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The physicist Stephen Hawking has answered the prime question of whether or not the universe was created by God. According to Hawking, it wasn’t.* It’s good to get that question out of the way after so many heads have been bothered by it for so many thousands of years. Here’s the next question — Is a universe without God a universe without any hope? In Dante’s poem, the entrance to hell has an inscription that says Abandon all hope, you who enter here. In Dante’s view, to be without hope is to be in hell. So, what about hope? With that question in mind, Jo Page turned to the philosopher Julian Baggini who has written a bit on that subject. She found his words less than satisfying. Very much less. Here’s Jo in her own words.
When Emily Dickinson wrote “Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the Soul” I think she comes closer to a definition of hope than Julian Baggini, a British philosopher, does in his lips-tightly-pressed-together piece, “Hope Against Hope” in the online magazine, NewHumanist.org.uk.
He engages in some deft word play and studs the article with quotations from everybody he knows and some he doesn’t—Benjamin Franklin, Jean Paul Sartre, a British comedienne, the British comedienne’s mother—just barely saving it from prim-faced misanthropy. But his zeal to dash all hope comes across as mostly overwrought, over-thinking. (more…)