satanism today and tomorrow

Argumentum ad Verecundiam

Dmitry Chernyshev


I've got a comment from a Christian reader with some religious quotes of Blaise Pascal and a final remark: “Do you really believe that with all your godless education you are smarter than Pascal?” This is one of their favorite demagogical tricks: mention any genius of the past who believed in their religion and rhetorically ask whether you dare to pretend to be smarter than him.

I answer this loud and clear: yes, I think that I'm smarter than Blaise Pascal — one of the greatest mathematicians, who built the basics of modern calculus, probability theory, and projective geometry.

This is the modern civilization to thank for it. I know many things that Pascal did not know. I have seen what he could not even dream about. I've been to places where he could not ever travel under any circumstances. Every single year I read more books than Pascal read for entire his life.

Surely, Pascal knew more of math and mechanics than I know now, but this is a matter of interests. If I want, I can surpass him in math as well. Pascal could not know anything of differential equations, graph theory, linear algebra, and many other areas of math that were developed later.

In physics, Pascal knew little of gravitation and nothing at all of electricity and magnetism. He was not aware of the laws of mass and energy conservation, nor did he know of atoms, thermodynamics and electodynamics, nor could he even think about radioactivity, X-rays, and quantum physics. He did not know even the very basics of chemistry, such as the periodic table; even oxygen and hydrogen were discovered a century after his death.

Pascal's views on the world were typical for his time, 17th century. He believed that the Earth is not more than 6000 years old, and that god first created plants and then stars. He did not know anything about evolution and genetics, to say nothing about DNA, blood groups or photosynthesis. Pascal could not even imagine our cars, planes, rockets, telephones, computer, Internet and many other technologies that any kid knows now.

Even Pascal's philosophizings on god and religion are ridiculous. OK, let's imagine that the Christian god exists. Then the difference between human and god will be billions times greater than the one between a cockroach and human. What concepts could a cockroach develop about our life and our business? Why do some people fail to understand that their thoughts on religion cannot lead them to understanding of anything greater than them?

If sometimes a priest of religion says something clever, it does not come from their studies of religious texts; it's just the knowledge of people and life. But today we have much better sources of such knowledge; we have psychology, pedagogics and more advanced and diverse philosophy. All religious disputes from Pascal's time, about the human nature and the primeval sin, look stupid for us now. Even if some quotes from the Bible sound good, it's because of them being a piece of literature, not religion.

Yes, now I'm way smarter than Pascal. And in 100 years much of what I know now will be disproved. Then any schoolkid will be way smarter than me.

And that's wonderful.

Translated by Milchar