Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Philosophy for Dummies

Let me put this as succinctly as I can. In the past 100 years or so, we have learned a great deal about the universe which has surprised us. We can now describe its age, history, extent and nature in ways that are utterly inconsistent with the ancient beliefs encoded in scripture. Far from being at the center of the universe, and a major preoccupation of the deity, the earth is utterly insignificant, in both space and time, lost in a universe so immense that our imaginations cannot encompass it.

In order to be convinced of this, you do not need to accept an arbitrary set of premises or rules of evidence. We have telescopes. We can see it. Mr. Berlinski, look through the telescope!

We do not know where this universe came from or why it is what it is -- if that is even a meaningful question. We are doing everything we can to explore further and at least draw closer to answering more questions. In the meantime, scientists and people who live by reason have learned to coexist with mystery. It isn't so hard, once you get used to it, really it isn't.

Making up arbitrary and ridiculous stories, and believing in them fervently, is not an appropriate or sensible response. And defending that practice does not make you a deep thinker. It makes you an idiot.

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