Thursday, November 13, 2008

Food For Whatever...

"Nevertheless, I do not think for a minute that science will ever provide the consolations that have been offered by religion in facing death. The finest statement of this existential challenge that I know is found in 'The Ecclesiastical History of the English', written by the Venerable Bede sometime around A.D. 700. Bede tells how King Edwin of Northumbria held a council in A.D. 627 to decide on the religion to be accepted in his kingdom, and gives the following speech to one of the king's chief men:

Your Majesty, when we compare the present life of man on earth with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter's day with your thanes and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall; outside, the storms of winter rain or snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms; but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. Even so, man appears on earth for but a little while; but of what came before this life or of what follows, we know nothing.
It is an almost irresistable temptation to believe with Bede and Edwin that there must be something for us outside the banqueting-hall. The honor of resisting this temptation is only a thin substitute for the consolations of religion, but it is not entirely without satisfactions of its own."
 -- Steven Weinberg, "Dreams of a Final Theory"

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