Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Well meaning, but....

I don't know what Richard Dawkins will make of this, but one of the leading scientists and atheists in the UK has come out saying that perhaps religion - God, even - will save us from ourselves in the coming catastrophe of Global Warming, or Climate Change, or whatever we should increase our home insurance on this week.

Lord May, who was brought up a Scottish Presbyterian but went through an "inverse epiphany" at the age of 11, (which strikes me as fairly mature for an eleven-year-old) says, “A supernatural punisher maybe part of the solution.”

Plainly Lord May hasn't discovered that God is Love, rather than being some nasty big daddy in the sky who beats people up when they don't behave. (Yes, he does have a bit of that too, but it isn't his major characteristic.)

A typical evolutionist, he adds that in the past a belief in a god, or gods, that punish the unrighteous may have been part of the mechanism of evolution that maintains co-operation in a dog-eat-dog world. Evolutionists can't ever say anything without bringing evolution in as some kind of pseudo-explanation, however absurd and unfounded the argument might be. (When you think about it, isn't the usual idea that evolution is survival of the fittest? Where would co-operation come into that?)

He goes on, "Given that punishment is a useful mechanism, how much more effective it would be if you invested that power not in an individual you don't like, but an all-seeing, all powerful deity that controls the world." Okay, now let's try and connect this to something ordinary: Does that means that when I put my grandchild to bed I should threaten him with a nasty deity who will thump him if he doesn't go straight to sleep? (In the light of the anti-smacking law we could then say to the judge, when we've been arrested for smacking our children, that God did it. Okay, I'm just joking....)

To listen to the esteemed Lord May a little more: while religion maybe one possible answer, it remained, at the moment, very much part of the problem as it had teetered ever more towards fundamentalism.

So religion is both the solution and the not-solution. Hmmm.

In less troubled times religions had become softer and less dogmatic, and embraced a more humane set of values, he said.

Um, Lord May doesn't seem to sure about his religious history. In the early days of the church, for instance, at times of often intense persecution, and when Rome had a plague (both fairly troublesome times, one would think) Christians were known for being softer than the normal Roman, and far more humane. It was the Romans, after all, who committed infanticide with great frequency, and the Christians who stayed with those who were dying and suffering when the Romans fled the cities.

But that pattern was now reversing with the rise of fundamental Islamic and Christian beliefs.

The rise of fundamental Christian beliefs? Umm, Lord May, fundamental Christian beliefs have never gone away, so they've no need to 'rise.' The basic Christian beliefs are the same today as they were in the beginning.

Sometimes you have to ask yourself: do atheists actually listen to what they're saying?

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