Angier on atheism

The Center for Inquiry reprints a speech by science writer Natalie Angier, in which she discusses how to raise a child as an atheist.

Angier discusses, for lack of a better term, an atheist’s world view, and she raises a few points that I think are worth mentioning.

The first thing I want to mention is her belief that we have a duty to “understand the universe to the furthest extent that our brains can manage.” I raise this as a way of explaining why I find good science writing so enjoyable, and why so much of my leisure reading is spent on non-fiction–and not just science, for I think I have just as much to learn from other fields as well.

She then brings up Einstein’s famous humility before the same universe he worked so hard to explain. But anyone who gazes up at the stars or out across the ocean can be humble before the grandeur of the universe. What distinguished Einstein was his life-long aim, as Angier puts it, “to honor that grandeur by seeking to understand it, bit by bit, with his weak little intellect.”

This, to me, is the call of human intellect, and it’s one reason religionists upset me so much when they try to use ancient texts to beat down science. It’s just too damn easy to stop thinking and learning and exploring when you believe that, beyond the veil, there’s a god waiting who will explain to you all the mysteries of life.

[via Arts and Letters Daily]

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