Saturday, October 30, 2010

Victor Stenger: Why Religion Should Be Confronted

Victor Stenger, The Huffington Post, Oct 28, 2010

Based on opening remarks presented in the debate “Science and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation” on October 7, 2010, at The 30th Anniversary Conference of Free Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism,” Los Angeles.

Belief in ancient myths joins with other negative forces in our society to keep most of the world from advancing scientifically, economically, and socially at a time when a rapid advancement in these areas is absolutely essential for the survival of humanity. We are now probably only about a generation or two away from the catastrophic problems that are anticipated from global warming, pollution, and overpopulation. We can expect flooded coastal areas, severe climatic changes, epidemics caused by overcrowding, and starvation for much of humanity. Such disasters are predicted to generate worldwide conflict on a scale that could exceed that of the great twentieth-century wars, possibly with nuclear weapons in the hands of unstable nations and terrorist groups.

This is a time, if there ever was one, when science is needed to lead the way. It won’t do so by sitting back and letting irrationality rule the day. And make no mistake about it; the irrationality we see on today’s political scene, as exemplified by the Tea Party, is fueled by the irrationality of religion.

It’s time for secularists to stop sucking up to Christians — and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and any others who claim they have some sacred right to decide what kind of society the rest of us must live in–what a human being can do with her own body. The good news is that young people are joining the rising atheist movement in increasing numbers. I have not met one yet who is an accommodationist. I have great hope that in perhaps another generation America will have joined Europe and the rest of the developed world in shucking off the rusty chains of ancient superstition.

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