What joy. What a great day yesterday was. I was filled with glee and optimism. What a stunning reversal. It’s the happiest Election Day I have had in recent memory.
My television, which has been out for longer than three months, and then got fixed last week, only to go out again when I tried to turn it on, on Tuesday night, frustrated my desire to watch Jon Stewart and Fox news (so I could gloat.) So I was reduced to using my computer, which I was constantly updating, on the New York Times site. And calling my friend Smartypants so he could tell me what he was watching.
It all seems too good to be true! And yet, it is. I mean, things will inevitably get screwed up – but not as screwed up as they might have been. In any case, I am feeling unrestricted joy.
I shot this Yahoo thing all day yesterday (me doing little one minute bits about parenting and other thoughts about life) and I am wiped out and I am not very articulate right now. Later today Mulan and I are going to Disneyland with three of her friends and staying overnight. We will be at the Disney parade tonight and at the doors at the park opens tomorrow. I am sort of excited about going. And also looking forward to it being over at the same time.
Oh, I will say that I got into a semi-debate yesterday with a person I met recently and who happened to be at this Yahoo shoot. I like her a lot. But we disagree on the subject of God.
Her arguments were in a typical range – that atheism was a “faith” like belief in God was a “faith.” And that my “faith” was stronger - or maybe she meant required a bigger leap -than her “faith” in God. I never quite get that argument. It’s like the person is denigrating their own faith as “Faith” – for being so flimsy as “faith” at the same they’re accusing you of having something you don’t think you have.
I was reminded of the James Randi quote that goes something like, “Atheism is a faith like not collecting stamps is a hobby.” Oh that line gives me such joy. I don’t get to use it often. Even though, what I actually think he said was, “Atheism is a belief like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”
Then she moved onto the second law of thermodynamics. And that this law shows that matter should move towards chaos, not towards cohesion. I am paraphrasing her own definition of it. Although that part is correct, about matter and cohesion over time, I don’t think she understood really thoroughly what the second law of thermodynamics was, frankly. (I don’t fully understand it either – but I know it’s not relevant to where a God existing is likely or unlikely.)
But when that argument is used by believers it goes something like, “Science shows us that matter should not stick together and that over time it moves away from complexity towards simplicity. But look at the world around us; it is filled with complex beings and things. This is not explainable. God must have done it.”
I need to get better and making my case in regards to this argument. I tried to explain how that law was uniform on a macro level, not a micro level. Or that entropy will increase, but only over time and in the meantime, we can – well, exist. Things can have mass. And then I scrambled to figure out the best way to articulate how that scientific law affects us, and does not contradict our existence. But already even with this (and I was not doing a good job) I felt I’d lost her.
I always end up sounding like the eager science professor when I get into these discussions. And I can see that the person I’m talking to has already lost interest in what I’m saying. And usually they move to something emotional immediately – something that is, for them, outside the arena of science. They say something like, “The world cannot be explained just by using science, I like to feel things, I am a feeling person.” I guess implying that I am not a feeling person. And that only someone in touch with their feelings could understand that God exists.
Now I am feeling badly writing this because this woman is truly likeable and she was not trying to argue with me, and in fact, the producer of my Yahoo shoot really wanted us to get together and watch us have a conversation and we were really not trying to have an argument, and yet, I found so much to be desired from her way of thinking that I couldn’t stop – probably long after I should have – trying to explain myself.
The other way the “feeling” argument can go – this is what my mother resorts to, and in fact what this woman in particular resorted to – and that is, “I just cannot live without feeling that this connection to God is real and I just can’t even contemplate letting it go, because I need to believe.”
Then, I really don’t know what I can say to that. I WANT to say something like, “Well, I might feel I need to believe that I am a Super Hero that can stop a meteorite from slamming into the earth. But… the truth is… I am not.” But I don’t because that would sound condescending. And plus, to me – all bets are off at that point. To me, that’s like saying, “I don’t care about reality.” What kind of conversation can you have with a person who has that opinion?
I did end up making a argument about how human beings have these feelings and intuitions about how the world works that were useful when we lived in an ancestral environment, but now we live in a different world where we can gather information and test it. And that even though it’s probably instinctive to believe that the world is flat – I mean, the sun rises in the east – it sets in the west, the land seems relatively flat as we walk along it – that we know the world is in fact not flat. We know this because all kinds of evidence presented itself and made us look at the earth in a new way – one that is not one we could have gotten from feelings and from casual observations.
But by then I think everyone wanted me to just shut up, including me! Agh. I want to get better at this.
I ended the night with several people from Yahoo sharing a few bottles of wine around the outdoor dining table, and eating cheese and crackers. We all lamented about Hilary Clinton, our great hope – and how she has revealed herself to be a person of so much less integrity and so much more political ambition than we had realized. And how could she be going to those prayer meetings and how could she have supported this war? And how now she is just the person we’d like to begin rallying around for President, except that – too bad, reluctantly but truthfully, we all don’t really like her anymore.
However, we all agreed we would support her if the alternatives were worse.
Off to Disneyland.