In a review of Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Freeman Dyson demurs from Dennett's "passionate" atheism, in a style reminiscent of Cardinal Newman's splendid "Definition of a Gentleman". And along with philosophical insight, Dyson brings great humor to the debate, e.g.:

... Every country is different, especially in matters concerning religion, and no single solution to the problem of religious education fits all. In each country, a workable solution has to be found by political compromise between conflicting views, within the rules imposed by the local culture. To be workable, a solution does not need to be scientifically or philosophically consistent. When I was a boy in England long ago, people who traveled on trains with dogs had to pay for a dog ticket. The question arose whether I needed to buy a dog ticket when I was traveling with a tortoise. The conductor on the train gave me the answer: "Cats is dogs and rabbits is dogs but tortoises is insects and travel free according." The rules governing religious education should be administered with a similar freedom of interpretation.

(see "Religion from the Outside" by Freeman J. Dyson, in the 22 Jun 2006 New York Review of Books, Volume 53, Number 11; cf. OnQuickness (12 Sep 1999), Cardinal Newman (4 Oct 2001), MechanicalAdvantage (9 Oct 2003), ...)

TopicFaith - TopicLiterature - TopicHumor - TopicPhilosophy - 2006-06-13

(correlates: InfiniteInAllDirections, CombinatorialInterference, SuspectTerrain, ...)