Monday, January 09, 2006
Philosophy at the Breakfast Table
Over tea and toast at the breakfast table this morning, Jeff read to me a few paragraphs from Broca's Brain , a book by Carl Sagan. From the point of view of a scientist and an atheist, Sagan was discussing the different cultural and religious theories considering the origins of the universe.
Sagan's perspective is that it's all a little presumptuous for humankind to believe they can comprehend the beginnings and mysteries of the vast and awesome cosmos, and he says so.
But he did offer a passage from a Hindu holy book, the Rig Veda (X:129) explaining what humans can know about creation which Sagan figured offered a "more realistic view of the matter":
Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, whence came creation?
The gods are later than this world's formation;
Who then can know the origins of the world?
None knows whence creation arose;
And whether he has or has not made it;
He who surveys it from the lofty skies,
Only he knows--or perhaps he knows not.
It's food for thought for the rest of the day...I have to say that the thought of even the gods being a little mystified about it all is oddly compelling.