Quotable misleading op-ed piece

Damn. With a headline like Tim Tebow Will be Responsible For the End of the World, I had theories about what direction the article would go. Alas, trickery!

I’ve been thinking about Tim Tebow a lot ever since Jesus Christ blessed Tom Brady with a 45-10 pounding of Tebow and his Broncos in the playoffs, in what I am convinced was God’s way of confirming He’s sick of the attention the evangelical quarterback is giving Him. Not long after Jesus blessed Tebow with an abysmal quarterback rating of 52.7 against the Patriots, I read an interesting perspective in the Washington Post. Columnist Charles Krauthammer ruminated on the question, ” Are We Alone in the Universe? “

Don’t they call that a “bait and switch” tactic? I come into the article expecting what the headline promises and get delivered something completely different. Then again, I’m not complaining. Not by a long shot. This is a better topic than Tim Tebow. I don’t even like hockey…

I’ll write more about it once I’m finished listening to the audio edition of Penn Jillette’s new book God, No! but one of the first things he said in it winds up slightly relevant. He suggested that three of the most important sentences an atheist has in his arsenal are these three: “I don’t know.” He explained that believers come across as incredibly arrogant people when they claim they know God’s mind or plan or purpose. Tebow believing that God and Jesus care about his football prowess.. really? His team has to care. His coach has to care. His fans probably care. But a god? I don’t know about that.

There’s a lot we don’t know. Scientists come up with theories and Krauthammer goes through a few of them in the article Mexico quotes. The topic of extra-terrestrial life is fascinating. Ignore everyone who insists they get abducted on a regular basis or claim to have photographic proof of a close encounter, “we” – as in astronomers etc. – are finding planets that could be viable yet there’s been nothing in the way of radio waves detected or any other signs that could be translated as “Hello out there!” Or worse, but just as exciting: “We’re coming to get you! See you in 50,000 years!” Both articles mention Carl Sagan’s thought that any civilization advanced enough to be detected might already be extinct, doomed by their own intelligence and technology.

One way to stop that from happening on earth: figure out how to get so many diverse cultures on one planet to behave and keep the peace. Mexico points to the way to start.

So long as religion is taken seriously, we can all agree, that global armistice will simply never happen. In a world rapidly advancing the ease with which we can render ourselves extinct, religious extremists will happily do it.

Quickly. Because it really only takes one. The only prayer homo sapiens have to stop the religious nuts–of all faiths–is by cutting them off at the knees. Ending religion on Earth.

I know, I know. Good luck with that. People hug their religions to their bodies like security blankets, or treat faith and beliefs as if they are as important to survival as livers, kidneys, and lungs. They can’t be made to divorce their religions, and banning the practice merely leads to underground attempts to retain them, with martyrdom extended to those who die for them. Being rid of religion. It’s a nice thought, but is it doable?

I don’t think belief in gods is the problem. The problem is behaviour. It’s one thing when you want to claim that god belief leads you to charities and doing the right thing. The trouble is, that same belief can be stretched to allow all manner of bad behaviour to be justifiable, too. Restricting the rights of women or gays, abusing children, killing anyone suspected of witchcraft, torturing anyone suspected of adultery. Religion leaves room for all of that. Plenty of room. Krauthammer points to politics:

There could be no greater irony: For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics (and its most exacting subspecialty — statecraft). Because if we don’t get politics right, everything else risks extinction.

We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics — in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations — is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it.

This is why it’s vital to push for politics and politicians to be secular. We need politics to be secular. Politicians have to speak for everyone, not just those who think and believe like they do. They have to have the future of everyone in mind. They have to be open to facts and reality. They have to have understanding of issues, not just positions to play on TV when their voters might be watching. If they’re against abortion, it needs to be for reasons other than “The bible says it’s wrong, therefore it’s wrong.” That’s not a reason, it’s a cop-out.

No religion would go part of the way towards fixing some of the problems with the world, that can at least be said with honesty. Not all of them, but it would be a start. Which reminds me, CFI Kamloops is hosting their second Imagine No Religion conference in May. A few of my Freethinker friends are going to that. They went last year, too, and had a good time. I know I should sign up for something like that at some point. I know it would be interesting and I can afford to go, but .. well, if excuses were mooses, dragons would fly… or whatever. They’ll come back with a report of what went on at least. I’ll live vicariously through the adventures of others.

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