Monday, May 06, 2013

Photos, Miracles, Lies, and Humor

God, the comedian on Facebook, recently re-posted a picture from Nirmukta:

Miracles vanished with the invention of the camera ...until Photoshop



It's also insipid and a lie.

As a filmmaker, I have a mild interest in the image acquisition game. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the camera was invented in 1888. Photoshop was released exactly 100 years later, in 1988. Based on the graph above, we should have zero reports of miracles during the early 1900s.

Does that match up with reality?

Not at all.

Google instantly fed me a few options, from the odd Miracle of the Sun to the massive Pentecostal healing movement. In other words, the graph above--created by an organization dedicated to promoting Science and Freethought--felt free enough to generate data to promote their ideals, disregarding all facts to the contrary. And here's why that bothers me so very, very much: Since this is humor, it turns off people's minds. Rather than thinking about what they've seen on Facebook, the masses fall in step and say, "Yeah! Miracles, what a bunch of hogwash!" And in their ignorant free-thought, they swallow the lie, hook, line, and sinker.

Granted, this group exists to "promote a naturalistic life philosophy as a moral and fulfilling alternative to religion and spirituality." ...something that simply cannot be done. There is no morality in naturalism. Naturalism, while absolutely a philosophy, discredits itself as such. And naturalism cannot bring fulfillment. This aspect of their mission fails before we finish the bullet point.

Another goal is to "promote scientific literacy and to fight against pseudo-science." I would propose that the best way to do this is to create information that is scientific and discard this rubbish you find funny but does the exact opposite of your stated purpose. I'd also recommend that in teaching "scientific literacy" they also encourage people to learn to think well at the same time, and so realize that naturalistic thinking produces crap... what C.S. Lewis so masterfully illustrates as "secretions."

On the fully naturalistic view all events are determined by laws. Our logical behaviour, in other words our thoughts, and our ethical behaviour, including our ideals as well as our acts of will, are governed by biochemical laws; these, in turn, by physical laws which are themselves actuarial statements about the lawless movements of matter. These units never intended to produce the regular universe we see: the law of averages (successor to Lucretius's exiguum clinamen) has produced it out of the collision of these random variations in movement. The physical universe never intended to produce organisms. The relevant chemicals on earth, and the sun's heat, thus juxtaposed, gave rise to this disquieting disease of matter: organization. Natural selection, operating on the minute differences between one organism and another, blundered into that sort of phosphorescence or mirage which we call consciousness--and that, in some cortexes beneath some skulls, at certain moments, still in obedience to physical laws, but to physical laws now ļ¬ltered through laws of a more complicated kind, takes the form we call thought. Such, for instance, is the origin of this paper: such was the origin of Professor Price's paper. What we should speak of as his 'thoughts' were merely the last link of a causal chain in which all the previous links were irrational. He spoke as he did because the matter of his brain was behaving in a certain way: and the whole history of the universe up to that moment had forced it to behave in that way. What we called his thought was essentially a phenomenon of the same sort as his other secretions--the form which the vast irrational process of nature was bound to take at a particular point of space and time.
~C.S. Lewis "God in the Dock" Religion without Dogma?

Also, manipulating of images began long before Photoshop or the camera was invented. Here are a few examples of photo-tampering from the past. In case you're interested.

Please, use your brain. Feel free to chuckle, as I did, but know that you're being fed lies. You'd be foolish to accept them blindly.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester