Sunday, December 2, 2007


"The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart." - Richard Adams

Update 05.12.07:Should have actually looked this up before posting. In the comments, Jean-Louis attributes the quote to Walter Lippman which makes much more sense but, sadly, isn't quite as interesting.

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Blogger Chris said...

Apparently Mr. Adams confuses what is usually referred to as the "disenchantment" of the world with religion, per se. I'm not sure this claim really holds outside of the Abrahamic faiths.

There are interpretations of popular religion which require no such claim - and for that matter, there are scientific researchers who might reject the claim that mind has no influence on matter. :)

However, I suppose this quote remains apposite for the Western world to some degree, in so much as it captures part of the transformation of Christianity in recent centuries.

It's worth remembering, however, that the disenchantment of the world began long before science and religion parted company - a process which doesn't really begin until the early twentieth century, some three hundred years or so after the rise of the prototype of modern science.

Best wishes!

Blogger Jean-Louis Trudel said...

Erm, this is also attributed to Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), rather more plausibly to my mind, and with an ellipsis in the middle of it...

The EEBO database has two 17th-century works by Richard Adams and I've glanced at one without finding anything like the tone of that rather Whiggish quote. Here's a sample of Richard Adams the clergyman : "[St. Paul] doth not say our _Opinion is_, we shall have; but noting the certainty, considering the Principles of Faith, on which He did proceed; taking in others with himself, saith He, as confidently as if it had been a thing known by a Mathematical demonstration, 'we know we have', which is as certain, as if we were in posession [sic] of an Heavenly habitation."

Anonymous anne said...

lippmann! of course!! thank you.

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