Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Theological speculation: Just what the cave man needed ...

Recently, I have been reading The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, and he is as skeptical as I am of the recent attempts to shore up materialist theories by insisting that the minds that doubt them did not, after all, evolve to be good judges of such matters:
"Received wisdom has it that lacking access to the mysteries of science, men and women accept instead the mysteries of faith. This diagnosis is very often expressed in terms of evolutionary theory. The human brain is an instrument shaped by selection for survival, and it is only natural, considering the problems they faced many years ago, that anxious men and woman should have turned toward elaborate theological speculation. What better hedge against fearsome predators or an uncertain food supply than the Immaculate Conception or the revelations of the Gematria? As general relativity or quantum field theory become more widely known, human gullibility will decline.

This is not a view of things that a close study of string theory, the Landscape, or the Anthropic Principle tends to support." (p. 131)

The wilder reaches of post-modern cosmology are fair game, of course, and they may well be of less use than a discourse on the Immaculate Conception or the Gematria in dissuading a bear from attacking - but I do not plan to test this theory.