January 3, 2008

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

Quote of the Day: Some People Will Believe Anything

Sometimes the claims invented to support a theory in trouble are just rationalizations. I recently met a lively group of people standing in the aisle on a flight from London to Toronto. They said hello and asked me where I was coming from, and when I told them I was returning from a cosmology conference, they immediately asked my view on evolution. "Oh no," I thought, and proceeded to tell them that natural selection had been proved true beyond a doubt. They introduced themselves as members of a Bible college on the way back from a mission to Africa, one purpose of which, it turned out, had been to test some of the tenets of creationism. As they sough to engage me in discussion, I warned them that they would lose, as I knew the evidence pretty well. "No," they insisted, "you don't know all the facts." So we got into it. When I said, "But of course you accept the fact that we have fossils of many creatures that no longer live," they responded, "No!"

"What do you mean, 'no'? What about the dinosaurs?"

"The dinosaurs are still alive and roaming the earth!"

"That's ridiculous! Where?"

"In Africa."

"In Africa? Africa is full of people. Dinosaurs are really big. How come no one has seen one?"

"They live deep in the jungle."

"Someone would still have seen one. Do you claim to know someone who has seen one?"

"The pygmies tell us they see them every once in a while. We looked and we didn't see any, but we saw the scratch marks they make eighteen or twenty feet up on the trunks of trees."

"So you agree they are huge animals. And the fossil evidence is that they live in big herds. How could it be that nobody but these pygmies have seen them?"

"That's easy. They spend most of their time hibernating in caves."

"In the jungle? There are caves in the jungle?"

"Yes, of course, why not?"

"Caves big enough for a huge dinosaur to enter? If the caves are so big, they should be easy to find, and you can look inside and see them sleeping."

"To protect themselves while they hibernate, the dinosaurs close up the mouths of their caves with dirt so no one can tell they're there."

"How do they close up the caves so well they can't be seen? Do they use their paws, or perhaps they push the dirt with their noses?"

At this point, the creationists admitted they didn't know, but told me that "biblical biologists" from their school were in the jungles now, looking for the dinosaurs.

"Be sure and let me know if they bring out a live one," I said, and went back to my seat.

I am not making this up...
    - Lee Smolin, The Trouble With Physics, pp. 25-26

Some people will believe anything. Fortunately, believing that God created the heavens and the earth doesn't commit us to believing that dinosaurs are hiding in caves in Africa!

Posted by Kenny at January 3, 2008 1:25 PM
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And even more fortunately, science doesn't commit us to believing in god.

Posted by: Dave Carlson at June 22, 2012 7:24 PM

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