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Iris Murdoch

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Human affairs are not serious, but they have to be taken seriously.

Iris Murdoch

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I distrust all dead and mechanical formulas for expressing anything connected with human affairs and human personalities. Putting human affairs in exact formulas shows in itself a lack of the sense of humor and therefore a lack of wisdom.

Lin Yutang

Science talks about very simple things, and asks hard questions about them. As soon as things become too complex, science can't deal with them... But it's a complicated matter: Science studies what's at the edge of understanding, and what's at the edge of understanding is usually fairly simple. And it rarely reaches human affairs. Human affairs are way too complicated. In fact even understanding insects is an extremely complicated problem in the sciences. So the actual sciences tell us virtually nothing about human affairs.

Noam Chomsky

But what I really believe is that both he and Mr Wong are innocently guilty of the twentieth century fallacy that technology can be applied to the conduct of human affairs. They cannot believe that anything can work efficiently unless it has been programmed by a computer and have lost faith in the forces of the market and the human actions and reactions that make it up. But no computer has yet been devised which will produce accurate results from a diet of opinion and emotion. We suffer a great deal today from the bogus certainties and precisions of the pseudo-sciences which include all the social sciences including economics. An article I recently read referred to the academic’s “infernal economic arithmetic which ignores human responses”. Technology is admirable on the factory floor but largely irrelevant to human affairs.

John James Cowperthwaite

The philosophers have uttered very perverse ideas as regards God's Omniscience of everything besides Himself; they have stumbled in such a manner that they cannot rise again, nor can those who adopt their views. ...They continued thus: If he perceives and knows all individual things, one of the following three cases must take place: (1.) God arranges and manages human affairs well, perfectly, and faultlessly; (2.) He is overcome by obstacles, and is too weak and powerless to manage human affairs; (3.) He knows [all things] and can arrange and manage them, but leaves and abandons them, as too base, low, and vile... Those who have a knowledge of a certain thing necessarily either (1.) take care of the thing they know, and manage it, or (2.) neglect it; or (3.) while taking care of it, have not sufficient power and strength for its management, although they have the will to do so. ...the philosophers emphatically decided that of the three cases... two are inadmissible in reference to God—viz., want of power, or absence of will... Consequently there remains only the alternative that God is altogether ignorant of human affairs, or that He knows them and manages them well. ...we conclude that God has no knowledge of them in any way of for any reason. This is the argument which led philosophers to speak such blasphemous words.


The metaphor of the watch was very much used by the deists. And of course, watches run down, and break down, and it was believed by many of them that if an intelligence had begun the universe, begun the process, he'd took no further interest in it - didn't intervene in human affairs, didn't mind who won the war, didn't mind which country was the leading one, watched with relative—well, or didn't watch—with indifference, plague, famine, war and so forth. That's a very hard position to oppose, by the way. It's impossible, actually, to disprove - one can only the evidence for it isn't quite strong enough to be persuasive. To be a theist, to be a member of a monotheistic religion, that believes that truth has been revealed, that god has intervened in human affairs, that he has a plan for us - each of as individually and as a species, and that it shows - is a very much more difficult undertaking. I'm gonna show why I think it's more or less impossible.

Christopher Hitchens
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