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Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Theologique

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CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, as the French will insist on calling it in their over-elaborate, accented manner) has a pretty decent track record. It has nailed the existence of a number of exotic particles, most recently the Higgs boson. In fact, pretty much every particle that it's looked for, it's found.

Meanwhile, religion seems to have hit a dry patch. It still has a lot of supporters, but fundamentally the problem is that Nobody Knows If It's All Madey-Uppey. In that sense, it's similar to String Theory. So, how to settle the matter? Well, CERN got where it is today by designing experiments to provoke the manifestation of the particles it was looking for. Religion ought to take a leaf from this book.

Most religions seem to place a lot of weight on doing what their god is believed to want. Not killing, not committing adulterous bestiality, that kind of thing. But this is exactly the wrong way to confirm the existence of their respective deity - it's a bit like trying to confirm the existence of police by being law-abiding. Even if gods reward this good behaviour, it's likely to be in some relatively minor way, such as the odd cancer remission, or a particularly good harvest, or finding that Starbucks have charged you 50p less than they should have - nothing that can't be put down to good luck.

MaxCo., after reviewing the situation, has decided to establish CERT (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Theologique). In a large tunnel just outside Stoke Poges, we have assembled representatives of all major religions to perform experiments designed to elicit a definitive divine intervention. We have muslims downing Pina Coladas whilst sketching the prophet; we have a bunch of rabbis who have volunteered to live for a week on pork scratchings and cheeseburgers; a couple of blokes from the C of E have agreed to lie with their brother's wives; and the sikhs are trying new hairstyles on a weekly basis.

All participants are being closely monitored for plagues of boils, death of the firstborn, and other indicators of divine intervention. Smiting detectors are installed throughout the facility, whilst above-ground frog and locust detectors are monitored and all data is archived for later analysis. There are hopes that, if a high enough level of sin can be generated, we will reach the point where the various deities' retributions become unified as a single force.

//ancient aliens// The prevailing theory is that they were aquatic. Erik von Daniken even wrote a book about it - Chariots of the Cods, I believe it was. Incidentally, your aliens would have had to genetically engineer pretty much every living organism, so that evolutionary genomics would give the answer it does.

MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 26 2017

I'll just leave this here. https://static1.squ...4517/1404232712557/
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 26 2017]

Pair_20Ruling [Ian Tindale, Mar 01 2017]


       This was a joy to read [+]
Voice, Jan 26 2017

       It could be, as you put it, luck. The existence of god or gods (depending if you have math or maths) might be stunningly obviously apparent and couldn't be more observed and measurable if you tried. It might be luck. Take the luck away, and that's the removal of divine activity. Masking or stifling the hand of god might simply and indubitably result in a spot of bad luck (ie, no luck, or lack of luck) (the same as the dark isn't a thing, it is lack of light, etc). This can be tested for and numbers can be made to appear that are repeatable and believable.   

       A suitable test might be to have a tunnel, I'd suggest the Central Line, as they didn't seem to be using it today, and in it you have a vast quantity of people doing the lottery. The lottery draw should result in a smattering of modicum of people winning something. Observation of how they look, what their names are, which way they were facing, and a raft of other assorted attributes and variables could be noted. Stopping from doing this next time should result in not winning as much if not at all.   

       To accellerate this, a faster turn around than the lottery would be to have a tunnel full of job seekers, all filling out job applications all day, day after day, year after year. The mechanism is identical to the lottery, but with less chance of winning.
Ian Tindale, Jan 26 2017

       Bacon sandwiches.   

       Hebrews, Mohammedans, Hindus ... Sikhs ? Bacon sandwiches cover a lot of ground in a single bite.   

       That would cover vegetarians and vegans too, who aren't religious per se, but certainly are a bunch of irritating self-righteous twats to whom a good smiting wouldn't go amis.
8th of 7, Jan 26 2017

       What religion was the Orange Fuhrer again?
RayfordSteele, Jan 26 2017

       //vegetarians and vegans too, who aren't religious per se,//   

       They are actually a wonderful control group. They share many common traits, guilt, proselytization, smug self satisfaction. But without the god bit.
bs0u0155, Jan 26 2017

       Good enough reason to persecute them.   

       // What religion was the Orange Fuhrer again? //   

       Sith, most likely. Then again, "Darth Donald, the fluorescent orange Lord of the Sith" just doesn't seem to work.   

       Princes Leia's line, "Darth Vader. Only you could be so bold." would come out as "Darth Donald. Only you could be so ... bright" ...   

       Somehow, the idiom just doesn't fit.
8th of 7, Jan 26 2017

       It's an interesting thing, though. If you look at societies rather than at single people, those societies with prevailing atheism are prone to decline in numbers. They have fewer children, they are less inclined to fight for their country and for freedom, and their philosophies many times even encourage suicide.   

       It's almost as if there's something inherent in the evolutionary outcome of nature against free thinking.   

       But wait, I thought we (I'm talking to my fellow materialists here) all agreed that there is no free thinking. Everything is either totally pre-conditioned and pre- destined by the rules of physics or is governed by the totally random behavior of the physical world. No?   

       So it seems that a more urgent experiment to simulate at the CERT labs is one where you add disbelievers into the equation and see who survives. Not that knowing the results can change anything...
pashute, Jan 30 2017

       There's no such thing as a free think.
Ian Tindale, Jan 30 2017

       The ancient aliens explanations makes far more sense. They were on earth for quite a long time and dominated if not genetically engineered mankind. They were pretty clever dudes having travelled quite far and left all kinds of important knowledge and messages before buggering or dying off. Hence the ability to map and ponder the stars waiting for their return.   

       If the ancient 'god's explanation is real, then they aren't going to care either way for this idea. The real question is whether religion has its roots in mankind only. It could go either way - there was no Facebook or TV a few thousand years ago.
bigsleep, Jan 31 2017

       //societies with prevailing atheism are prone to decline in numbers. They have fewer children, // That's because atheism correlates quite strongly with socioeconomic development, GDP and national IQ - all of which drive smaller family sizes.   

       //they are less inclined to fight for their country// Quite so. Remind what religion the Nazis were? They did quite a bit of fighting, if I recall, allegedly for the fatherland.   

       // and their philosophies many times even encourage suicide.// I think you just made that one up. China may be an example (I don't know the religiosity of rural Chinese women, but they have a high suicide rate), but then again rural India would be a counter-example. If you're referring to assisted suicide for terminally ill people, that may correlate with atheism, but then again atheism often correlates with greater personal liberty.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 31 2017

       // Science wonder somewhere, is waiting something to be incredible known. //   


       // Science somewhere, something incredible wonder is waiting to be known. //
notexactly, Feb 26 2017

       This is very odd. I could have sworn I had the title simply as "CERT", and now it seems to have expanded. Not that I mind at all - but I wonder if I'm going [more] insane, or whether there has been divine intervention.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 28 2017

       Or Jutta, which is the same thing.   


       DO NOT listen to The Voices. They are NOT your friends and they will make you do bad things again.   

8th of 7, Feb 28 2017

       religion may be the opiate of the people, but it appears to be an opiate that we, as a species, are susceptible to.   

       Growing up in the old Soviet Union with an aggressive atheism, I find it incredible to see how quickly religion (coinciding with Putin's convenience) re surged in Russia. I mean we were encouraged to read books about how Jesus was a re-branding of the Osiris legend, and outward religiousness was incompatible with any kind of career.
theircompetitor, Feb 28 2017

       //DO NOT listen to The Voices. They are NOT your friends and they will make you do bad things again. //   

       Not only am I mostly harmless, but I am friendly and will admit to doing no such thing. It's all rumors and lies, especially the part about the atomic clock and the Velcro bondage.
Voice, Feb 28 2017

       //a large tunnel just outside Stoke Poges// It appears the [Buchanan]/Gopher Wars are reaching supernatural proportions.
lurch, Feb 28 2017

       I find it interesting that the first port of call for the bewailing mentally deficient is the religions that specify quantity of gods = 1. Why one? What would be interesting would be a global resurgence of the Roman gods, or something like that adapted for our modern daze.   

       However, again, I think the idea of putting a pair together would be a nice touch - have a religion where instead of the invisible man in the sky there is a couple of invisible beings. In the sky. And they have interpersonal dynamics of the sort that would make a pretty good watching on telly each night. The advertising slots would be worth owning.
Ian Tindale, Mar 01 2017

       Because, in polytheistic religions (e.g. Hinduism) the gods are involved with the world, they also have distinct personalities and they have faults and make mistakes (but the virtues and faults of one god complement those of the others). Whereas, in a monotheistic religion the god is portrayed as being apart from the world and being perfect in every way. This portrayal of a deity is simpler and may be more appealing to those in mental distress.
hippo, Mar 01 2017

       Surely, though, current health and safety regulations discourage lone working? Godding involves a lot of heavy lifting, smiting, and so forth - hardly something to be done single-handed. Moreover, you need to meet diversity requirements, which would require either regular rotation of the job, or a number of co-gods representing, inter alia, the spectrum of ethnic, gender and ability diversity. No no no, a single god is really not going to cut it in 2017.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 01 2017

       // the [Buchanan]/Gopher Wars are reaching supernatural proportions. //   

       Moles. He's very upset and stressed about moles. It's getting quite serious, what with all the ranting and carpet-biting and screaming .... almost as bad as the one time he ever went into a Post Office, and then discovered that he actually had to queue ...
8th of 7, Mar 01 2017

       [Max] I agree. Long ago, this would have been 'pantheon' of gods, but this should be brought up-to-date and renamed a 'committee' or 'working group' of gods.
hippo, Mar 01 2017

       I really do think that pairs are the way to go, in almost everything. Don't underestimate it. It isn't just twice as many as one (although, yes, that's antidisputable too). Going further than two brings you into a whole new set and category - many, or manifold. One is not enough. A crowd is ridiculous, not the way to get things done. Two is ideal.   

       Pair programming, husband and wife, Galton and Simpson, The Two Ronnies, Parker and Stone, Lloyd and Croft, John Lennon and Bernie Taupin. There's something different - distinct - that happens with a pair, that doesn't happen with a singleton, which also doesn't happen with a group.   

       I think for positions of leadership, such as being leader of a country, prime minister, president, etc, and also positions of leadership over the spiritual, such as being an invisible person in the sky, those jobs really shouldn't be one, and neither should they be a group or committee. They ideally should be two. A pair. I think one important aspect of this, in leadership or being a god, is that the people under will unliminally or subconsciously consider the pair as some kind of 'parent' influence, and take it a lot more seriously and give it the authority it might even deserve.
Ian Tindale, Mar 01 2017

       The problem you'll have is that if some god smites them all, you may not be sure just which god it is. Really, everyone should be eating pork one day, laying in their mother's bed the other, etc.
4and20, Mar 03 2017

       This is all a bit weak, no? The hohoho religions have funny rules part is like having a pop at Piers Morgan for supporting Arsenal when this fault is trivial compared to his other shortcomings. Likewise appending the "lol gods are supposed to smite people lol" line either means that the expectation is that systems of philosophy and control that proceed from an assumption that there is a magic sky being are supposed to be *logically consistent* and that pointing out the lack of logical consistency is a devastating avenue of attack (which given the august intellectual company here, I doubt it the case) or from the entirely erroneous assumption that merely pointing out this inconsistency is itself amusing. It isn't. This inconsistency is older than Jesus and better known. Water is wet, people are venal, religions are based upon superstition and myth and don't hold up to scientific assessment.
calum, Mar 03 2017

       And yes saying as you ask I am in fact the arbiter of what is and is not funny.
calum, Mar 03 2017

       That's good to know, we've been worrying about that for a while.
8th of 7, Mar 03 2017

       Excellent - objective data.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 03 2017

       //Surely, though, current health and safety regulations discourage lone working?//   

       We're also encouraged to take a break and stretch our legs once in a while, which might explain the lack of presently-observed smitings, until God gets back to his desk in a couple of thousand years or so.
Wrongfellow, Mar 03 2017

8th of 7, Mar 03 2017


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