Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Proof of the non-existence of God

"`The Babel fish,' said The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy quietly, `is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy not from its carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.

`Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

`The argument goes something like this: `I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

`But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'

`Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.

`Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

`Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book Well That About Wraps It Up For God."

2 comments:

Stefani Monaghan said...

Ah, Douglas Adams. He had quite a gift for the farcical, and this was always one of my favorite Hitchhiker bits. The deftness with which he turns the argument inside out, neatly dispatching God in fifty words or less, still brings a smile to my face thirty years after I first heard it.

But the streamlined radio version is even more ruthlessly paced:

"Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this: `I refuse to prove I exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

`But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It proves you exist, and so therefore you don't. QED.'

`Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

Stan said...

Taken in its entirety it is an argument against bad logic and bad theology, all at one time. The inability to see the zebra crossing due to a logic failure, combined with becoming wealthy promoting that logic failure, is perfect satire.