Atheists and Breeders

Behold, it’s August. Well not really, not where I am. I’m kind of lying when I say that. It is August where B&W is (if B&W is where its database is), but it’s not August where I, typing these words onto this little computer screen, am. So if I (as opposed to someone else) say it’s August, I’m telling a falsehood, because where my body is, it’s 4:30-ish in the afternoon on July 31. But I’m also not telling a falsehood, because it is August in other places – but it’s not August for me, the one uttering the sentence. So is it a lie, or not?

Oh stop playing silly buggers. Anyway the point is it’s August or near enough, and that’s only a month to September, and in October the Dictionary is published. So that means it’s soon. Much, much sooner than if it were still July. And speaking of books being published – here’s another, this one not until May 2005. My colleague has been very busy. It’s a terrific book, too.

Now – I did summon you here for a reason. I just wanted to draw your attention to a few remarks about Francis Crick. One from the Telegraph obit:

In 1960 Crick accepted a fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge, on condition that no chapel was built in the college. When in 1963 a benefactor offered the money for one and the majority of college fellows voted to accept, Crick refused to be fobbed off with the argument that some members of the college would “appreciate” a place of worship; many more might “appreciate” the amenities of a harem, he countered, and offered to contribute financially. The offer was refused and he resigned his fellowship.

And the other from Matt Ridley’s article yesterday.

Throughout his life he was high on the drug called rationality. He could never get over how much could be deduced about the world if you stick to logic and eschew mysticism…He disliked religion even more than philosophy, but he wore his lifelong atheism lightly. His letter to Churchill suggesting that Churchill College build a brothel rather than a chapel (Churchill had written saying “no one will be required to enter it against his will”) was hilarious rather than offensive.

And then a passage from Crick’s own account of the matter:

I have no doubt, as will emerge later, that this loss of faith in Christian religion and my growing attachment to science have played a dominant part in my scientific career not so much on a day-to-day basis but in the choice of what I have considered interesting and important. I realized early on that it is detailed scientific knowledge which makes certain religious beliefs untenable…A belief, at the time it was formulated, may not only have appealed to the imagination but also fit well with all that was than known. It can nevertheless be made to appear ridiculous because of facts uncovered later by science. What could be more foolish than to base one’s entire view of life on ideas that, however plausible at that time, now appear to be quite erroneous? And what would be more important then to find our true place in the universe by removing one by one these unfortunate vestiges of earlier beliefs?

Refreshing, isn’t it, compared to the floods of sugary drivel people pour out on the subject. One gets so very tired of the latter kind of thing, over here in the land of the believers. P Z commented on that at Pharyngula today, in relation to something Kerry said:

And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them.

Huh? Well if it’s not us and them, then why mention only people of faith, and not people of no faith (or as P Z put it, people of reason)? And why mention people of faith in that particular way, as if they were an excluded minority? What, have Democrats been excluding ‘people of faith’ all this time? News to me! Well of course we know why he said that, he said it because of all the drivel there’s been about how he doesn’t say ‘God’ every third word or whatever the hell the complaint is. But it’s irritating all the same.

But not as irritating as this crap:

The Pope will call on leaders of the Roman Catholic church today to attack feminist ideologies which assert that men and women are fundamentally the same. The Vatican is concerned that this belief is eroding what it regards as women’s maternal vocation.

Oh is it. Is it really. Well that’s good to know. Women’s maternal vocation. Just like that. So the idea is that all women without exception are obliged to whelp? Doesn’t matter whether they want to or not, whether they think they’d be any good at it or not, whether they have other plans or not, eh? Just, yo, you’re one of the ones with ovaries, so get to work, hon! Whereas people with dangly bits get to choose whether they whelp or not. At least, J-P seems to have chosen, doesn’t he? Or is it rude to point that out. But no doubt all this sort of thing is over my head.

In a letter to bishops on the participation of men and women in the church and the world, the Pope’s chief theological spokesman, the German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, stresses, as the pontiff has done on several occasions, that the book of Genesis is unambiguous on this point.

Ah. Well in that case. If a three thousand-year-old story is unambiguous on what women are supposed to do, then who are we to argue. And it is quite wise

Recent decades have seen a plunge in birth and fertility rates, particularly in the Roman Catholic heartland of southern Europe, as women struggle to combine jobs with their traditional roles as mothers, homemakers and carers. Church representatives have argued that this is symptomatic of a breakdown in values, and particularly a greater selfishness among young couples more interested in consumer goods than creating life.

Oh right. Of course. It is very selfish of people to be more interested in doing what they actually want to do than in ‘creating life’. Any life? Tomatoes? Fruit flies? No, I suppose the dear Church representatives mean human life, of which there is such a terrible shortage on this planet. Actually that line of thought is not exclusive to celibate Catholic priests, I’ve seen it in other places lately too. There’s this peculiar bit of orthodoxy out there (orthodox in the sense that a lot of people seem to think it) that people who don’t have children are ‘free-riding’ on people who do. And what’s even more special is that they like to say so. It won’t be long before all childless atheists will be rounded up and interned, at this rate.

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