Thursday, February 3, 2011

Only Conversation Worth Having.

If there is no God? Then what? If not religion, then what? Christopher Hitchens encapsulates it all so well:

Why don't you accept this wonderful offer?  Why wouldn't you like to meet Shakespeare. I don't know if you think that when you die you can be corporeally reassembled. And have conversations with orfus from previous epochs. It's not necessary you believe that in Christian theology but I have to say it sounds like complete fairytale to me.

But the only reason I want to meet Shakespeare, or might want to, is that I can meet him anytime because he is immortal in the works hes left behind. If you've read those meeting him would almost certainly be a disappointment.

But when Socrates was sentenced to death, for his philosophical investigations and for blasphemy for challenging the gods of the city, and he accepted his death, he did say perhaps I'll be able to hold conversations with other great thinkers, and philosophers, and doubters too.

In other words, the discussion about what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble, what is pure, what is true, could always go on. Why is that important? What would I want to do that? Because that's the Only Conversation Worth Having. And whether it goes on or not after I die, I don't know. But I do know that's the conversation I want to have while I'm still alive. Which means that to me the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can't give way is not, is an offer something not worth having.

I want to live my life taking the risk that all the time I don't know anything I like enough yet. That I haven't understood enough, that I can't know enough, that I'm always hungrily operating on margins of potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn't have it any other way.

And I'd urge to look at those who tell you. There are people who will tell that at your age your dead until you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be teaching children. And that you can only live until you accept an absolute authority. Don't think of this a gift, think of this as a poison challis push it aside, no matter how tempting, take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more truth, beauty, and wisdom will come that way.

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