A tree in the Flintstones

When I was a kid I found that the most wonderful thing about cartoons were the backdrops. When I saw the stars and floating towers in the Jetsons, the urban skyline in Spiderman, or the coral reefs and underwater mountains in Aquaman, I felt a melancholy longing for that inaccessible distance that these timeless, suspended figments of the imagination seemed to represent. They were simple, unimportant things that were probably mere afterthoughts in the composition of the cartoons, little more than fillers; but to me they were the manifestations of whole other worlds. Every star, every undersea mountain, every building in the passing skyline represented a new and undiscovered universe of possibility and adventure, noble and removed from the mundane world of phenomena that was acted out before it.

Among all those animated images, I remember one in particular that was especially captivating: that of a tree in the background of an episode of The Flintstones. When I say remember I mean rather that I blurrily recollect the image, as it's long since been jumbled in amid a nebulous pre-adolescent mnemonic tangle of impressions that were once so familiar and dear to me. Today these seem like the memories of another person. And I guess you could argue that they did belong to a different person; but at least a part of that person has lived on in some umbral corner of my mind, and the tree - or at least the meaning of the tree - has too, in that same residual little corner.

I can't remember the exact episode now, of course, nor what happens or what dialogue takes place around, in front, before or after the tree. Was Fred Flintstone driving his caveman car all alone or was Barnie Rubble by his side? Were Wilma and Betty riding in the back? I don't know exactly. But I remember the tree - actually there were a few trees... and the mountains, the clouds... and of course Fred Flintstone riding by in the foreground. But I didn't really care for the foreground. That's where people talked and things happened - minor, unimportant, quotidian things. Fred tries to get Barnie a meeting with the Grand Poobah; Betty gets a new pet dinosaur that doubles as a vacuum cleaner; Wilma wants to give Fred a birthday gift of a month's supply of brontosaurus burgers... the usual everyday stuff. But why did that insignificant little tree frozen and still far away in the background hold such an allure while those animated fictitious lives were lived out before it?

Maybe it's best to first ask a completely different question: Where do imagination and reality overlap? When and how does a figment of one's mind become real? Is it when it's shared by other minds? Is it, in this case, when an image becomes a shared impression and experience that is reproduced and replicated in the mind of each and every beholder through a mass medium that penetrates and shapes a collective conscious? So what then is that tree and what does it become?

First of all, it's not a tree but a representation. The representation itself is a molecular agglomeration of ink, paint, lead, paper, chemicals, celluloid and light applied and manipulated by various agents and further modified through machines before being reproduced onto film and projected out into the world of phenomena. They all come together in a way that creates the form and outline of a tree, and then that too merges with other forms which, through the application of electricity and mechanical technology, eventually comprise a steady stream of photons that convey the form of a consistent sequence of images I see on the screen and which I recognize as The Flintstones. And so you have the fruits produced from the sense impressions in the creator's mind transformed into a solid thing; tenuous pieces of imagination transformed into tangible reality.

But all of that has only to do with the creation of the image. What makes the imaginary real - what makes it come alive - is the moment when a personal and emotional connection arises between the image and the beholder, regardless of the will or intentions of the creator. In my case, that moment was the instant in which I saw that tree in the backdrop and felt something that suddenly - instantly - transformed it into a real and necessary part of my lived sensory experience. It seemed to both stimulate and satisfy an emotional need. The two-dimensional representation came alive, and with its inception into the realm of (my) consciousness, it became internalized. The molecular hodgepodge of chemistry, mechanics and light was now something else, as if it had transcended itself and assumed a second nature. It seemed to have gained a soul. No longer was a tree merely represented, but the tree itself became a representation. In other words, the tree had transformed into a symbol. In my case it was a symbol of distance, separation, potentiality, possibility, removal, perhaps even distinction. It had become a symbol every bit as real as a word or a thing because it represented a relationship now between me and my world and it modified and shaped in its own small way the manner in which I understood and interacted with the world around me. You could say the symbol became an emotional conduit.

But what was the origin of that feeling? How could this representation be transformed into a symbol that could cause a powerful and moving reaction in me? How did a mere representational image assume a soul. This deserves an attempt at an explanation.

It seems to me that that which enchants us and is important to us often has its origins in a fundamental paradoxical feeling or urge within us: namely, that of a need for danger (change) and a need for security (inertia) at one and the same time. It's a binary feeling that causes us to experience attraction and repulsion, desire and horror, happiness and hopelessness, simultaneously. That feeling continues later on in life, when we're caught between the need for having a secure job and the desire to break away and rebel, between the need to have a steady life companion and the desire for amorous promiscuity... basically, between the need for comfort and the drive for adventure. But in the child's life this binary paradox - something I'll tentatively refer to as "motive angst" - is too powerful to be dealt with or suppressed. It overwhelms the young mind with the promise of great, beautiful, incredible things that life holds in store for us, but it also leaves the child suffused with the fear and terror of knowing that the satisfaction of that desire for being a part of the world out there would necessitate one's leaving the warm tender bosom of security, comfort and protection that envelops a young life and that is (at least in my case) all that one has known until then. The tree was like the manifestation of that motive angst as it became the symbolic representation of that clash of desires within me. It was out there in the large imaginational universe, yet it was safe somehow.

But why was I drawn to the tree - the backdrop - and not to the foreground, not to the world of life and the living? Why was I drawn to the frozen, still, and distant, and not to the world of action, interaction and proximity? For me the tree was not just distant, it was removed, and it was perfectly unreachable. Whatever happened in the foreground, whatever happened in the world in which things happen, the world of phenomena, the tree was not a part of it. It was solid, distant, apart, estranged, and it seemed secure in all those qualities. I wanted to be all those things. I wanted to escape. I identified with the tree. It touched me, it affected me, it made me feel something strongly, and it seduced me, because the tree was still out there, it was out there in the enormous expanse of that strange universe beyond me, but at the same time it was certain in its individuality, solid in its removal, peaceful in its separateness. It was in the world without being in the world.

It's only much later in life that the significance of the tree is realized in retrospect. You look back and weigh your life and wonder about how things turned out. You confront your mistakes and your regrets, the things that made you proud and the things that brought you shame and dread. And you see that there is a strange balance between these things and how they were acted out in your particular timeline. You realize that that binary urge to do and not-do was adjusted early at a particular setting, along a particular frequency, and that all your subsequent actions and inactions were formed according to that archetypal scheme that became solidified in those formative years when your tender unconscious mind was prone to the simplest representations and impressions - all seemingly so innocuous, but at the same time so intense, so passionate, so powerful that it set its own backdrop to an entire life. It wasn't until I thought about how much I had thought about that tree, about how that tree had somehow playfully assumed a place in a corner of my unconscious mind, that I realized how far back my own removal had begun.

I yearned for the tree. There's something within all of us that wants the tree. There are so many representations that motive angst has inspired: fantasy worlds where danger and adventure lurk around every corner, yet in which there seems to be a kind of manifest security implicit in a narrative guarantee that needs to tell and finish a story and which ultimately lends the characters a false blanket of invulnerability. It all seems pleasurable, but I realize now that it's only pleasurable in the way that satisfying a need is pleasurable. It's a negative pleasure, like scratching an itch. The tree was also pleasurable, but it was false. We all want to be apart, we sometimes fantasize about it, and it's pleasant. We become addicted to the images and phenomena that seem to represent and symbolize this. But eventually you realize that that which is represented can never be achieved or realized. It's real as an eminence, but it's hollow as substance. The tree was not noble or beautiful; it was craven, alienated and estranged.

You do not become the tree. You do not see those mountains, nor do you you ever go to those stars. You do not find the magic door that leads you to a fantasy world. You live in the world, you live among people, you share their lives, you sometimes do well, you sometimes do badly, you are sometimes loved and you are sometimes not.

The tree stands in the backdrop, silent, still, and alone. We must learn to leave it be.


A series of syllogistic refutations of God

Here are a few arguments against God and five arguments against two arguments for God.

Left: God?

Syllogisms are essentially word games that prey on the use of absolutes that are rife throughout language. If x is y and y is z then x is z. This is of course not a solid basis for truth, it's just a play on ambiguous words - most importantly, in this case, the word "God". Concepts like "perfection", "good", "evil" etc. are too vague to use as premises for sound logical arguments. We inevitably make the necessary mistake of using absolutes when we make the mistake of wanting to find and extract value judgments from life for the sake of formulating an ethical code to live by, and/or a metaphysical justification for living in the first place. But life seems oblivious to such endeavors, and so language falls short of being able to logically substantiate our search for Goodness, Justice, Perfection, and - ultimately - God. After all, these are things we seek and need precisely because we find them to be lacking in life. We may put our faith in the charms and spells and magic tricks of language, but when all is said and done, words remain hollow and any further inspection reveals chronic semantic maladies.

The following are not meant to convey any truth statement, they are only meant to reveal these semantic loopholes that are part and parcel of language, demonstrating that language - our only tool for understanding the world - is a poor tool for doing so, especially when it comes to metaphysical concepts that signify absolutes. Every word is signified in relation to all other words, and so a "tree" is necessarily defined by all that is "not tree", so that in a way, a thing is not just what it is, but is also all that it is not. And so God is all that is not-God and perfection all that is not-perfection. But this is a contradiction, as God cannot be un-Godly nor perfection imperfect. That contradiction is what lies at the root of language's deception, and what makes any attempt at finding Truth impossible by - and through - definition.

For more on this subject, you can read a long tedious Treatise on God as a Semantic Problem, although I would suggest you didn't because I'm starting to suspect that life is too short to care about this shit.

Why is God illogical?
If God is omnipotent and can do anything, then God can die, in which case God is not immortal, and therefore not God. But if God were immortal as God should be, then that would mean that God cannot die, which would mean that God cannot do everything and therefore is not omnipotent, and so not God. Thus, the existence of God is illogical, because God cannot be both omnipotent and immortal, which is ludicrous because God must be both. But if the universe is founded upon logic (and it must be, otherwise the whole foundation of knowledge and science would crumble) and God created logic, then God created the means by which to prove it does not exist! That would mean either God's logic is faulty - which is impossible, because God must be faultless and perfect - or that God is trying to prove to us he is illogical, in which case his proof has no value, because there can be no concept of "proof" outside of the axioms of logic. After all, if there is no logic, then it's just as valid to say 2+2=5 or that a jar of vaseline is a pigeon, or indeed that God = nothing. Therefore, God cannot exist.

Why create?
Humankind conceives of Unity (wholeness, oneness, indivisibility) as the ultimate perfection, the root of happiness, joy and well-being. In contrast, Division and Difference is the ultimate evil, the root of sin, war, and misery, generally signifying an estrangement from God. If Unity is perfection, and God is the epitome of perfection, then God is also the epitome of Unity. So then why would a God that is synonymous with perfection and Unity create anything at all, thereby altering the primordial Oneness, since the act of creation obliterates Unity by establishing a dichotomous relationship in the universe between creator and created?

Why test?
Let's say that the answer to the first question is: "God creates humans to test them, to see if they will find faith in God and redeem themselves, thus deserving reward (in Heaven), or to see whether they will prove unworthy of God, thus deserving punishment from God (in Hell)."

Perfection must be good, and God - as the epitome of perfection - also must be good. So God could not knowingly wish evil or harm on his creation. If God is also all-powerful (omnipotent) and all-knowing (omniscient), it is in God's power to ensure that his creation will not sin and will never be unhappy. So then why would God create a situation in which his creation - which itself springs from the Goodness, Perfection, Grace, and Magnanimity of God - can potentially be shunned, reviled, forsaken, punished and eternally damned by that same good God that created them? After all, God cannot be malicious. Let's say the answer to this is that God is not malicious, but has given humans all the faculties they need to make the correct choices and to follow God's path so as to deserve reward. But then the question is this: if God is all-seeing, and God is all-knowing, and God has created humankind, then God also knows exactly what choices and decisions humankind - and indeed each and every human - will take. So if God already knows what choices humans will make, then why would he give any choices to humans in the first place? Giving humans these choices means either a) God does not himself know what decision they will take, and wants to wait and see and punish or reward accordingly - which means God is not in fact all-knowing, and is thus not God, or b) God puts his creation through a series of trials even though he already knows whether they will succeed or fail, yet puts them through it anyway regardless, and then punishes them for those decisions they could not help but take, even though God was the one who created them and determined their fate for them in the first place - all of which means that God is malicious. But God can be neither ignorant, nor malicious. So then why - and what - does God test? Isn't the fact that God has to test his creation a sign that God is unsure about his creation, and thus not perfect, and therefore not God?

If God has preordained our fate, how can he reward or punish our decisions?
If God has created us and everything else in the universe, along with all the "laws" of the universe, God must know how everything can and will interact, take place, and occur in any and all possible situations. God therefore knows every decision you will make in your lifetime, and everything that will happen. So if God already knows all the choices you will make, good and bad, how can God punish or reward you for simply acting on your own nature which has been determined and created by God himself?

If there is Good and Bad, why is the universe not only Good?
Isn't the fact that we perceive Good and Bad a reason to create and believe in the concept of a God that is Good? After all, how could a God that is Good create anything that is Bad? This would mean that there is Bad in the nature of God, and thus that God is not a Good God, nor a perfect God, and therefore not God.

Accepting that the universe is one of Good and Bad, why are God's morals inferior to secular morals?
Which person's good action is more worthy: the one who does something good for others for a reward or to avoid punishment, or somebody who does something good for others for no such reason, but only does good because it makes them feel good? This is the same case with God's morals. Would you consider more worthy a religious person with faith in God who did a good deed knowing they would receive the reward of eternal bliss in heaven while avoiding a miserable torment in hell, or would you consider more virtuous an atheist who did a good deed knowing that they would get neither any such grand reward as heavenly salvation nor fear any such great torture as damnation in hell?

Why does God need to convince his creation of his existence?
If God has created the universe, then should not God's existence be manifest within his creation? Should not God's creation - all of which springs from and thus is God - be the proof of his existence? And yet God's ultimate creation - humankind - experiences doubt which must be corrected by God sending down his word through angels, prophets and holy books. This seems a primitive and clumsy kind of method for a power that is believed to have created something as complex as the atom or the eukaryotic cell. If humankind is part of a perfect creation from a perfect being - God - then why the doubt? And if God is the perfect creator of a perfect universe, then why the need to convince his creation of his existence? How can that which has created ask his creation to believe in its creator?

Why does God not convey the technical complexity of his creation in his holy books to persuade his creation that he exists?
If God has created everything that science has discovered, then why would God not mention atoms, molecules, mitochondria, quarks, gravity, the nature of light, and all the secrets of biology, chemistry and physics to his creation through his holy books? Would this not have been more persuasive than stories of magic and miracles that science proves are impossible? Let's assume that that is precisely what God wants: for humans to believe that the impossible is possible. But how could anything be impossible if God could create the universe as he sees fit? Therefore, if nothing is impossible, then why should God fool around with trite magic tricks and illusions like turning water into wine or turning canes into snakes when he could do anything at all? If convincing his creation of his existence is so important for him, why not just make an appearance and say so, instead of using men as prophets that only some people believe and others don't, or conducting miracles he never repeats when people ask him to as proof of his existence?

If God is eternal, and God at some point created the universe and people, why was there no universe or people before?
Why did God think that there being no creation was good enough before, but decided that it would be better with creation later? If a state of creator/created is better, how could what was before be less than perfect? If God is perfection, how can God have existed in a less than perfect state that lacked a creation? And if God is perfect, how can God change his mind as to how he'd like everything to be?

Why does God expect so much from us without living up to his end of the bargain?
If you're going to be punished with an eternity in Hell where demons and fire torture you forever because of your lack of belief in God, then shouldn't God try harder to make belief in him easier by making his existence more obvious? Conversely, if God is going to reward you for an irrational belief in his supposed existence despite his not having made his existence at all clear, then should we also reward people who believe in other irrational, unfalsifiable and unsubstantiated things? Should someone who believes that the universe exists in the belly of a giant pink unicorn with pigtails be rewarded or praised for having faith in something that is irrational and unfalsifiable? And if so, then why did God give us senses if he expects us to believe things that contradict those senses?

If my body dies and my soul is immaterial, then how can I burn in Hell?
Without any physical existence, without nerves, skin, senses, and a brain, why would fire hurt me at all? How could it burn me? And let's say I went to Heaven. How could I take any enjoyment in drinking from rivers of milk or honey or enjoying the company of virgins or saints if I am immaterial? I have no senses, no touch, sight, smell, taste, hearing... I have no mouth or vocal chords with which to touch... and I have no brain with which to think and formulate ideas... Doesn't that mean that Hell and Heaven are empty threats and empty promises respectively?

If God sent down prophets and holy books, why was one prophet or holy book not enough?
Surely if God can't persuade humankind of his existence through a single prophet or holy book (which, as previously stated, is already problematic), then God is less than perfect (if not a bumbler) for using one prophet or book after the other to try and convince humankind of his existence. Furthermore, why were his holy books sent to some and not to others? And why have humans felt the need to spread God's word through violence if God could and should easily have convinced humans without need for such misery, destruction and death, all of which are evils that God's universe should be free of?

How can we laugh?
If all has been created by and from the one eternal, indivisible God, then all must carry the nature of God. All that exists must be part of God, since nothing that exists can exist without its having been created by and from God. If this is the case, then how can we laugh at anything knowing that that thing is God? By laughing at any one thing, we are laughing at God himself. But can we mock perfection? Can we find ridiculous, illogical, weird or comical, the majesty, power and awe of God?

Why faith and not fact?
If one must have faith in the existence of God, one must want and wish God into existence. In other words, one must believe God to exist. But if, as religious people and believers of God say, God's existence is manifest all around us, then why do we need to further believe it? If one is aware of the fact of the sun's existence without necessarily needing to further believe it's existence, or have faith in its existence, then how can something infinitely more precious than the sun - viz. God - not also be a fact that does not need further qualification through faith or belief?

How can my mind be imperfect?
If all is God, then my mind is also God, or at least created by God. But if my mind cannot perceive God nor believe God to exist, then is God's creation imperfect not to be able to conceive and be conscious of its very own nature? If God's creation is imperfect, how can it be God's creation since God must necessarily be perfect?

If the overwhelming majority of people need to believe in God's existence, doesn't this mean that the world we perceive seems Godless?
If I feel the need to believe something I can't see, is this not a sign that what I do see seems lacking of what I'd like to see? Does this then not mean that I need to believe in God's mercy, goodness, immortality, grace and perfection precisely because I see a world around me that is merciless, evil, ugly, mortal and imperfect?

Why didn't prophets have cool superpowers?
If you wanted to convince humankind of your existence, wouldn't you want some ass kicking Kung-Fu prophets with wings who could shoot fire from their fingertips? I bet if the Chinese had prophets that's the sort of prophets they'd have had.

Why doesn't God just pick one brand design and go with it?
Wouldn't it be better if God could just pick a language, pick one book, one prophet, one creed, one style of temple, etc. and just go with that? If all the different religions believe that theirs is the right language/book/prophet/creed etc. then why aren't they suspicious that there are billions of others who believe the exact same thing even though their language/book/prophet/creed etc. is totally different? How can humans not see projected on to God the same discord, bickering and difference that plagues the profane human world? Why do all these people believe blindly in their own truth when reason seems to suggest that God is in fact a human creation rather than vice versa?

If God is the embodiment and source of reason, logic and rationality, then why is belief in God fundamentally irrational?
If the human mind has been created to be aware of the reason, rationality and logic of God, then why must we believe and have faith in God's existence in an irrational way? After all, to believe the existence of something we cannot see is irrational. And yet even though God is the source of reason, we are expected instead to believe in things that seem unreasonable.

If God's omnipotence can be logically questioned, then can God be omnipotent?
If God's omnipotence can be logically questioned, then it means there is a fundamental weakness that is inherent in it. Since omnipotence could not have a weakness, then God cannot be omnipotent.

What if God created the world and man with different laws than those that apply to him, so that man cannot judge God by his own laws of causality, logic and science, and so this whole syllogistic dissertation is pointless?
First of all, every religion is founded on the basis that man/the world/the universe was created in God's own image. After all, how can the origin of everything be different from its creator? But once again we're judging God by our own laws and epistemological precepts. So, if we were to go along with the hypothetical question posed here, we would probably have to say that if God created us with a different set of laws, then we ourselves cannot judge God by the same laws that apply to us - that is, our laws of causation, logic and science. That means that - for all practical purposes - he cannot be our God, but the God of another universe. If God lives by different laws, then God cannot understand the human condition, our sufferings, our trials, our joys, our sorrows, our accomplishments, our deeds, our morals, and - most importantly - our minds. Yet this is precisely what we need God for. So if God cannot afford us that understanding because he lives by different laws, then - whether he exists or not - why should we care for a God with whom we don't share a common understanding? God becomes irrelevant. But if you argue that the creator must understand the laws of his creation since he is the source of those laws, then it stands to reason that the creator does also live by and understand those laws, and is thus not only subject to logical inquiry, but accountable to it.

If God is everything and all around us, can things have a dual nature?
Can something be both tree and God, monkey and God, vaseline and God? Can Jesus be human and God? If God existed before all else and existence itself is born of God, then that which exists can only be that which is God, since God can't create something out of anything but himself, because that would mean there is an origin to things - at least some things - which was not created by God, which in itself would mean God is no longer God. So can things be anything other than God?

Why do believers in God show anger and try to stamp out, punish and violently attack non-believers if they are secure in their belief that God exists and is on their side?
If God almighty is on your side, why do you have to take aggressive and often murderous action against apostates and non-believers? After all, if God is the repository, guardian and source of universal justice then surely he will take the necessary action either in this life (lightning strike? earthquake? mud slide?) without needing you to jump in and club and stone and scream at people. The fact that you feel the need to take aggressive action instead of trusting in the ways of the almighty suggests either that, a) you don't have true faith in the almighty, and deep down are insecure about whether what you believe really isn't all just clap trap, or b) that you think you are more competent than God at meting out justice, meaning that you think you are better and more righteous than God, which of course means that there is no God because nothing could be better or more righteous than God.

Refutations of Assertations 1 - The Ontological Argument
The argument runs: God is perfect, existence must be more perfect than non-existence, therefore God must exist.
Contradiction 1: To know what perfection is one must know what imperfection is. If immortality is perfection, then mortality must be imperfection. Thus, one must know bad to know good, and one must know non-existence to know existence. If God is perfect and God created the universe, then the universe must also be perfect. But we cannot know this without knowing the imperfect: hence the existence of death, suffering, misery, poverty, all of which is imperfect. But how can this be possible if God is perfect? How can a perfect being create imperfection if all is created from that perfect being? Since all springs from God, then imperfection must also spring from God, otherwise there must be another source of existence besides God, which cannot be. This means that either a) God is not perfect, and is therefore not God, and therefore does not exist, or b) perfection does not exist, and therefore neither does God, since God must be perfect.
Contradiction 2: There can be no gradations to perfection, it is absolute. Something is either perfect or it isn't, since just one blemish makes something imperfect. Therefore one state of being cannot be "more perfect" than another. So the ontological argument basically says: existence is perfect, God is also perfect, therefore God exists. But we cannot know what is perfect without knowing what is imperfect. I cannot know that immortality is perfect if I have no concept of death - which I do in fact perceive very clearly in the world. Therefore, if imperfection exists in the world, perfection is impossible. If God is supposed to be perfect, then God is also impossible, since God cannot create an imperfect world because God can have no imperfection in its nature from which imperfection can arise.
Contradiction 3: The proposition is founded upon the premise "God is Perfect", which already takes for granted God's existence and purported properties (viz. perfection), so unless you already believe that God exists, you cannot believe - and in this case "prove" - that God exists.

Refutations of Assertations 2 - Pascal's Wager
The wager is such: We have nothing to lose from believing in God and everything to gain, therefore we should believe in God.
Contradiction 1: The premise that holds this argument together is that "we have nothing to lose from belief in God and everything to gain". But if this argument is being used to justify belief in God, then it must come before we accept that belief since it is trying to justify such belief in the first place. So then at this stage it's just as valid to say "we have nothing to lose from not believing in God, nor anything to gain". After all, God is not yet justified by the argument because it is prior to its conclusion, and so God does not yet exist, and if God does not yet exist, then what have you to lose from not believing in God any more than you have to gain from believing in him? In short, the premise of this argument is already a judgment and a conclusion, which leads to Contradiction 2...
Contradiction 2: According to this wager proposition, you must already believe in God or have an idea of the concept of God to establish the premise that will supposedly justify the existence of God in the overall proposition, since you cannot actually know if "we have nothing to lose from believing in God and everything to gain" without first believing that God is of a certain nature (i.e. Good, and thus good for us, etc.). So really this entire proposition is just circular logic, because the premise relies on the proposition, which in turn relies on the premise, and so on.
Contradiction 3: By believing in God you may gain heaven, but you may also end up in hell. But by not believing in God you will forsake heaven but you will also save yourself from hell. That means that belief in God is riskier, and disbelief safer, but neither one is more advantageous for you. If you give heaven one point, hell -1 point and a state of neither 0 points, then the believer's chances and the non-believer's chances all even out to 0. If anything it might be better to believe that you're at least not going to hell regardless of whether you're going to heaven or not.

Conspiratic theorems

We Turks understand the world through conspiracies. Here are some incontrovertible factoids* behind the Truth.

What do the Izmit earthquake, the PKK, our foreign debt, South Park, Eastern European prostitutes, yoga and Charles Darwin have in common? You guessed it, they’re all part of a secret plot masterminded by a cabalistic network of freemasons, Christians, Jews, the CIA, MOSSAD, Hollywood and the European Union to weaken and destroy Turkey. How do we know this? Well what else could explain why we’re not the gleaming superpower nation ruling the entire universe? It’s obviously a conspiracy to hold us back. Any unemployed schmuck in a coffeehouse – or leader of a major Turkish political party – could tell you that. The only thing holding us back is not our own incompetence but the exceptional competence of everybody else.

I know, I know, your puny little brain is thinking ‘whoa, is that true?’. Well why don’t you true this: ever heard of H.A.A.R.P.? Yes, that’s the High-frequency Active Aural Research Program in Alaska that ostensibly ‘studies’ ionospheric physics and radio science. Know what it really does? It creates earthquakes, storms, hurricanes, floods and mudslides to hit America’s enemies and rivals with.

1999 Izmit. Massive quake. 30,000 Turks dead. Coincidence?

Now you’re going, ‘wait a second, Izmit’s bang on the North Anatolian Fault, earthquakes are bound to happen.’ But do they just happen to happen on 17 August, 1999? That’s 17-8-99. 17 + 8 = 25, which, when subtracted from 99, gives you 74. Add to that the day the earthquake happened (17) and you get 1774. Ring any bells? Yep, that’s the year the American War of Independence began and – surprise surprise – the year Turkey lost a war to Russia and signed the treaty of Kuchuk Kainardja, which granted Russia the right to intervene in Turkey thenceforth for the sake of ‘defending’ CHRISTIANS in Turkey. Coincidence? Coincidence this: George Washington was a freemason and Catherine the Great was an avid supporter of freemasonry, her court having been full of freemasons. And so on that cryptically symbolic day in 17-8-99 we just happen to have 30,000 MUSLIMS mysteriously die by a ‘force of nature’ that hits Turkey’s industrial heartland… how convenient. But the plot runs even deeper. Subtract 8 from 17 and you get 9, which – when you add the year of the earthquake (99) – gives you 999. Now turn the page upside down (much like an earthquake can turn your world upside down). Bam: 666. Number of the beast. Conclusion? Earthquake = Masonic-Satanic plot.

Ok, that makes sense, but what about the other stuff? Is the 30-year PKK insurgency just a coincidence? Is it just a coincidence that there happened to be 26 Kurdish uprisings against the Turkish state in the last 85 years? Why would the Kurds just rebel like that when they had been granted full rights as mountain Turks in Turkey, free to renounce their language, culture and identity as Kurds and be given the honor of becoming Turks? Why be ungrateful? Here’s why: the Europeans have been brainwashing them into being Kurds. Yoga? A plot masterminded by decadent bohemians to weaken our Muslim faith. Eastern European prostitutes? Sent to dissolve our family values. South Park? Aired to promote rampant degeneracy. The foreign debt? To keep us broke. Charles Darwin? To turn us all into atheists. Bam. Factoids. MOSSAD funds the PKK and trains Armenians as crypto-Kurd fighters; the CIA and its ideological arms like Harvard, Yale, Princeton etc. announce fake fossil and genetic discoveries to disprove divine creation; freemasons promote liberal ideas like ‘human rights’ through their local puppet NGOs in Turkey’s rampantly burgeoning civil society; the French are using the Armenian so-called "so-called" genocide to carve Turkey up… and before you know it, Turkey’s being fed to the jackals.

Sure, some fruit cakes might say that conspiracy theories are the pseudoscience of the mentally lazy; the ressentiment of the ignorant; an attempt at empowerment by the impotent; a seeking to cover up one’s own shortcomings and failures by devolving the blame to fictitious outside powers who supposedly have it in for us due to their jealousy of our power and perfection; a desperate grasp at self-worth on the part of pathological sufferers of inferiority complexes; an effort to find some kind of solidity for one’s own flimsy and outdated national, religious and metaphysical myths by flimsifying the foundations of solid scientifically-established ideas; a need to whitewash our crimes and deny our weaknesses by vilifying others through xenophobic propaganda that both feeds and feeds off an ignorant populace as it both sows and reaps the seeds of its own memetic reproduction; a desire to explain the existence of any worldview different from one’s own as only being possible as a result of coercion and obfuscation; perhaps even a pathetic yet innocent longing for mystery and romance in an age of cold boring scientific rigor which you have no grasp on and are in no way a part of because you have no education and don’t understand complicated scientific concepts like ‘natural selection’ or, say, ‘evidence’.

But that’s all horseshit, because what you call conspiracy ‘theories’ must be true, since you can’t prove them wrong. They are UNFALSIFIABLE. That sounds a lot like INDESTRUCTIBLE, and indestructible sounds a lot like AWESOME. All you have to do to prove something is true is to prove just one measly instance of its truth. But what you have to do to prove something is false is prove every single instance of its un-truth. That’s much tougher to do. In fact, it’s impossible, because then you’d have to be able to know everything at once - such as, for example, whether or not a secret meeting occurred, which you couldn't possibly know because it's secret. So to know whether or not a conspiracy isn't afoot, you’d basically have to be omniscient. In other words, you’d have to be God. Are you God? Didn’t think so. Bam. Conspiracy theory just became unfalsifiable conspiracy FACTOID. You can put that in an oven and bake it.

Oh by the way, Bigfoot pilots UFOs over the Nevada desert, the Loch Ness monster masterminded 9/11 by tattooing a map of the World Trade Center on its back with the ink-dipped tip of a unicorn’s horn, and Cuba is communist because the puppet-masters in America want it to be communist for some strange reason nobody’s figured out yet. Or maybe they just fucked that one up?

* ‘Factoid’ is of course Latin for ‘huge fact’