The numbers speak for themselves. People, en masse, are jettisoning dogma to the profit of a more rational approach to life, the planet and cosmology, and this exodus hasn’t gone unnoticed by apologists. To those with a vested interest in maintaining their scripturally inspired grip on certain segments of our societies it is an apocalypse. To the rest of us who inhabit the logical world it’s a much welcomed shift, albeit one that’s some ninety or so generations late.
To this perceived Armageddon there was always going to be an intransigent theological response, and over the last few years this has been delivered primarily in the form of the hilarious (although dangerously real) anti-science stances bull horned by evangelicals. Predictably, these acts of cognitive lunacy have backfired spectacularly on the larger public stage, although no one can deny that the well-deserved lambasting of fools like Ken Ham has only hardened the resolve of Christian fundamentalists in the more deeply superstitious pockets of the United States. Of late there has however come a second, seemingly more balanced response to this massive and increasingly fast-paced loss in religions respect, market share and influence. Paintbrush dabs of this new wave were seen late last year when Pope Benedict (through the Vatican’s communication chief, Monsignor Philip Whitmore) admitted the gospels were essentially fallacious and certain “details were added in later centuries.” A full brushstroke was spied when the craftily demented Pat Robertson fell on his scriptural sword and told his fellow moonstruck evangelicals to give up trying to prove dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark. “You go back in time,” he announced in a December 700 Club address, “[and] you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You’ve got the caucuses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas. They’re out there. So, don’t try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. If you fight science, you’re going to lose.” In his book, “10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe,” pastor Larry Osborne (North Coast Church, Vista, California) went even further in an attempt to dampen down religious fantasy. In this remarkably frank work Osborne boldly asserts that it is patently stupid for Christians to believe Faith can fix anything, Everything happens for a reason, God has a blueprint for my life, and the real blow the horns cracker of the top ten, Dead people go to a better place. It’s a startling admission for a ranking church officer and paid dispenser of religious bullshit. It won’t, however, stave off dogma’s steady retreat into obscurity… and Rev. Scott Lewis of the Jesuit-run Regis College at the University of Toronto not only knows it, he’s done something about it.
“Responding to 21st-Century Atheism,” a new 8-week course offered at Regis, is Lewis’s calculated response to what he calls “increasingly muscular secularism and atheism.” Tellingly, at the January 27th announcement Lewis was at pains to distance himself (and his still wet behind the ears student crusaders) from the anti-science absurdity that has made their fellow apologists the laughing stock of the world. “[The biblical book of Genesis] is not a science book and should not be read as one. We cannot continue thinking of god in traditional ways and still accept Darwinian science.” In case you missed it, here it is again, “We cannot continue thinking of god in traditional ways.” What this actually means I (a mere mortal) really can’t say and precisely how Lewis thinks he can shoehorn some new non-traditional Christian god into traditionally clueless Abrahamic dogma will be a trick worth waiting for… doubly so just to see how fundamentalist crazies react to these pesky new age Catholics messing around with their 6,000 year old G’awd.
The purpose of this course though is quite straightforward, and here Lewis inadvertently reveals that his outwardly looking liberal façade masks what is really nothing but another blinkered apologist looking out for No. 1. “What we will be focusing on is our response to individuals who have thrown down the gauntlet and say To believe in God is not to be believe in science, and to believe in science is not to believe in God… Atheists need to leave behind [the idea] that people who believe are stupid or naïve.” So says the man who’s only reference material includes such scientific gems like:
All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. (Leviticus 11:20)
All in all its quite clear the folk over at Regis College have no idea whatsoever as to why rational individuals are fleeing religion in droves. Lewis’s allusion to “muscular secularism” speaks volumes to that, and although I could bang out a 10,000 word essay to pulverize into this proselyting drill masters head what precisely its all about, I’ll instead simply leave it to my friend over at Random Thoughts, Noel Onyango Makagutu, to swing that explanatory club as only he can:
If theists stop their evangelism, then we atheists will have no need to show [them] that theism is based on myths, ghosts and underscored with a deficit of evidence.
Seriously, could anyone honestly sum it up better than that?