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This morning a CNN headline jumped out at me: “Terminated scientist claims bias against intelligent design.” I think any scientist (neophyte or expert) thinks the theory of intelligent design is laughable. This guy must’ve infuriated his co-workers. How unurprising: he also supported Prop 8.

The documents state that other co-workers complained they also felt harassed when Coppedge expressed views in favor of California Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in 2010 that defined marriage between one man and one woman.”

Hell yeah, I’d feel harassed too if some backwoods co-worker of mine was blathering on about how it’s perfectly legal and acceptable to deny gay people basic human rights. What a troll!

What’s interesting is that I read this article after watching Richard Dawkins’ television documentary Root Of All Evil. And yes, you can guess what exactly that root is. There is some controversy about the title. Supposedly Richard objected but the producers wanted to keep it since they though it would be controversial and eye-catching. I can’t argue with that. Besides, if it had been named The God Delusion, would would-be viewers feel any differently? Not likely.

I only saw Part 1 so my comments are limited. The message is pretty clear. Religion and science don’t mix. Religion is dangerous. Faith is the absence of judgment. He looks at Catholic visitors to the site of Lourdes and talks to a young Arabic man who was born Jewish but has since converted and thinks Islam should take over the world. Dawkins also has an exchange with Ted Haggard the former leader of the 14,000-member New Life mega-church in Colorado. 

He minces no words and offers no apologies for his fierce stand that science is incompatible with faith-based institutions. He refers to a parade of chanting Catholics as a “benign herd.” He also says, “An atheist is just somebody who feels about Yahweh the way any decent Christian feels about Thor or Baal or the golden calf. As has been said before, we are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

I loved watching Richard Dawkins interact with people in this documentary. He deserves a lot of respect. We live in a time when a black man can be elected to the highest office in this country and yet atheists are shunned.  The right-wing mob in this country is trying to get intelligent design to be taught alongside evolution. “A study of attitudes in 34 countries published in Science in 2006 shows that the United States ranks last in popular acceptance of evolution except for Turkey. Almost 40 percent of Americans in this study flatly rejected evolution.”

Sure, that was in 2006. But was six years ago that far away? Look at the strongly religious element of the GOP presidential primaries.  A 2012 poll in Mississippi and Alabama revealed that 45 percent of the respondents think Obama is a Muslim, and 60 percent reject the teachings of evolution. 60 percent! Holy shit!

I’m not saying science holds all the answers. Neither is Richard Dawkins. But just because we can’t explain something to the best of our knowledge today doesn’t mean a ghost in the sky is the better explanation. What’s incredibly maddening is the lengths people will go to in order to justify words in an ancient text. Science proves evolution but people discount that based on some bible scriptures. Gay people are human beings who deserve all privileges accorded to heterosexuals, and yet religious people have no problem discriminating because of a few twisted passages in a book written thousands of years ago. If you want to think some parts of the bible are nice stories with good messages, that’s fine. I don’t necessarily agree. However, it’s seems less bothersome to me as long as you know they are simple stories; they aren’t facts and they’re not rational justifications for disproving science and logic.

I realize the theme of this blog is to encourage compassion and to advocate for change, but we all need to argue for more critical thinking skills in this country too.