Why is it that in all of the doomsday movies it's always a mad scientist who goes off the rails and cooks up plans to conquer the world? Rubbish. You don't read about a marine biologist who hears Darwin talking to her, telling her to murder her husband and eat her sister, do you? A scientist, if he or she hears voices, is likely to do the rational thing and seek medical attention, or take their meds, or talk themselves out it. They are trained in rationality, and know that when they hear voices that there is a rational explanation. What mad scientists have bombed subways, or mutilated or killed other scientists who held differing opinions about their fields of study? What scientists, mad or otherwise, have declared a fundamental truth about the world based on no evidence at all and then said "Furthermore, those who do not agree with my wholly fabricated version of the truth are lesser than those who do, and deserve to be dispossessed, or killed, or banned from my libraries and schools!"
Doesn't happen. Nope, it shouldn't be "mad scientists" in those movies, it should be mad priests.
The purveyors of religion create a context for irrationality. Once you come to believe that a made up man (and yes, he's always talked about as male) in the sky has control over your destiny, and that this made up man cares fervently what you do with your body, your brain, your money, and your life, what's to stop you from believing in everything, or anything?
This comes to mind this week as a "Christian" militant group - and think about that for a second - decided that the way to bring about transformational political change was to murder a cop and then ambush his funeral cortege. On their website, prominently, right there when you go to their site, is this: "Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive."
Find me a parallel in science and with scientists. Go ahead. I'll wait. (Tuneless whistling...) Right.
Jesus, the dude who 2000 years ago said some powerful stuff about the meek inheriting the earth, about taking the plank out of your own eye before judging the splinter in your neighbor's eye, about the peacemakers being blessed and "Sons of God..." - can't be down with this kinda thing. Murdering cops? You know why cops, of course - cops are evidently tools of the government plan for a new world order, which is part of a plan to usher in the anti-Christ. Right? It's laughable.
How DO you go from peacemakers being blessed to killing cops? Because theology, unlike science, is made up. Yes, Jesus lived, and yes, there are historical records of his life and some consensus on what he was about and what he said, but the reality is that the Bible is oral tradition, and oral tradition, as anyone who has ever had a Thanksgiving dinner with relatives knows, lends itself to mutability.
That's why only two Gospels talk about Jesus' birth. You'd think something that important would be worthy of note by all four of them, no? That's why there is a fourteen generation difference between Matthew and Luke when it comes to Jesus' geneology. That's why the nastier parts of the old testament - the parts in which men sleep with their daughters (straight people! Honestly...), in which women get stoned (and not that kind, sadly) for adultery, and have slaves - get ignored. So all those crazed people who talk about how gay folk are going to hell because its in the bible advocate for public stoning of adulterers, you know, to be consistent.
Right. That's the point - religion is internally inconsistent, and lacking a central doctrinal authority, which only the Catholics have and we all see how that's working out - you can make it believe whatever you want it to believe. Want to keep people of African descent as slaves? Feel free - they have the mark of Ham, and are therefore deserving of being enslaved. Want to start a militia for Christ? Go ahead - all the stuff about Jesus being a peacemaker can be thrown out the window if you want to believe in one verse, where he says, according to Matthew, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." There, you see? I should train in the woods, murder cops and try to overthrow the legitimately elected government. Jesus told me to.
Religion - with all of its various "interpretations," and agendae, and we-believe-this-part-of-the-"Divine Word of God"-but-not-THIS-part, and internal inconsistencies, can mean whatever the hell you want it to mean.
And I'll be publish a retraction the next time some millionaire scientist is caught caching weapons and diabolically planning to murder a cop to prevent the coming of the anti-Darwin.
Until then, I have to say that I'm sorry, Mr. Dolby, but I find it far more likley to be blinded by religion.