Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I am getting tired of trusting people.

This morning I read an article from Daniel Johnson called, "The Hypothetical Atheist" that questioned the authenticity of a story popular among Atheists.

It is a story where a French astronomer Laplace, when Napoleon commented that he did not mention God in his astronomy text, responded, "I had no need for that hypothesis."

According to the post I read, this exchange probably never took place and was made up by a clumsy historian at around 1935.

After writing a post about how atheists sometimes accept things on faith, I was just about ready to hit the 'publish' button, when I decided that - in the name of intellectual integrity - I would see what I could find out about the story in question.

It took me less than three minutes to attribute the story to Augustus De Morgan's A Budget of Paradoxes. Augustus died in 1871; the book was published after his death from articles he had written earlier.

Johnson, the author of the article in question, could have also found this information in less than 3 minutes if he had looked. I can only conclude that he either did not look (he did not care to find out for himself if his claims were true), or he looked but lied about what he found. Either way, he has shown that he has absolutely no interest in truth or intellectual integrity - that his idea of morally legitimate activity is to promote lies for the sake of realizing desired political or social objectives.

I am getting quite tired of people like that. As angry as I am at Johnson, I am even more angry at the culture that gives people like him sanctuary and praise. Is Johnson going to be condemned by his political allies for his deceptive practices? Somehow, I doubt it. Instead, he is likely to be praised by a culture that thinks that lying for political purposes is a virtue.

Yet, these are also people who claim that their religion gives them the pole position when it comes to morality.


1 comment:

Hume's Ghost said...

I think I've used that Laplace quote before, and I can't remember if I noted it as "attributed" or not, but that's always been one of those quotes that I assumed was understood to be potentially apocryphal.