Another prayer scam from a devout Catholic » « The top ten list that covers all the important stuff Terry Pratchett on Religion Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet Another prayer scam from a devout Catholic » « The top ten list that covers all the important stuff
A little off topic… http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ needs a little dose of reality from the folks here. (re: Joseph and Mary billboard)
The Science Pundit says
I’m not sure that I agree with him about street lamps, though his perspective is interesting.
I’v lwys lkd Prchtt’s wrtng. H’s n f ths thrs wh’s styl stcks n yr hd ftr y’v lft ff rdng.
Being an asportist, I wondered if I would like Unseen Academicals. I should have remembered that Pratchett works hard at putting together an interesting story, regardless of the overall subject. The book is great.
What a fantastically inspiring message.
If he wasn’t already my hero, I think that quote alone might have done it. In one sentence he’s managed to perfectly capture why I haven’t got the slightest desire or need for religion. It makes us so much less than we actually are.
I just read Unseen Academicals yesterday, and I agree – it’s a great book.
natural cynic says
Pratchett seems to be more of a follower of Bronowski than Darwin. As in The Ascent of Man versus The Descent of Man.
And that’s why he remains my favourite fantasy author.
Incidentally, anyone else going to DWCon 2010? A Pharyngula meet-up there would simply be delightful.
Is AVSN automatically disemvoweled now? I’d say they were morphing, since they used one of the *Type* identities last. But at the moment, we all do that (almost).
And by the way, I think Sastra should use her blog (or join the Skepchicks).
Is there a transcript of this somewhere? For those of us who need to read what was said?
Some gods aren’t small or at least they don’t have small feet.
Every time someone tells me to remember the reason for the season, I refer them to this.
Sili @ 10: it appears that the “disemvoweling” is a punishment or some sort. Silly as it is, I think its mostly so comment numbering doesn’t get messed up. I think that the vast majority of the readers here are smart enough to add the vowels in their head and figure it out.
A good speech. Just one nitpick about how we said we were “rising apes” and “evolved monkeys”. I know saying “ape-like creature” would have broken the flow, but you just know some creotard is going to quote him on that.
I do so much like how he points out that we are a people who ascending from lower animals instead of a people who have fallen. It means we can continue to grow and exceed the limitations the latter has placed on us.
“Rising ape” is accurate. We *are* apes now ape-like creatures. So if the creotards quote him on that they will simply be correct.
That was fantastic. He’s always been a delight, and Small Gods remains one of the most witty and incisive prodding of organised religion that I’ve ever read.
“not ape-like creatures”, I meant.
rprcvl Author Profile Page, apes are not people. They’re a different kind of primate that evolved at the same time homo sapiens.
Uh… No. Our family is Hominidae. We’re great apes.
All apes are not people. People, however, are apes.
Richard Eis says
We are also monkeys. Unless you want to argue with Aron Ra…(shudder)
This video is the reason I have nearly every Terry Pratchett book.
I loved the way TP used repetition to emphasise the point “we’re monkeys’. In yer face creos!
Small Gods is wonderful and a great critique of xian-variant religion, but read Pyramids. That one takes the egyptian-variant and uses it to say all sorts of stuff about religions of all types and ultimately it’s about consumerism.
Thanks for posting this. He would be in good company with the inquiring minded of all meaning systems, as Lloyd Geering calls religion.
It’s a little hard to recognize him without his hat.
Yeah. Catarrhini. I thought this was common knowledge.
Completely agree. Pyramids is a better over-all deconstruction of religion, but Small Gods is a more pertinent take down of the angry and jealous god of the OT. The one that the more frothing zealot looks up to, as a mirror of their own prejudices.
rprcvl: We are apes and we are ape-like creatures. By definition all apes are ape-like creatures.
Fair point. :)
Of course if the intent is to draw some sore of arbitrary line between us and the other apes, as I suspect was the point of the original post, we’re back to it being wrong. But I do have to grant that point.
Richard Eis says
Not among the general public.
Small Gods is the better one IMHO because it shows that the official church is actually anti-god (lets face it if a god turned up, the church woul be out of business. Real gods are the last thing they want). It also played with more interesting concepts surrounding religion and its psychology.
I found pyramids to be a bit artificial and by the numbers (for Terry Pratchett).
Just in case anyone didn’t already know about it, the Tree of Life Project is a nice place to go for a quick taxonomy of just about anything.
Is that red wine in his hand?
If it is, I wonder how much he’s had?
There’re some paraphrases of his commentary from Small Gods and Good Omens in that talk… the ones that in fact made me wonder if he was an atheist. Fantastic writer all around.
#31 Is that red wine in his hand?
Yes. He’s earned it.
Drunk or sober, with or without Alzheimer’s he still makes more sense than any priest I’ve ever heard.
@ Carlie #30:
Real things, that is. Not imaginary stuff such as gods. For the taxonomy of those you’d need a comparative mythology version – and there’d be a lot of cross-fertilisation / hybridisation rather than mere branching.
NB GodChecker is advertising “Holy Coconuts … Octopus Gods” and “squid creatures”.
the “rising ape” bit is also out of Hogfather – which video has replaced Charlie Brown’s Christmas in our family as seasonal viewing (not that CB’s C was ever in our family’s style…)
sandiseattle @13: Disemvoweling has multiple purposes and rationales. It has a definite place here on ScienceBlogs.
It’s a bit fatalistic, but I myself have made the point that all of our clusterfucks make a bit more sense when you realize that we are just apes. Apes with a bit more going on upstairs, but still apes, for all that…
Still, I’ll leave it to Pratchett to soar above us with a line like that about rising monkeys and fallen angels. I might write something like that some day, maybe, but I haven’t yet.
Chris Who Runs in the Woods says
I’ve always delighted in teaching my daughter (who’s six now) that we’re apes – plain and simple.
We’re related to gorillas (apes) to approximately the same degree as chimpanzees (apes) are. Therefore, if chimpanzees are apes then we’re apes.
I’ve always thought that the idea that we’re something other than apes was just a slightly less blatant example of the notion that we’re not animals.
Funny that no one seems to wince at our classification as primates though.
Ray Moscow says
Becca @ 35: Yay for The Hogfather — great film.
And I met Michelle Dockery (who played Susan) a year or so ago at our local theatre.
For a while, I’ve been torn as to whether my favorite Pratchett quote is the one about Doom or “people get ANGRY when you lose a cow”.
Here comes a new challenger.
Hurrah for Evista.
I love the streetlamps bit. I see it exactly. The truth is a far better story almost every time.
well, typepad login was being obstinate again, so this is using the moving variety.
I’ve read pretty much every book by pterry.
Small Gods, Pyramids and Good Omens are wonderful commentary on religion.
@31, yes, it’s a bit from a longer talk he gave:
Terry Pratchet @ Guardian Bookclub talk
Ugh, I meant Reminyl.
It’s a shame he’s suffering from a rare form of Alzheimers.
In his 2 part documentary from BBC he does investigate some weird pseudomedical interventions. Of course none really work.
I love Pyramids (at the Irish Discworld Con in Ennistymon this year, when I was asked which Discworld character I fancied, I said Pteppic). And it is a critique of religion, as is Small Gods, but I think you’ll actually find stronger critiques in some of his kids books. I’m thinking of Truckers and Wings (thie first and third books of the Nome trilogy (also called the Bromiliad)) and of the recent top-class novel Nation.
Nation is an outstanding book. You should all read it.
@Bug #9 I’ll be at the Birmingham Discworld Con in August.
My all time favourite Discworld quote is from Reaper Man: “OH. DRAMA.” – Death. Covers everything.
Strangest brew says
Met Terry P a couple of years back and we had a fantastic discussion on Celtic mythology.
His knowledge is awesome…and on almost every subject.
We got merrily pissed on red wine as well I seem to recall!
Fantastic story teller.
Like that helmet – which he said was very uncomfortable.
Happy Tentacles says
Thanks for posting this – sheer delight! Small Gods is so brilliant and so accurate in its analysis, and Good Omens gets better every time I re-read it. I haven’t read Pyramids yet, so I think that will be next on my list.
David Marjanović says
Link doesn’t work.
Frankly, I don’t like that metaphor either. “Say never higher or lower” wrote Darwin in the margin of a book in the 1840s, and he was right.
To exactly the same degree, because the chimps are (a bit) more closely related to us than to the gorillas.
Not anymore! Took about 250 years till people stopped wincing at it.
I like most of the Discworld novels, the middle ones especially – but Good Omens is my favourite of his works; Pratchett + Gaiman = awesome.
Plus I got to play Ponder Stibbons in an adaptation of Lords & Ladies, and that’s one of the most fun roles I’ve had – and, since I got to ad-lib in one scene, I got to throw in a few other Discworld references as well.
An oldie, but apropos for the case of Terry Pratchett vs. religion:
“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.”
Big Discworld fan! My favorite character is Death; that character actually says a number of things similar to what Pratchett does here, particularly about humans being very successful monkeys.
I thought it was interesting that Pratchett declares himself to be a fan of G. K. Chesterton. I think there is an important lesson here. If you wish to confront religion you have to do more than just attack. You have to confront why it maintains an appeal even in the minds of reasonable and rational men.
'Tis Himself, OM says
PTerry may be suffering from Alzheimers but it certainly isn’t evident.
'Tis Himself, OM says
My favorite quote is a bit of dialog between Death and his granddaughter, Susan, in Hogfather. Note the allusion to falling angels and rising apes:
Death: Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?
Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.
Susan: So we can believe the big ones?
Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.
rprcvl Author Profile Page, seems we have a difference of opinion about taxonomy. That’s cool. I was thinking the more common meaning and not the scientific. In any case, I am concerned about creationists taking the thing out of context. They have a poor understanding of evolution in the first place.
‘Tis Himself, OM @ 55:
There’s no Justice. There’s Just Us.
'Tis Himself, OM says
That’s why Death calls justice a lie.
My favorite Discworld book is Thief of Time, mainly because of the central role of Death.
How is Hogfather the movie? I’ve been scared to watch it because I worry about bad translation to the screen and it shattering all of the images in my head I get when I read it.
Carlie, I have The Hogfather DVD, and it’s pretty good. A few things were a bit off, but they were minor, and certainly didn’t destroy the story at all. Death was done very well.
@ Alverant #56:
Speaking of taxonomy, “Author Profile Page” is not part of rprcvl’s name. It’s an artifact of the malfunctioning of ScienceBlogs sign-in software. It’s alt text standing in for a missing brand logo image – which the programmers have failed to install in the relevant directory. One could hope it’s merely a temporary artifact but the various other errors in the system have persisted for a couple of years now …
@#57 & @#58
“Studies at UCLA in 2008 have indicated that reactions to fairness are “wired” into the brain and that, “Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats… This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need” . Research conducted in 2003 at Emory University, Georgia, involving Capuchin Monkeys demonstrated that other cooperative animals also possess such a sense and that “inequity aversion may not be uniquely human.” indicating that ideas of fairness and justice may be instinctual in nature.”
'Tis Himself, OM says
For a Made for TV movie Hogfather is pretty good. It sticks closely to the book and has a lot of subtle humor in it. The casting is excellent. Michelle Dockery looks right and plays Susan the way Susan plays in my head. Marc Warren is a suitably creepy Mr. Teatime. Nicholas Tennant is not quite blotchy enough to be Nobby Nobbs but the mannerisms are right. The big name in the cast is David Jason as Albert. Physically Jason is not my mental picture of Albert but the cynicism is perfect.
Death is obviously a tall man in a rubber mask but otherwise the special effects are good enough. The Wizards are a little too buffoonish for my taste but my daughter thinks they’re well played.
All in all, I think it’s a good effort for a low budget movie.
Yes, it really was quite a good film rendition of the book.
Nor does he quite measure up physically to being DangerMouse. Although vocally he’s superb in the role.
Yes, the movie was definitely worth watching.
Light Fantastic/Colour of Magic I liked as well.
‘Tis Himself, OM @ 63:
No. Terry Pratchett gives an interview on the DVD, and ‘Death’ is present. It is a 7 foot tall, animatronic skeleton. Terry was delighted with it, and either got to take it home or wanted to.
'Tis Himself, OM says
Okay, it’s a 7 foot tall, animatronic skeleton in a rubber mask. Regardless, it’s obviously artificial. Death’s voice acting by Ian Richardson is good. Death has a Crowning Moment of Awesome when he’s standing in front of the Auditors and asks: “Have you been naughty or nice? Ho! Ho! Ho!”
For those discussing Pratchett books made into films… any thoughts on the two animated ones available? I own Wyrd Sisters, which I find pretty cool… was wondering if Soul Music was worth picking up?
Darren Garrison says
“We’re great apes.”
Well, we’re okay…
Super comment from an excellent writer. I have read most of Pratchett’s books and you can see how his writing style has evolved over the years. I was greatly moved by the BBC documentary about his battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Thankfully it is a rare form that will not take his mind from us for a while longer, but it is still a crying shame that such a proficient communicator be so afflicted.
Coincidentally I have just finished the final draft of a comedy fantasy novel (seriously!) that pokes gentle fun at the genre, and it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge Terry Pratchett’s influence on my writing.
As an unpublished author I can only hope that some time soon I can credit him on a more public stage after achieving a tiny faction of the publishing success he’s had over the last 20-odd years.
Soul Music’s not bad, although they mutilated the ending. Honestly, I’d say the best bit is all the visual gags and music sequences they stuck in that wouldn’t work in a textual medium. It’s not must-see by any measure, but it’s not a bad little program. Oh, and the actual musical version of Sioni Bod Da is great.
I’d Rather be a Rising Ape than a Fallen Angel…
damn if that doesnt need to be turned into a T-shirt
I must read Soul Music…. I read the first couple of pages, and was extremely impressed by the puns: the hero’s name, Imp-y-Celyn, is obviously based on the Welsh Language (and Llamedos is obviously meant to be Wales, cf. ‘Llareggub’ in ‘Under Milk Wood’).
But there was something about that name. I knew that ‘celyn’ is the Welsh for ‘holly’. But was ‘imp’ also something in Welsh? It wasn’t a word I knew. So I broke out my ‘Gaeiriadur Mawr’ (Big Dictionary), looked it up and there it was:
Imp, nm. Bud, shoot (of a plant).
Imp-y-Celyn? Now that’s fucking clever…
Oh, and ‘Sioni Bod Da’ translates to ‘Johnny Be Good’. (Although more grammatically it should be ‘Sioni bydd yn dda.’)
Richard Eis says
There are music puns on artists and songs throughout the book.
There is a lot of stuff you will miss in his books the first time around unless you know some really weird facts. Like in men at arms when the alchemists are playing pool with exploding fake-ivory balls. That apparently is based on fact.
blockquote>There are music puns on artists and songs throughout the book.
My favorite in Soul Music is when (forgive me if some details are missing, it’s been several years) they go into a dwarf cafe and Glod orders 4 fried rats, Imp orders toast and the troll orders “some coke” (i.e. the mineral–that’s what trolls eat).
Those confused with the reference to streetlamps being more interesting than stars might enjoy reading G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday.
Pratchett himself mentions Chesterton earlier in the video, and Terry’s thoughts on the rarity of everything we find common are echoes of one of Chesterton’s ideas. It even runs throughout Pratchett’s work in the amazement Death has in the ability of humanity to create boredom.
As a teaser, here is a bit of dialog from Chesterton between Gregory, the poet of chaos, and Syme, the poet of order.
I would much rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.
From Robert Ardrey’s 1961 book, African Genesis:
But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.
Ardrey also says that if, in fact, there is a god, he is probably just sitting up there waiting for us to become worthy of his attention.
Small gods and pyramids are both great books but Monstrous regiment exposes the truth that these books are both abominations unto Nuggin. Be warned lest you be smote from above.
Also worth remembering that on the Discworld atheism is not a life enhancing choice.
It depends on what _kind_ of atheist you are. There’s the furious, angry-at-the-gods-for-not-existing type of atheist (like Simony), and they’re pretty safe. Hatred that strong is practically worship, merely approached from the other direction. (That’s not to say that the gods won’t take occasional potshots at such atheists, mind you). On the other kind, there’s the “gods may exist but that’s no reason to go around worshipping them” atheism practiced by witches, wizards and policemen, which seems to work OK provided said practitioners remember to be at least vaguely polite when dealing with said deities. The atheists the gods _really_ don’t like are ones like Abraxus, who treat the gods as a subject to be investigated and perhaps a problem to be solved – that’s just asking for trouble. Also recall the poor bastard who tried Pascal’s wager, and when he died he woke up in a circle of gods with big sticks saying “We’ll show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts…”
Frankly, with the general behaviour of Discworld deities, it’s unsurprising that one of the most successful religions worships a god who doesn’t answer prayers, perform miracles or actually do anything much at all.
Richard Eis says
To Snoof #79
Then there’s St. Ungulant. Who worships gods for the fake gifts they bestow but who a) Is quite insane b) Probably knows its all fake but is just going along with it.
Wasn’t there also something in one of the books about how being noticed and played with by the gods was far worse than not being noticed at all. Possibly Cohen the barbarian or Rincewind quote but my memory fails me.