Friday, 12 February 2010

A Discourse on Nature and God

I've been tangled in a poetry contest of words with a theist on the Wordlovers forum. The last one pricked me to some effort, so I figured I'd reproduce it for a wider awedience here :)

My antagonist, who shall remain anonymous, has dominated the forum with praises to God on high type poetry. But when someone else wrote a poem praising natural selection, wow - look out!

I wrote in defence, and there was a to and fro. That's the internet all right. Look:

Simon, do you know the purpose served
To make the human conscience crooked, curved?
Theist, do *you* know Gods purpose served
To make the Human conscience crooked, curved?
Whatever Purpose or design you propose,
There is a flowering garden of others:
Rows upon rows.

Harken close:
For whatever of nature makes
No whit of design or purpose takes
It is only a particular theist deign
That God, with Divine Purpose, does reign.

And in this presupposed order
The theist misleads himself to bother
So blinkered, selects only that which suits his fancy
Pushing all else from prejudicial border.
Where's the font and origin, distaste
For imperfection come from? Why the waste
Of your dissatisfaction with the ill?
The Problem of Evil, proposed of old
Leaves the "All-Good-All-Mighty" school of theists cold
For the Enlightened there is Just satisfaction,
Said imperfections are expected:
Natural Selection, in action.

Do we distaste imperfection? No!
When we suck a random confection
And it comes out sour...
We call that, in our conceit, "imperfection"
Yet another may count the taste a virtue
If it is sweet, then it is not desired
So which is well and which is flawed?
It is of us, by our societies, rewired.

But still we argue yet we agree:
A human *can* rank appropriately
What is fine and what is finer,
And so we put to judge The Designer,
And by His efforts we ascertain
What sort of "He", does now reign.

If signs of design in Nature are taken
As signs of the Designer, and not mistaken, 
Then signs of poor design must *by the same token*
Be signs of a poor designer ...

But, the theist protest
Our knowledge is incomplete at best
What we see as designers ill
Could be due to our ignorance of divine will

This is true - and yet:

What of that we judge as good?
By the same argument we should
Distrust that part as well,
And *nothing* of Gods and Nature tell.

In truth, if we can judge at all
Deities must stand or fall
By virtue of the *human* mind
Judging the Virtue of all Their kind.
Why should Man be free, and why free will
To choose the good and beautiful and not
The leavings of his instinct? Piffle! Rot!
If you imagine urging toward perfection
Is something Man invented, or selection.
That confluence of emergent behaviour we call Will
Is a phenomenon under study still
But that we choose the beautiful before the ill
That is something understood from the first

When called, ones decisions to account -
Asked, perforce, to tally this or that amount -
And consequence brought forth to surmount -
Would *anyone* claim they chose:
For the *worst*?

The learned jury is still out, divided
What manner of thing is will, and where resideth?

It is a conceit, a deceit, and nothing more.
And with that and a mop, we can clean the floor.

It is a curious modern fad that theist claim
That complexity in the World, to a Designer, acclaim
Yet we teach our engineers and architects highest value
In the very economy and simplicity their designs do gain.

Surely it is the simplicity in physical Law
That theists for their arguments should draw
That evidence for their transcendent God
Should be baked of that basic material raw.

And what more simple and elegant should be clue
Than that Darwin's Natural Selection be true
How clever and subtle that Christian God
To have created Evolution, that well
From which, all Life, He drew.

What more elegant lesson to teach
Examining shells washed up on a beach
That from the apparent imperfect clues
That all life's connected, from each to each.

Piffle? Rot? The universe cares not a jot!
It is Man decides the where foul and fair does lie.
Or why else does beauty, likewise fair *and* foul
Decay likewise and likewise, die?

Piffle? Rot? The steam from a pipkin pot!
All this of do you know of whys and know not
This bethinks an Allmighty Being Who, in His Will
hide only where we know naught?

What? A God who exists only where we've had but glances?
What? A God ever retreating as our learning advances?
There is more spirituality in a blocked sewer!
Better be a plumber and take your chances.

It is the theist claims a Design so rated
That an all-powerful, perfect, Creator created
All powerful, all knowing, all Good...
The theist thesis remains unsubstantiated.

Of course, you don't *have* to prove or even *make* your case or any.
One can always just accept that there are other points of view
And just stick to your own, or many.

Accepting and respecting the various expressions of belief
Here as *poetry* scribbled on the walls and floor -
And as the Muse moves us so we scribble
And scribble some more.

The Moving Finger scribbles; and, having scrit,
  Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to backspace half a Line,
  Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

You may also want to consider how you'd feel
If someone were here to praise -
Separately or together -
The Wiccan Triple Goddess, 
Allah, Baal, The Purple Spaghetti Monster,
Or whatever... 
The self same way you have Praised *your* God.
Will you see it as beautiful poetry, or clever,
Or as a challenge to the One True God? Both?


Oh Praise Great Goddess that in your Wisdoms
Did Create Nature in Pure Perfection
That even in the Flaws You Wrought
We see withall reflected: 
Your Natural Selection.

And thank you Goddess that from your bosom
You created such things as Theists and Atheists chosen
For such entertainment they make
That our Faith in the One True Goddess a-bouys.

Oh boy - the comments from this one! If anyones interested, I can let youse know what happens next.

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