Sunday, September 18, 2005
Equal Time - No tax-exempt status for churches that refuse to distribute pro-evolution propaganda! By Christopher Hitchens
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To my point, then. Why not make schoolchildren study the history of the argument [of Intelligent Design]? It would show them how to weigh and balance evidence, and it would remind them of the scarcely believable idiocy of the ancestors of "intelligent design." The tale is both amusing and instructive, and it is a vital part of the history of the 19th and 20th centuries. How could intelligent scientific secularism lose if this were part of the curriculum?
If we take the president up on his deceptively fair-minded idea of "teaching the argument," I think we could advance the ball a little further in other directions also. Houses of worship that do not provide space for leaflets and pamphlets favoring evolution (not necessarily Darwinism, which is only one of the theories of evolution and thus another proof of its scientific status) should be denied tax-exempt status and any access to public funding originating in the White House's "faith-based" initiative. Congress should restore its past practice of giving a copy of Thomas Jefferson's expurgated Bible—free of all incredible or supernatural claims—to each newly elected member. The same version of the Bible should be obligatory for study in all classes that affect to teach "divinity." No more Saudi Arabian money should be allowed to be spent in the United States on the opening of jihadist madrasas or the promulgation of a Wahhabi Quran that preaches hatred and contempt of other faiths and of atheism until the Saudi government permits the unmolested opening of Shiite and Sufi places of worship; Christian churches and Hindu temples of all denominations for its Philippine, Indian, and other helot classes; synagogues; and Thomas Paine Society libraries. No American taxpayers' money should be given to Israel unless it can be shown that it is not being used for the establishment of religion by Orthodox messianic settlements in the occupied territories and/or until the Israeli rabbinate recognizes Reform and Conservative Judaism as authentic.
Equal time. It has a nicer ring the more you say it. Bring it on.
I find it remarkable that this hadn't actually occurred to me. But it's an example of what I've often said regarding the Separation of Church and State: Christians (and rabid Evangelical Christians, in particular) love the Constitutional doctrine when it helps them (churches are tax-exempt, etc.), but despise and oppose it whenever it might hinder them (religion and prayer can't be taught in the public schools, etc.).
Let's do it. Let's agree to teaching "Ingelligent Design" in schools -- provided that churches are forced to teach Science and Evolution along side their preachings about Genesis, etc.
To quote Penn from "Penn & Teller's BULLSHIT!":
"Take some time and put the Bible on your summer reading list. Try and stick with it cover to cover. Not because it teaches History -- we've shown you it doesn't. Read it because you'll see for yourself what the Bible is all about. It sure isn't great Literature. If it were published as fiction, no reviewer would give it a passing grade. There are some vivid scenes and quotable phrases, but there's no plot, no structure, there's a tremendous amount of filler and the characters are painfully one-dimensional. Whatever you do, don't read the Bible for a moral code; it advocates prejudice, cruelty, superstition and murder. Read it because we need more atheists. And nothing will get you there faster than reading the damn Bible."
The only problem I have with Hitchens' argument (and I know he's being satirical), is that 1.) by inserting Faith into Science, and implicitly saying both are equal and deserving of equal consideration, we would seriously undermine Science; and 2.) we would be reinforcing the false dichotomy of Religion Vs. Science -- implying that you must choose one or the other, but that because they are mutually contradictory you cannot believe in both.
(For the more absurd claims, of course -- like the Earth is only 10,000 years old, and fossils were placed inside of rocks by God to test our Faith -- well, Science and Religion ARE mutually-exclusive, in some cases. But for the more enlightened Christians [like, say, the Pope], all Science including Evolution is simply a process set in motion by God, and rather than arguing against it we must seek to understand and appreciate it as fully as possible, for the more we understand the planet Earth, human nature, etc., the more we understand God.)