Nature, She is absurd.

… there are many reasons why you might not understand [an explanation of a scientific theory] … Finally, there is this possibility: after I tell you something, you just can’t believe it. You can’t accept it. You don’t like it. A little screen comes down and you don’t listen anymore. I’m going to describe to you how Nature is – and if you don’t like it, that’s going to get in the way of your understanding it. It’s a problem that [scientists] have learned to deal with: They’ve learned to realize that whether they like a theory or they don’t like a theory is not the essential question. Rather, it is whether or not the theory gives predictions that agree with experiment. It is not a question of whether a theory is philosophically delightful, or easy to understand, or perfectly reasonable from the point of view of common sense. [A scientific theory] describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as She is – absurd.
I’m going to have fun telling you about this absurdity, because I find it delightful. Please don’t turn yourself off because you can’t believe Nature is so strange. Just hear me all out, and I hope you’ll be as delighted as I am when we’re through.

Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988),from the introductory lecture on quantum mechanics reproduced in QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Feynman 1985).

I found this fun quote in an essay on macroevolution ( It was quoted by a notable scientist blogger who is trying (painfully so) to keep the discussion civil on a blog posting about talking to creationists. I’ve linked to his posting a couple of times because I think it’s a fantastic discussion (I especially like the creationist guy who cited a Wikipedia entry on abiogenesis — claiming it had “long been proven false” — without actually reading the entry).

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