20 questions – no make that 21
Jerry Coyne points out another outbreak of godbothering from Francis Collins – which is all the more inappropriate (the apt word, for a change) now that Collins is director of the National Institutes of Health. (The outbreak is inappropriate, not the pointing it out.) The publisher does not omit to get in the obligatory slap at those god damn pesky impertinent inappropriate noisy New Atheists:
“Is there a God?” is the most central and profound question that humans ask. With the New Atheists gaining a loud voice in today’s world, it is time to revisit the long-standing intellectual tradition on the side of faith.
‘Is there a god?’ is not the most central and profound question that humans ask; far from it; at this stage of the game it could better be called the most futile time-wasting childish infatuated question that humans ask. The voice the ‘New Atheists’ have gained, if they have gained one, is really not all that loud compared to the voice the Old Theists have had and continue to have for the last however many thousands of years, so I really don’t see why so many people feel compelled to pitch such a huge fit about a few atheists finally plucking up the nerve to say atheist things aloud instead of under their breath in a closet when no one is home. I really don’t. I really don’t see why so many people are so god damn truculent about having to share a minuscule corner of the discourse with atheists. I don’t see why our ‘gaining a voice’ is treated as some kind of foul presumption.
At any rate (she said, smoothing herself down and coughing slightly and picking up the scattered objects that fell off the desk), what is this about revisiting ‘the long-standing intellectual tradition on the side of faith’? Had that ‘tradition’ fallen into desuetude? Not that I’ve noticed. It seems to me that the putative ‘long-standing intellectual tradition on the side of faith’ has been shouting away without a break since Aquinas was a schoolboy.
And that’s just the publisher’s blurb. Collins himself is worse…but check him out at Jerry’s, I’ve run out of time and (for the moment) patience. I’ll just say this. What I would like to know is, even if ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’ is a stumper (and of course it is, in its way, as are so many questions of that kind), why does anyone think the answer to it could possibly be ‘God’? Why does anyone think the answer to it is obviously ‘God’? Why does anyone think that’s a good and satisfactory answer? Why does anyone think that’s a logical and reasonable and even inevitable answer? I don’t know. It seems to me ‘I don’t know’ is a better answer, and ‘we don’t know’ is better still. Saying ‘God’ sounds to me like saying ‘Janet’ or ‘Larry.’ It sounds like a risibly human, small, parochial answer – it sounds like saying an orange cat is the reason there is something rather than nothing.