Saturday, January 10, 2009

Per cogitandum solum sum

Those who dare to self-deceive,
soon find they cannot apperceive
what they have lost, and at what cost,
when vacuous belief turns fatuous in grief.

While others surrogate science with superstition,
derogate fact and propagate fiction,
and climate change so oft deny
that repetition prove their lie,

How credulous and ignorant appear
the simply lazy and the diffident who fear
that smarter people think them dumb
and thus to dumber still succumb.

If arrogation is the end,
prevarication is its friend,
as weaker minds religion binds,
and guilt and shame kill hearts and minds.

Thus sinners their sins expiate
and with Hail Marys try to mitigate
their penance from an Angry God,
as priests conflate charade and fraud.

What hope have men of reason to oppose
a too-convenient myth in Jesus' clothes,
who first must needs destroy to recreate
our birthright of free thought and Fourth Estate.

While men of faith queue up at Peter's Gate
and pray they serve who just submit and wait,
wise men know better, and do not idly pass the time,
but counter ignorance with reason and with rhyme.

Is not then nature good enough,
with quantum foam and Eightfold Way,
when cows go moo but donkeys bray,
when banana's shape is perfect for our hand,
but only once we grew it on command?

They execrate stochastic fate
and evolution imprecate,
miraculous appraise
what Occam rather raze.

But what of goodness worked with such alacrity
by those of Higher Calling, can it be
that Darwin summoned God to quench our need,
that we in turn encode in sacred screed?

Better that we pray and clerisy obey
lest innocence be maimed by savage man untamed?
Obsequious to absent liege, compliant under present siege,
acquiescing to behest, divine intent not second-guessed?

Or prefer our own quest to another's test?
Not eschatology but (modestly) epistemology.
To learn to know, and yearn to teach
the scientist and teacher preach.

Then poetasters like yours true,
take up baton and see it through.
No God commands the flowers bloom,
per cogitandum solum sum.

          —  Dan Weston

4 comments:

Brendan said...

To my ear, line 2 of the second stanza needs one more syllable. Perhaps:

who surrogate science with rank superstition,

There are some other parts where I may be hearing a different rhythm than you did, but I don't have as quick a suggestion. Overall, quite good.

This part really sings:

Is not then nature good enough
with quantum foam and Eightfold Way,
when cows go moo but donkeys bray,
.

What's the last line translate to? I'm guessing something like: "Only I can force myself to think."

Dan Weston said...

when banana's shape is perfect for our hand,
but only once we grew it on command?


Those of you wondering about the banana must not have seen the Atheist's Worst Nightmare. You wouldn't want to be Left Behind!

Dan Weston said...

What would Plato and Aristotle say about writing poems on a blog about the role of religion in society?

Jason Linkins offers this précis of their respective views, and posits this tension as being at the heart of the culture wars:

Plato opposed poetry and the performance of plays, reasoning that they were a pale imitation of a world that was already a pale imitation of the "Ideal world," meaning that these arts were intoxicating lies that led to inappropriate emotions and left people exposed to bad ideas.

Aristotle, by contrast, felt that poetry served a vital societal need, providing a safe environment for people to purge themselves of emotion so that they could start thinking clearly.

I guess this means I am more of an Aristotelian. Good thing, as a platonic life is so lacking in passion, and a socratic one leaves you with no friends and the bad aftertaste of hemlock.

Brendan said...

I do know the banana video. Classic wingnuttery.

By the standard you and Linkins offer, I'd have to say I'm an Aristotelian, too, although I kind of hate to say that, given his inane ideas about physics. I'm with Petr Beckmann, who once called him "this tireless and tiresome writer."

Of course, it must be said that Beckmann was a little tiresome later in his own life.