Quantcast

Web Letters | The Nation

The Gray Zone > Letters

The silliness of humanists

To refute every bit of nonsense in Isaac Chotiner’s piece on John Gray’s Silence of the Animals would require far more time than I am willing to expend, so let me limit myself to the following absurdity:

I suppose the definition of science, which certainly some people do put “faith” in, is debatable, but when an apple falls from a tree, gravity ensures that it hits the ground regardless of whether there is a human who sees it do so. Human beings did not, then, invent gravity, or physics, or biology.

Without human observers. there is no way to be certain that the apple falls. One “knows” that it falls only through faith. Further, gravity is a human concept (and not a universally accepted one*), a description of an event and a hypothetical explanation of it. Moreover, it is pure absurdity to infer from gravity that entire manufactured fields of human learning, such as biology and physics, which are created and expanded by humans alone, must also exist independently of their creators.

As to what Gray values, and what stance he thinks is wisest for humans to take at this stage in their development, Chotiner might find a clue by putting down his copy of Eliot and reaching for a volume of Keats’s letters. I am glad to see that Gray touches a nerve among humanists, and to see how their threatened emotional reactions push them to silly assertions in an attempt to sustain their unsustainable world-view.

Kevin Shelton

New York City

Dec 8 2013 - 11:20am