Sunday, May 27, 2001

Does God work in Mysterious ways? I hear this alot, most recently in the film 'Red Planet'. A main charachter is trying to make sense of why most of his crew has perished in this mission, and assures himself that it was because 'God works in mysterious ways' I find this funny and odd. God is given credit for eveything good, and is said to work in mysterious ways when something bad happens. Someone is trapped in a well and drowning, they pray and pary and pray and are finally rescued. Meanwhile in another country, thousands of people are killed by a flash tsunami, childrens bodies are found in trees. The stench of rotting flesh is nasuating to survivors. God works in mysterious ways. A bomb is detonated in a government center, dozens of people, men women and children, are killed. Peoples bodies are incinerated. God works in mysterious ways. A baby is born with a tumor in its brain, the families pray for it and take it to a doctor, the baby gets better, and God is given the credit. Why did they baby get cancer in the first place? This is what gets me. In our world horrible things happen, they happen all the time. People get sick and die horrible painfull deaths. People are victims of horrific crimes and tortures all over the world. Tens of thousands of children starve to death every year. God works in mysterious ways? He sure does, and his ways are indistinguishable from him not existing at all. Say
my cousin is sick and gets admitted to the hospital, my family prays for him to get better and to be healthy again. He eventually does, and the credit is given to god (not the Doctors and wonderfull human beings who have given up half of thier life to gain the knowledge to help save lives, and the millions and millions of people throughout history who have made contributions to that knowledge) Imagine that in the hypothetical situation, my cousin did not get better, he proceeded to get worse and worse, eventually succumbing to that flesh eating bacteria. My family members would hug and console each other chanting 'God has a plan' 'God works in mysterious ways' They say this presumably under the simplistic notion that what we all learn from my cousins suffering and agonizing end to his existence is a greater good then the horror of my death. That overall, we, as a family I guess, are better from the knowledge we have gained of this experience, we are better people. Because our cousin is dead? Now heres the thing, imagine for a second we live in a universe in which god exists. The first scenerio is my cousin gets sick, we pray, he gets better, we thank god for his help (Although could have just NOT allowed him to get sick or injured in the first place). The second scenerio is that he gets sick, we pray, he dies, god works in mysterious ways or it was meant to be. Now, in universe b, god does not exist. My cousin
gets sick, he gets better and lives because of the time and energy that people have put into developing the medical and scientific knowledge required to fight bacteria, infection, and injury, and because we keep my cousin happy and he WANTS to live. In the second scenerio of the sans god universe is that my cousin gets sick, but despite the best efforts of medical professionals, dies. He got sick because he got a bacteria that is programmed to copy itself at the expense of his system. The bacteria is not evil, it is not thinking, it is not concious, its bits and pieces, its machinery, are cogs in a small increibly intricate machine made of atoms and molecules. My cousins immune system fails to ward off this invasion, and he dies. Universe A and Universe B both had plausible scenerios in which my cousin got sick, and either got better or died. Universe A has a god, Universe B does not. The two universe are indistinguishable from one another. A universe where god 'works in mysterious ways' is functionally no different from one in which god either does not exist, or just does not do anything. Those mysterious ways are indistinguishable from the absence of any ways. God does not work in mysterious ways, he just apparently doesnt work at all.

Saturday, May 26, 2001

I saw the film Pearl Harbor yesterday, and I have a lot to say about it. First of all, as a movie, I enjoyed
it. It received some pretty bad reviews, but I usually try to enjoy two different fundamental aspects of a
film, the story it tells, and the way it shows the story. In film studies I am told these things are reffered
to as the narrative of the film and stylistic aspect of the film. So, Pearl Harbor I thought the narrative was
enjoyable, average, not oscar caliber, but non the less enjoyable. I am a sap, and I am more than happy to
admit it, shielding ourselves from emotional displays is an abstract social construct that has no evolutionary
influenced history. I fall for sappy love stores and cry when loved ones say good bye. True, some aspects of
the film as a narrative were a bit far fetched, but not too much, not so much that it obfuscated the enjoyement
of the narrative. Stylistically however, I loved the film. I love Bruckheimer and Bay's production and
direction styles. Visually, this was just a beautiful film. The scenes with the boys playing in the wheat
field as the camera pans under and past them just as the dust cropper flies over the point of the barn was a
great scene. Likewise the first appearance of the Japanese bombers and fighters over Hawaii was quite stunning.
The dog fights, while probably unrealistic, were visually stunning. Overall, I love seeing Bruckheimer/Bay
productions, like this, Armageddon, the Rock, Bad Boys... As narratives, however, they sometimes lack. Making
a film like this opens up a third area of critique, historical accuracy. I applaud Bay and Bruckheiemer for
taking on such a tremendous project, when they probably knew there was no way they were going to make more than
half the populace happy about this film. Some people will think that as a narrative, it was terrible, some will
think that stylistically it had too many effects, some will just say 'Thats not what happened' and get up and
walk out, some will say 'Those planes didnt look like that and couldnt do that' Hollywood has a bad track
record for accurately representing historical events. One of the most memorable scenes in Titanic was when the
crew locked the 3rd class passengers down below. This never happened, and James Cameron (The Director) admitted
as much. I must admit that I was dissapointed to find out that Cameron fabricated that. Many movies portraying
both historical events and peoples lives have been made over the years, but too often Hollywood seems to want to
create a clear cut good guy and a clear cut bad guy. War is usually never that simple. I was glad that
Bay/Bruckheimer did not villify the Japenese, and actually made an attempt (rather half harted I think) to
display the motivations behind the Japenese Attack. I also doubt that a Military Intelligence officer predicted
the attack to be ignored by a brash arrogant hollywood stereotyped military general, and I doubt that fighter
pilots would have been chosen to pilot a bomber into the heart of Japan, but I can not be sure. And how Reif
(sp?) and Danny got from a Japanese force attacking them to being rescued minutes later by the chinese is is
beyond me, I will have to do some more research into the Doolittle raid. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed
the film, and I am glad that films are getting closer to showing the actual horrors of war. Taking even a
moment to imagine what it must have been like to be there during that attack really gets to me. Just the fact
that this actually happened, or that something very close actually happened to these people, people with
families and hopes and dreams and fears and loved ones. To be woken up early Sunday with a blistering hot piece
of metal impaling your best friend, incerating that guy you had a drink with the other night, or drowning your
poker buddies. I think Highly of this country, or more so the principle of democracy. But there is a lot that
I dont like or think very highly about, and would be reluctant to die for this country. I dont think I would go
to war in an event like this until the government of my country was directly at stake by another government
which granted even fewer freedoms.