Friday, November 11, 2005

Creationists believe Noah loaded baby dinosaurs onto the ark. In this scene, T.Rex (Latin for 'Tyrant King'), acknowledges, along with angels, humans and other creatures, the Supreme Overlordship of the Baby Jesus

Intelligent design knocked out?: "But ID is also revealing itself here in Pennsylvania in another form. It's having a coming-out party as a deliberate satirical echo of the great liberal lie of the modern age: the idea that progressive science and religion can coexist.

"For a century or so since Nietzsche, popular culture in the West has operated according to an uneasy truce, in which God both is and is not dead. We teach our children the evidence-based materialism of science and tell them they can believe in God and a faith-based morality in their spare time if they like.

"And in some parts of the country, we celebrate Scopes as a victory over ignorance, while still insisting that we do not also celebrate it as a victory over religion. What these endless Scopes sequels tell us is that somewhere many years from now we're going to hit a fork in the road, beyond which this have-it-both-ways philosophy isn't going to fly anymore. Is God dead, or isn't he? Are we believers, or not? They know what we think. They just want us to come out and say it."

This kind of 'anti-religious' thinking is a miskate. I remember the Professor of Philosophy at UNSW (forget his name) already remarking years ago that it was once thought religion would die out in the scientific age but this had not happened and it was as strong as ever. And Hegel said somewhere that no animal had religion but no recorded human society was without it. It is clear that the basic human need of religious practice and belief (and non-belief) of a wide variety of kinds is going to persist for some time to come yet. To expect it to fade away is as much an error as an evangelist expecting the whole world will convert to the 'true faith.'

Jesus expounds his teachings of peace, love and compassion to disciples whilst dinosaurs fly by in the background

Freedom of opinion and belief must be respected; at the same time religion ought not be ignored, lest it be captured by fascistic and totalitarian elements (this appears to be a deliberate tactic of the postwar corporate right). There is a tension - probably present in all religions and certainly present in Christianity in the form of the conflict between the 'lamb of god' (Christ) and the 'beast of babylon' (Antichrist) - between the true humane, moral and compassionate teachings of religion and its corruption and debasement in enslavement to power.

Self-styled 'religion' ought be roundly and publicly condemned if it is to be anti-scientific (eg, in defending flat earth, geocentric or creationist ideas against all scientific evidence); or if it is to be immoral (eg, promoting the murder of foreign heads of state or warcrimes and other atrocities.) No person, religious or otherwise, ought be silent in the face of such distortions.

People are entitled to believe whatever they like (including creationism) but they cannot promote such ideas as science when it is not science. A firm line needs to be drawn lest specific religious beliefs be illegitimately and wrongly imposed on the general population. Religion ideas can be discussed in religion, morals, and history class; would-be scientific ideas can be submitted to peer-reviewed journals, and on their scientific or otherwise status must accept the judgement of the scientific method.

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