Completely off-topic, but many people are on holidays, so why not. I tried to fit this into a tweet, but to no avail.
Under the title “That Exact Nonsense”, John Gruber posts a quote from Penn Jillette’s book “God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist” (I left Gruber’s ID in the Amazon URL since he deserve his cut in this context).
There is no god and that’s the simple truth. If every trace of any single religion died out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.
It’s compelling and I personally believe it’s true. But unfortunately it doesn’t prove anything. Clearly, Jillette doesn’t believe that there was a divine revelation for any of the existing religions, but rather that they emanated from human imagination. If that’s the case then yes, the next time around it will come out somewhat differently. But what if there was a divine revelation? What would stop the deity from repeating it if its message got lost?
Jillette only proves that religion is a human invention (not a revelation of a larger truth) if you accept the hypothesis that it is a human invention.
To be fair, Jillette doesn’t claim it’s a proof, but the way the quote is making the rounds (Gruber credits Kottke for the find who in turn credits mlkshk who got it from imgur) seems to suggest that it’s being heralded as such, rather that as a compelling-sounding tautology.