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Friday, January 02, 2009

A Profound Muddle

"That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins--all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built."

-- Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian

What is so stunning about this quote is that no finding of modern science supports it, or, indeed, could possibly have any bearing on these issues at all, and yet, someone as bright Russell could think these findings imply his conclusion.

7 comments:

  1. Dr. Murray Tyson11:04 AM

    Yes, I also am stunned when a great thinker, such as yourself, writes something ludicrous.

    I have often though to myself, "Where is the planet to turn if even Callahan can't get it correct?"

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  2. I understand why many modern subscribers to standard evolutionary theory would argue with you Gene on a few of the points (though I side with you). But even putting that aside:

    (a) What in the #()#$ is Russell talking about, regarding the death of the solar system? You're telling me it is "nearly certain" that humans won't have developed interstellar travel etc. in the next billion years?

    (b) Where does he get off talking about a "soul" at the end? Isn't that unscientific gobbledegook?

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  3. Sorry, but an outcome of an accidental collocation of atoms made me do this.

    Kilroy

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  4. "Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand."

    The Books of Bokonon

    ReplyDelete
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  7. What a sad existence to live in.

    ReplyDelete