One Fine Day at the Edge of the Universe
February 27, 2023
So here I was on the edge of the universe, measuring up the stars so I could see they were just as good as the ones back home (they were), when the ghost of Carl Sagan cut himself with the razor Dr. Occam had loaned him and swore. Unbeknownst to both he and Dr. Occam, Dr. Occam’s wife had been using that razor to shave her legs.
Now, irreligious as Carl Sagan was, he wouldn’t just swear, ‘G*******t!’ upon cutting himself. He doesn’t do God. Instead, he swore about religious belief, that it was “an extremely dangerous doctrine, because the more we are to assume that the solution comes from the outside, the less likely we are to solve our problems ourselves.”
I heard his ghost. All the way from the edge of the universe I heard his ghost, and I should have minded my own business, but it was like a red flag before a bull. It wasn’t even on his own blog anyway, he being dead, but on the feed of one of his Twitter admirers. Time for me to put in my two cents:
“On the other hand, the more we insist than any answers will come from man, the more we expose ourselves to potential disaster in case they do not. Best to let ones believe as they will rather than declare your opponent ‘dangerous’ and thereby feel justified to run him off the road,” said I, as though he had meant to do that. He may be dead, but he will get some unhinged follower in this age of unhinge to act on his word. (His champion’s words are in italics from this point on.)
I don't care what people believe, but beliefs don't live in a vacuum. People vote their beliefs into laws that affect others. [I had expressed just that concern, only going the other way.] We should all want to believe as many true things and stop believing in as many false or unsubstantiated things as possible. It makes the world better. All the answers should come from reality. I see zero proof of any answers coming from supernatural things. If we don't have an answer, then we say "we don't know". We don't make something up because it might give someone comfort. We don't invent magical woobies. (bolding mine)
Believe me, you don’t want to try to prove God to these ones. If they are locked and loaded, they will have comebacks to anything you will say. In the end, you can’t prove God. That’s why they call it faith. All you can do is show belief is reasonable. That will not work in this instance because ‘reason’ is defined in different terms. Better to focus on the words I bolded above: what is it that makes the world better?
At the end of a lengthy door discussion forty years ago over creation vs evolution, the man asked what difference it made. Who cares how we got here? he said. I replied that if it was God, he might not stand idly by to see all his worked ruined, but if it was evolution, then whatever hope there was for humankind lay in their hands. “And they’re not doing too well,” I added. The man’s wife, who up till that time had not said a word, for the first time did. “That’s a good point,” she said.
They’re still not doing too well. There is no sign whatsoever of people ‘coming together,’ but rather, the reverse. It cannot be blamed on religion. That force has clearly waned over the years.
What sort of answer would that bring?
I don't care if humankind comes to anything. The purpose of life is to live it, and by communal existence, make things better for us because all share space on this planet. There is no ultimate goal beyond this. No heaven to get to.
He doesn’t see that his first statement contradicts his second? He’ll keep on ‘making things better’ at the same time saying he doesn’t care if it all blows up? I mean, forgive the rest of us if we aspire to something more.
Moreover, understand that they are people who do care if humankind comes to nothing, and since their distrust in human efforts is well merited, they go beyond what his brand of science is able to detect and finds something greater.
Produce proof of God, or go away. … Evolution is a fact. I can't, nor would I control what others believe. You seem to need a woobie for your life to have meaning. I don't. Good luck with your delusional beliefs.
How can persons who will be senile and in diapers in not so many years say they need no crutch (“woobie”)? Of course they do. Plenty of scientists believe in God. No need for the insult.
I don't mean to be insulting, but it is what it is. Without proof, it doesn't matter who believes (scientists), how long they believe, or how many believe (quantity). Old people only need this crutch because religion has poisoned people's minds into believing there is a magical.. ...place with no strife, no disease, no pain, and everything you desire, while this reality is just a place to wipe your feet till you get there. If people told you they believed in Santa, would that be any more ridiculous? Yet me comparing your imaginary friend to a woobie is... ...somehow insulting? The problem with this world is this unsubstantiated belief when people use those beliefs to hurt people because an ancient book written by bronze age sheep herders tells them so. I don't care what people believe, as long as those beliefs don't affect me...
Yes, you don’t mean to be insulting, but—and then proceed to insult with ‘woobie.’ Why not use the n-word and explain how you don’t mean to insult? [the very origin of woo is ‘Woooo—what superstitious people say when confronted by some phenomenon they can’t figure out, and so ascribe to the supernatural. ‘Wooooo’ not insulting, my foot! People howl at the straw in their neighbor’s eye, but never consider the one in their own.
It’s why humans will never succeed in living with other humans. They don’t mean to insult, but—then on a hundred different pretexts having nothing to do with religion, they do. All the same, did I not start this? Why did I do that? Mind your own business, Tommy. A person ought to be allowed the last word on his own feed. That’s why I unfollowed (not blocked) the person. Those call-to-action words of Sagan will be quoted and it’s like waving a red flag before a bull—which I should ignore but don’t. My bad.
The exchange had a surprisingly happy ending, though. The Saganaphile repleated with how he doesn’t care what people believe as long as they don’t go passing laws to impinge on his freedom. Bingo. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t do that, though most groups do whenever they can garner the strength. Indeed, the trigger words beginning this thread suggested just the opposite concern: not that faith would seek to outlaw non-faith, but that non-faith would seek to rule out faith. Sagan considered faith ‘dangerous.’ You know some of his followers will seek to do something about this ‘danger.’
Not Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their weapons are words alone. Their standards they apply only to themselves. They tell no one else what to do. The person actually ‘liked’ my closing tweet, which he took (correctly) as an extending of the olive branch:
“The trick is to coexist on a polarized world. It is not going to unpolarize anytime soon. You said it well. As long as neither side passes laws to impose their viewpoint on the other, we’re all good.”
****** The bookstore