Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My last lecture: Reading List

If I remember correctly, in Larry Niven's novel Ringworld, one of the characters says something like "our scientists have proved that God does not exist". At the time I wondered whether how such a statement could possibly be proved (or disproved).

Years later, after reading several books by Stephen Jay Gould, including The Panda's Thumb, it gradually dawned on me that Charles Darwin did, in fact, begin that proof, by showing that the Argument from Design is fallacious. Yes, it's natural to believe that plants and animals are designed, but in fact the "designer" is evolution, not a supernatural being.

In fact, the evidence for atheism is overwhelming. For those who still believe in belief, I recommend the following books:

These ideas may seem profoundly threatening. That need not be so. Atheists, like everyone else, feel love, beauty, spirituality and other selfless or transcendent emotions. Atheism does not diminish these aspects of life, it simply explains them as arising from evolution. People don't need non-existent beings to be happy, to live morally and with a sense of purpose. We create our purposes. Nothing else does.

Enjoying the discoveries of science is one my great pleasures. In particular, the theory of evolution is the most beautiful, elegant, fertile, powerful and successful scientific theory ever created:

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