Thoughts to think about on a winters day.
Begin with wonder
Transcript of Hitchens
“If you want to be awe inspired, ladies and gentlemen; let me say, let me just tell you that those of us who do not believe that we are divinely created, let alone divinely supervised are not immune to the idea of awe and beauty and the transcendent. Let me invite you, to look for a moment at the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope, some of you may have done it… if you haven’t done it now, would yet do it soon. The extraordinary revelations of swirling yet somehow beautiful new galaxies in colour and depth and majesty, like nothing I think the human eye has ever seen. Turn away from that if you wish and gaze at a burning bush, in an illiterate desert part of the middle east and say that.s where revelation comes from. I don’t believe you’d be able to do it. Or read a page of Stephen Hawking on the absolute magnificence and consistency and underlying beauty, as Einstein says “the great miracle of physics is there are no miracles”; it all carries on holding together all the time, there are no interruptions in its order, there are no suspensions of it just to please Joshua or just to please some sect or tribe or group… no! its much much much more impressive than that. Hawking has a colleague who looked at the event horizon of a black hole, if you could travel towards a black hole, not yet possible to do, but if you could in theory, the event horizon is the point at which the black hole is pulling everything into itself, so over into the black hole goes light itself… its so strong it can pull light into itself. Its really awe inspiring, a lot more say than a crowd of pigs, infested by devils, running down a hill, into the sea…. which is a piece of sorcery and cheap magic of the sort that shouldn’t impress any thinking person; think about a black hole instead…. pulling the light into itself the event horizon just, re-organizing nature, so that if you could get to that lip, the lip of the event horizon and fall in, and go in, you could in theory see the past and the future stretching, before and in front of you. You would see time, except you wouldn’t have the time to do it, of course, if you were a mere primate as we are. Yet Hawking has a colleague that says that if he knew he was dying of a terminal illness, that”s how he’d want to go out, is over the lip of the event horizon; that would be majesty, that would be magnificent, that would be awe inspiring, that would be apocalyptic. So its in the natural world, its in the world of science and the world of innovation and discovery and doubt…. we wouldn’t have discovered ANY of these things if we’d taken the religious story for granted to begin with. We’d have said, “we already know enough, we *KNOW*, God made this, God wants it this way, what’s the need for inquiry? We already have all the information we need!”. The big difference between this side of the house, mine and the other is the this, I am absolutely certain that I do not know but that it might be possible to find out, and that doubt and skepticism and innovation and inquiry are the only means by which wonder and beauty and awe and symmetry will be discovered and beyond those peaks we can yet see, new more wonderful peaks will arise. Whereas, on the Wilson side of the house it is said, we already have the certainty, we know that God created us and we even claim to know his mind and what he wants of us. And I just invite you to open your minds to the possibility that the skeptical and the inquiring and the doubtful will be better than ANYTHING that calls itself faith, because anything that calls itself faith, calls itself certainty and for certainty I think there is no place in an institute of intellectual mentation and higher education, and I am very grateful to you all for giving me the chance to say so, thank you.” Christopher Eric Hitchens