Yet to encounter

Another goofy item. (I know. Like counting sand on the beach, pointing out all the goofy things people say. I know. But we all have our recreations. This is mine. It keeps me out of bar brawls. One day I’ll tell you about my louche past, but not now, not now.)

While reading Johann Hari’s quote of Richard Dawkins, “In the absence of any evidence whatsoever for a belief , we should assume it is untrue”, I am reminded of the conversation between the Astronaut and the Brain Surgeon. To counter the Surgeon’s belief in God, the Astronaut says, “In none of my travels throughout the Universe, have I encountered any evidence indicating the existence of God, and so I think you are wrong.” “Funny that”, replies the Brain Surgeon. “In all my neurosurgical experience, I have yet to encounter any evidence proving the existence of a thought”.

But God as commonly understood isn’t the same kind of thing as a thought. A giant person who created everything and is good and all-knowing is not the same kind of thing as a thought. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to think of the source of the universe as a thought – or a thinker, and the universe as a thought; it’s an interesting idea; but it’s not the usual meaning of the common English word ‘God,’ so the neurosurgeon’s reply is not all that relevant unless both parties had already agreed that they were talking about God as thougt or a source of thoughts. But that can’t be the case for this particular anecdote, since it wasn’t said, so the neurosurgeon’s reply is irrelevant.

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