Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Science & Religion

I've been meaning to send this to you for some time, Bush. I've mentioned it a few times in the past, but I never could remember the exact wording. To me, it puts all the arguments about evolution, stem cell research, and the medical science around human reproduction into such a sane and beautiful perspective that I thought you ought to read it.

I'd like to tell you, though, where I first found it, because it seems like such an unlikely place: it was in the rest room of one of our major local galleries, L A Louver--which happens to have been the brainchild, almost thirty years ago, of a good friend of mine. While he started out representing mostly younger, lesser known local artists, his stable has expanded over the years to include a number of international superstars, including the British artist David Hockney. (I doubt that you'll have come across it, Bush, but I wrote the Abbeville Modern Masters book on Hockney's work.) At any rate, the Carl Sagan quotation that I'm sending you appears in a print by Hockney (above,) a tribute to Sagan, which hangs on the bathroom wall at L A Louver Gallery. The text reads as follows:

"In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better that we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more sublte, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed?' Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge."

Beautiful, no, Bush? What possibilities such thinking opens up, for both science and religion! Does it not offer you the framework to say, of stem cell research for example, Yes, the great spirit of the Universe (call him/her God, if such be your inclination) has come along to offer us this unprecendented opportunity to perform healings that once would have been considered miraculous. We have been granted the gift of a medical tool of as yet such unimaginable power, it would be a sin against our divine origins to spurn its infinite possibilities. Let's seize upon this unanticipated gift to improve the lot of those suffering from incurable disease or injury...

Instead, you say, along with your fundamentalist friends, No, no, no! My god is a little god who only teases us with the gift of medical science, and then denies us the right to turn it to good use. Instead, you say, No, no, no! My god is a little god who is incapable of imagining eons of evolutionary development, and can embrace only the concept of a few thousand years. Or, No, no, no, My god is a little, vengeful god whose plan, after creating this marvelous human species, is only to destroy the vast majority in favor of a privileged few.

I honestly don't get this kind of thinking, Bush. I'm with Carl Sagan. If god there is, he/she is a whole lot bigger than those who claim so piously to represent and worship him/her in the form of their own pusillanimous projections.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sending this, Peter. I enjoyed reading it and musing about the writings of Carl Sagan, and the smallness of current political thinking. Sharon

Anonymous said...


David said...

Yes, and their little god still speaks in King James english. Time for an update?

Anonymous said...

Since the large majority of scientists are working for the destruction of the planet I find it difficult to agree with Carl Sagan, unless by awe you mean Hiroshima - and today we have the potential to create a million Hiroshimas and when you think of the militarization of space science knows no limits - a little God? I don't think so. But at least when the end comes, we'll all go together.

Anonymous said...

If only Hawkings got his calculations correct, we could turn back time and dump Bush. But alas, time is what it is (what is it?) and we are left with a small minded man to run a country amok.

I disagree that a large majority of scientists are working to distroy the planet; rather I believe a few rich spoilt men are taking care of it on their own...and one of those men just happen to be Bush.

Thanks Peter for your Blog...Thank Blog.


dennis p said...

Peter, The only scientists I know of who are now and have worked to massively destroy, are misguided ones on government payrolls, governments who intend to use their efforts to kill and destroy. Now let's see, what governments would those be!

Tragic footnote: I heard, not long ago, that the Bush Administration has embarked on developing smaller nuclear weapons for limited strikes. However, since these things are done in evil secrecy, we the people can't have any verifiable facts about it.

Personally, I find it awesome, totally awesome, that we know so much about a honey bee, or a prostate gland. I guess it takes mass destruction to impress some people. Which is why they are full of fear, easy prey for demagogues, and fatalistic.

There is only one answer, a new mental effort to improve government to correct all of the above.

dennis p said...

Let me amend my comment. By 'scientists on government payrolls' I include those in corporations that are part of the government/industrial/military complex. these include such scientists as those doing chemical or say, robotic weapons research for examples.

blogdog said...

Thanks billions and billions for posting this!!