30 de diciembre de 2011

Hitchens & Feynman

Religion is our first —that's why I'm so fascinated by it—, it's our first version of the truth, is our first attempt as a species, it's what we tried when we didn't know anything. We didn't know we lived on a spherical planet, we didn't know that our planet revolved around the Sun. We didn't know that there were microorganisms that explained disease. We thought diseases came from curses, or witches, or ill-wishing, or devils, or dust devils. We didn't know anything from the childish, terrified, ignorant origins of our animal primate species.

It's also our first attempt at philosophy, our first attempt at morality, our first attempt at healthcare, actually. But, because it was our first it is our worst. We now have better explanations for all these dreads and we have cleared up all these mysteries, yet we still dwell, and in some countries, in some societies, not just dwell, but live under a totalitarian regime that forbids us to think about the progress that has been made or denies us the knowledge that these advances have in fact occured. So it has become, where once it probably was an aid to our survival, a really great peril to our continued ability to live as a civilized species [...].

Christopher Hitchens

We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are. If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming “This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!” we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.

It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.

Richard Feynman, en The Value of Science (leído aquí)

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