Archive for January 4th, 2005

Some contemporary gnostics

Very interesting NYT article about the answers of a number of "scientists, futurists, and other creative thinkers" to the question "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" Many of the answers involve elaborate speculations about the nature and evolution of life and consciousness. What really strikes me about these is the confidence of the speaker in the ability of human intellect to get to the bottom of all this–most are things which the speaker fully expects to be proved eventually. There really is an air of gnosticism about the discussion, with a few of the participants sounding more than slightly enchanted with their own intellectual powers and a little disdainful of those who are not as bright. And a strong sense of the inevitable march of progress away from the ignorance of the past, a sense that the speakers expect some kind of power to attend the acquisition of this very esoteric knowledge.

In short: smart people, little wisdom. But there is one Christian in the bunch, and the unprovable belief of the first guy quoted, a psychologist, is that people can be relied on to make irrational choices. Nice caveat for the rest.

The NYT piece is only a sample of the survey, which can be found in its entirety at www.edge.org. The answers get rather tedious–here’s one I picked at random: "Until proven otherwise, why not assume that consciousness does not play a role in human behavior?" Yeah, that’ll get us on down the road to the bright-n-shiny future.

I wonder how one gets to be a "futurist".

Maclin Horton


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