There’s an excellent beliefnet interview with biologist Richard Dawkins, in which he talks about intelligent design and dishonesty, and makes it clear that being religious does not have to mean being ignorant.
I have no love for proponents of intelligent design. I have no illusions about the scientific community being made up of morally superior and infallible human beings, but at least there’s an underlying wish to understand and produce evidence for any claims that are made. The same cannot be said of the ID crowd who, more often than not, have no qualms about intentionally misquoting, mislabeling and dissembling in order to get their point of view across. The fact that these people are busily not only doing their very best to render American children ignorant but also trying to make themselves heard over here in Finland (though with rather pathetic results this far, I’m glad to say, what with this brand of blind fanaticism being considerably less popular and credible over here) is depressing and scary.
I’m not a big fan of religion in general. God’s out there? I don’t feel it, there’s no proof of it, I don’t believe in it. Sorry. And I have an active distaste for organized religion in particular — sure, I’m willing to accept the fact that some people believe that they’ve had profound religious experiences… I mean, what the hell, let’s say that you have; you can’t share it with me and you can’t prove it to me, but fine, I’ll take your word for it. If you feel it, you feel it. Some of my best friends and so forth — well, let’s not go there.
But once you take that personal experience and use it as a basis for rules others have to live by, that’s where things get nasty. That’s when we end up with a former Hitler Jugend motherfucker in Vatican personally contributing to the unpleasant and untimely death of thousands and thousands of people who get infected with HIV just because this perfectly non-superpowered, yet frighteningly influential old man insists on telling them that condoms are very, very bad. It’s a disgrace that a superstitious and stubbornly ignorant old man is in a position to do that, to spread that kind of malevolent bullshit, and that most of us still avert our eyes and refuse to take a stand against that even though it doesn’t exactly take an extensive education to know that AIDS is a lethal illness…
…but no, he’s the Pope. It’s just not proper to criticize His Holiness. We’ve even managed to get into a twisted mindset where saying out loud that the Vatican is full of shit with the whole condom thing — just to pick something obvious here — is easily construed as some kind of a sign of intolerance. We must accept their religious views, and if those religious views get a bunch of African unschooled black guys who don’t know any better get infected and eventually die after spreading the virus around to the best of their ability, well, them’s the breaks, but at least their sacred religious beliefs remain unviolated. Priorities, don’t you know. Okay, so the Vatican’s admitted to some mistakes before — y’know, that whole thing with the Earth actually revolving around the Sun and putting the man who put forth that idea under house arrest for the rest of his life, to pick another obvious example — but surely they’re right about this one, right? As if there was anything wrong with being intolerant of something that is so blatantly ignorant and harmful to so many people.
Of course, it’s certainly true that intelligent design isn’t getting people killed the way the Pope’s continued and vocal opposition of condoms is, but it’s contributing to the same mindset that allows such malevolent ignorance to flourish. Teaching children blatant lies without a shred of actual scientific evidence to support these claims is just plain wrong. Claiming that opposing the proliferation of such lies violates the right to religious freedom is disgustingly dishonest.
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