Should there be a Nobel Prize in comedy? If so, Sir Harry Kroto might win a double. Winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the seventies, Harry Kroto has held a number of distinguished positions and has been a strong spokesperson for the new atheism and humanism. On his website, which he designs himself ( i.e. totally determined by simple natural laws) he gives a summary of his Nobel Prize speech. Here is an excerpt of the excerpt:
In The Phenomenon of Man Teilhard de Chardin lays out his theory of different levels of life, which he calls spheres. These spheres are the geosphere or pre-life, the biosphere or life, and the noosphere or thought. (Image from Ponyo, Studio Ghibli 2008)
Teilhard was a Jesuit and a philosopher, with a chief interest in geology. An interesting feature of his work is precisely the connection between the pre-life and the advent of life. Though his science (from 1945) is mostly outdated, his philosophical speculations may well find support from recent research.
“Why are we humans so prone to believing spooky nonsense” is the title of Stephen Law’s latest piece in Aeon magazine.
Stephen Law attacks the notion of “invisible person-like beings”. Examples of these are gods, fairies, spirits, ghosts and angels. It is unclear to what extent Law’s article is a critique of mainstream religion. In the second paragraph he uses contradictory ideas of divine beings as proof that there can be no such thing as one. He does not use the same argument with respect to his own hypothesis, i.e. that there are other hypotheses people hold and therefore they must be false. After that jab he does not really mention theism but concentrates on gremlins and the like, occasionally dropping hints at possible analogies with God.
In an article in the New Republic the biologist Jerry Coyne plays the role of the atheistic witchdoctor, attempting to exorcise the demons of theistic evolution. They turn out to be hallucinations, along with a mound of straw.