no evidence

November 12, 2011

When confronted with the question of why they don’t believe in a god, atheists of all kinds have become used to declaring that they don’t because there’s no evidence for it. The response has become a hackneyed, automatic formula.

Well, as I’ve said in a previous post, I don’t define myself as an atheist. I’m a proscient. This means I define myself from what I know, not from what I believe. So it almost goes without saying that I have a very different take on the need for evidence of gods and/or other assertions of supernaturalism.

I need no lack of evidence not to believe that Mickey Mouse is not a real being. I’m an adult, that is, a human with a more complex and coherent view of reality than that of a child. No adult needs to say “There is no evidence for Mickey Mouse’s existence, therefore I don’t believe in him.” An adult can see through the drawing and clearly perceive that it’s man-made.

Similarly, I look at the Bible, the Koran and any number of other assertive stories, and I can see that they’re man-made. The simpler eye of a believer can’t see this; it can’t see through the elaborate and often contradictory narratives and perceive their casuistry or the human purpose sewing behind the scenes.

Every time I hear an atheist talk about evidence, I see a line going straight back to Bertrand Russell, to David Hume. Though they certainly contributed enormously to rational thinking, I suggest it’s time we updated some of their notions.

You know the routine: ‘atheism’ is about not believing, ‘agnosticism’ is about not knowing.

I used to define myself as a radical agnostic. You’ll find it somewhere in this blog. However, when I go really really deep and wide, I discover that questions of belief are a minute, diminutive, teeny tiny bird-droppy thing in myself, when compared with the vast expanses covered by knowledge. You can do it too. List everything you personally really truly believe in, and then list everything you know –not “scientific” knowledge, but every little detail in your life that you know about: you know who you are, you know what you look & sound & feel like, what your history is, how many relatives you have and who they are; you know your street and neighbourhood and thousands, millions of places around the world; you know how to express your thoughts and how to interpret other people’s words; you know over 40 thousand words, and other 40 thousand expressions; you know what you did yesterday and the day before; you know how to tie your shoelaces and comb your hair; you have billions and billions of units of information in your brain. And then you have two or three beliefs. Or ten or twenty. And even if you’re the Pope or some Ayatollah or some televangelist, your beliefs cover a crushingly small portion of your experience –I mean your real-life experience, what you can really account for and show to yourself as unequivocally true. Or else, you’re just stupid and gullible.

On the other hand, (as I’ve said elsewhere) belief is subservient to knowledge in every detail. Belief is fed by knowledge and is in fact nothing other than an expectation of knowledge; in the case of religious belief, it’s an inflated expectation of greater-than-humanly-possible knowledge. Faith is a confidence that you’re enlightened or *will* be enlightened –that is, faith is nothing more than a confidence that you’re in possession of a certain type of knowledge, or that you will eventually have it.

So it sounds pretty silly to define yourself from your beliefs, particularly if you don’t have any. And if you’re an atheist or an agnostic, defining yourself as such is really a disservice to you in the debate with believers: you’re effectively sending them the message that belief is *really* important —in particular that it’s important in defining you—, that what believers are saying about deities and superstitions actually bears considering and deserves a thoughtful response. The debate is about *them*; and oh, don’t they relish it.

Because of all that, I don’t define myself as an atheist. And then, because it’s silly to define myself from what I *don’t* know —in particular because it’s taken to be about “mystical” knowledge—, I’ve also phased out the ‘agnostic’ bit. Now I define myself as “proscient”: I AM WHAT I KNOW —and what I want to learn— from the evidence of my senses and the workings of my own reasoning.

Hope or faith

May 23, 2010

Ever since those desert bronze-age peoples invented the notion that eternal life is a reward for exemplary moral conduct or just for following a weird tradition, life on Earth has been hell. As if that weren’t enough, they preach that moral rectitude can only come from faith (????) and therefoooore faith in God is the greatest good anyone could aspire to.

When talking to believers, every time I say that faith is no more than an excuse to get some people together so they can laugh with friends, flirt safely, promote their prejudices, check the progress of the lucky ones and have a barbecue, I get to hear a sermon that usually starts with “That’s absurd! Faith in God is the only reason I get up in the morning. It’s what drives me on!” If I object that what actually drives them on is their gregarious instinct, their need for community, I then hear something like “You’re mistaken. Faith is our greatest gift. Without faith, there’s no meaning to life.” or words to that effect.

I don’t usually meddle with armed people. But when I meet someone with a crack in their brain, the sort who will “pray” for my soul, I tell them a little parable to demonstrate that no believer would give a second thought to faith if it prevented them from living in a community. I tell them this:

Imagine you’re face to face with your God on the day of the last judgement. He looks you up and down, and then thunders:

God: Congratulations, My son. Thou wert an exemplary jew/christian/muslim and art now in Heaven with Me.
You: Oh how wonderful, my miraculous merciful God!
G: Yes, now thou shalt live eternally by My side and shalt enjoy My infinite divine blessings.
Y: Oh grandiose gracious God. I’ll sing your praises for ever more!
G: Excellent, that is what I like.
Y: What a magnificent marvel Paradise is!
G: Oh, hast thou noticed? Thank you, thank you.
Y: Sublime sovereign of the Universe!
G: Hohoho…
Y: I can hardly wait to see my mom and dad again. I miss them so much.
G: Er… No no. They are not here.
Y: Pardon?
G: I only saved thee.
Y: Weren’t my parents saved?
G: Mmnnnope… They fell short.
Y: Oh, how sad…
G: Mm.
Y: Erm… Where are they?
G: In Hell.
Y: Aaaarrrrghh…!!!
Y: Well… My rejoicing at being with you is far greater than any pain, however atrocious. What about my uncles and aunts?
G: In Hell as well.
Y: Even Aunt Hazel, so chaste and faithful?
G: Yeah. I did not save her either.
Y: Not even her?
G: Nnno. Only thou wert saved.
G: Neither.
Y: Mike…?
G: Naaah…
Y: Jennifer…?
G: Hell.
Y: Oh no!!!… That’s impossible!!… Even Jennifer…?
G: She married an atheist. Thought about sex all the time.
Y: ¡¡NOOO!!
G: Yep.
Y: Well, at least someone from my sinagogue/church/mosque…?
G: No one. Only thou wert left.
Y: Wow…
G: Thou seest now how things are. How they were.
Y: Jesus! I’ll take some time to get used to this.
G: Well, in eternity, everything will eventually be ok.
Y: What about Father Gregory, from that little church?
G: Hell. Only thou hast remained.
Y: Rabbi Metzger? The ayatollah Khomeini?
G: No way.
Y: Well, at least I’ll have the company of saints, like… er… St Francis…
G: Nah nah… He could not take his thoughts off food.
Y: St Benedict…
G: Hell. Most impure thoughts.
Y: Well, I had them too.
G: Yes, but thou repentedst in time.
Y: St Agnes…?
G: She doubted me at the last minute.
Y: Oh. … Pope John XXIII?
G: Envy.
Y: Maimonides?
G: Incest.
Y: Abraham? Don’t tell me he…
G: People would embellish everything.
Y: Mohammed?
G: He complained a lot, but it was useless.
Y: Wow…
G: Has the coin dropped at last? In all the history of humanity, THOU art the only person worthy of coming into My kingdom: only thou hast been saved.
Y: But the probability for that to happen is infinitely small!!!
G: What dost thou know? It was I who invented probability.
Y: But but… And the little children, oh my most merciful God? Surely those who died in their infancy…
G: Hopeless. I reincarnated all of them, and they all got lost.
Y: Oh, how painful. This is so different from how I was told it was going to be. It was so nice at the temple, with my family and friends… I thought we would just go on being together here. Erm… Couldn’t you create a little wee loophole in divine law, so Paradise gets a little more er… populated?
G: What is done is done. And My law is inerrant.
Y: And your divine love, oh my God? Why would you destroy those whom you love?
G: My love has been and will be infinite for all whom I did create.
Y: So?!
G: So what?
Y: What of your divine pardon?
G: I have pardoned all. But pardon does not cancel accountability.
Y: Do you mean… you mean that from all of humanity’s history, only **I** will enjoy eternal life with you – without my parents and brothers and sisters and children, without my friends or saints or believers, with no company at all, only me, just me alone here for eternity?
G: Yes, thou hast deserved it.
G: Come on. Do not fret. We shall have a lot of fun, thee and Me. We have all of eternity ahead of us. There is so much to talk about. For instance, didst thou know that I am not only infinite and eternal, but also incalculable?
Y: Uh. Mm.
G: Wilt thou not praise Me?
Y: Aah. … Oh incalculable incandescence!
G: There. Is this not fun?
Y: Erm… Yep.
G: mmMMM?
Y: Yes, yes, this is so much fun, oh divine divertedness.
G: And I am also…
(continues eternally)

Actually, I never get to tell the whole parable. Halfway through, I start getting the God-would-never-do-that response. Believers will NEVER accept either that their God might do just that as anything else and, most tellingly, that Heaven CANNOT be a boring place, that it’s GOT to have entertainment value somehow. Believers can forgive the most outrageous acts from God, as long as he’s entertaining. The notion of a tedious God is the ultimate abomination, even on Earth. No boring religion ever survives. Monotony is an unpardonable sin.

the radical agnostic (2)

April 19, 2010

Radical agnostics have a hard time accepting that the words “believe in God” have any meaning whatsoever.

Is there a God?
believer: Yes.
atheist: No.
agnostic: I don’t know.
radical agnostic: …?!?!?

Here’s a typical exchange between a meddler and a radical agnostic:

M: Is there a God?
RA: …?!?
M: So you don’t believe in God.
RA: …?!?!?
M: Well, are you a believer or an unbeliever?
RA: …?!?!?!?

To the RA’s ears, the “dialogue” sounds like this:

M: Vbzntglfng mnhfns?
RA: What? Uh?
M: So you don’t blmpqrkgn in vnzlms.
RA: Huh? What? Eh?
M: Well, are you fngzbljnmkpxs or xzbvfnglrtspfkgl?
RA: Come again? Well what? Eh? Wh…?

Radical agnostics are probably human specimens with a beneficial mutation in brain chemistry.

Throughout any debate, you can notice this: all you need to do to be heard is to make your words into a story.

Isn’t it interesting that everyone shuts up when a story is being told? Why do people interrupt someone in the middle of a proposition but very seldom in the middle of a story? Religions are successful not because they are logical structures, but because they are made up of stories. All animals stand still and stare as a story is unfolding before their eyes. We’re no exception.

the influential virus

May 6, 2009

M: So isn’t it good that people die?
J: No. Just people from other tribes, not mine.
M: And what’s your tribe?
J: We’re the Hygienoids from Paranoica.
M: Wow! Can I join?
J: Yes, but wash your hands first.

isaiah 40:22

March 3, 2009

It’s pretty clear to me that Isaiah meant a flat circle. But I see the evidence in the phrases ‘SIT upon the circle’, ‘STRETCH out the Heavens’ and ‘SPREAD them out as a TENT’. Is it plausible that he visualized those images while thinking of a spherical planet? Of course not. His Earth was as flat as the floor of a tent.

And worse: if the Bible had been inspired by an omniscient being, one would presume he would have a better sense of style rather than coming up with such sloppy metaphors for a spherical Earth.

If the Earth WERE flat, apologists would use ‘circle’ as proof that the Bible knew all about it from the start. That’s what *apologists* DO.

It’s high time those desert religions stopped pestering the rest of the world. Give me the Greeks any day.

Still in my self-appointed mission to provide both pro-lifers and pro-choicers with arguments that are, shall we say, less comprehensible by five-year-olds than the fare usually available in open forums, in this new installment I give non-religious, non-moral reasons to avoid abortion.

(For grown-up pro-choice reasons, see the previous post.)

A stupid way to run a species
One of the reasons why there is little point in discussing scripture as a basis for conduct in a multi-cultural world is that scripture from any religion is at best an incomplete and highly contextualized interpretation of the facts of life. Policies based on morality and religion are transient and pretty hopeless ways of patching up ever-recurrent problems.

A good non-religious rationale against abortion is provided by Neo-Darwinism, which could be described as a blend of evolution and genetics. It is actually the same rationale that Neo-Darwinism provides against eugenics.

When compared with the colossal time-scale of evolution, it becomes clear that the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Shruti, the American constitution, and any body of non-scientific, opinionated writings, are mere blips of jingoistic, forgettable and ineffectual bigotry. The real reason why abortions should be avoided is that every time a woman aborts a fetus, she is effectively cutting short a link between a protoplasmal blob millions of years ago, and a highly developed human descendant species millions of years into the future. The same goes for eugenics. In evolutionary terms, pro-choicers and eugenicists could be compared to a swarm of lemmings jumping into the sea: they are conspiring to destroy the very thing that brought them to be sentient beings in the first place.

A good starting point to understand the issues involved is the recognition that what a brain can understand must necessarily be at least one degree less complex than the brain itself. Therefore, humans will never be able to understand themselves, much less find complete solace in scripture. This is true for individuals, and it is even truer for groups of people, and it is vastly truer for a species as a whole in evolutionary time-scale. When an egg is impregnated with sperm, one can never predict what is going to be the particular genetic influence of the resulting individual. Theoretically, one can select chromosomes to produce a tall, blond, honest, friendly, intelligent charmer. However, we must think of a person not only as a Member of Society, but as a link between past and future genetic set-ups. For all we know, a successful MoS may contribute to delay, say, immunity to Aids by hundreds of thousands of years. Even if one can eventually pre-empt that undesirable outcome by having Aids immunity built into the genetic set-up, nothing can prevent new and more powerful diseases from cropping up at every evolutionary turn. (Some may find a red herring in this by pointing out that, for all you know, the next abortion may be getting rid of the next Hitler. But in a discussion about evolution, the red herring IS Hitler. Though he advocated eugenics, he was himself an evolutionary failure, since as far as we know he left no offspring; all he did was to help prevent other people from leaving their own. In evolutionary terms, he was the equivalent of an Olympic swimmer who kills all his competitors and then drowns in the pool. He should get the ultimate Darwin Award.)

Therefore, the best thing any individual and any society can do is let evolution do what it has been doing all along for millions of years: leave it to chance, chaos and flukes to take care of what comes next. We’d like to be able to control the future: this is not only impossible but undesirable. One can never tell what comes next. At any given time, there may be a worldwide flu epidemic that will kill off all humans on the planet, and the answer to the killing flu virus may well be in the particular genetic set-up of a fetus that will be aborted next month. What we need to do is to let all possible human beings into existence, so that we ensure the largest number of possible genetic combinations, thereby increasing the probability of our species’ survival.

Abortions are not wrong, and I will not revile you for having one any more than I would revile you for blowing your brains up with a grenade. Abortions are just a stupid way of running a species. Individual comfort is placed above the species’ survival. It is easy to agree that any female of any animal, if able to choose, would prefer sex without progeny. Give a cow some measure of foresight and ten to one she will prefer to abort rather than be bothered by calves and milking and overweight. Pro-choicers are lucky that only humans enjoy foresight: it would not be very pleasant to be compared to a stupid, irrational ruminant grazing her pointless life away.

Abortion is stupid not because it prevents geniuses from being born, but because it decreases the number of genetic combinations in actual competition (meaning the people who are in effect born and grow to procreate themselves). In fact, any birth control method, from eugenics to the pill, is a stupid way to run a species, particularly when the method interferes with the woman’s reproductive system. In order to explain why, I’ll make an analogy with shaving.

In the following, whenever I say that genes ‘think’ or something of the sort, I don’t mean that they actually do think. Saying that genes ‘think’ just makes it easier to visualize what happens across hundreds of generations.

It’s probably no news that a man is on average more successful with women if he shaves than if he grows a beard. Men have this ‘beard gene’ that brings on prodigious amounts of facial hair. The reason why men can have long beards is uncertain, but it sure is strange that if unchecked, this cumbersome thing should grow so long as to hinder body movements. But just for the sake of the argument, let’s suppose that the present version of the beard gene has a perfectly satisfying reason to be there. If no man ever shaved, and if facial hair were still a reproductive disadvantage, the beard gene would gradually recede and baby-faces would eventually become the norm even in adult males. As it happens, it’s currently not a cool thing to have long beards, so men shave them off, and women then also choose men who are unnaturally beardless. The snag is that the beard gene in the population at large remains in absolute ignorance that most carriers prefer to shave their beards off, and that the gene makes no difference to men’s reproductive success. Because men do shave, and because nature has a tendency to boost what is useful, the ‘clueless’ beard gene is passed on and possibly emphasized. The gene then ‘thinks’ it is useful and finds its way into the next generation, and so on. The result is that as generations follow each other, men will be ever more prone to having ever more facial hair to shave off. Maybe that’s exactly what has actually already been happening. The clean-shaven look has been around ever since the Greeks, and earlier. Probably, just probably, beards grow longer now because no further back than 3,000 years ago, facial hair lost its charm among ‘civilized’ people. Men’s ability to ‘control’ their looks will backfire (or has backfired) miserably.

The same reasoning can be applied to other modern ‘improvements’. Take liposuction. The more women undergo liposuction, the more it contributes to developing obesity in women in future generations. Take high heeled shoes for women. As more women wear high heels more often, women who are actually chosen as partners will become gradually shorter. Hundreds of generations from now, the “natural” woman will tend to become a fat midget.

Now what has that got to do with my previous assertion that birth control is stupid?

Well, a lot. A woman’s fertility is limited to some days during the menstrual cycle. Since each species has a different fertility cycle, it seems fair to say that a woman’s fertility is defined by her genes. But whether she’s on some kind of birth control or having one kid per year, her ‘fertility gene’ is perfectly unaware of the fact. If the use of birth control methods becomes universal, and if abortion is made legal around the world, this will have the same effect as a preference for clean-shaven men will (or indeed has had). Women who are naturally more fertile than average will probably decide to have as many children (that is, few) as women who are naturally less fertile. Therefore, in the world at large there will be proportionally fewer progeny carrying higher fertility genes than there would have been in a natural setting. The result is that as generations follow each other through future millennia, women might be less and less capable of bearing children (without the merciful benefit of casting off the menstrual cycle), and thus the ability of human beings to create variety within the species might be severely limited. Maybe that’s exactly what has actually already been happening. Humans’ partiality to sex without progeny is nothing new, and women’s reproductive cycle has certainly developed alongside that partiality. But our wish to control our bodies artificially may backfire (or may already have backfired) miserably.

The three-shaves-a-day male and the fat-midget female may be taken by hurried thinkers as an argument for eugenics, as future cenarios to be avoided by eugenics. This would be a stupid argument. If anything, it is an argument against fashion.

In the next few posts, I’ll provide both pro-lifers and pro-choicers with arguments that are, shall we say, less comprehensible by five-year-olds than the fare usually available in open forums.

The sky is not the limit
A perception pro-lifers have of pro-choicers is that they rely on blind faith on their particular prejudices about life and death to justify their defence of abortion. To me, all this indicates is that a pro-lifer’s grasp of the pro-choice rationale is tenuous at best. In fact, pro-choicers do not care if a woman is pregnant of ‘unborn humans’: this is not the issue at stake. This view was famously mocked in 1971 by the philosopher Judith J Thomson, who compared pregnancy with waking up to find that you have had a famous violinist plugged into your vital organs and being told that if he does not remain there for the next nine months, he will die.

Now think of yourself as a moral man, a saver of lives. Suppose that by some queer accident a famous violinist gets plugged into your vital organs for nine months, and if you unplug him, he will die. After that, he’ll be a semi-invalid for sixteen more years and it’ll be your duty to nurture him. Of course, if you’re a man, it would take a VERY queer accident to get you pregnant; but a real pregnancy, especially the first one, is not much different from that: a non-pregnant woman must feel she is as autonomous a being as a man does.

So, taking it all in, I think one may safely assume that, being a moral man and a saver of lives, you will gladly carry that weight around for the specified length of time, in the certainty that a human life hangs on your efforts. You will lose job opportunities, you will do without simple pleasures, you will live with fatigue and discomfort, your body will irretrievably change for the worse, you will depend on other people’s help, you will be uncertain of the future, &c. Nine months pass and then the glory of your achievement will be apparent. Everybody’s happy, including you, the violinist, music lovers, your country and your deity. You will expect no thanks, of course: this is no more than your duty. I commend you.

Of course, after such privations, you’ll expect your duty’s done and you can move on to other endeavours. Well, sorry, you then learn that by another queer accident, you’ll get plugged to a famous mathematician, either a him or a her. You smile politely though deep down you’d rather not have anyone plugged into you again. But you’re a hero, now. You’ve been through all this before and you know the rewards are worth a thousand times the suffering, so you say, “Let him/her come. I don’t care if it’s a him or a her.” Well, it’s a girl. Who’d have thought it possible? You start feeling there are a lot of gaps in the work you had been wanting to accomplish, a lot of gaps in your knowledge, a lot of gaps in your pleasures. But then, what are you, next to a famous mathematician? Nine months later, you’ve saved her life.

Well, now back to work. Some months later, a single mistake, one more queer accident and there you are. Maybe a dustman, this time. Or a dustwoman: you don’t really care. But nine more months?!? AND with so much music and maths to look after already!! Some questions keep cropping up out of your subconscious mind: “Why me? What about MY life, for deity’s sake?” Somebody shows you the way to unplug the little dear, and a million to one you will do it. It might be only a dustperson, after all.

Notice that I’m not talking about anyone in particular. I’m talking about what happens, and what human beings are like. I’m just describing, not prescribing.

Personally, I can envisage having a fully-fledged human being plugged into my vital organs for a week or so. But only once. The second time that happened, I’d certainly let them go. The definition of a sentient being includes the idea of autonomy. If for some reason I lose my autonomy, I can be expected to want it back, even if I’ve lost it because some other person cannot live autonomously.

Some pro-lifers criticize pro-choicers for their philosophy of “me me me, who cares about anyone else?”

This is an interesting point. So let me start a different analogy.

Suppose you drive by a lake every evening on your way back home. One evening you spot a drowning child. The water’s cold, but that shouldn’t bother you if you’re saving a life – which you then do, with considerable effort. Who wouldn’t? (This analogy is to be understood as bearing the proviso: “no other options are possible, except saving or not saving the child.”) To your chagrin, this is then repeated every evening for days on end, a different child every time; and every evening you stop your car, get out, jump in, swim, grab the kid, swim back, &c. What do you think will happen after some weeks? You will catch yourself considering a different route back home, even if you know that there is a child drowning in the lake. You might actually try and find an alternative route, or fake other business, but eventually you’ll drive by the drowning child without so much as a nod. There is a limit for everything. For some people, the mere knowledge that there will be a drowning child on their way back home is enough to make them decide on a different route anyway. And who’s to blame them? We’re talking about real people here, not imaginary saints.

You know what I’m driving at, don’t you? Your morality and your religion are not worth much after you get the know-how to interfere with a natural but inconvenient bodily function. That’s what humans are like. Morals are nothing when personal comfort is repeatedly at stake. If you say that personal comfort is not reason enough to allow a person to die, I say that I have demonstrated to you that even a life-saver will choose not to save a life once a limit is reached. What pro-choicers are saying is “do not presume to prescribe what that limit should be for other people.”

the radical agnostic

April 9, 2008

If there is any peril in having a reality-based outlook at a time when religion seems to be on a lot of people’s minds, I think it comes from those who have yet to learn the main lesson of the 20th century: diversity and nature are more important than personal conviction.

I call myself a ‘radical agnostic’.

A radical agnostic couldn’t care less about questions of providence, creation and the existence of God. However, the radical agnostic is bold enough to admit that after all there just miiiiight be a God who’ll ultimately round up all ‘reality-based’ outlookers and send them packing down to Hell.

The existence or inexistence of God, the transcendence or non-transcendence of dogmas, the need or non-need of tradition are questions that don’t make a jot of difference, cosmically speaking: our ignorance is so mind-bogglingly vast, and the possibility of finally bridging it so utterly remote, that both believing and disbelieving seem like acts of arrogance and presumption.

Indeed, religious beliefs get special help from arrogance and presumption. The radical agnostic sometimes suspects that “I believe” actually means “I want”:

“I want in God (to live well, not to suffer, to go to heaven, to live eternally, my enemies to suffer, &c).”

… and it’s no wonder that all religions seek to deny the very thing that promotes them: while their survival and growth depends mainly on family and ethnic ties more than on any inherent truth or strength in their dogmas, they at the same time try to cynically sustain that ‘believing’ is an expression of selflessness capable of helping to congregate white and black, rich and poor in a common ideal. Hmm. And you’d better start believing now, or else…!

Yes. Ironically, the message spread by gospels of all religions is, “believe, or else your soul won’t be able to reap the fruits desired by your animality,” fruits such as happiness, pleasure, memory and relief from pain. Forget spiritual rewards: belief is the hope you’ll get your animal urges satiated.

Atheists, of course, get their fair share of arrogance & presumption. Saying things like “I know there is no god.” has the same logical & presumption status as “I know what’s happening in Alpha Centauri right now.”

I may sound like I’m against anybody who’s not a radical agnostic. But I think diversity of nature is the key concept here. In spite of all I’ve said, I think humanity may slowly come to recognise that different people believe different things simply because they are differently constituted; therefore, arguing endlessly about what’s true or logical or believable will be seen in a more benevolent light for what it is: just a harmless pastime. Nobody knows anything, and humans will have to evolve into something greater than human before anything new is actually learnt.

I stand by my epigraph, always: “You’ll never get any further than plausible.”