Thursday, June 16, 2005

Cody Shepherd of Vancouver sends along this quote from Douglas Adams in response to an earlier post:

Now, the invention of the scientific method and science is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked and if it withstands the attack, then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn't seem to work like that; it has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. That's an idea we're so familiar with, whether we suscribe to it or not, that it's kind of odd to think what it actually means, because really what it means is, "Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? Because you're not!" If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument, but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down, you're free to have an argument about it, but if on the other hand somebody says, "I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday," you say, "Fine, I respect that." The odd thing is, even as I am saying that, I am thinking, "Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?" but I wouldn't have thought, "Maybe there's somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics, when I was making the other points. I just think, "Fine, we have different opinions." But the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody's (I'm going to stick my neck out here and say irrational)beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say, "No, we don't attack that; that's an irrational belief, but no, we respect it."

-Douglas Adams, Cambridge, September 1998