Friday, May 07, 2010

My „discovery” of Douglas Noël Adams

I probably should not admit to it - but Douglas Noël Adams was not quite known to me, until very recently. The author of „The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” was an English writer, comedian and dramatist. He was also a musician — close friend to bands like Pink Floyd or Procol Harum.

My first Adams's book is „The Salmon of Doubt”. It is a set of posthumous Adams's writings, collected, edited and published in 2001 — one year after Douglas Adams sudden death.

The most important part of the book — „The Salmon of Doubt” itself is only a part of the book. To me it is totally surrealistic, absurd, satiric story that has — as always with Adams — deeper philosophical sense — as it describes absurdity of our life and our habits...

But my deeper attention was directed to the „Is there an Artificial God?” speech Adams gave at Cambridge in 1998 — which is also a part of the book. In that speech Adams recapitulates his views on religion. He was a devout atheist and based his atheism on logical thinking and the belief in science.

Where does the idea of God come from? Well, I think we have a very skewed point of view on an awful lot of things, but let's try and see where our point of view comes from. Imagine early man. Early man is, like everything else, an evolved creature and he finds himself in a world that he's begun to take a little charge of; he's begun to be a tool-maker, a changer of his environment with the tools that he's made and he makes tools, when he does, in order to make changes in his environment.
Early man thinks, 'Well, because there's only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he's probably male'. And so we have the idea of a god.

I must say — that is some sense I like his opinions. Although I'm not an atheist, well, I'm strong believer — I value his thoughts — because what they ridicule and oppose is not the true faith — but it's typical distortion...

However, I must also say that Douglas's arguments, as well as most atheists arguments are also very superficial...

They usually (and so is Douglas doing) build their arguments on the fact that since Darwin and all other scientific discoveries — we no longer NEED G-d's idea. Certainly — we no longer need it !

We, indeed, don't need the idea of G-d which is the last resort for our failing minds and ideas ...
But we (those who believe) don't think of G-d as the EXPLANATION — we think of him as of the "who — who is calling” ....
To all those who do not seek for philosophical tones — it is fantastic, homourous and witty book. Strongly recommended.

Suresnes @ Paris @ France, 6.15 May 9th, 2010


  1. Personally speaking I share Adams views on religion. But it is a matter of faith and I will not discuss about it.
    However, if you liked the humor in this book, I recommend the entire series of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Each book is full of absurd, surreal British humor that you liked =).
    But returning to "The Salmon of Doubt” few months ago I have found on youtube "Parrots the Universe and Everything" Adams speech on UCSB it's realy great (it was in book to) and one more thing about Douglas.. my favorite qoute:
    "Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.'"

  2. Mariusz, thx for the comment !

    Yes, I noticed this fragment — indeed it was great.

    As I shortly said in the post — in a sense I also share his views — despite the fact he declared himself as atheist, I declare myself as a-theist (intended play on words) :-)

    One of my friends used to say, that this hole in the open window tells us more about G-d, that all holy pictures of some religion.

    Yes, I also, like Adams, oppose using G-d to explian things of this world. But unlike Adams, and unlike many others, I say, that I do not need G-d as explanation for this world — what is more — I think, such faith is unacceptable to me. It strikes me when I see so called wise people who seek supernatural events to see the G-d behind them...

    But, you are right, everything else, to hear the caller as I call it — is a matter of faith — so let's not discuss it here.

    BTW, I hope we are a bit better equipped than the puddle !!!

  3. Anonymous5:19 PM

    Those who live within thinking might never discover spirit. Theo-logy is more logos and idea than we might think. One does not need to believe in an anthropomorphic deity when one knows spirit exists. Spirit uses an imaginal pathway to communicate with us as we must use an imaginal pathway to communicate with spirit. Some of those images arrive in the form of human beings. The other evening I had a dream of the Dalai Lama. I asked him when he would once again teach the Kalachakra Tantra initiation. He seemed to grow angry, then he controlled his anger and focused his concentration upon a flame burning within a stained glass bowl. A female form dressed in blue rose from the flame and presented me with a journal of her writings. When I woke, I immediately and intuitively knew that the Dalai Lama had referred me to Blue Tara, mother and progenitor of all Buddhas. The image, the iconography,and even we ourselves as physical beings are manifestations of a divine energy that is not physical but may be represented as physical through the workings of imagination. Most fundamentalism is a physicalism that chooses the literal for the figurative. The image of a god is the representation of a divine energy that is beyond physical representation. In the world today we are fighting over different images of divinity while the divine energy patiently waits for our embrace. Our world has become so literal and physical that we have forgotten that metaphor is not a mere literary technique but the path toward divine energy. We have been trying to photograph God rather than embracing divine energy. We are fighting over photographs rather than journeying through the image toward divine consciousness.
    Raymond Harrison

  4. Anonymous6:33 PM

    When you feel or hear imaginary callings, good or bad, of entities that you attribute to not be yourself, you are a danger to yourself and society.

  5. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Once you surrender to "true faith" your mind has been hacked like a computer gets hacked. Thereafter, there's a back door for anyone skilled in manipulation to make you do their will. You may think that you can resist what goes against your morals, but all that means is that you haven't met the most skilled manipulator... yet. There's a difference between being intelligent, even genius, and being rational. The most intelligent people are most easily duped. I realize that this is a waste of time typing this and even counter productive. The thoughts people possess in their heads are real. Presenting facts and outside reality will only make them cling to their beliefs that much harder.

  6. Hello @Anonymous:

    "The calling" I mentioned is not imaginary.

    To the contrary - it is quite realistic and is expressed in such physical objects like Scriptures.

    On the other hand, "the calling" may come through the nature or science and their deep exploration. Take Cantor, Einstain or Gödel ...

    If someone "feels" or "hears" voices and callings of that sort - is just insane.

    I hope that you see the difference and don't think I hear voices :-)

  7. @Anonymous, I guees I responded to your first (8:19) post, not to (9:33). Some order problem here ...

    I feel uneasy after your (9:33) comment.
    I'm sure I haven't surrender to any faith.
    In my case it was totally different (too personal to write about it publically now)
    And I'm sure it so for many people.

    What disturbs me though are your last 3 sentences. It is never any waste of time to dialog if you approach this dialog with openness and in truth, i.e. with equal reverence and also doubtfulness to their truths and to your own convictions.

    Assuming in advance that they will "cling to their beliefs that much harder" is in fact counter productive.

  8. Nice Creation of Douglas Adams Book. Thanks for sharing post.