Some people don’t want to learn. Just let that fact detonate in your brain for a second, and perhaps what I’m about to say next will make more sense. I’m done debating Jesus freaks.
There’s only so many hours in the day, days in the week, months in the year. So in the face of this fact, my time spent trying to reason with people who don’t value reason is over. I have Alex Botten to thank for this decisive move. Today he decided not to be involved in the Fundamentally Flawed podcast anymore, after years of putting more effort into talking with Christian extremists than any of us.
The podcast will continue. We’re going to shift the focus onto science news and current affairs. There will, occasionally, be a religion related story in the topic of conversation, and occasionally perhaps the odd religious guest. But the old format of the podcast is done and dusted — leaving behind what is, I believe, a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate between people who respect scientific evidence, and people who do not.
So what have we learned over the past year of podcasting? The main thing which sticks out for me, is that religious extremists are in no way shape or form related to the religion they claim to identify with. Creationists are about as welcome among the vast majority of Christians as suicide bombers are among the majority of Muslims.
Secondly, there’s only so many times you can state this fact, only to have someone come along who believes you are attacking them simply for saying it, before their methods and tactics in attempting to discredit you for stating the obvious, really starts to mess with your head. Allow me to elaborate:
The image opposite is the Hubble Space Telescope. It looks back in time. What it finds, when it looks, perfectly matches what it was predicted it would see. It was put into orbit around our planet by a manned, rocket powered shuttle-truck. It has instruments on-board which wouldn’t work if Albert Einstein hadn’t proved Isaac Newton was wrong. It is a monument to the power of mathematics, engineering, human creativity and the scientific method. It proves, along with many other measuring devices like it, beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever, that the universe is 14.6 billion years old.
The bible says that we were cursed by Yahweh to speak in different tongues to one-another, for being so bold as to construct a tower of stone into heaven. You’d have thought, then, He would also take a pretty dim view of trying to take high resolution photographs of it, to say nothing of sending Voyager 1 and 2 beyond the edges of the solar-system. So far, however, rather than dividing us down ethnic lines, Hubble has merely served to remind those of us curious enough to pay attention, that we live in a universe far more mysterious in origin than any religious artefact could pretend to know.
There are, in the 21st century, more and more people who, far from being uncomfortable with this fact, embrace it. Their gratitude is due in large part to the work of Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Adams, Steven Pinker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Steven Weinberg, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Roger Penrose, and countless other men and women who may not be household names, but whose work on the biggest and most difficult problems never stoops so low as to require our blind obedience.
Their work stands on the shoulders of giants such as Bertrand Russell, Karl Popper, Richard Feynman, Alan Turing, Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, Ernest Rutherford, and those unsung heroes of Quantum Theory and Particle Physics, which make possible everything from the device you are using to read these very words, to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, which is unlocking the mysteries of how our universe came to be, while opening the door to more and more unanswered questions.
Then there is Charles Darwin. Building on his work, we now know in almost unfathomable detail just how intimately connected to all life on Earth that there has ever been, and ever will be, we apes truly are.
Living in a world where the staggering beauty of this means nothing to some people is an uncomfortable fact of life. But it is their loss, not ours. And in the course of writing this blog, conducting the podcast, and posting countless blog comments and forum threads, over the past 10 or so years, I’ve come to realise that their hatred for the truth of this reality, as it is revealed by our still fledgling methods of intellectual enquiry, says more about how low their days are numbered than anything any one of us could write if we spent every waking moment blogging, posting, replying, tweeting and conversing with them, over their simple unwillingness to admit they are wrong and we can prove it.
So, like the podcast this blog will continue. But in future any comments from Christian extremists will be removed — especially the ones bleating and crying about ‘typical atheists’. I will particularly enjoy adding these to the spam list — because that’s all it is; spam with banana surprise. What’s the surprise? God did it.
I have never censored comments to this blog before and only one user is currently on the ban list. You either know who he is, and why he is banned, or you need to read previous entries to find out. Either way, any future mention of him, his kind, his insidious breed, or his hate-fuelled anti-politics, will not be replied to by me. Other user’s are free to engage with one another on archived posts, but as of today I will only be replying to current and future posts — none of which will be on the topic of religious fundamentalism, or the tax-dodging, lying shit-kickers who use it to brainwashed their progeny.
Stay awake! Stay free! Stay tuned!