26 February 2017

Politics is too important to be left to the computer scientists ...


Sea-shells do not, to the outsider, seem more troublesome than other molluscs, but Voltaire regarded them from a very special point of view:  they were traitors, who attempted to demonstrate the truth of revealed religion instead of advancing the cause of Liberty, as natural objects should.  Had they remained in the sea, all would have been well, but straying from their proper element they appeared in large heaps in the middle of Touraine and elsewhere, or in fossil forms, or on the tops of mountains.  Why, you may ask, did this disconcert Voltaire?  Why, because it suggested that they had been left when the waters of the Flood subsided, so that Genesis was true.  He could not allow this, and he set out with his usual energy and ingenuity to put shells in their places.  He had not been trained by the Jesuits for nothing, and the arguments he brought forward are rather too conclusive to be convincing ... He feared that if once a flood was admitted Noah's ark would come sailing in, and consequently had to ridicule all theories of the universe that emphasized water.
E.M. Forster, "Voltaire's Laboratory"

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