At the dinner, my friend said he admired a book I didn’t like, so I sent him a copy of a review of the book I’d written. The review tipped my friend off that I was a Christian.
His response made clear that he wasn’t. He wrote, “No metaphysics are needed in my cosmos, thanks.” Although he respected his religious friends, his own views were “close to the occasionally strident and at times rude Brother Dawkins [Richard Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion].” He noted, “We shall have some heavy lifting as workout buddies, you and I.”
I replied that a discussion of our religious differences probably would work better in a barroom than in an email exchange. “We could pretend to be college freshmen again, and it could be fun.” But my friend was not to be put off. He insisted that he had no need to “Godify the unknown or alleged unknowable.”
My new pen pal had sent me some of his writing about Acadia National Park. It spoke of “the profound responsibility of our consciousness: to use our understanding of nature to guide our conduct within nature,” and it added, “In this bloom of space-time, human reason can try to understand the development of all matter, from stars and galaxies to our own planet, fellow creatures, home island, and selves. It is our nature and duty to do so.”
I told him I agreed with these sentiments, but I wondered just why we had a duty to use our capacities for the various purposes he mentioned or, indeed, for any purpose at all.
I made it a multiple-choice question:
A) I made these duties up. If I hadn’t, they wouldn’t exist.
B) My culture made them up. I’m just a product of my culture.
C) These duties proceed from a source outside myself and my culture.
Some weeks after I posed my question, my friend apologized for not answering it. He asked me to stay tuned and promised, “I’ll give you a fair if not satisfying (for you) response to your multiple choice question—re-posed as I wish.”
But he never did.
– From HERE