Monthly Archives: May 2011
In which an atheist tries to rebut the Causal Principle by presenting this dialogue:
Christian: When you see a building, you know it had a builder. When you see a painting, you know it had a painter. When you see the universe, you know it also had a maker. This is God (of course it must be the Christian form of the many Gods). It is IMPOSSIBLE for something to come from nothing
Atheist: A builder and a painter takes existing materials and uses them to make the end product such as a building or a painting.
What existing materials did God use to make the universe? What? Are you telling me God made the universe out of NOTHING? I thought you said that was impossible?
Here, the atheist tries to fashion a hypothetical discussion between a Christian and an Atheist which he hopes would seriously undercut if not rebut the Causal Principle. After reading that brief dialogue, the atheist hopes you would at least be persuaded to believe that the Christian is advocating a position which could be proven to be logically inconsistent or perhaps metaphysically unnecessary. At any rate, does the atheist’s objection actually defeat the Causal Principle?
The answer is NO.
The problem I suspect is that the atheist has not fully understood what the Causal Principle or the causal premise is actually saying. In my experience talking to many atheists, they usually attack a rather flippant or overly simplistic version of the argument without actually attempting to understand the full explication of that premise.
Let us briefly examine what the Causal Principle is actually saying. The proper way to understand what the Causal Principle is saying is to read it thus: “Being can only come from Being; something cannot come from non-being”. This would be the same as saying that “nothing (no something) comes from or of nothing/non-being”. This is not only intuitively and philosophically valid, it has also been confirmed constantly through science. There are no serious objections to this principle.
The common objections you hear from people claiming to anchor their objections on science is nothing but a grave misunderstanding of what nothing actually means. When you talk to people who pretend that this premise can be shown to be false, all you need do is try to talk to them about what they understand NOTHING to mean, and you will see quite clearly that in most cases they treat NOTHING as if it were SOMETHING indeed.
What about this atheist above who misconstrues the argument for why the universe has a maker? Well, I am not sure that this atheist understands the logical conclusion of his argument. It is one thing for an atheist to suggest that we may not currently have the full explanation of how the universe came about; or where the universe came from (considering the recent forays into multiverse theories). Nevertheless, it is another thing altogether to say the universe created itself out of nothing, or that it spontaneously popped into being. This is where many atheists indeed have to bite the bullet if they have to escape the logical inference to theism. But why would the atheist risk rationality and even common sense to stake out the absurd claim that the universe created itself? For the universe to spontaneously pop into being, or to create itself as it were, the universe would already have to be existing! This is clear nonsense.
So how do we apply the Causal Principle to the universe? Well, here’s the simple answer. The universe has already been proven to have a finite past. In other words, the universe was not eternal in the past. For the universe which shows a finitude in the past to begin to exist, it had to have a cause which brought it into existence. Even if you posit a multiverse (an unproven fantasy at the moment) which gives rise to this universe as one of several billion possible universes, you have not escaped or avoided the specter of cosmic beginnings. It simply pushes the question back as to how that parent or mother universe came to be. The atheist would be forced to declare that there is no naturalistic explanation for that, or else assert that this unproven figment of the imagination called the multiverse is simply eternal and uncaused.
The statement “God caused the universe to exist” does not furnish us with anything other than the realization that God preceded the universe and was the efficient cause of the universe. Consider the sculpture called The David, for instance. This sculpture didn’t pop into existence uncaused out of nothing from nothing and by nothing. It had a cause. The efficient cause of that sculpture is the sculptor Michelangelo. He is the one that thought it up and fashioned it albeit from a material cause (the marble). It is useful to understand the difference between efficient and material causes. When someone says that God is the cause of the universe, that statement does not furnish anyone with the physics of the event because the said event was clearly above naturalistic physics. When a Christian says that the universe did not spontaneously pop out of nothing, they are quite plainly saying that the universe came from something. That something is God. How God chose to do it is what science is trying to unravel.
So what stuff did God create the universe from? This is a very good question. God is held to be the maximal possible being. As a maximal being, he possesses maximal power. So, only a maximally powerful being can act on a state of affairs causally prior to the universe to produce the universe. Only a maximally powerful being can create the universe that now exists out of literally no stuff (nothing). The claim the Christian is making is simple: God is the explanation or the efficient cause of the universe—and this he did or fashion ex nihilo, or literally out of nothing; which simply means that he did not use any supposedly pre-existing material substance to create the universe.
At this juncture, the atheist may be tempted to disagree, with the hope that there may come a time in the future when some scientists that are deeply uneasy about the logical inference to theism, which comes out of the realization that the universe was not past-eternal, would succeed in showing a completely naturalistic account for the origin of the universe. Indeed, many of such theories purporting to establish a past-eternal universe have been advanced in the past and ultimately defeated.
If I may suggest, there is possibly no way that I see to get around the specter of cosmic beginnings. Any thinking atheist who purports to actually follow the science involved will sooner or later realize that the issue of the origin of the universe cries out powerfully for an explanation. The only explanation that makes sense of all the relevant philosophical and scientific knowledge at our disposal is the case made for a creator God.
Relax folks, the world is not going end tomorrow. Forget the charlatans running all over the place proclaiming Judgment day. This is not the first time that people have sought to whip up mass hysteria by talking about the end of the world—and it is not going to be the last either.
You know, I was quite surprised that a lot of people seem to be genuinely apprehensive and fearful regarding the possibility that the world would end tomorrow. I have tried to understand why but I sincerely cannot fathom a reason why any sane person would choose to believe that the world would unaccountably be destroyed tomorrow.
Why indeed would the world end dramatically tomorrow? What cogent reasons inform that wild speculation? Do you know—does anyone know?
Please, let’s stop the mass hysteria. Nothing is going to happen. Many people may die all from many different reasons all over the globe, but this little blue ball will continue to float around the sun tomorrow, and for a long time. Deal with it.
Last weekend, I went to see the movie Thor. After hearing or reading people talking about another sensational movie from Marvel comics, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to check out this movie. It was in 3-D, so as you can imagine, I already prepared my mind for what promises to be a grand visual and auditory experience.
Suffice it to say that after seeing the movie, I can’t remember why I thought this movie would be spectacular. It really was just an overhyped CGI baby—as a matter of fact, if anyone is used to watching movies from Marvel comics on superheroes, they’d be hard-pressed to reconcile this movie Thor with their distinct expectations.
Without any apologies, I don’t think it deserved to be on 3-D. The movie was big on computer generated imagery, but not much about it required it to be in 3-D. There would not be much of a difference if this was rendered in 2-D. It would just be like any other old-fashioned CGI-dominated sci-fi set in some fictive realm in outer space. To be blunt, that’s all this movie really is—a cheesy, overly fictionalized, computer graphics-generated harum scarum set in some unknown realm of space.
Apparently, they just took the Norse myths of old, and worked out a story. It is the story of how Thor, the son of Odin, king of the Asatru pantheon, rebelled against his father’s methods and was subsequently cast out of Asgard. Thinking his father to be weak, old and ineffective, Thor took it upon himself to go with a few of his friends to Jotunheim to fight the Frost Giants. There he quickly discovers that bravery can only lead you so far without wisdom and cunning. Luckily for him, his father Odin arrives just in time to save the Asgardian warriors from certain annihilation down in Jotunheim. Thor gets banished to earth where he learns the necessary lessons in humility, circumspection and sacrifice. Afterwards he is restored to his former estate.
That is the movie in a nutshell. You’ll have to watch the movie to see the details. I am not quite telling you to see this movie or not to see it. You’ll have to make that decision yourself. If you love sci-fi then there is a good chance you’ll like this movie. For the rest of us who thoroughly enjoyed movies like the Xmen series, the Spiderman series, Iron Man 1&2, Incredible Hulk, Batman and other quality Superhero movies, I can say this movie did not meet to the mark; it left much to be desired. It just reminded me of that hopeless movie Watchmen—and we all know what a colossal flop that was. I hope the upcoming Superhero epic called Captain America is way better than this.
What are your thoughts on the movie? Did you like it? If yes (and I suspect most people would say YES), what about this movie really tickled your fancy or made it such that you would recommend this movie to anyone? Other than the CG-imagery, was there much about this movie that suggested the rugged, human superhero to you?
If you have not seen the recent White House correspondents dinner, then you really should. You should see Obama play the comedian-in-chief. It was a week that saw the state of Hawaii finally release Obama’s long form birth certificate shaming these ridiculous racist birthers. Why was Trump invited to this event, to come and get all these eggs on his face?
LOL.. enjoy the show.
And if this was not enough, here’s more from SNL’s Seth Meyers.
Any Nigerian who is not intimately familiar with the political upheaval in Nigeria over the past 30 days should really sit up and start paying close attention. The reason is because we are dealing with life and death issues here; we are talking about matters so grave that they affect the very foundational structure of Nigeria.
As you may have noticed, April was the month that a multitude of Nigerians went out to vote for their leaders. The aftermath of that election was a most horrifying cycle of barbarity and violence as northerners faithful to the defeated Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, took to the streets of the North, destroying the properties of and murdering hundreds if not thousands of Christians, Southerners, members of other parties like PDP, Igbos and a number of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in cold blood. Looting and destroying the homes, property, business or church centers of southerners in the North or in extreme cases, dismembering these southerners (especially the Igbo or Igbo-sounding southerners) by gangs of violent disaffected youth seems to be a fairly routine and cyclic episode in the North. However this time around, they also attacked their fellow Muslims who they suspected to be colluding with the PDP, or giving succor to Christian southerners. And worse, they also attacked and brutally murdered scores of innocent NYSC corpers!
For the benefit of any non-Nigerian, let me briefly explain what the NYSC is all about. Nigeria has a compulsory, nationwide youth service program for people graduating from the various universities and polytechnics. These fresh and inspired young men and women, who have graduated from their various universities, and are thus ready to face a challenging world first have to show their dedication and patriotism to the fatherland. To do so, these fresh graduates will be dispatched by the NYSC government to towns, cities and villages far removed from their local environ for one year. In this space of time, these corpers are expected to mingle with people of other ethnic origins (tribes), social, religious and family backgrounds. They are expected to learn the culture and possibly the language of the indigenes of the place to which they were posted. This will help in the development of the country as these corpers form part of (if not the majority of) the educational, health, administrative and business sectors of the communities they find themselves.
It is no secret therefore, that in the Nigerian equation, the Northern half of the country urgently need the invaluable service of National Youth Service corpers every year. Let us just face the facts: in terms of physical development, the Northern part of Nigeria is sorely lagging behind despite the fact that it continues to swallow a disproportionately larger slice of the national cake. It has produced most of the presidents or military rulers that Nigeria has had in its 50 year history; it (the north) has a disproportionately larger presence in the Nigerian military; the north has more local governments and thus more senators and representatives in the Nigerian National Assembly—an observation which invariably stresses the lion share of Nigeria’s income which go directly to the North and her politicians. Yet, they are lagging behind in practically all socio-economic indices because of the unmatched greed and incompetence of the North’s elite political class.
If you like, you can blame it on the feudal and hierarchical structure of the Muslim-dominated north. The incontrovertible fact is that a huge portion of the wealth secured from the southern half of the country over these many years has gone directly to fund development projects in the North—even if such projects come at the expense of projects in the south or close to the very areas where the nation’s income-accruing resources are found. If that were not enough, an astounding portion of state revenue has gone to line the pockets of the north’s own political and cultural administrative class. The result is that the North’s elite class turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the blighted, poverty-stricken, illiterate and disease-prone masses. With a high unemployment, life does really appear gloomy and depressing judging by the standard of living obtainable in the south. This is why the North desperately needs Youth service Corps members every blessed year.
In many of these remote, dusty and impoverished villages in the north, these corpers run the ramshackle health clinics treating and helping the masses of the poor and diseased denizens of these places. They rely on the corpers to teach in their primary and secondary schools. Needless to say, many of these children in the North do not want any formal western-style education—a fact discernible from their general lackadaisical approach to their studies. Perhaps, it helps that these northern school administrative boards have a policy of passing every child on to the next higher grade whether or not such a child demonstrates a mastery over the curriculum. And oh yes, they have to be very thankful of something called “Federal Character” whereby possibly unqualified or less than qualified northerners have to be hired or considered for any national duty or employment—all for the sake of “fostering peace and unity amongst Nigeria’s many ethnic nationalities. It is the Youth corpers that are relied on to work as election registrars—registering the people who intended to vote. They are the ones who handle the delicate election computer equipment and were to serve as Election Day poll officials to conduct the elections. As a matter of fact, the roles of these corpers in the communities they find themselves are virtually inexhaustible.
In the south, the corpers are not quite as visible, or as crucially needed. The difference is very clear. Most of the things which corpers serving in the North have to do to help their villages and communities already have people doing them in the south and possibly making a living doing so. The technological, social, and economic infrastructure needed is already in place in many parts of the south coupled with a very strong capitalist work ethic. In the south, people wake up each day and struggle hard to make a difference in their families because, unlike the north, the people in the south (especially southeast/southsouth) are not beneficiaries of massive Federal government presence or largesse.
Having said the foregoing, I will not hesitate to note my sickening bewilderment and gut-wrenching disappointment over the recent events in Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, Niger and many other parts of the Muslim North. There were horrifying stories of NYSC members that were beaten and maimed and forced to fraudulently register underaged people; some were forced to thumbprint for the CPC to ensure that CPC won overwhelmingly in those polling stations; some female NYSC were groped and physically violated during the exercise; and ultimately, when Jonathan Goodluck won, gangs of bloodthirsty northern youths started hunting down and killing innocent youth corpers! I am not talking about simply harassing or beating up people as a crude means of intimidation—I am positively saying that they went on a murderous spree, and with terrible blades they hacked away and cut unlucky NYSC members to bloody pieces and burnt everything they had with fire! There are harrowing stories of near-escapes from certain death as terrified NYSC members sought refuge in the bush or in barracks. Fleeing from these unprovoked attacks, some hid in the houses of their muslim neighbors, but they weren’t all lucky when the vicious mobs came around. The ordeal was real and every bit as gory. Yet, these are the young men and women who only a few weeks ago were doing everything in their power to help the illiterate, underprivileged and relatively destitute people in many villages and local governments up in the North!
The saddest thing about this is that it is a yearly or regular occurrence in Nigeria and there seems to be nothing that can be done to effectively stamp out the menace of religiously or politically-motivated violence in the North. Whenever the spate of violence kicks off, the state and federal governments mouth empty promises or at best, send a few soldiers to calm down the situation and all is promptly forgotten! Nothing is tangibly and credibly done to arrest and punish the depraved brutes that fomented the carnage; as a matter of fact, if any were caught and jailed, the local authorities will protest and demand their release. Above all, nothing is usually done to give these dislocated and maimed Christian southerners any comfort or medical care and attention. Usually, none of them are to be compensated by the state governments. If they are dead, nothing is done to remember their deaths or celebrate their lives that were barbarically cut down by the rampaging hordes of disaffected northern youth. No state burials, no flags flying at half-mast, no one-minute silence in schools to remember or honor the hapless dead, no finely sculpted memorials, no reparations to grieving families, not even the barest acknowledgement that some unspeakable crime had been committed. This should offend the sensibilities of any decent person—especially when this narrative plays out again and again to the same predictable end.
This is why I am asking a few questions for your consideration: Do we really need the NYSC? Why can the rules of the NYSC not be amended to permit people serve in their own localities? Why must people send their loved ones to die every year in the killing fields of the north for the sake of some perverted idea of national unity? What in the world is it going to take for the governors of northern states to guarantee the safety of NYSC members? What will it take to severely punish the perpetrators of this crime to the extent that such terrorism begins to look like an unattractive prospect for other would-be terrorists?
I am tired of asking these questions every time. The time to be proactive is now. To that effect, I’ll never allow any child of mine, or indeed any relative or acquaintance of mine to go up North for their youth service period. I’ll further advise every sane Christian or Igbo southerner to abandon the North permanently. They can reside and earn a living somewhere in the south away from the sporadic specter of violence up north. This is just not negotiable as far as I am concerned—until a time comes when there is sufficient security for non-northerners in the north. To be frank, relative security in my mind, suggests that there are still terror-inclined masses around who may be keeping their violent constitutions in check because of some overwhelming presence of state security officials. Even if this situation were suddenly available, I wouldn’t be moved. That is because there will still be a toxic and combustible mixture of xenophobia and religious fanaticism which could potentially explode. Such an uneasy calm is not attractive to me. The only way I may be persuaded to change that view is when it becomes crystal clear to all and sundry that the masses in the North are unilaterally against the violence being perpetrated in their name, and as such rise or speak with one voice to condemn these homegrown terrorists; and exceeding that, they have to take actions to crush them completely as well.
- Nigeria-Attacks on Youth Corpers:Doing Violence to the Idea,and Cause,of National Unity (henryik2009.wordpress.com)
- Is It Still Save To Be A Youth Corper? (chiomankemdilim.wordpress.com)
This season’s series of El Clasico clashes will end tomorrow after Real Madrid comes to the Camp Nou for the return leg of the Champions League semifinal encounter. The winner of that matchup will in all likelihood meet Manchester United in the final. Before these recent encounters between the Merengues and the Blaugrana started, a lot of devout football fans were beside themselves with joyful anticipation of a great season of impressive football that would thrill like never before. Memories of the 5-0 defeat that Barcelona handed to Real Madrid last November were all the more reasons why people were anxious to see how Real Madrid would avenge that embarrassing defeat; or else, whether Barca would come close to another impressive and dominant performance.
Sadly, the past three encounters have left a bitter taste in my mouth. To tell you the truth, I am disappointed by what has gone down so far. I’ll make a few observations here.
A. Barcelona’s quality of play has been on the waning end lately. I don’t know exactly why that is the case, but their overall performance is not as crisp and as stellar as it used to be earlier this season. For one, Pedro and Villa need to rediscover their goal-poaching instincts. It used to be that in any match, the opposing team’s defenders could not really decide who to cast their attention on between the three forwards Messi, Villa and Pedro. Any one of them could score on you at any time, and so it was not very easy to exclusively mark one of these three to the point of figuratively taking him out of the game. Now, because it seems that the main task of scoring goals has fallen on Messi’s shoulders (in recent games), I find that opponents just find it easier to put 2 or 3 defenders on Messi thereby shutting him out of the game. Of course it doesn’t always work when Messi finds a way to score, but can you imagine what it would be like if when Messi finds himself in that position, the other two strikers pick it up and start banging in goals? And then there is the issue of the injuries that Barcelona have had lately. All these add up to slightly less than satisfactory performance from Barca in recent times as far as I am concerned.
B. Jose Mourinho’s football philosophy, or his tactical strategy towards games may be adored and praised by many, but I find it exasperatingly negative in matches against Barcelona. Anyone who has seen Real Madrid play against other teams realize that with Real Madrid’s formidable array of players (just look at their bench for crying out loud), they are capable of comprehensively beating any team in the world. The Real Madrid of yesteryears (before Mourinho came along) were masters at the beautiful free-flowing game of football. They had good attackers and good defenders and were content to let a game go on to its fanciful and spell-binding end. However, when Real Madrid meets Barcelona, for some reason Mourinho thinks it best to ask his formidable line of attackers to bury their goal-seeking instincts in order to defend the goal. I find that a very unusual strategy. Why in the world does Jose Mourinho think it a great strategy for a team like Real Madrid to “park the bus” against Barcelona—without directly or indirectly conceding that he considers Barcelona the better team? Does he think that Real Madrid cannot play a normal free-flowing game against Barcelona and win?
C. As we have seen in the first two encounters, Mourinho practically gave up the midfield and football possession to Barcelona; content to just massively defend, quickly counterattack and fall back in a massive defensive posture again. To his benefit, that strategy yielded a 1-1 draw, and a 1-0 victory over Barca to win the Copa Del Rey. But as anyone has seen, that strategy is not without its downside. For one, it makes for a very dull and edgy game of football. The Galacticos have an impressive bench to take on any team in the world without feeling a need to adopt an overly defensive posture. But since Mourinho had successfully employed this “park a bus” approach in last year’s Champions league semis between Inter and Barca, he obviously feels that is the only possible way of getting any result against Barcelona. Secondly, that strategy often results in an overly aggressive game of football—one in which every contact in the game is exaggerated and possibly milked for referee sympathy.
D. When Pep Guardiola noticed Mourinho’s strategy in the first two encounters, he switched it up for the third game. Seeing that Mourinho simply wants to keep his men defending at all times, and relying on quick counter attacks to demoralize, Guardiola had to come up with a new strategy. So what did he do? He decided that the best way to go about this was to maintain maximum possession. And so Barca was content to just pass the ball around all day, daring and defying Real Madrid players to come out and attempt to get the ball. The result was a very dominant and frustrating 71% of ball possession for Barca in front of Real Madrid’s home fans. At a point, the crowd became restless and wanted some results from their players. But because of Barcelona’s stranglehold on the ball, Real Madrid’s players were frustrated to the point where they became inpatient and overly aggressive. You could see it in the kicks, jabs, pushing and shoving, tugging and grabbing that ensued. And that was just what Barca wanted, for they milked it to perfection—diving and feigning injury at every opportunity they got. It was all embarrassing to watch Alvez and Busquets falling all over the place pretending to be hurt, only to quickly jump up and continue after a card had been given. But who is to blame Barca for Real Madrid’s intentional decision to play an overly defensive game? Is Barca to blame for the fact that Mourinho chose not to deploy his attacking talents in the game?
E. Tomorrow’s game is probably going to be like the previous ones. I expect to see another overly aggressive game of football where impatient Real Madrid players try to suffocate the dominant and slithery passing game of Barcelona. But I have a nagging feeling that we will see another serious round of drama tomorrow. Barcelona defeated Real 2-0 on the home pitch and as long as they maintain a tie in this upcoming game, they’ll advance to the final. But anything can happen. If Mourinho dumps this overly defensive posture and comes out to snatch goals, then truly anything can happen. They might even succeed in beating Barcelona on their own field—a feat which is well nigh impossible this season. Perhaps this last encounter will give lovers of football a memorable and entertaining game of impressive football to be discussed for weeks or possibly months. But I doubt that. In all likelihood, we are going to witness another ugly match to emphasize the depth and bitterness of this long-standing rivalry.
So in three games we have seen a draw, and a win by both Madrid and Barca. What would tomorrow hold? Will it end in a draw?
The news reaching me, and which has doubtlessly reached you by now, is that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Who does not know who Osama Bin Laden is, and why the news of his death would generate worldwide headlines? Well, in case you are not very sure, Osama Bin Laden is a Saudi Arabian terrorist and head of the terrorist organization called Al Qaeda. He and his cohorts were responsible for the World Trade Center bombings by 2 air planes nearly 10 years ago. Ever since that fateful September morning, when two hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center killing around 3,000 innocent souls, there has been an intense, no-expenses-spared, multilateral and international campaign to capture or kill Osama, the visible architect of so much destruction. As a matter of fact, they came very close a number of times and would have succeeded if not for some other slight issue like an unneeded delay resulting from the normal bureaucratic shufflings that typically attend these matters.
After a while, people began to suspect that he may already be dead; not that his absence or his possible death did anything to dissuade other would-be terrorists from actively plotting against or indeed attacking the US. But today,without any shred of doubt, Osama is dead—dead as a door nail after Obama gave the secret authorization, upon his examination of some very urgent intel, for him to be caught or killed. And that was precisely what happened. He was spotted somewhere deep in Pakistan (mind you, not Afghanistan where the US is currently wasting vast resources), the authorization was secured from the President and as soon as he was spotted he was killed. I imagine that his body was forensically analyzed in addition, to confirm his identity beyond any reasonable doubt.
In the coming days, expect to see some symbolic acts in the Muslim world seeking to demonstrate solidarity with Osama and with whatever jumbled idea of “liberation” or “resistance” he sought to represent. He may be dead, but no one is deceived into thinking that this has put a final nail in the coffin of Al Qaeda. If anything, you should expect that this bearded, vile and slithery brute would be considered a martyr for the cause. The attendant consequence would be some supercharged emotional outburst against the United States and her allies. One hopes however that some real Muslims would stand up and be counted to defend the cause of freedom and common sense whenever the orgy of violence starts rocking the Middle East.
Wherever Gaddafi is, he should be very worried. He has wittingly attracted the sore displeasure of Obama and other Western powers. At the rate he is carrying on with this exaggerated sense of his own invincibility, it won’t be too long before he suffers the same fate as the multitudes that have had to die as a result of his actions.
This is a good way to start the new month: Carpe Diem!