The Dragon In My Garage

by Carl Sagan

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”

Suppose (I’m following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

“Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle — but no dragon.

“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”

Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

“Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.” And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you’ve really learned from my insistence that there’s a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You’d wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I’ve seriously underestimated human fallibility. Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don’t outright reject the notion that there’s a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you’re prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it’s unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative — merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of “not proved.”

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons — to say nothing about invisible ones — you must now acknowledge that there’s something here, and that in a preliminary way it’s consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it’s not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you’re pretty sure don’t know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages — but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we’re disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I’d rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren’t myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they’re never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon’s fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such “evidence” — no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it — is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

Limbo No More

So i was reading the news and came across this little nugget:

Pope Abolishes Limbo

THE Vatican has determined that limbo does not exist, opening the gates of heaven to babies who die unbaptised, a member of a high-level theological commission.

“The many factors that we have considered … give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptised infants who die will be saved,” says a document published by the US magazine Origins with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI.

The medieval concept of limbo as a place where unbaptised infants spend eternity but without communion with God seems to reflect an “unduly restrictive view of salvation,” the document says.
The thought that stillborn babies, for example, would be relegated to a kind of no-man’s-land in the afterlife tormented generations of Catholic families.

The idea of limbo – from the Latin for “edge” – was meant to address the paradox that unbaptised babies could not go to heaven because their original sin had not been expunged, but nor should they go to purgatory or hell.

In 1984, when Benedict headed the Vatican’s doctrinal enforcement body as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he said he was “personally” in favour of scrapping the 13th-century notion, which he termed a mere “hypothesis.”

Now, what is most interesting about this statement coming from the Vatican, is that they are basically saying they were wrong. So over hundreds of years, they were telling people that their babies weren’t going to heaven, when in fact they were.. or.. at least they think so. See this is the kicker, they have no idea, and instead are basing everything they say on pure theories with no evidence to back them up. There literally is nothing to show that anything they say is true, zero. Their assertion that limbo doesn’t exist is based on the fact that limbo is unduly restrictive view of salvation,”; that in it’self sums up just about everything the Vatican says.

If something does not fit their idea of how the universe works; they simply.. throw the idea away. Even if there is no evidence pointing them in either direction, it’s simply a matter of whatever suits them. Telling believing families that their lost baby is not going to heaven doesn’t help them gain any more filled pews, so they tell them exactly what they want to hear; that their baby will live on forever in heaven.

While that might be a comforting thought, it’s also completely unfounded; but that never seems to bother the Vatican from saying anything.

Want To Run For Office In Texas? Better Bring God With You..

Great news for anyone living in Texas who wants to run for public office! It turns out, to be a public servant, you must in fact be a believer in a ‘supreme being’.

Texas Constitution:

No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

It might seem a little vague however; when they say supreme being do they mean like Nazi Supermen? or how about the existence of Neo from the matrix? He was pretty supreme, right? I personally favor the FSM, that noodly bastard can gain my belief any day. Does that count?

Of course, were this to actually be challenged on the basis that it’s completely unconstitutional (against the United States Constitution, under the first amendment), I’m fairly certain an objective judge would have it overturned. Still, it’s always nice to see the hostility non-believers get from religious folk who want to force people to believe in god(s). Last I checked, “faith” and “belief” are both supposed to be things you freely choose, not have forced on you.

Who’s The Real Evil Force?

 So, if we were to look at the bible and remove the names “God” and “Satan” and replace them with “A” and “B” (respectively) then try to pipoint which is the evil one..  which do you suppose we’d choose?

God Vs. Satan

 I’m always amazed how people declare God to be this perfect and good being that’s always looking out for us, considering all the people he’s slaughtered. Possibly, more importantly, how many people have killed in his name due to their ‘beliefs’ in him.


Isn’t God great?