Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quote of the day. Possibly the week.

One other word I must criticize in all these defenses of religion: imagination. I often hear that religion is all about using the imagination to see something beyond the literal and mundane, and imagination becomes a virtue in itself that is presented as something special to religion. It is not. It is also overrated. Imagination is essential, don't get me wrong; we need this kind of cognitive randomizer that pushes our thoughts beyond what we already know. However, one thing science has taught us is that our imagination is pathetic. The universe is more vast, more complex, and more surprising than anything our minds can conjure up. Imagination is not enough.

Here we sit in our comfortable little spot, snug and reassured that our butts are firmly planted. Imagination is the tool we use to reach out and fumble about and make guesses about our local neighborhood, and religion is the part that enshrines guesses as absolute knowledge and reassures us that the rest of the universe is just like our little niche.

Science is imagination equipped with grappling hooks. We toss them out, we snag new and interesting bits of our environment, and we use them to haul our butts out of those well-worn hollows to something new … and we anchor the lines so others so inclined may follow. Thus does the limited reach of paltry human imagination become a greater endeavor that explores farther and farther still, leaving behind the delusions of those incapable or unwilling to use their imagination as a tool to explore the world, rather than as a masturbation aid.

--P. Z. Myers

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