Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Atheist Professor vs. Christian Student 2: The Sequel

Previously on Atheist professor vs. Christian student...


Student: So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, sur. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

Prof: I guess you'll have to take them on faith, son.

Student: That is it sir.. The link between man & God is FAITH. That is all that keeps things moving & alive.

Now, the class continues...

(As the student was about the sit down, while the Professor slumped in his chair, another student got up ...)

Meursault: Whoa... wait just a second. I have something to say.

Student: I've just finished bashing the Professor and it's nearly lunch time, what more you have to say?

Meursault: Earlier, you said that cold is the absence of heat.

Student: Yeah, so?

Meursault: But before that you said there is no such thing as cold. So are you saying there is no such thing as the absence of heat?

Student: Wha-?

Meursault: You also said darkness is the absence of light and you said you cannot make darkness darker. Buf if you permit less light to enter a room, aren't you increasing the absence of light? If you're increasing the absence of light, aren't you increasing darkness? Therefore, aren't you making darkness darker?

Student: Well...

Meursault: You see, cold or hot, bright or dark, are just conventions people use to describe a situation. It's like asking someone "How old are you?" instead of asking "How much of the absence of youth have you endured?"

(The classroom breaks into laughter)

Meursault: Your word play carries no meaning at all.

Student: Yeah? What about good and evil?

Meursault: Again, good and evil are just conventions. If immorality is the absence of morality, you can just as correctly say that morality is the absence of immorality. Does that mean there is no such thing as morality?

Student: It's ridiculous to say that there is no morality!

Meursault: Exactly! Similarly, if evil is the absence of good, then good can also be defined as the absence of evil. Does it mean that there is no such thing as good?

Student: No way!

Meursault: So, just because you've accepted one convention, doesn't mean the opposite convention is wrong.

Student: But look at what's happening around us! Murders, rape, and stealing all because of the absence of God's moral code.

Meursault: Morality doesn't come from God. Some religious people have committed murders in the name of God. Just look at the events of 9/11. Likewise, non-religious people have also committed murders, but it is wrong to assume that without God, all humans are immoral.

Student: And why not? We're all sinners aren't we?

Meursault: We, humans, have an innate moral sense. In fact, even animals, such as chimps display moral ethics, though not as sophisticated as what we humans are capable of. We are all social creatures and we have arrived at a moral consensus that is widely agreed upon and continuously evolving.

Student: It is evolving?

Meursault: Yes! The moral zeitgeist evolves. During Jesus' time, slavery was acceptable and women were accorded a lower status, but today, things are different. Similarly, racism is no longer acceptable in many parts of the world, today.

Student: Speaking of evolution, even the Professor has never observed it with his own eyes. Have you?

Meursault: I haven't, but we know now that evolution is observable. Various studies on bacteria and fruit fly have documented the slow, evolutionary change within a single species.

Student: But evolution is just a theory. It's not proven.

Meursault: Gravity is just a theory too. Relativity? Also a theory because no one can move at the speed of light. The atom? Just a theory, no one has ever seen it. Yet, based on insurmountable evidence, these theories are accepted with a high degree of certainty. Evolution too is supported by overwhelming evidence such as mutation, vestigial organs, embryology, fossil evidence, morphology and DNA evidence.

Student: How does this relate to God?

Meursault: Well, evolution does not prove that God doesn't exist, but it certainly redefines the role of a 'god' in this world. We now know that we don't need God to create new species, evolution by natural selection can take care of that. We also need to rethink our concept of Creation.

Student: Aren't there people who believe in evolution but also believe in God?

Meursault: Yes there are and I'm still learning about that. But you realise that this discussion is far from over?

Student: Yeah I suppose you're right. It is something to think about.

Meursault: Yup, that's why we're all here in university. We're here to learn! PROFESSOR!!!

(The Professor jumped out of his chair, surprised. He seemed to have dozed off during the later part of the discussion.)

Prof: Yes?

Meursault: I feel, we must question your ability to teach this class.

Prof (stuttering) : But... but... I... got my degree and doctorate from Universiti Malaya! It's the most prestigious university in Malaysia! It's even ranked in the top 100 universities in the world!

Meursault: Sorry Professor, but in 2006, University Malaya was ranked 192 in the THES World Rankings. The standard there has been gradually dropping for the past decade. And from the earlier discussion, you don't seem very knowledgeable and don't strike us as much of a thinker.

Prof (sounding dejected) : I... I.... oh alright. You caught me. I'm really not an atheist. I just like to bully people. I'm not even a real professor. I only passed my degree because I cheated on my exams. I downloaded my doctoral thesis and passed it up as my own. The university awarded me a PhD for inadequate work... who was I to refuse? The government is over-zealous in handing out advanced degrees to make up the numbers, so I just take-lah! I am sorrie.... I will resign and let someone else take over this class.

(And with that, everyone left for lunch...)



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At 6:09 PM, November 13, 2006, Blogger The Hedonese said...

Hmmm... if morality is just convention, then why do we complain when people manipulate religion for violence?

i mean, why do we expect religious folks to follow our "convention" as if being peaceable is more just a 'word'? :)

At 7:01 PM, November 13, 2006, Blogger Meursault said...

Well, because that is the moral consensus. Majority of the population feel that manipulating religion for violence is morally unacceptable. That is pretty obvious, but there are many areas which are less obvious, like abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc.


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