TMR: An Interview with Stanislaw Lem

http://www.missourireview.org/content/dynamic/view_text.php?text_id=1299

“To start from my personal view, for moral reasons I am an atheist–for moral reasons. I am of the opinion that you would recognize a creator by his creation, and the world appears to me to be put together in such a painful way that I prefer to believe that it was not created by anyone than to think that somebody created this intentionally. In the first place, for moral reasons.

On the other hand I understand man’s wish to have a father figure, a God, over and above. And this wish is not strange to me. A superhuman conception, a conception of God, is still omnipresent in almost all people’s minds. There does not exist any large religion in the world which teaches its believers that the highest being should have other than human traits. Even in the Far East God is an anthropomorphic conception. It’s very good to be a believer. But you cannot start believing just because you want, in the same way that you cannot fall in love with some woman and say, “This woman is worthy of my love, and that’s why I am going to love her.” This is not something that can be accomplished by an act of volition.

But with all my computers, I’m still a human being, and my only possible perspective is a human one. I feel that presently we are somewhere in the middle of the road. We know far more than the Greeks did, or more even than we did fifty years ago. At the end of the nineteenth century, many physicists were already worried that the twentieth-century physicist would be out of work, because everything would have been discovered and the structure of science would have been completed. Only a few bricks were missing from the smokestack, and then there would be nothing left for them to discover. But now we know it’s quite different. In my brief lifespan of sixty years man’s basic cosmological views have been revolutionized. Connected with this question of the birth of the universe is the concept of an ultimate being. I don’t know whether, at this exact moment in history, we have really acquired the final truth. And thus I believe that humanity will change its cosmological and cosmogonic views several times over again. The ruling view today is the big bang. Whether this is the end I would doubt.”

– Lem

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