9th February 2008

“The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.”

Christopher Hitchens

5 Responses to “9th February 2008”

  1. Critic Says:

    True enough Hitch. So, toss out those divine warrants and look reality straight in the eye. You’ll find it more fun and intellectually much more satisfying meat than being force fed the pablum of primitive dogma.

  2. Chris Says:

    Hitchens is right, of course, but the acceptance of uncertainty presents a problem for the rationalist which is often exploited by the theist. While the rationalist is perfectly happy to accept that many things are not known and may, in fact, be unknowable, most people with little education in scientific principles are deeply uncomfortable with uncertainty. So they turn to the only available source of certainty: religion. It is a pretty rare individual for whom “Why are we here?” is not only unimportant but really not a question that requires an answer. The question presumes purpose where none exists.

    It is through secular education where we will eventually find the strength to replace “Why are we here?” with “We know how we got here. Now where shall we go?”

  3. Terence Meaden Says:

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” Bertrand Russell.

  4. Chris Says:

    Amen.

  5. Critic Says:

    …and wiser people so full of doubts.

    Uncertainty is probably the only certainty. Scientists have learned to deal with this apparent reality. Non-scientists still see this as the single most damning aspect of science. But then, most of them think that god makes it rain.

    Uncertainty means that there are almost no absolutes. What you know is categorized by the probability that it is true juxtaposed against the probability that another hypothesis may better explain the phenomenon. And knowing something means that you understand that that knowledge may change in the future.

    How else could a rational mind function in the real world?