Ask A Genius 425 – Scientific Nihilism: Nihil (2)
October 27, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Apart from individual believers, does this impact the intrinsic claims of validity or veracity to divine inspiration to holy books?
Rick Rosner: You can’t overestimate the power of casually held and inconsistent beliefs. Right now in the world, your mainstream American Christian believes in God and in science, even when they contradict.
Because their belief is loosely held about each thing. People don’t require themselves to have completely consistent belief systems. People live their lives. They casually believe what they’re going to believe about God and science.
Most people are never going to examine their beliefs so that they are squared away and consistent. It will be the same thing in the future. People believing in both religion and science in casual ways; that is probably not consistent or logical, and just people will live their lives that way.
Jacobsen: That is the individual believers again. Given the understanding now, is it plausible, apart from possible, that these texts were divinely inspired or not?
Rosner: I think in the future people will increasingly put things in a secular context. These texts may or may not have been inspired by God, themselves, or their friends, but not, in fact, from divine inspiration.
Jacobsen: For instance, I think it’s 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. You can find a guy named Ahaziah. One says he came into power at 8-years-old. Another says that he came into power at 18-years-old.
I think it’s those sorts of fine print that, as people tend to take on more secular perspectives and simply enjoy the worship and the community without really consistent beliefs about it or examines of the text, will simply ignore this more and more now.
Rosner: I don’t think those inconsistencies are disqualifying. You are looking at many hundreds of years of potential mistranslation. In the early Rennaissance, and maybe even longer, if you are looking sculptures of a Jew, sculptures of Jews would have horns sticking out at the temples.
Because there was some mistranslation in the Bible that Jews have horns. It was not meant as disrespect. It said that Moses and other Jews had horns sticking out. If you are a Biblical scholar, there are probably many words that can be argued over endlessly based on a mistranslation.
Jacobsen: I’ll ask another question. If, theoretically, we had the perfect intended text in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, is it plausible to say that those were divinely written?
Rosner: Not to me, it is not plausible. You can still believe it. You can probably make arguments from complexity. Intelligent Design people like to argue that eyes are too complex to have evolved without intervention, which is the dumbest possible argument because eyes are one of the most independently evolved organs.
They evolve all the time. If you are an organism across hundreds of millions of years, you would have to be doing something way, way wrong not to evolve eyes. You could argue, “How could these systems evolve as set out in the Bible or the Quran, or whatever the holy book is, without God directing it?”
You’ve got a bunch of sheep herders. People who grow wheat and make shoes. These barely technological civilizations or these sub-technological civilizations. How would they come up with this stuff without God coming along?
They probably did not have underwear. I don’t know. How can people who did not make underwear make these holy books and immense ethical schemes?
Jacobsen: Under that scheme, does that mean no magic in the universe? As you call them, the principles of existence or the more common label of the laws of the universe.
Rosner; Yes, I subscribe to that. We live in the natural world. When a macro event happens, it has a cause. Quantum events can happen with a certain amount of randomness because that is built into quantum mechanics.
But when a baseball hits you in the head, there is a thrower and a ball. There is a system in place. You can argue for magic via simulation. People like to argue that there are probably more simulated worlds by a ratio of infinity to 1 than naturally evolved worlds.
I forget the exact argument.
Jacobsen: Is this the Bostrom argument?
Rosner: I forget. But the world feels natural.
Jacobsen: You could apply a reality-simulation certainty dichotomy. Something like this as a principle. In our model, we have the possible states of existence as infinitely more than the states of non-existence.
In that sense, with the argument of simulation being an infinite possibility of those, you really cannot distinguish between those two. Either one of those is reasonable in an infinity context, potentially.
Rosner: That’s reasonable to me, at this time.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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