Scientific Theism

A universe with a God would look quite different from a universe without one. A physics, a biology where there is a God is bound to look different. So the most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory.

— Richard Dawkins [1]

Well, what does the universe look like? Apparently:

There is mystery, but the world is not frivolous nor light-fingered in its changeability. If you put a brick on a table it stays there unless something moves it, even if you have forgotten it is there.

— Richard Dawkins [2]

Now, is that what a universe with a God would look like or is it what a universe without a God would look like? Since it is the premise of Aquinas’ First Way, I am inclined towards the former.

[1] Dawkins, Richard. Lecture from ‘The Nullifidian’ (Dec 94), available online:

[2] Dawkins, Richard, Unweaving The Rainbow, Houghton Mifflin (1998), p. 29. (Admittedly, this is actually Dawkins’ description of what makes good science fiction rather than an explicit claim about the real world. However, it is obvious from the context that he intends this statement to be a true description of the real world, which is precisely why he believes it makes for good science fiction.)

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  


“A job is more than a job, you know,” Mr. Mielock said. “It’s where you fit in society.”

For the Unemployed Over 50, Fears of Never Working Again, The New York Times, Monday September 20th 2010, p. A22

Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 12:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The price of happiness

Does happiness rise with income? In one of the more scientific attempts to answer that question, researchers from Princeton have put a price on happiness. It’s about $75,000 in income a year.

They found that not having enough money definitely causes emotional pain and unhappiness. But, after reaching an income of about $75,000 per year, money can’t buy happiness. More money can, however, help people view their lives as successful or better.

The study found that people’s evaluations of their lives improved steadily with annual income. But the quality of their everyday experiences — their feelings — did not improve above an income of $75,000 a year. As income decreased from $75,000, people reported decreasing happiness and increasing sadness, as well as stress. The study found that being divorced, being sick and other painful experiences have worse effects on a poor person than on a wealthier one.

“More money does not necessarily buy more happiness, but less money is associated with emotional pain,” the authors wrote. “Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”

What does it take to be happy? About $75,000, Chicago Tribune

So earning more than $75,000 (which is currently worth less than £50,000) per year does not improve the quality of one’s day to day feelings. Yet the study notes that higher incomes are correlated with better self-evaluations, which only shows how self-deluded and money-obsessed Americans are.

I find it interesting that the only genuine benefit of higher incomes, according to the study, is their ability to mitigate the pain of sickness, divorce and other unpleasant experiences. I wonder if this also applies in societies that provide communal “safety nets” that perform just such a mitigating function.

Published in: on September 7, 2010 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment