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Isaac Bowen
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Forty-Two

A speech I wrote in high school
January 14th, 2007
In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the ultimate answer is sought to the ultimate question: the great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. The answer was discovered to be forty-two, which understandably surprised those who sought it out. Whether or not it was correct, the answer was in effect worthless because it could not be understood – there was no apparent reason for The Answer to be forty-two.
Connecting this to reality – there are scores of religions and beliefsets that claim to have The Answer. However, if I were to meet someone who claimed to be of a certain religion, and they presented their beliefs but could not give a reason to back them up, their belief would be more or less worthless, whether it was correct or no. If I met someone else who believed differently but could defend their beliefs, theirs would be automatically worth more because they could be defended.
What if I told you that we do not have free will, and that God destroyed himself? How would you react? If I could not defend these statements, they’d be utterly ridiculous and most would reject them out of hand. But what if I could?
Let me first examine the dimensional universe. The first dimension is a line, the second is a plane and the addition of the third results in the 3D space that we humans move through. Because we exist and are defined, all other points in the first three dimensions must also exist and likewise be defined. To illustrate this, because you exist, it can be known precisely what there is forty-five meters to your left. Now, let me bring in the fourth dimension, largely considered to be time. Because we exist at a point in time, it follows that all other points must also exist and be defined. If all points in time are defined and set, there is no room for deviation. If deviation is impossible, then we do not have free will.
Perhaps God is a more interesting subject, with many more viewpoints and also several wars. I’m going to begin with several commonly held assumptions: that God exists, God is infinite in both power and knowledge, and for the sake of convenience, that God is male. What would motivate such a god to act? What could possibly motivate a being that could do anything, already would know the results of doing everything, and because he has power over time it’s as if everything is already done? Only an action with an unknown result could possibly hold any interest. If the only unknown for an omniscient god is his own non-existence, then the only action with motivation would be his own self-destruction.
Now let me bring humanity into the picture. Humanity exists. This is widely accepted, with the exception of some post-structuralists and perhaps Michael Dummett. With our assumptions concerning God, humanity’s existence is proof that God acted at one point in such a way that humanity came about as a result. Given this and our conclusion concerning God, the connection is plain: God destroyed himself, and we are what remains. God destroyed himself, and we are his debris.
My purpose in all of this is not to invalidate religion, nor to question justice on the basis of free will. My purpose is simply to drive home my original point: for a belief to have merit, there must be reasons behind it. Had I presented my arguments without defense, they, like forty-two, would be entirely worthless.
To close: no matter what I believe, or what you believe, no matter who, if anyone, is correct, belief must be founded with a reason.
If you believe, know why.
Last modified 5d ago