Rimshot said...

Again, apologies for monopolizing the queue: I don't mean to come off as adversarial or confrontational. Any such inference is purely coincidental and stuff. As far as I'm concerned, you and your readers and fellow blonkers are top-shelf!

First Nations said...

I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.
You are awesome.

love, FN

Billy said...

They fixed the plane in the normal fashion as well as sacrifing the goat.

How is this any different from saying grace before a meal?

Chaucer's Bitch said...

rimshot: the article is, indeed, ambiguous on the subject of whether a mechanical repair was carried out or not. i'd like to think that it was. but that still begs the question: if you do the mechanical repair, why bother sacrificing goats? and if the goat thing is effect, why repair the mechanical fault? surely if one is effective you don't need the other, and i find it extraordinary to think that someone could find BOTH methods simultaneously effective, given that they work on mutually-exclusive principles.

i'd be curious to hear your criticisms of dawkins. i'm sure an intelligent -- yet "crazed" -- "theology-head" is more qualified than an oxford professor to comment on matters of science.

FN: AND I got roses at work this morning from my boss. It's just one big love-fest around here, isn't it? *Mu-aH!*

Billy: i hope so. did you read that elsewhere? the BBC article was unclear on that point.

the difference between saying grace and what Air Nepal did was intended to cause direct action and have a physical consequence, whereby saying grace is simply a display of an attitude (gratitude). if, as you suggest, a mechanical repair was also conducted, than it's less dangerous but still pointless.

Rimshot said...

This humble, crazed, theology-head is the last person to claim qualification on most any topic, however, I would hope that you agree that I'm entitled to my opinion, as Mr. Dawkins is entitled his on theism/theology, philosophy and religion. (That IS his specialty, right?)

Re: The goat sacrifice. Would it be considered 'effective' if it achieved it's desired result of assuaging the fears of passengers and customers, much like any cultural ideosynchrisies?

Re: qualification...I'm shocked and amused that you've yet to establish or even ask my humble qualifications, such as they are, yet deemed it appropriate to cast aspersions in that regard (or am I misreading). I'm actually hoping that you're connecting one's status with their relative believability factor, as that will make my arguments (yet to come) so much the stronger. Thank you!

Da Nator said...

I think they just wanted some goat stew.

Rimshot said...

psst, C.B...

shhh! I won't tell.

Rimshot said...

...and you'd best HOPE that they did do actual technological/mechanical repairs, because if all they did was sacrifice a goat and the plane was fixed, we're all (except the Nepalese) in BIG TROUBLE!

Tim Footman said...

I got into a bit of bother over this, but I'm still rather hazy about whether they did actually fix the plane in the conventional manner as well. Since Nepal Airlines declined to identify the fault in question, I think the jury's still out.

Geosomin said...

Bwah? Please tell me they fixed it and *then* did the goat thing?

I'm all for people having faith and beliefs, but when it impacts me flying in a tiny metal tube a few zillion feet in the air, I'll take a repair savvy athiest anyday!

homo escapeons said...

I thank you for the chat on cyanobacteria. Their little gaseous photosynthesizing created an oxygen rich atomosphere that enabled Life to occur on land. Originally our atmosphere started out as a thin, toxic, mixture of Hydrogen, Carbon Monoxide, Ammonia and Methane.

Now I have lived in both of the 'stitious' worlds, super and regular, and what I know for certain is that we humans love to cover our bets.

I received my Brights email the other day and it occurred to me that our prophets, St Hitchens and St Dawkins, have a daunting task before them.

Even 300 years after the Enlightenment, we can produce 'scientificky', rational, explanations until we are as blue in the face as the brights logo, but it all comes down to choosing a cosmology that we like.

We are obviously lightyears away from dismantling the millenial practice of sacrificing scapegoats, releasing Doves at sporting events, and carrying UNlucky rabbit's foot keychains.

Now that I think about it, the Animal Rights Groups have an equally tough row to hoe.

Rimshot said...

...Cosmology we like...

I wasn't aware that there were options. Regardless of what one chooses to believe, I'm fairly certain that there's only ONE Actual Truth about it. I guess we'll all find out sooner or later, in this life or the next.

If only Professor Peabody and his intrepid pet boy Sherman would get that space/time machine working again.

Michael said...

I'm also not shocked that otherwise intelligent people can believe that life can spontaneously pop into existence from non-life or that the universe could magically come into being from the absence of time and matter all on it's own.

So where the eff did your god come from then? An omnipotent being springs into existence, creates the known universe (and an after-life!), then chooses to cloak itself in order to effectively condemn much of the humanity it created. That's easier and less sad for you to imagine?

Rimshot said...

Michael, it seems you don't fully understand the concept of God. God didn't 'spring into existence'. Time didn't exist until the universe began (I believe the popular name for it is The Big Bang Theory). Something outside/beyond the universe created the universe (I'm sure you'll agree to the widely accepted belief that the universe had a beginning). Let us, for the sake of argument, call that something GOD. HE was there BEFORE the universe (cause and effect and all), and therefore before time, i.e., timeless and eternal. If you google the Law of Causality it'll make much more sense than I could in my graceless, amateurish explanation.

As far as 'chooses to cloak itself', I can't agree. We have The Bible. I don't have the space here to go into the comparisons of authenticity and accuracy of the historicity but suffice it to say that if you choose to believe ANYTHING from or about: Homer, Demosthenes, Herodotus, Plato, Tacitus, Caeser or Pliny (to name a few), you cannot help but accept the accuracy of The Bible (as far as historicity goes). There's a whole thing about eyewitness testimony and generation time constraints and the voluminous manuscripts and such as well, but that's all historian stuff that's really not worth getting into here. I'm certainly not trying to convert you, nor do I believe that I'd convince you of the truth of the events told in The Bible, so just for the sake of argument, we'll all just understand that what I mean is "from a Christian world-view".

Then there's the matter of free-will. If The Omnipresent, Omnipotent Creator of Everything were to pop in on you during tea, I would think that you'd be hard pressed to say, "No thanks, I'd rather just fuck off for a bit and maybe shag my flatmate, don't really believe in you and your moral law is a bit inconvenient at this stage in my life." (or whatever).

There's no 'condemn', as you put it. Where anybody ends up in the next life (again, for the sake of argument) is their own choice and if that's ok with God, it certainly is fine with me.

Sorry for the long-windedness. I'll get off the soapbox/pulpit now.

Rimshot said...

CB, if the above is know...inappropriate or whatever, feel free to delete it with my sincerest apologies for overstepping my bounds.

homo escapeons said...

Rimshot I like your style because you have a sense of humor!

I spent my 30s as Pentec'hostile' but I eventually got tired of wearing 'condemns'.

You must execise caution if you try to describe the Bible as being historically accurate. Try to think of it as if it were a movie set. Everything certainly looks convincing but it loses a lot of the magic if you walk around the back of it.

Michael said...

The Bible is historically accurate? Oh, that's rich.

If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.
- Bertrand Russell

Michael said...

PS The Bible is a Bronze Age text written by the folks in power as a tool to keep it that way. It's been a very effective tool ever since.

Michael said...

There's no 'condemn', as you put it. Where anybody ends up in the next life (again, for the sake of argument) is their own choice and if that's ok with God, it certainly is fine with me.

Why not make it more explicit? Why put it in a text that some people will never read? Why NOT show up while I'm having tea? HE only wants people to act according to his plan by BLIND FAITH? PROOF negates the value of believing in HIM? God is petty, yo.

Rimshot said...

Re: Bible being historically correct.

Again, I doubt I'll convince you otherwise as it would appear (at least it does to me) that you're predisposed to not believing the facts that I'd present in defense of the accuracy of the historicity of The Bible.

However, to the claim that it was written by 'those in power' to keep it that way...(titter, chuckle)...I would think that the early Christian leaders such as Paul, Peter and James (you may recognize some of them as some of the authors of the New Testament) who were PERSECUTED and KILLED for their beliefs would have chosen a better way to first GAIN power and then keep it. I wouldn't have chosen to write something contrary to thousands of years of Jewish tradition, nor something so troubling to the Roman Empire that it would get the entirety of Jewish population in trouble, nor something so very easily verifiable by including so many high profile names and places and occurrences, nor something with so many personally embarrassing details. Nor would I have had it written in different languages, in different places in the world, by different authors (The Bible is, after all, a collection of writings).

Why not be explicit? Free will. Proof negates the ability NOT to believe in him. God is fair, yo. (Plus there's the whole thing about , you know, being Jesus and miracles and crucifixion and stuff. Some people didn't believe him then either)

Michael said...

I was talking about the Old Testament being written as a tool to keep the powerful in power. It's true that the New Testament may not have started out that way, but it, too, was not written by contemporaries of Christ, and it doesn't take long for "history" to morph. "History" is only the stories that stick. If Christianity would actually act according to the principles that Christ supposedly espoused, I'd have much less problem with it. I don't have any problem with Christians believing any stories they want, if they would just use them to guide their own lives, instead of subverting the message and using it to subjugate me.

I can't even stay focused enough to argue about this at times, because you get incredibly worn down by this religion constantly telling you that what you are is evil and wrong and less than and OTHER.

PS So what's wrong with negating the possibility of NOT believing in him? That seems like a win-win, if you ask me. Everyone gets the GOOD after-life and everyone toes the line he's drawn. Too easy? Too fair? This omniscient and all-powerful god doesn't want that? No fun for him if there's no losers and no winners? Silly.

And "titter, chuckle" all you want, if you don't think the monotheistic religions have been used through the centuries to keep people in line, you really should read more.

Rimshot said...

What something is used for by people doesn't change the essence or truth of what something is.

I've used a butter knife as a screw driver, but it's still a butter knife.

People have done things under the guise of religion, sure. That doesn't change the truth about God. That just means that people are dicks!

If there's no God, there are no "winners and/or losers" so you're in the clear. As a matter of fact, no God = no basis to make good/bad judgments.

Which religion, by the way, are you referring to and how do you equate or differentiate it from Faith in God?

And you're absolutely right. I SHOULD read more. I've been trying for a while to get through "Catch 22", but I must admit that I find it unreadable dreck! I'll wait for the next R.A. Salvatore novel. Damn I love a good yard with elves and swords and magic and heroes, but you probably already knew that about me.

Michael said...

I don't begrudge you your belief in these stories. I do have a big problem with the havoc these monotheistic religions wreak on the world. Is there a war going on now that isn't rooted in religion?

I'm not at all worried about being in the clear.

No God=no basis to make good judgments.

I don't need any reward to conduct myself in a manner that I think is "good". I have free will and the ability to think logically. I don't need "heaven" as a dangling carrot to act according to what feels just and true. You talk about being sad, I'm saddened by what your statement implies about humans. That we need the threat of a God who will smite us and/or eternal damnation in order to be "good".

I was raised Catholic. I understand the appeal. It's a scary world. It's comforting to think Big Daddy is out there looking after us.

Rimshot said...

Michael, again you've misunderstood my meaning.

Its not a matter of reward or smiting or damnation or scariness, its a simple logical requirement.

You said that you "act according to what feels just and true." But someone else can just as validly feel "just and true" to mean lopping of your head for the sheer pleasure of finger-painting with the plasma spilling from your now exposed neck.

There must be an objective standard , otherwise Martin Luther King Jr. and Hitler just had a difference of opinion and are really just the same.

We're heading into some deep philosophical waters here:

In modern philosophical terminology, Thomas Aquinas, in his Suma Theologica argues along the following lines:

1. Things exist in the world around us that exhibit finite degrees of great-making properties (e.g. being, goodness, truth, beauty)

2. The existence of something exhibiting a great-making property to a finite degree implies the existence of something that possesses the property in question to a maximal degree

3. Therefore, all great making properties possessed in finite degree by beings in the world around us, including being, are possessed to a maximal degree by something

4. An effect cannot exceed the greatness of its cause

5. Therefore, there exists a maximally ontologically secure being that possess every great-making property possessed by its effects to a maximal degree; and this we call God

It should at least be clear that Aquinas' argument is logically valid, and consequently that this line of thought cannot be dismissed flippantly.

First Nations said...

we're all coming from a judeo-christian background here.
let me throw this all into a little relief:

the bible is gods revealed word.
then why are there so many provable innacuracies?

because men translated it.
then how are we supposed to know what part's the right one?

you go by faith.
what's faith?

nobody can explain it. faith comes from god.

ok. so, you get a guide book but it's innacurate and the only way you can understand it is with the aid of a unexpressable gift from an intangible deity.
face believe this because you were either raised to believe it, you're afraid not to, and it's comfortable, or because you underwent a 'conversion event'. in any event it rocks no boats, plus you get to sit back smugly and say 'well, I believe because God gave me faith', which might make you feel all special but which is the logical equivalent of saying 'the tooth fairy left me a quarter under my pillow'.
examine why it is that you need to hold onto this belief, and entertain the notion that you might possibly be wrong. are all those buddhists really going to hell? and the aborigines too? god didn't see fit to leave a quarter under their pillow, after all. what about children born with severe mental disabilities? is eating crab salad really equivalent to having anal sex? and do they both deserve to be punished by death?
the truth is immutable, after all...and god is truth, right?
if it's worth a hoot in hell, belief in god should be able to stand up under examination. or is it the lone exception to that rule? in all of 'creation', god's existence and god's word are the sole exception to that rule, huh?

it's made up. and it's ok that it's made up. life does not lose meaning without belief in god, and humanity doesn't immediately revert to all out savagery either. faith is a way of living and a method of organizing the world, but it didn't come from an all powerful deity because there isn't one.
please, people.

Michael said...


Michael said...

Oops. That's applause.

Rimshot said...

F.N.: You seem to have some strong thoughts on the matter. Good for you.

I will say this: your proposed arguments are flawed logically. But to borrow from your process...It must give you great comfort to sit back and know you're absolutely, infallibly right in this matter.

It's been said that: "Everyone who believes anything does so by faith, whether faith in God, the Bible, himself, modern science, or the dependability of his own subjective interpretations of existing data."

How are you and I so different?

Michael said...

I'd like to hear how his arguments are flawed.

Rimshot said...

I'd like to know why you'd like to hear how his arguments are flawed. If I'm convincing enough, will you believe in God? And what would be considered convincing enough?

It's a lose/lose for me. If I give an explanation about logic and reason, it may or may not be dismissed out of hand. (Wanna guess which way I'm leaning?) If I don't, it must be because I can't, right?

First Nations said...

so....'Just Because'.
gotcha. we agree to disagree.

am i smug? yeah. am i right? probably.

anyway, i'm not exclusive. come on over to the dark side. it's fun here, and there's sandwiches. and a salad bar.

First Nations said...

...and those little airline bottles of Jack Daniels.

Rimshot said...

Salad bar is pretty much all I'm allowed these days, as I'm on a quest to rediscover the normal sized me in the super-sized me.

You can always twist my arm into a shot or seven of Jack tho'!

Chaucer's Bitch said...

I'm glad you guys have been keeping yourselves amused in the comments box over the weekend. I can't even begin to respond to all this.