Quote: There is no God, and Harriet is his prophet (1851 August)
bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jan 28 16:41:24 UTC 2011
Note the play on the Islamic profession of faith, "There is no god but
God, and Muhammad is his prophet."
On Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 9:38 AM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> The Wikipedia entry for Wolfgang Pauli contains the following
> quotation as noted by Victor. Wikipedia excerpt:
> "Well, I'd say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the
> first commandment of this religion is 'God does not exist and Paul
> Dirac is his prophet'". Everybody burst into laughter, including
> End excerpt.
> The following comment is appended. Wikipedia excerpt:
> This last quote is apparently a paraphrase of the quip about Robert
> Green Ingersoll (1833–1899): "There is no God, and Ingersoll is his
> End excerpt.
> There is a version of this joke featuring Harriet Martineau:
> Cite: 1851 August, Graham's magazine, The Use and the Economy of
> Invective, Page 66, Column 2, Volume 39, Number 2, Philadelphia,
> Pennsylvania. (Google Books full view)
> The best criticism on Harriet Martineau's late atheistical book is
> contained in the remark of a London wit, who was asked what was the
> doctrine which it inculcated. He replied, "The doctrine seems to be
> this; there is no God, and Harriet is his prophet."
> Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll was born on August 11, 1833. So he was 18
> years old when this article was published. Here is another cite from a
> month later that names the wit:
> Cite: 1851 September, The International Monthly Magazine of
> Literature, Science, and Art
> Douglass Jerrold said the sum of their doctrine was contained in the
> formula, "There is no God, and Miss Martineau is his prophet," ...
> Walt Whitman did refer to Ingersoll as a prophet, but the satirical
> context is missing in this cite:
> With Walt Whitman in Camden
> Monday May 7, 1888
> He is in a way a chosen man. There always was something in the idea
> that the prophets are called. Ingersoll is a prophet-he, too, is
> called. He is far, far deeper than he is supposed to be, even by
> radicals: we get lots of deep sea fruit out of him.
> On Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 4:51 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> > Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster: Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> > Subject: Pauli
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Wolfgang Pauli usually gets credit for the quit, "That's not right--it's
> > not even wrong!" (or something similar, depending on source). The common
> > reference for this is from Rudolph Peierls's 1960 recollections (I can't
> > really call it an obituary):
> > Rudolph Peierls, "Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, 1900-1958." (Royal Society, GB)
> > Biographical memoirs of fellows of the Royal Society 5:174-192 (1960)
> > Wiki not only highlights the whole episode in the article on Pauli:
> >> Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch! "Not only
> >> is it not right, it's not even wrong!"
> > but even has a separate entry for "not even wrong":
> >> An argument that appears to be scientific is said to be not even wrong
> >> if it cannot be falsified (i.e., tested) by experiment or cannot be
> >> used to make predictions about the natural world. The phrase was
> >> coined by theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was known for his
> >> colorful objections to incorrect or sloppy thinking. Rudolf Peierls
> >> writes that "a friend showed [Pauli] the paper of a young physicist
> >> which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted
> >> Pauli's views. Pauli remarked sadly, 'It is not even wrong.' "
> > It may be impossible to either verify or reject the origin of the
> > phrase--Pauli died in 1958, leaving a large number of anecdotes about
> > his life, but not a lot of biographical material, and the quip was
> > originally supposed to be in German. However, recognizing Pauli's sense
> > of humor, it is possible that he might have been mocking a religious
> > argument that relied on a strawman statement that needed a rebuttal, e.g.,
> > http://goo.gl/2yadK
> > Principles of the faith in relation to sin. By Orby Shipley. 1879
> >> Take three strict rules for guidance, in regard to devout jealousy
> >> against falling into little sins.
> >> i. Never to allow self-indulgence in any known fault, however small.
> >> People, in relation to this rule, may be heard to say, " Yes ; it is
> >> not right ; it is even wrong ; but, still, I do allow myself in such
> >> and such a liberty."
> > My brief search revealed little useful information and the statement may
> > well be original with Pauli. I thought I would throw it out into the
> > ether and see if anyone has the stomach to check it out deeper (and
> > perhaps check it out in German as well).
> > VS-)
> > PS: I was wondering about the origin because Pauli's other famous quip,
> > also cited in Wiki has an alternative origin.
> >> "Well, I'd say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the
> >> first commandment of this religion is 'God does not exist and Paul
> >> Dirac is his prophet'".
> > As Wiki suggests, a similar statement was made much earlier about Robert
> > Green Ingersoll. Although it's impossible to judge whether Pauli was
> > familiar with the previous quip, the likelihood of coincidence seems
> > rather small.
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
More information about the Ads-l