Oliver Sacks, the 82-year-old neurologist and writer who announced his terminal cancer earlier this year, died this morning.
I’m a sort of quiet, old, Jewish atheist. I’m not a militant atheist. I don’t sort of argue about things like [Richard] Dawkins and [Daniel] Dennett and Sam Harris. I quite like their books, but I’m not militant by nature, and I’m not very argumentative by nature. And if people want to believe, well, then that’s their business.
Terry Firma wrote a lovely piece about him for this site and, if you’re unfamiliar with Sacks’ books, I would suggest checking it out. Also, he gave a memorable acceptance speech a decade ago when accepting FFRF’s “Emperor Has No Clothes” award:
Science is a process. Science is an activity. Science continually makes hypotheses, investigates, and is prepared to throw out a hypothesis. Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s friend, talked about “the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.” There is something enormously reassuring about the provisional quality of science, and the fact that it does not have rigid convictions. A scientist should not have rigid convictions (though some, of course, do). If we have any belief, as scientists, it is that nature is reasonable, and potentially comprehensible, and that nothing in nature should be beyond evidence or explanation.
I met Oliver Sacks only twice, but greatly admired him. Sad to hear of his death.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 30, 2015