Sunday, December 09, 2007

let's kill God!

A few pithy, or possibly pissy, quotes to liven up your lives and stimulate the cerebral muscles. Health warning attached: these are shots in the ongoing science v religion war, so if that's not your cup of tea, or you're sick of me going on about it, read no further. And bugger off.

Let's start with the aforementioned Jim Crace, from an introductory piece written about Quarantine for
I do not like to give offence to Christians. I say, if asked, that I’m agnostic. But the truth is I'm an atheist, impatient with the simple-mindedness of orthodox religion, its lack of imagination, its bafflegab. I never go to church. I’ve never prayed. I’ve not been Christened, yet. So, when I began my novel Quarantine (which retells the story of Christ's forty days of temptation in the wilderness) I expected – indeed, intended – to inflict some bruises on religious dogma. An easy target, I thought. Christendom has never been in such an undernourished and diminished state. Every week the godless mechanics of the universe, from Big Bang to the tiny chemical percussions of the brain, are revealed in finer detail. Meanwhile, with two thousand years in which to collect its evidence, the church – no longer able to claim that Earth and all its creatures have come ready-made from God’s Creation Workshop, or that thunder is really the Almighty stamping with displeasure at our sins – has been reduced to ritual and display. Plenty of incense smoke, but no divine cigar.
Now here's quantum physicist and bongo-player Richard Feynman highlighting the fundamental difference between the two disciplines:
One of the ways of stopping science would be only to do experiments in the region where you know the law. But experimenters search most diligently, and with the greatest effort, in exactly those places where it seems most likely that we can prove our theories wrong. In other words we are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.
More Feynman here.

Finally, I've seen this attributed to Penn Jillette in various blogs, though I can't find any independent citation for it. Doesn't really matter, though it's certainly consistent with his views:
There is no god, and that's the simple truth. If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing was passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it out again....Evolution is the truth. And with truth comes a lack of panic....The bad guys always have to fight for their ideas to be taught. They must cheat. Government force, propaganda, and hype are the tools you desperately need when you're wrong. Truth abides.
Here's some amusing ranting on the subject of Biblical self-inconsistency from Penn & Teller's Bullshit!. And finally here's a page of links to further amusing video resources in similar vein.


The Black Rabbit said...

That Richard Feynman quote is excellent.

Andy said...

Yep, that Feynman is definitely different class.

My favourite 20th century thinker.

electrichalibut said...

Oh, I dunno. That Richard Littlejohn talks a lot of sense.