Many may recall that this was Laplace’s quip to Napoleon way back when (as they say): and is an idea that has been propounded by a number of philosophers in many traditions: certainly ancient Chinese, Hindu, and Greek,
I am amused to see the importance given to such quotes on the basis of AUTHORITY by intelligent people who often argue against proof-by-authority in the religious framework.
So Hawking says there is no God and Collins says there is, Dawkins says there is no God and Maxwell says there is.
Anselm proves the existence of God and Ingersoll His non-existence, Shankara says there is God and Charvaka says it’s all a fib, Chandra says there is no God and Ramanujan says he saw Her in his dream.
Such quotes confirm one’s already held conviction/prejudice, rather than throw any new light on the uncommitted.
The views of scientists must be respected on issues pertaining to the phenomenal world. As to matters whose very existence their own framework either denies or has serious doubts about, their pronouncements must be taken with a pinch of curry: the spiciness does not add to the food-value.
But proof by quotes (from authorities) will always be there, whether one is religious-minded or not, because it gives a sense of security to lesser minds that are confused by larger issues.
September 3, 2010