Monday, September 13, 2004

Gardeners, chefs and theologians

My Science Musing this week is about our reluctance to say "I don't know."

The biologist Richard Dawkins once asked a distinguished astronomer to explain the big bang theory. "He did so to the best of his (and my) ability," writes Dawkins, "and I then asked what it was about the fundamental laws of physics that made the spontaneous origin of space and time possible.". "Ah," smiled the astronomer, "now we move beyond the realm of science. This is where I have to hand you over to our good friend, the chaplain."

But why the chaplain? asks Dawkins. Why not the gardener or the chef?

Quite so. The gardener, chef, astronomer and chaplin are equally ignorant. The word "God" and the phrase "I don't know" have exactly the same explanatory content.