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Douglas Adams


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Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

'Chief Fantasist'

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Douglas AdamsYes, I think I use the term “radical” rather loosely, just for emphasis. If you describe yourself as “atheist,” some people will say, “Don’t you mean ‘agnostic’?” I have to reply that I really do mean atheist, I really do not believe that there is a god; in fact, I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one ... etc., etc. It’s easier to say that I am a radical atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it’s an opinion I hold seriously.
-- Douglas Adams, from an interview with American Atheists; quoted from Warren Allen Smith, editor, Celebrities in Hell (2002); excerpted by Positive Atheism (2007)

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Now it is such a bizarrely improbably coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful [the Babel fish] could have evolved by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
     The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
     "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
     "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (book one of the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series), p 50

A man didn’t understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high speed. An engineer explained to him about high frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, about transmitters and receivers, about amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, about scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. "But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?"
-- Douglas Adams, paraphrase of a parable spoofing modern creationism that Adams often told, as retold by Richard Dawkins in "Lament for Douglas" (14 May 2001)

The reason why so many sects hang around airports looking for converts: they know that people there are at their most vulnerable and perplexed, and ready to accept any kind of guidance.
-- Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (book two of the Dirk Gently series), p 5 (1988)

What god would be hanging around Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport trying to catch the 15:37 flight to Oslo?
-- Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (book two of the Dirk Gently series) (1988)

Even the sceptical mind must be prepared to accept the unacceptable when there is no alternative. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands.
-- Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (book one of the Dirk Gently series), p 216

If on the other hand he went to pay his respects to The Door and it wasn't there ... what then?
     The answer, of course, was very simple. He had a whole board of circuits for dealing with exactly this problem, in fact this was the very heart of his function. He would continue to believe in it whatever the facts turned out to be, what else was the meaning of belief? The Door would still be there, even if the Door was not.
-- Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently: Holistic Detective Agency

In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move.
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I don't go to mythical places with strange men.
-- Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
-- Douglas Adams, from Last Chance To See ("a great book on natural history, extinction, and how we're managing to stuff this planet up fairly badly," says Iain)

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
-- Douglas Adams, from Last Chance To See

Hitch Hiker's GuideHe hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"So what do we do if we get bitten by something deadly, then?"
     He blinked at me as if I was stupid.
     "Well what do you think you do?" he said. "You die of course. That's what deadly means."
-- Douglas Adams, Last Chance To See

The lights went out in his eyes for absolutely the very last time ever.
-- Douglas Adams

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Dawkins: Showed Conceit of Anthropic Universe

"To illustrate the vain conceit that the universe must be somehow pre-ordained for us, because we are so well-suited to live in it, he [Adams] mimed a wonderfully funny imitation of a puddle of water, fitting itself snugly into a depression in the ground, the depression uncannily being exactly the same shape as the puddle."
-- Richard Dawkins, in "Lament for Douglas" (14 May 2001)

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