|You know, every year I read the Edge.org list—and every year I’m amused by how the responses divide pretty evenly between genuine ideas and screeds that seem written by a fifteen-year old who’s just seen The Matrix for the first time—in fact, it’s always the same screed: WTF !!! GOD = NULL: YR HOLY BOOK IS A LIE AND U SHEEPLE U LIVE IN TEH PLASTIC CONSENSUS REL:AITY!!1!|
I’m also struck that the vast majority of respondents are white academics, most in the hard sciences. Not being snarky, here—just genuinely curious: does anybody really think that any really dangerous ideas are coming out of Western hard-science academia? (And does anybody really think that saying “There is no God” is in any way a “dangerous idea” when spoken in this company?)
My own dangerous suppositions, which I’ve stated here many times and in many forms and which seems increasingly borne out by anecdotal evidence, are that self-identified people of faith are on the whole far less actively hostile towards science than self-identified Men of Science are towards religion: that people of faith can understand the thinking of atheists far better than the other way around: and that those who are most vehement in their hatred of religion have at best a highly distorted basic notion of what religion is, what it does, and what it’s for.
The dangerous idea on which these suppositions rest—the idea that, when spoken plainly, may cost me friends—is that if you lack the imaginative capacity to believe in something which you cannot know experientially, then there is something profoundly wrong with you: that one of the qualities of mind which make us fully human is, in you, deeply disordered. Bertrand Russell, in other words, was a fucktard of the highest order.