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The War on Religion

When Attorney General Janet Reno, most certainly with the blessing, er...make that approval, of then President Bill Clinton, flame-broiled the Branch Davidians, I thought that something of significance had occurred. Both the old main-line religions and the fast-growing evangelicals were strangely mute - to their long-term disadvantage in my opinion. They didn't defend the Jews from the Nazis either.

Not that I had any particular sympathy or inclination in favor of that little cult, but simply that I believe that religious tolerance is a hallmark here, and if someone wants to follow Monty Python and worship The Holy Hand Grenade, well, that is their business.

But the November issue of Wired magazine lays it out. It profiles three leaders of a movement it labels The New Atheists. These three not only are disbelievers, it is their view that the time to respect, or even tolerate, religion is over. Wired calls it the Crusade Against Religion. I won't recount all this here, but some of it stems from the "Creationism" movement, which these guys view as an affront to science and education.

I'll admit to being sympathetic to the creationists. I've tried organizing ostensibly smart Cub Scouts to get something done with little to show for it; how do some cells get together and become, say an eyeball? or a toenail? How does a bug come to jump into the nostril of one particular species of bird, hop out into just the right flower, and repeat the process?

And, if we can't handle the AIDS virus, how did anything ever evolve beyond that level? Why didn't the viruses win? Those viruses seem to be pretty all-conquering to me. And you can give me all the primordial soup, acidic atmosphere, lightning arguments, but, at its essence, Things That Weren't Alive had to become Things That Are Alive. Seems to be asking a lot for us to believe.

On the other hand, I don't have much problem accepting much of evolution, and I think it is way beyond hubris to insist that the world was created in literally seven days. Who knows what a day is to God?

And while this group of scientists is gunning for Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and so on, a new religious movement is gaining serious momentum. Touch any environmentalist, and observe the emerging new religion. The planet is in mortal danger, and redemption is available only by renouncing your gasoline powered vehicle, abandoning hair spray, shuttering power plants, composting your garbage, etc. Listen closely and learn the new catechism. Talk to young children, and you'll see that the new religion is being taught very effectively in our schools, both public and private. Got some third graders? I'll bet you are recycling or they will witness to you that you are clearly guilty of leaving the planet uninhabitable for the next generation.

So, to the scientific three: loosen up a little. Religion is here to stay; if not the versions from the last few thousand years, then some new formulas...


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