Monday, August 1, 2011

The Religion Called "Naturalism"

My Dear Wormbottom,

Before things begin to escalate and I am surrounded by throngs of adoring reporters, I must explain to you our latest lawsuit. I think the best way to begin is to quote what the press has already reported:

• When two steel girders were found intact, in the shape of a cross, in the middle of the wreckage of the World Trade Center after 9/11, it was hailed by many as a mini “miracle” and a sign of hope for a country beleaguered by a devastating terrorist attack.

• Now, however, an atheist group has filed a lawsuit that seeks to tear down that cross, which was moved recently to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City…“What we’re looking for is a remedy that honours everyone equally, with a religion-neutral display, or display of equal size and prominence.” According to the lawsuit, American Atheists’ members “…are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not their own imposed upon them through the power of the state.”

I know it sounds ridiculous to charge that we “are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not [our] own imposed upon [us] through the power of the state.” And I know that it makes us seem like helpless victims, even though we are the ones who are actually at the helm of the ship. But this is what’s working today! It’s the victimhood strategy, and we have successfully cast ourselves in that role, even though we are anything but victims.

Just think of our victories—how we have already succeeded in marginalizing God in favor of our own religion of “naturalism!” Because of our efforts, we have been able to toss any discussion of God and supernatural causation out of the science classroom. That’s right—we have succeeded at convincing the ignorant public that supernaturalism is a religion, while atheism and naturalism are not.

I can’t help but laugh. Naturalism is no more scientifically provable than supernaturalism. But through our diligence, and of course our unparalleled propaganda machine, naturalism has been accepted as 100 % solid, bedrock science in the minds of 99% of the public. It doesn’t seem to matter that there isn’t a solitary stitch of evidence that the physical laws of nature are indeed natural rather than having been designed and emanating from the mind of God! The public has been gloriously bamboozled and we, my friend, are on a glorious roll!

Once this current “crusade” has succeeded in proving that religious symbols are all unconstitutional, then we can expand our horizons and proceed to remove any and all names with religious connotations from institutions. For example, I believe the day is just around the corner when there will no longer be any “Methodist” or “Presbyterian” hospitals. Likewise, the time is soon coming when there will no longer be any medical centers named Mt. Sinai or Beth Israel.

Just how will we do this?

Well, when it comes to removing any religiously-affiliated names, we will simply argue once again that by entering such a hospital we “are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not [our] own imposed upon [us] through the power of the state.” You have to admit that this argument will work supremely well in this context. Hospitals are about healing, and how can we partake of optimal healing when we are constantly reminded that this is a “Methodist” hospital? Through this strategy, we will erase from public consciousness any appreciation for the fact that religious institutions have made vast contributions to the fields of health and medicine. Don’t forget that we have already been able to obliterate from public consciousness the undeniable truth that our most prestigious bastions of higher education—like Harvard, Princeton and Yale, just to name a few—all had their starts as loathsome, contemptuous Bible schools. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner we can forget that, the better!

Can you see where we are headed with all of this? We have already been able to convince many that it has been because of atheism and our brand of secularism that we are now a progressive, tolerant and freedom-loving society. Along with this, we have been able—through a barrage of constant repetition—to bring about an association in the minds of the public between two entities that in the past would never have been mentioned in the same breath. And just what might these two entities be, you ask? Why, it’s none other than Christian Fundamentalism with Islamic Jihadist Fundamentalism. That’s right. I’m sure you’ve sensed it as you’ve watched TV and listened to the news. The fundamentalist “connection” that we have tried to make between the two began very subtly but now has moved into the realm that some might call over-the-top. But, no matter…the plan has worked. As a consequence, now, whenever the public thinks of Christian Fundamentalists, they also think of Jihadists. Ah, how sweet it is!

But of course, we can’t let any of these victories totally go to our head. Not just yet, anyway. We must remember that the opposition can use the same arguments. They can also claim that they “are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not their own imposed upon them through the power of the state.” There are so many examples of this. They could justifiably claim that required attendance at school pep-rallies marginalizes them, or that the school play diminishes them because they weren’t selected, or that the textbooks fail to give adequate recognition to their particular ethnic group. However, we have succeeded in keeping attention focused on our grievances. And, perhaps even more important, we have managed to keep the public’s attention away from the real issue—that any policy or institution is going to favor one set of values or people at the expense of others. For the most part, the public is not even entertaining this thought. Once they catch on, we’ll have to find a new strategy. But until then, we will push this part of our agenda as far as ignorance allows us. Lucky for us, there’s a lot of ignorance out there!

Now, please allow me to go back and try to explain the first part of our charge: “What we’re looking for is a remedy that honours everyone equally, with a religion-neutral display…” Of course, we know that “religion-neutrality” is impossibility, and that all displays, rulings and proclamations reflect some sort of a values orientation. Certainly, you and I are both well aware of the correctness of that assertion. There is no values-neutrality in anything that we, the media, or the universities do. However, we have succeeded admirably in promoting this deception for our own advantage. You see, we can promote our own values till the cows come home, but nobody charges us with violating the separation between church and state. Yet whenever the church raises a counter-issue, we invariably invoke the “separation clause!” Who cares if it’s blatantly hypocritical on our part—it’s working!

Let me give you some wonderful examples. We have been able to influence students towards sexual permissiveness for years. I won’t bore you with all of our strategies, but let me mention just one: values-clarification exercises. We designed these to demonstrate to students that there is no right answer. Of course, we haven’t explicitly said this, but the message is implicit nonetheless. However, when the religious simpletons start screaming that there are indeed right moral answers, we counter—once again, with phenomenal success—that they are just imposing their religion on the educational process. There’s a marvelous double-standard at work here… our stance that there are no objective values is just as religious as theirs. We say “no,” and they say “yes.” But you see, with this impressive string of victories we are amassing, their side has been virtually silenced, while we have been able to go our merry way, unscathed for the most part.

This strategy has worked in so many areas that I am breathless with excitement to share them with you. But let me end with just this one. We have succeeded in removing the school sanction for a Christian group at Hastings Law School. We argued that their religious requirement for membership and for holding office in the group violated the school’s non-discrimination policy. What the courts conveniently overlooked, for us at least, was the fact that all groups discriminate. The student Women’s Breast Cancer Support Group discriminates in favor of women. The Democratic Society discriminates in favor of democrats. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point.

I can’t wait to hear from you about more of our luscious victories, the triumph of cunning over truth. I’m sure that you are rejoicing along with me as we continue to build a better world.

(With help from my friend, Van Misheff!)

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