This is hilarious and is satire at its very best. It first came out today and has been rapidly spreading through the Skeptical Echo Chamber … PZ blogged it here … Richard Dawkins has also Blogged it here (I think RD might be patient zero for this) … I also suspect many others will soon pass it on, so without any further ado, I’ll (via the joy of cut and paste) quickly jump on the same bandwagon.
Oh, one further thought, just to give this some context, we have had a couple of cases in the UK recently where the police have become involved because somebody decided to have a go at some sacred text (if you follow this blog, you will know about those cases, I posted the details when they happened).
So here it is … enjoy.
Oh and for those that completely fail to grasp the point of this, its a very witty protest regarding the very existence of the UK’s Racial And Religious Hatred Act 2006.
(original sent on 29/12/2010)
I understand from the news (see here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/25/girl-arrested-allegedly-burning-quran and here: http://www.iengage.org.uk/component/content/article/1-news/1028-six-edl-supporters-arrested-after-burning-the-quran ) that the British state has decided to grant to at least some religious books/sacred texts the protection of the law, and to prosecute their burning/defacement/disrespect.
I am therefore writing to you today to request that legal protection be accorded to all copies of the three editions of J.D. Jackson’s “Classical Electrodynamics” (ISBN 978-0471431329, ISBN 978-0471309321, ISBN 047130932X).
I believe it ticks all the boxes for a sacred text: by making me understand for the first time in all their clarity and power both Maxwell’s equations, the first step towards a Grand Unification theory that would give a single explanation for all physical phenomena in the universe, and Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, which let me glimpse for the first time the true nature of space, time and causality, it changed my view of the universe and my concept of our place and role in it; it opened my eyes to the beauty and harmony and marvelous complexity of everything that exists; it gave me a clear and understandable explanation of complex and baffling phenomena; it requires lengthy and intensive study under the guidance of learned masters to truly grasp its significance; I tend to swear on it when I need to prove my absolute sincerity and my cat is not around; finally, seeing it defaced, burnt, thrown in a skip, pulped or in any way damaged causes me emotional pain and occasional mild irritation.
I realise it appears to fail the test in important areas – for example, it seems to contain far less made-up stuff than, say, the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon or Dianetics; but in fact, if you look at the exercises section, you’ll find plenty of perfect conductors, infinite planes, and continuous (in the mathematical sense) physical phenomena and bodies. All demonstrably imaginary, as any first-year physics student could easily prove. So in fact there is plenty of made-up stuff, it’s just well hidden, which should make it a better-than-average sacred text.
One thing though might be construed as a flaw – the fact that nowhere in the book, not even in the pre-New Age, 1962 first edition, there is a call to genocide, ethnic cleansing, war or mass rape. In spite of the fact that the title itself refers to classical electrodynamics, there isn’t even a call for the extermination of quantum physicists – something I tended to consider a major oversight in my last year at university, to be completely honest. I’m not sure this will be enough to disqualify it from the status of sacred text, if that should be the case perhaps we could add an appendix with Richard Feynman’s autobiography, which at least contains reference to a couple of punch-ups, as a sort of Saint Dick the Divine’s Apocalypse – although he wasn’t nearly high enough to be compared to the author of the original one, not even in the bit where he tells about Brazil and the bongos.
Although I blew up a considerable number of electrolytic capacitors during lab courses (I tended to get the polarities mixed up with annoying regularity) I haven’t caused any intentional explosive damage to anything/anyone since my mother threw away my chemistry set when I was 12 (and even then, the Kitchen Table Incident was at least partly an accident); therefore, alas, I cannot threaten you with an onslaught of terror, violence and murder in case you should not accede to my request, but I’ll be severely annoyed and possibly even a bit snappy if The Book does not receive the full protection of the law. After all, what matters is how I feel about it, not the actual fact that it is God-, Allah-, Xenu- or Flying Spaghetti Monster-inspired, and I feel very strongly about this.
Yours (name withheld to protect the guilty)