Where does the Sun Go? I ask the Owner.
It does not Go Anywhere, says the Owner. The Earth Turns Round and the Sun is Behind Us.
You mean Underneath Us, I say, where the Elephants and the Turtle are, I say.
The Moral Dog has been reading Terry Pratchett again, says the Owner. Wonderful though Terry Pratchett undoubtedly was, we do not Live on a Disc Supported by Four Elephants Standing on a Giant Turtle, says the Owner. The Moral Dog should read Richard Dawkins, says the Owner. Richard Dawkins said Intelligent Life on a Planet comes of Age when it First Works out the Reason for its own Existence, says the Owner.
Cheese, I say. But I still Prefer Pratchett, I say.
Why? says the Owner.
He is More Cheerful than Dawkins, I say. Dawkins suggests that the Moral Dog is just an Infinitely Improbable Random Collection of Atoms associated for an Infinitesimally Brief Moment as they Hurtle through a Pitiless Universe Spinning Silently in Space, I say. Dawkins says the Universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is nothing but Blind, Pitiless Indifference, I say. What would be the Point of that? I say. I prefer the Elephants, I say. And the Turtle, I say. And Magical Superhero Capes, I say.
The Elephants and the Turtle are Not Real, says the Owner. If they were Real we would have Seen Them from Space, says the Owner.
Just because you can’t see Something, I say, that doesn’t mean it isn’t Real, I say. Bertrand Russell said that there is a Teapot Circling the Sun, I say. You cannot prove that there is not, I say. I notice that the Owner did not mention the Magical Superhero Cape, but decide not to Raise it Again lest I Attract Suspicion. Besides, it is Under the Bed.
Bertrand Russell did not Suggest that there was a Teapot Circling the Sun, says the Owner. Bertrand Russell was pointing out that the Philosophical Burden of Proof lies upon a person making Unverifiable Claims, rather than shifting the burden of disproof to others. Therefore if he were to assert, without Evidence, that a Teapot, too small to be seen from Earth, orbits the Sun, he could not expect anyone to believe him Solely because his Assertion could not be Proven Wrong.
It seems to the Moral Dog, I say, given that the UN Declaration of Human Rights of which the Owner is So Fond offers him Freedom of Thought, Belief and Religion, I say, that he is Being Oppressed, I say.
It is not being Oppressed to tell the Moral Dog that the Earth is a roughly Spherical Ball of Rock Spinning around a Sun, says the Owner. It is Telling the Truth.
There is Nothing Wrong with Believing in a Teapot, I say.
That Depends on Whether the Moral Dog is planning to Rely on the Teapot to Solve his Problems, says the Owner. Science is Science, says the Owner. The Moral Dog cannot Choose Not to Believe It, says the Owner. That is like Donald Trump Choosing to Believe that a Virus is Chinese and Boris Johnson thinking Everyone Sees him as Winston Churchill, says the Owner. It may make them Both Feel Better, says the Owner, but their Reliance on Such Beliefs makes things Worse for Everyone Else.
I don’t see why you are So Bothered, I say, if the Moral Dog wants to believe that there is a Teapot and Four Elephants and a Turtle, I say. I do not want it all to be Pitiless, I say. What is it to You if the Moral Dog gets a little Comfort from Four Elephants and a Turtle? I say. And a River of Cheese, I say. I do not mention the Superhero Cape, but it is In My Mind.
There is no River of Cheese in a Terry Pratchett book, says the Owner.
There might have been, I say, if he had Written Another One, I say.
It seems, says the Owner, the Moral Dog is looking for Magic where there is none, yet failing to see the Magic that there is. Dawkins also said, if you look up at the Milky Way through the eyes of Carl Sagan, you get a feeling in your chest of something greater than yourself. And it is. The Only Difference between those who believe in Science and those who Believe in Magic is that Mystics exult in Mystery and want it to stay Mysterious, but Scientists exult in Mystery because it gives them something to do.
You mean Science does believe in Magic? I say.
No, I mean that Science is Magic, says the Owner. As Magic as Anything ever Could Be, says the Owner. The Spinning nearly Spherical Earth Populated by Real Elephants and Real Turtles, by Persons, Moral Dogs and Terry Pratchett, and by the music of Shearwater and the Rough Island Band, does not need Teapots or Giant Disc-Bearing Turtles to make it Magical, says the Owner. And if the Sun does not Pass Beneath Elephants but merely Waits for us to Turn Around and Look at it Again, that is Magical Too. But Most Magical of All is that a Random Collection of Atoms associated for an Infinitesimally Brief Moment as they Hurtle through a Pitiless Universe Spinning Silently in Space has, despite near-Infinite Improbability, formed the Moral Dog who is Talking to me now.
And Magic Superhero Capes? I ask.
There are Some Things, says the Owner, that Science Prefers to Keep as a Mystery.
One would almost think she knows.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.