22nd century apologetics

I’ve been reading articles that express concern about the rather loony fundamentalism of Sarah Palin, the Republican VP candidate. (For example, Matt Taibi, Sam Harris.) American conservatism is seriously dangerous for the planet, both environmentally, and because some conservatives are crazy enough to start a nuclear war to fulfill their apocalyptic fantasies. (Mind you, the thought of someone like Sam Harris with access to nuclear weapons is also scary.)

Anyway, if (not a small if) civilization manages to survive into the early 22nd century, we can be certain that the fundamentalists will still be around. And their intellectuals (all three of them) will be arguing that since it was so unlikely that civilization would survive the environmental and nuclear threats of the 21st century, it must have been the Hand of God who guided us through and helped us survive.

If, on the other hand, we blow ourselves up or poison ourselves or bring on catastrophic climate change, we can still be certain that there will be fundamentalists alive alongside the cockroaches. And we can also be certain that they will be arguing that the disaster of the 21st century was brought on by liberals and secularists and godless scientists—anyone skeptical of the blend of Jesus and the Free Market they will still be worshiping.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04236546539369223783 Dave

    sure enough, hypocritical morons (eg cretinists) can always find someting to support their positions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11311185717138876809 urbster1

    How is the thought of Sam Harris with nuclear weapons supposed to be scary, exactly? Is this just a veiled jab at Sam Harris for being an “extremist” atheist?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    Urbster1: “How is the thought of Sam Harris with nuclear weapons supposed to be scary, exactly?”

    Because Harris, in The End of Faith, explicitly contemplates using nuclear weapons against Muslims. He does this in the context of an overall position that is ignorant at best, and I think is better described as irresponsible and hotheaded.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06514373829674181118 Barba Rija

    Nice blog of yours. Just wanted to comment on the post.

    The diatribe you wrote is a truism. For any fanatic, either a religious one or an ideological one, all the problems mankind faces are due to the lack of mankind’s submission to said religion or ideology. And all the greats it encounters are due to the tiny bits of mankind that do obey to said religion or ideology, albeit the great masses of heretics and sinners that keep trying to drown the world even further.

    All we have to do is to keep calling a spade a spade, and teach about secularism, scientific method, critical thinking, skepticism, etc.

    I am optimist. But I also don’t see fanaticism dying the next century.

    Thanks

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16241851773339800938 Charlie

    Palin is clearly an irrational extremist.

    And after reading several of his articles, I can’t help but conclude that Harris rivals her in these qualities — minus belief in a deity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16241851773339800938 Charlie

    All we have to do is to keep calling a spade a spade, and teach about secularism, scientific method, critical thinking, skepticism, etc.

    With all due respect, this is naive. Some of the most skeptical people I’ve met are theists. There are also thousands upon thousands of religious theists who think critically and logically, many of whom are formally trained in logic, and many also are practicing scientists. By no means am I suggesting that this implies theism is true. However, it instantly refutes the notion that theists are inherently irrational right wing loonies who will be doing apologetics of the sort Edis likes to imagine in his entry.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15712687960643444659 Julio Carrancho

    I think that to be a theist [or “Deist”, which could be the same thing] is to believe in a personal God, which then leaves us with this rhetorical [or intellectual] question:
    Wasn’t there a time, then, when the “original [moral] problem” was rather small, when that God could have sorted it out without much ado?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16241851773339800938 Charlie

    Actually, questions like that are called “unclear”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11815695119406091177 Interested

    I’d like to think that logic and rational thought will win out in the end but I agree that the fundies will always be with us.

    Nice post. Thanks


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