m a r k a n d e y a

Retort of the day

Posted by Brian on September 14, 2006

Being back home in Seattle now, I have access to all my old books from college that I don’t bother taking with me to Korea. There’s a lot of religion, philosophy, and a bit of politics to which I I have recently added all the books I’ve picked up in Korea over the years. For old times’ sake, I picked up one of these older classics for a read: David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. I picked this book out because it seems especially relevant today with these fundamentalist “creationists” running around the country trying to get “scientific creationism” elevated to one theory among several so it will be taught side-by-side with the theory of evolution. Hume, in Dialogues, breaks in half (and breaks in halves again, then throws the pieces on the ground and kicks dirt on top of them) one arrow in the quiver of scientific creationists: the argument from design.

Anyway, one line in the book made me chuckle way more than a classic in philosophy should. From part seven:

But here, continued Philo, in examining the ancient system of the soul of the world, there strikes me, all on a sudden, a new idea, which, if just, must go near to subvert all your reasoning, and destroy even your first inferences, on which you repose such confidence. If the universe bears a greater likeness to animal bodies and to vegetables, than to the works of human art, it is more probable that its cause resembles the cause of the former than that of the latter, and its origin ought rather to be ascribed to generation or vegetation, than to reason or design. Your conclusion, even according to your own principles, is therefore lame and defective.

That last line struck me as an excellent retort to the stupid things one simply cannot avoid hearing these days. See for yourself:

  • “We’re fighting the terrorists there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Your conclusion is lame and defective.
  • “The person obviously died from fan death.” Your conclusion is lame and defective.

Works pretty well, don’t you think. It’s quick, easy off the tongue, and has good stopping power. I like it…


One Response to “Retort of the day”

  1. Nomad said

    Are you back in the states for good or is this a vacation?

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