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October 27, 2006

Flaubert on Atheism

Found this in a review by James Wood in the New Republic, written a couple of years ago:

Flaubert is reported as telling the tale of a man taken fishing by an atheist friend. The atheist casts the net and draws up a stone on which is carved: "I do not exist. Signed: God." And the atheist exclaims: "What did I tell you!"

The opposite of this seems actually to happen: We see signs that so much, so wonderfully much, exists. But have difficulty with the fact that these signs are unsigned.

Or am I taking a clever line too seriously?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at October 27, 2006 2:27 PM


The line isn't cleaver it is just making a fool of the atheist.

More likely a poor superstitious fisherman pulls up a rock that has a pattern amazingly like the classic outline of Jesus or Mary.

Believers and sick people from around the world would come to worship the rock and pray to it. Eventually enough miracles would be documented and the rock would become a sacred relic.

Of course that fishing tale is not a joke to the real fools and is an anathema to the unfooled.

Posted by: Jay Saul at October 28, 2006 6:12 PM

One of the points Dawkins makes in his book, The God Delusion, is that the choice is not between "God made all this" and "all this happened by chance." Instead, as Dawkins puts it, natural selection is exactly the opposite of chance.

So, all that great stuff is signed, but by Darwin and not by God -- sort of like those little fish with feet that you see on humanists' cars. ;-)

Posted by: Wayne at October 30, 2006 3:14 PM

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