I read Babu G. Ranganathan’s article in Pravda entitled Understanding Intelligent Design with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s nice to see free speech and a free press continue to develop in Russia. I greatly admire Pravda for having led the way. Everyone has a right to express opinions, even religious zealots and throw backs to the middle ages. Everyone has the right to be completely wrong again and again, even those who desperately cling to silly old ideas that comfort them and justify bigotry and sexism. I think even neo-fascists have the right to voice their loathsome ideology. But on the other hand, some ideas are downright dangerous and if they catch on, the world will be a much darker place. Intelligent design, which has been rightly ridiculed as “creationism in a tuxedo”, is, in my opinion, just that sort of ilk. Of course, the answer is that even the worst ideas should get a full hearing. Truth will out, as the British like to say, and I applaud Pravda for having the courage and wisdom to print everyone’s ideas.
Although Ragnanathan’s article is about five pages long and sounds very scientific in places, it doesn’t contain much more than the same tired argument over and over again. Basically, he argues that even a single cell is so complex that it couldn’t possibly have happened all at once, all by itself. Such complexity obviously requires a creator. Well, of course that silly argument shouldn’t fool even a five year old because it doesn’t solve the problem. If a single cell is so complex that it needs a creator, then god, who not only thought up the idea of a cell, but allegedly listens to every prayer and every thought of every one of the six billion people on the planet, who keeps track of every hair on all our heads, every sparrow, and every bit of matter in the universe, must be infinitely MORE complex than a single cell! So where did god come from? Far from solving the problem, Ragnanathan’s “god “solution has made it much worse!! If Ragnanathan’s logic can’t imagine even a single cell popping in out of nowhere, how in the name of all wonder can it even entertain for a split second the possibility of god? That’s it for Ragnanathan. Eight ball in the side pocket!
A brief look at history will show that one of the very worst ideas humanity ever came up with was monotheism, the idea of one god. If there is only one god, then it follows that there is only one right way to live. Anyone who lives differently is against god and an enemy, fit for the slaughter. Back in the old days, when we were all pagans and had many gods, holy wars were unheard of and totally unthinkable. The followers of Zeus didn’t rise up and hack the followers of Apollo to pieces. Back then, people believed in many gods, and frankly, if a particular deity couldn’t take care of himself or herself, they were seen as not particularly potent and therefore, not very useful. Then, somewhere about 6,000 years ago, a tribe of wandering Hebrews got the idea that they were special. And all hell broke lose.
I think if more people read the bible, especially the Old Testament, there would be a lot more atheists in the world. The Hebrew god has to be one of the darkest characters ever to fall out of the human imagination. One of the first things the Hebrews, under the leadership of Joshua, did when they came out of the desert into the promised land, was exterminate without mercy, every man, woman and child living there! They even slaughtered the farm animals! God told the Hebrews it was ok because they were his chosen people and those other poor slobs weren’t. I am sad to say that monotheism hasn’t changed much in six thousand years. I’m not going to spend anymore time rehashing the millennia of atrocities inflicted on humanity by monotheistic theologies. There is already much written on that subject and such material is readily available to anyone who wants to explore the depths of depravity to which the human spirit has sunk in the name of god. Here, I think the interesting question is what a reemergence of the god delusion could mean for Russia.
Russia has already suffered enough. While it is wonderful to see Russia rediscovering her culture after eighty years on the communist road to nowhere, one of the few good things that the Bolsheviks did was to get rid of the priests. And now, like a pestilence, they’re coming back again. Is that really what Russia needs? Doesn’t everyone remember that for over a thousand years, the church was one of the sturdiest pillars of Tsarism? The church kept the peasants quiet while the aristocrats reduced them to the status of wild animals. Modern Russians need only look at the result of resurgent religious ideology in the United States and the Middle East to see what the likely result would be if such nonsense caught hold in Russia. Yes, of course, religion provides some benefits to society. Almost nothing is completely bad. Even Hitler gave the world the Volkswagen! But monotheistic religions have an even worse track record than fascism. In the Middle East, such thinking makes a nuclear exchange in the area more likely every day.
Let the rest of the world go crazy. Russia will be in a position to benefit from it, if only she keeps her head about her and remains on the path of rational thinking. There is no such thing as magic. Advancement comes from hard work. Intelligent design is a lazy and fruitless alternative to the hard work of real science. If Russia is ever again threatened by a foreign power, it will be the science behind her nuclear arsenal that will protect her, not the mumbling incantations of silly old men in long black robes.
Dominick L. Auci, Ph.D.