Babu G. Ranganathan’s latest article “One God Doesn't Mean The Same God” reminded me of a famous quote from the late, great Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who once said to a colleague in the United States Senate “Yes, Sir, you are certainly entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own set of facts.” Ranganathan and those who think like him, seem clueless regarding the difference between fact and opinion, so I’ll try a few clarifying examples. The New Testament was written by many different men centuries after Jesus Christ was purported to have lived. That’s a fact. Whether or not the New Testament is a desirable moral code with relevance to our modern world is an opinion. Facts are either true or untrue. For example, Saint Petersburg exists. That’s either a true or untrue statement, depending on physical reality. Whether or not Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city in Europe in a matter of opinion, because its validity is based on one’s point of view and not physical reality, which we humans, as rational beings, judge on the basis of evidence. All right, lets move on because I think we’ve made some real progress already.
The existence of a god, some great creative intelligence that animates the universe, isn’t a matter of opinion. Either god exists or he (she, it, them? its all so confusing sometimes) doesn’t. I won’t get into an analysis of the evidence either way, because others have already done so, far more eloquently than I ever could, and their work is easily available to anyone with Internet access. The important point here is that Ranganathan believes god exists, I don’t, and the issue isn’t a matter of opinion. One of us is right and the other is wrong. Let me say right out, and for record, that I earnestly hope, with every cell in my body, that it’s me, that I’m the one who’s wrong. I’m not keen on the idea of dying and simply moldering in the grave, I’d take just about any crazy god (even Rangnathan’s) over that. But that’s the funny (and often uncomfortable) thing about facts. Belief can’t change them. Stubborn things, beliefs don’t care tuppence what anyone believes. Saint Petersburg exists whether I like it or not. And in the real world, wrong-headed beliefs, willfully held in the face of incontrovertible evidence, can be quite dangerous. Even one can be fatal. Canaries who stubbornly refuse to believe in pussycats get eaten. Clever people, like live canaries, judge the validity of facts and form beliefs based on evidence.
I firmly believe that Rangnathan, and those who think like him, would cheerfully use the coercive power of the State to promulgate and enforce, not simply the belief in god, but in their god in particular, without regard to and at the expense of everyone else’s. I believe this despite Rangathan’s kind admonishments. I believe it based on the evidence of his latest and previous works, and on millennia of history, where like minded people have violently opposed every square centimeter of human progress and piously engaged in some of the most heinous atrocities ever conceived by the human spirit.
I won’t here go into the myriad bits of related insanity that flow so copiously from Ranganathan’s pen. I simply encourage everyone to read his work, read history, read the bible (I firmly believe that if everyone actually read the bible there would be a lot more atheists in the world) and then analyze the evidence and decide for them selves. Its an important question, because if we, as a species, keep getting this wrong, the main result (metaphorically speaking) is likely to be, as in the past, an awful lot of very contented pussy cats. On a completely unrelated topic, Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city in Europe.
Dominick L. Auci, Ph.D.