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Against Behe (and the followers of Venus)

August 7, 2007

Two aspects of Lucretius’s On the Nature of the Universe that most impress me are his unflinching materialism, which easily avoids despair, and how well his observations about the universe have stood the test of time, despite the fact that two-thousand years of science have made mincemeat of his theories. Take, for example, this lovely passage, which could easily be a response to a current view that is presently very popular and “controversial,” intelligent design. Lucretius has been explaining the movement and shape of atoms, and he begins a new section with this gem:

In the face of these truths, some people who know nothing of matter believe that nature without the guidance of the gods could not bring round the changing seasons in such perfect conformity to human needs, creating the crops and those other blessings that mortals are led to enjoy by the guide of life, divine pleasure, which coaxes them through the arts of Venus to reproduce their kind, lest the human race should perish. Obviously, in imagining that the gods established everything for the sake of men, they have stumbled in all respects far from the path of truth. Even if I knew nothing of atoms, I would venture to assert on the evidence of the celestial phenomenon themselves, supported by many other arguments, that the universe was certainly not created for us by divine power: it is so full of imperfections.

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