Monday, February 25, 2008



Gordon Lynch's piece is vapid puff.

You can call any passionate advocate of anything an evangelist if you wish, but what does it add to our understanding?

Dawkins is a remarkable man. I don't share his embrace of atheism, feeling comfortable, as I am, with the descriptions humanist and skeptic.

Yet I appreciate what Dawkins is attempting to do. He is trying to shake the world out of a comfortable torpor of superstition. And in the beginning of the Real Age of Science, that is immensely important.

What do I mean by the Real Age of Science? Quite simply, the rate of technological change, and the economic and social changes that follow almost immediately, has reached the point where ordinary lives are affected every year, perhaps oftener, in significant ways. It won't be very long before this becomes monthly and even daily.

All of our preconceptions of social norms and ethics are going to be challenged.

To get a good grasp of the absurdities that come with the embrace of superstition, look at the United States and its position in the world.

The same country that has nuclear-armed aircraft carriers and submarines prowling the seas has millions who expect the End of Time momentarily, millions who believe that Harry Potter represents devil worship, millions who give generously to destructive idiots like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, and many others.

Now, just wait until this same huge group of dark minds is confronted by the scientific changes hurtling towards us - robot house servants and hospital nurses, designer babies, designer food, discovery of some forms of life on other planets, archeological and paleontological discoveries that will astound our current understanding, plus so much more.

The United States is on the verge of seriously computerizing and robotizing its capacity to kill people abroad. Drones with Hellfire missiles, robot soldier guards, heat rays, and many other items that are going to turn it into a modern New Style Army, one where great power to destroy is combined with limited exposure of its own to danger.

The entire post-WW II period has been characterized by American colonial wars, almost always fired by some burning faith such as anti-communism or anti-Muslim fundamentalism, a sense of seeking the Evil One, of trying to destroy the forces of darkness. This mad mix is likely to intensify.

This promises to be extremely dangerous.

And it is not just fundamentalist Protestants. A Catholic Church still doesn't understand the absolute necessity of birth control in the world. We could have a better world for more people in one generation if we could make birth control an everyday reality everywhere, something truly worth striving towards. Here is a Church which still hasn't absorbed the Enlightenment in so many ways, including its attitudes towards women and homosexuals, a Church which is even now taking steps to return to a 2,000-year old dead language.

And just listen to Jewish extremists making ridiculous and dangerous claims on the remainder of Palestine, always citing the writings of a few men from nearly 3,000 years ago. Some of them defend any measure by citing the writings of ancient prophets who for all we know where madmen in their day, including actions like bulldozing away all remaining Palestinians or passing laws to kill the families of so-called terrorists.

And if you believe in the Clash of Civilizations and the War on Terror being meaningful concepts, something I do not accept, then you have all the more reason to be concerned. If you believe Muslim Fundamentalism is a danger to civilization, then what is the alternative? Christian and Jewish Fundamentalism? That way is madness and endless religious war.

So I praise Dawkins for trying to promote reason and science and skepticism. They are the only things that can save many of us in the end.