Over the last several years I have had numerous occasions to debate topics of religion and ethics with self-defined atheists. For the most part, my counterparts in these public discussions have been refreshingly rational. They describe how they have come to the intellectual conclusion that God probably does not exist. They are not angry. They are not mean. And like all good truth-seekers, they listen.
But I fear such constructive dialogue is in danger of extinction. Its killers are the promoters of a pseudo-civil rights movement now brewing in our country. The anti-God movement involves vacuuming the world of the outrageous idea — yes, that slavish, medieval, intolerant, moralistic and paternalistic concept — that there may be more to reality than what science can explain.
The movement is not agnosticism. Nor is it traditional atheism. It has the feel of a nerdy Woodstock gathering — a motley crew of social progressives who bind together on the Internet in defense of their own version of dogma. Their creed is two-pronged: 1) all of reality, including every aspect of the human person, is reducible to natural, evolutionary explanations 2) people who disagree with this core belief are a threat to human progress and must be silenced.
Unlike the laid-back hippies of the 70s, the groupies of this new movement are determined to ridicule anyone who thinks differently than they do. They substitute rational discourse with personal attacks. They love straw man arguments.
Last week, for example, I joined Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation for a nationally televised discussion about Nicole Kidman's new film, “The Golden Compass,” to be released in December. It is a cinematic production of the first book of a trilogy for children written by one of England's most well-known atheist authors, Phillip Pullman. Ms. Gaylor immediately focused her attention on sidebar issues, including the intrinsic evil of the Catholic Church, clergy paedophilia and the scourge of religion in general on society.
Click here to see what could have been a constructive debate about Pullman's agenda to sell atheism to kids under the guise of fantasy literature.
The heroes of this movement are not real atheists because science is their God. They place blind faith in its ability to resolve every one of mankind's quandaries. When confronted with realities that seem to fall outside of science's grasp — like how to explain free will or how and when matter got here in the first place — ironically, the leaders of this movement become very unscientific. They claim these questions are non-questions because they can't be answered by the only valid source of truth — Science with a capital “S.”
In the coming months, we will dedicate a considerable amount of space in this column to unmasking this new pseudo-civil rights movement and analyzing the effect it is having on American culture.
God bless, Father Jonathan
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