About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Noah's ark found! Yeah, right
Of course, as BASE officials admit, there is actually no way to find out whether whatever they have uncovered has anything to do with the Biblical story. Indeed, according to the “good book” the ark was made of “gopher wood,” a substance unknown to human science, and hence rather difficult to positively identify (the artifact found by BASE “looked similar to wood” -- maybe it's vinyl siding recycled from a nearby house).
According the members of the expedition, when they spotted the object they “didn't dare to hope” it was Noah's, a rather strange reaction considering that the whole point of the trip was to find precisely that Biblical artifact. But then again I never understood the fundamentalist Christian concept of “hope” anyway.
More to the point, Bruce Feiler, author of "Where God Was Born" said that "there's this idea, if we can prove that the Ark existed then we can prove that the story existed, and more importantly, we can prove that God existed." Except, of course, that this is a beautiful example of logical fallacy. Let's see, this would be like claiming that if we found the Colosseum (which we did, I saw it a few months ago), then the Roman mythological story that the city was established by the sons of the god Mars would be spectacularly confirmed. You see the problem, I hope.
Even better, suppose the analyses of the artifact currently being carried out “at [unspecified] labs in Texas and Florida” (again, do they have the necessary permits from the Iranian government, or did they steal in the name of the Lord?) conclusively show that the object is made of standard, not gopher, wood. Would that imply that God doesn't exist? Of course not, but I suppose double logical standards have always been a staple of religious “thinking.”