A lost letter

I posted it long back (in my previous blog) but forgot to later add it here (among other reasons). To avoid losing this letter, I want to post it so that I can always read it and remind it myself.

 

Also, it is a personal letter, you might get bored. So read it at your own risk.

 

Dear Duke, (lets put it like this just for fun)

A 5-minute exchange of hellos, and I knew books were totally this guy’s enthrallment. Nevertheless, the brief rendezvous was just about sufficient to make me think about him the way back home. Hang on, nothing relevant to ‘Bel Ami’, just a slight awe and admiration. Things did not turn convivial immediately, after all, what can one shorty-meet crown up to. In fact, no interaction whatsoever for days, months actually.

And one day, a sudden red and conspicuous blaze on a social networking website, marked the beginning of a bond, an exchange of numbers and hence commenced long and lingering, sustained with interest, furled with laughter and giggles, with iotas of random blabber and what not, talks pertaining to music, musicians, the guitar, Mozart and Beethoven, movies, actors, food, books, Shakespeare, Catch-22, philosophies, art, eras, Victorian Era specifically,The British, gowns, hats, paintings, furniture, love, associations, friendship,people, society, rituals, to name but a few.

There is love, lots of love, but this is still not a love story. (PS: Yet ;))

Anyway, so we talked, talked and talked more, and eventually started getting shots of unbelievable resemblances in thoughts and plans. Weird! Months of fluctuating togetherness, and it was time for you to move to the land where you belonged. It was the day of our last meet before you fly. ** Followed by some cute stuff which is too cute for the blog **

You know most of your closest friends since forever.But there are a few of them, you don’t need to. All that matters is, the time you have spent, and for us, this time is all that we needed to know that every time we look at each other, we will smile. The thing is, that between us everything goes unsaid, that is why I cannot explain much, (also because I am not a writer). Still, to make my point more clear, this is what I would say: I always want him to stick around and call me the Duchess, (though I know at one point of time it wouldn’t be morally correct :p , but we will figure it out later).

That is all that is worth mentioning about the story of the Duke and the Duchess. Things and connections have been erratic since the long distance but nevertheless, the special bond is destined to remain unaffected, unmarred,irrespective of the time and the distance of course, and the affinity is surely meant to grow.

The Duchess

 

Letter Dated: Before I started dating this woman.

 

Creed of Atheism

We believe in Marx freud and darwin

We believe everything is OK

as long as you don’t hurt anyone

to the best of your definition of hurt,

and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.

We believe in the therapy of sin.

We believe that adultery is fun.

We believe that sodomy’s OK.

We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better

despite evidence to the contrary.

The evidence must be investigated

And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes UFO’s and bent spoons.

Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.

He was a good moral teacher

though we think His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same

at least the one that we read was.

They all believe in love and goodness.

They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing

Because when you ask the dead what happens

they say nothing.

If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,

then its compulsory heaven for all

excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson

What’s selected is average.

What’s average is normal.

What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.

We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.

Americans should beat their guns into tractors .

And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.

It’s only his behavior that lets him down.

This is the fault of society.

Society is the fault of conditions.

Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.

Reality will adapt accordingly.

The universe will readjust.

History will alter.

We believe that there is no absolute truth

excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,

And the flowering of individual thought.

PS: Chance

But,

If chance be the Father of all flesh,

disaster is his rainbow in the sky

and when you hear State of Emergency!

Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage!

Whites go Looting! Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshipping his maker.


–Steve Turner, a British Journalist (Creed;1980)

 

An old favorite of mine. Leave your comments to say what you felt!

India crosses the moral line of no return if Narendra Modi becomes prime minister

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Originally posted on Quartz:

In October 2012, I spoke to a crowd of mostly Indians in the Detroit area about the need for innovation in Indian media. After my talk, I was stopped by an Indian woman who looked to be in her forties, was elegantly dressed, well-spoken, and struck me as someone who I could have easily run into at a gallery opening in Mumbai or high tea at a five-star hotel. She complimented me on my speech, I thanked her, and we began talking about the far-off 2014 Indian election. What she said to me that day festers in my memory:

“Even if Narendra Modi was involved in the Gujarat riots, I don’t care. His economic work wins out. I will vote for him.”

Since then, I have not been able to shake a deep-seated disturbance at her disregard for essential humanity. This disregard, I fear, is shared by many in India. Before…

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If God Made the Universe, Who Made God?

Is it philosophically incoherent to say that something could be eternally existent and uncaused?

 In his 1927 essay, “Why I Am Not a Christian,” atheist Bertrand Russell reflected on our origins. If we ask, “Who made me?” then we should also ask, “Who made God?” Russell concluded: “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause.” Likewise, Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking asks about what got the universe going, what makes the universe continue to exist, and what theory could unify everything. He then muses: “Or does [the universe] need a creator; and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him?”

Christians believe that the universe began to exist because the Bible tells so: “In the beginning, god created the heavens and the earth” (genesis 1:1). But mainstream scientific explanations of the universe seem to teach the same thing. Whether or not you agree with its implications for the age of the earth, the standard big bang theory affirms that the universe — physical time, space, matter, and energy — came into existence roughly 13.7 billion years ago and there are three key reasons support this.

First, the universe is expanding — a phenomenon detected by red-shifted stars — that indicates they are moving away from us. As we backtrack in time, we see the universe moving back toward a definite starting point.

Second, energy is spreading out — an indication that the universe is winding down (the second law of thermodynamics), implying it has been wound up and is not eternal.

Third, the static noise you hear on untuned radios or TVs is the hissing sound of the Big Bang — what we call cosmic microwave background radiation. These three discoveries strongly support Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The universe has not always been around — whether as a static (or “steady state”) universe, an eternally oscillating (expanding and contracting) universe, or infinite number of universes (“multiverses,” for which we have no scientific evidence anyway). What’s more, even naturalistic scientists acknowledge — even if grudgingly — the universe’s absolute beginning. Astrophysicists John Barrow and Joseph Silk state: “Our new picture is more akin to the traditional metaphysical picture of creation out of nothing, for it predicts a definite beginning to events in time, indeed a definite beginning to time itself.”

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Stephen Weinberg remarked that the now-rejected “steady state theory [which views the universe as eternally existent] is philosophically the most attractive theory because itleast resembles the account given in Genesis.”  Michael S. Turner acknowledged in Scientific American: there “once” was “no previous era” and that “[m]atter, energy, space, and time began abruptly with a bang.” Barrow and Silk ask: “What preceded the event called the ‘big bang’? … the answer to our question is simple: nothing.”

“From nothing, nothing comes” — or, if you like the fancier-sounding Latin, ex nihilo nihil fit. Skeptics would universally assume this principle were it not for the fact the universe’s beginning sounds much like Genesis 1:1 — and a personal Creator to whom we are responsible. A lot of naturalists are hoping for a metaphysical “free lunch” — something from nothing — but this often seems to be a God-avoidance technique.

But let us get clear: Nothing does not mean “unobservable entities like subatomic particles”; it means no thing. Being cannot come from nonbeing since nonbeing has absolutely no potentiality to produce anything. The chances of any thing coming from absolute nothingness are zero. Popular science writer and physicist Paul Davies says: “We don’t have too much choice”: either the Big Bang was produced by “something outside of the physical world,” or it is “an event without a cause.”

Metaphysics is the study of ultimate reality. An obvious metaphysical principle is that being cannot come into existence from nonbeing (nothing). Even the 18th-century Scottish skeptic David Hume called this something-from-nothing idea “absurd.” Atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen affirms what we all know: “Suppose you hear a loud bang … and you ask me, ‘What made that bang?’ and I reply, ‘Nothing, it just happened. You would not accept that. In fact you would find my reply quite unintelligible.”  If this is true of little bangs, then why not the Big Bang as well?

So if absolutely nothing existed in the past, then nothing would exist now — but clearly something exists now. This means something has always existed. But given what we know scientifically, a physical universe (or anything physical) could not have always existed.

Some have suggested that eternal abstract mathematical entities could be responsible for the universe’s beginning. But abstract entities or ideas do not have causal power to produce something; they just do not do anything. No, we are looking at some spiritual being capable of bringing finite matter into existence.

The skeptic’s “Who made God?” question falsely assumes that all existing things need causes. But it is just not obvious that whatever exists must have a cause. What is obvious is that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. Theists reject that everything must have a cause; if they did not, they would have to believe God was caused too. We know the universe began to exist. It must therefore have a cause. On the other hand, the eternal and self-existent God by definition does not need a cause but is uncaused.

“Who made God?” assumes atheism — that all things, including God, must have a cause. But a caused God is no God at all, since He would be dependent on something else for His existence. This is question-begging — assuming what you want to prove. This is like saying, “All reality is physical; therefore, God cannot exist.” Now, the principle “whatever that begins to exist has a cause” is not question-begging; it does not assume God created the universe. We can still ask, for instance, whether its cause is personal or impersonal.

Sadly, Bertrand Russell had a reputation for engaging in one adulterous relationship after another. In addition to this physical cheating, he did some metaphysical cheating as well. Remember his alleged rejection of God because of the “who made God?” objection? Yet later in a 1948 BBC debate with Christian philosopher Frederick Copleston, Russell nonchalantly commented that the universe is “just there, and that’s all.” Did you see what he did? He earlier rejected God because he assumed God’s necessary self-existence was incoherent, but he accepted the universe’s self-existence as perfectly coherent. And he is not the only philosopher to play such metaphysical games.

We have observed that the “Who made God?” objection assumes atheism. What is more,many of the world’s great thinkers from Plato and Aristotle onward believed that matter or the universe was eternal and needed no explanation for its existence. Now that we know the universe began to exist a finite time ago, why then could not an eternally existent God be its cause? As Dallas Willard observes, “an eternally self-subsistent being is no more improbable than a self-subsistent event emerging from no cause.” In fact, before the Big Bang became a well-established theory, atheists and skeptics themselves — including Russell — believed the universe is eternal and therefore does not need a cause. But even so, no one could reasonably accept that something could pop into existence uncaused, out of nothing (as we saw with David Hume). But now that contemporary science supports the universe’s beginning, many nontheists squirm at the possible theistic implications of this fact; they would rather opt for its being uncaused or (somehow) self-caused.

Whether it is the universe, God, or some other “Absolute” or “Ultimate,” many brilliant minds holding diverse philosophical views have considered an eternal, self-existent entity to be quite coherent.

Why does anything exist at all? Here it helps to distinguish between necessary and contingent being. A contingent being (a) requires something outside itself to cause (or actualize) its existence; (b) is sustained by something else; (c) is finite; and (d) is an intermediate explanation. By contrast, a necessary being’s own natureis the sufficient reason for its own existence; it is (a) uncaused, (b) self-sustaining, (c) eternal, and (d) ultimate. By definition, God has to exist in all possible worlds. As a necessary being, God cannot not exist.

By contrast, there is no reason to think the universe has to exist — that it is a necessary being. Neither the universe as a whole nor any of its entire members has to exist. If the universe is winding down and is not eternal, then it is reasonable to ask: “On what does the universe depend?”

We have seen that the universe could not pop into existence uncaused from nothing. And why a universe? Why not elephants or pianos popping into existence uncaused? No, whether we are atheists or theists, we take for granted that for anything that exists (whether contingent or necessary), there is a sufficient reason for its existence.

We have seen that “Who made God?” begs the question, assuming what one wants to prove — namely, that all things must be contingent (dependent) entities. But God is in a distinct category from the rest of reality. To put God in the contingent category is like asking, “How does the color green taste?” or “What flavor is middle C?” God, by definition, is an uncaused, necessary (noncontingent) being. God should not be blamed for being noncontingent. To get clear, let’s reword “Who made God?” to “What caused the self-existent, uncaused Cause — who is by definition unmakable — to exist?” The question answers itself.

Is it not baffling that something could be eternally existent? Well, certain realities — such as logical laws or mathematical truths are clearly uncaused — and, we could argue, are rooted in God’s rational nature. For instance, the statement “2+2=4” did not become true a finite time ago. So if this is true, why could not we say the same about God himself?

And how could a perfect, maximally great being just “happen” to exist? We could reply that skeptics face a more difficult challenge — a precisely tuned universe beginning from nothing. That is, how could a perfectly tuned universe spring into being — with its precise mass, expansion-rate, proton-electron ratio, electromagnetic force-gravity ratio, and many more delicately balanced conditions for biological life built in from the outset? Rather than opting for a chance universe from nothing that produces homo sapiens with absolutely no margin for error, an intelligent powerful necessary Cause behind this fine-tuning sounds far more plausible.

At some point, we will need to arrive at an ultimate stopping-point to intermediate explanations. If scientists allowed for an infinite series of explanations, scientific progress itself would be crippled. Clearly, the universe is not that ultimate, necessary explanation. As a necessary being, however, a self-sufficient God turns out to be the most suitable — and final — explanation for all reality outside himself.

 

This is an article written by  Paul Copan . Details of which can be also found here.

Reflections after two months of PhD

Blessin Varkey:

A fellow at St-Andrews, Toma might enlighten you if you are looking for a PhD someday!

Originally posted on Academic in progress:

So here I am, finally writing my second blog entry.

Those lovely promises that I made in my first post, that go along the lines of writing every week to remember every moment of my PhD journey, happily crashed once the real journey begun and I cannot stop feeling guilty for every moment spent not working. Blog, unfortunately, still counts as not working in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong – I do procrastinate, just perhaps in less meaningful ways than keeping track of my life as a PhD student. For instance, last week my colleague and I discovered a scooter in our PhD office, which up until now leads to occasional (or maybe more than occasional) rides around the office, at least when it is not too full. Helps if anyone is feeling drowsy too! And then there is an attempt to have some social life, and to balance it…

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