25 December 2013

Usurping morality and peace

“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.” 
This is part of the Christmas message by Pope Francis today. A fine message, excepting the use of the conjunction `even.' What does "even nonbelievers" mean? Let's analyze it. First, "nonbelievers" refers to those who do not believe in god (or gods). As usual, a religious person sets apart those who "believe" and those who "do not believe". As *if* the verb "to believe" were a virtue and as if the world population can be split into those who believe and those who do not. Believers, even those who believe in mutually contradictory things, are put together into one category, and nonbelievers into another. Second, the word "even" points out to the fact that concept "peace" (and morality--but not mentioned here) has been usurped by the set of believers. Implicit in this message is the assumption that believers desire peach but nonbelievers may not. This is a total absurdity. Desiring peace or being moral has absolutely nothing to do with a religion or with believing in Ahura Mazda or Krishna.

Although the Pope's message is nice, it is rather trivial. Of course, we should desire peace. There are many reasons for striving for peace, but neither religion nor belief is any. Yes, some people may fool themselves by thinking that if they pray then there will be peace in Syria, but this is a delusion.

So, Pope Francis, please think about the rationality of your message. It makes no sense without the ad hoc assumption that the concepts of morality and peach are owned by the ad hoc set of believers. I know it's not your fault and that all your predecessors made this assumption, but the fact that lots of people make such mistakes does not make your statement rational.

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What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant