In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile.
Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centures since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes (in order to tell us what books to read and what not, what thoughts to think and what not, what conclusions to accept and what not.)
I wish that I could say I was optimistic about the human race. I love us all, but we are so stupid and shortsighted that I wonder if we can lift our eyes to the world about us long enough not to commit suicide. I keep trying to make people do so.
I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
I prefer “rationalism” to “atheism”? The word “atheist,” meaning “no God,” is negative and defeatist. It says what you don’t believe and puts you in an eternal position of defense. “Rationalism” on the other hand states what you DO believe; that is, that which can be understood in the light of reason. The question of God and other mystical objects-of-faith are outside reason and therefore play no part in rationalism and you don’t have to waste your time in either attacking or defending that which you rule out of your philosophy altogether.
I don’t believe in personal immortality, the only way I expect to have some version of such a thing is through my books.
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.
Galleys or “proofs,” for those of you who don’t know, are long sheets on which the contents of a book are printed, usually two and a half pages or so to each galley sheet. The writer is supposed to read over them carefully, trying to catch all the typos made by the printer and all the infelicities made by himself. Such “proofreading” and corrections are meant to ensure that the final book will be free of errors. I suspect that most writers find galleys a pain, but I like them. They give me a chance to read my own writing. The problem is that I’m not a good proofreader, because I read too quickly. I read by “gestalt,” a phrase at a time. If there is a wrong letter, a displaced letter, a missing letter, an excessive letter, I don’t notice it. The small error is lost in the general correctness of the phrase. I have to force myself to look at each word, each letter separately, but if I relax for one moment I start racing ahead again.