Ready-made holes in our socks

Mini-column ‘Alison in Wonderland’, published in the Observant, Maastricht

Last week I went to a talk by Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and God of all atheists. During question time, a philosophy student asked what Dawkins makes of the ideas of Descartes – what can we really know as true, without any doubt? – and Bertrand Russell – how do we know that we weren’t put on the Earth five minutes ago, with fossils in place, pre-stored memories and ready-made holes in our socks? Dawkins bit back his usual retort (that we also can’t disprove the existence of the flying spaghetti monster), and said he simply prefers to believe in science. For example, if you build a plane using technology based on scientific principles, it does actually get you across the Atlantic. “To quote a t-shirt,” he said, “Science – it works, bitches”.

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