This famous quote from Adams has been made more famous by Richard Dawkins often quoting it not just in books but also in various debates.
And there is something right about this quote. The world is a beautiful and amazing place. And as we’ve discovered more about it the more impressive and amazing it becomes. And the more we discover the more we don’t understand and the more we have to seek answers for.
And Dawkins and Adams are perfectly right in saying the garden is beautiful and we don’t have to go inventing and thinking that there are fairies at the bottom of it to make it interesting.
But that’s precisely where the quote becomes a straw man. Because no one is believing that there’s fairies at the bottom of the garden. Well, no one who believes there is a God. We’re not saying there’s fairies at the bottom of the garden. Fictional, mythological creatures that have no connection to the image of a garden except for the link they have to the fantasy of fairies themselves.
No, no one is saying that.
What we’re saying is that the garden is beautiful, and that when you see a beautiful garden it makes perfect, rational sense to believe in an owner. And a gardener.
No one sees a beautiful garden and believes that it happened by itself. Or that it is the product of an unguided, mindless process. When you see a beautiful garden it makes perfect sense to think it is the work of a gardener. Even if he’s not at that moment visible to you. Even if you have never seen the gardener, met the gardener, spoken to the gardener or even heard from someone else that there is a gardener.
When you see a beautiful garden it makes rational, logical sense to believe there is a gardener. In fact, it is much more unlikely that there is no gardener. When confronted with a beautiful garden it is actually more irrational to believe that it produced itself than to believe a gardening mind crafted it. It requires more leaps of logic, indeed it requires much more blind faith.
No one is saying you need to believe there are fairies at the bottom of the garden.
But it does make sense to believe in a gardener.