Re: Paper-tigers

William B. Provine (
Sun, 05 Apr 1998 17:33:17 +0100

Dear Moorad,

Thanks for your email. You say:

> I think one ought to distinguish between our descriptions of the natural
> (physical) world from the totality of events that take place in the world.
> Science deals only with a portion of all such events---the physical ones. It
> is true that scientific theories are devoid of deities. However, the fact
> that such theories describe an aspect of reality does not preclude other
> aspects of reality which are outside of the realm of science. It may be that
> your reasoning ability is outside the realm of science. I do not mean a
> mechanical description of the workings of the brain, but a description of
> how non-physical concepts concerning meaning, values, purpose arise in the
> human mind. Would you say that those concepts are nonsensical since they are
> not explainable by purely scientific means?

Of course I agree with you that science cannot describe or account for
everything. Nor would I ever argue that we do not understand by science does not
exist. But science is just beginning. I hesitate now to attribute what we cannot
now understand by science to gods or souls. Instead, to me the proper response
is just ignorance. In what we don't know, I see no evidence whatsoever of gods
or souls.

I certainly did not express myself well about death and Christians. I suspect
Christians are not fearful of dying because the vast majority believe at the
Pearly Gate they will go to heaven. If St. Peter is there sure enough, a much
higher percentage will go to hell than think they will. I was wondering, if
Christians lost their faith, would they have a greater fear of death? You
suggest this is true.

Best wishes, Will