Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Dangerous Ideas

Last year, the World Question Centre asked prominent scientists, thinkers, and commentators the question: What Do You Believe, But Cannot Prove?

This year, the provocative question was: What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

The answers range from "open source" economies to the evolutionary origins of morality and murder to the possibility that Earth, on a planetary level, is perfectly fine and can take care of itself.

Absolutely fascinating. Just as fascinatng was seeing how the various respondents interpreted the term "dangerous" - "dangerous" as in "bold" and "challenging", or "dangerous" as in "this sort of talk will get people killed".

Personally, my dangerous idea isn't that revolutionary or even original, but it's enough to cause awkward lapses in conversation between myself and certain family members and friends: atheism. In short, there is no divine intelligence governing the universe and therefore no implied scheme or purpose to life, and there is no such thing as an immortal soul and therfore no afterlife of any sort. Life is its own purpose, things happen because of a combination of chance and human design or inaction, and you ultimately are responsible for the consequences of your actions.

It's all perfectly sensible to me, but it's not a popular or even polite point-of-view among some of my dearest and nearest, which is somewhat disappointing. So it doesn't get mentioned at all. That's how I know it's a dangerous idea - it's something that may not be discussed.

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