Friday, January 20, 2017

Secular twilight?

As we all know, and history attests, the main purpose of politicised religion is to control people in the here and now (as opposed to in some imaginary after-life). Obviously there's nothing like convincing a mob that the all-powerful creator of the universe is on your side (usually based on nothing more than the fact that you have the fanciest hat in the village) and that trouble-makers better do what you say or else! Most systems are based on the most successful of mythology meme's (unsuccessful ones die out) They are intricately wired into human psychology and honed by hundreds of years of evolutionary selection forces. These meme's are extremely efficient at hooking the gullible, enabling intellectuals to rationalize the irrational and keeping the elites where they belong, i.e. telling you what to think and do at the end of a blade, barrel or ballot box while trousering all the cash. 

Often political religion is grounded in actual religion, however it often seems the case that regimes simply lacking in moral authority turn to religion to prop themselves up. Even in those regimes that were notionally atheistic (like Stalin's communist Russia) we still find all the same meme characteristics that religion thrives on, for example, tribalism, idol worship, mythology and with Lysenko's frost resistant vegetables, dogma that suppresses science. Religion has seldom been a force for good when thrust into the public square, it seems to work much better in the private sphere. if you think about it, it's a trivial matter to name historical theocratic regimes that have caused evil but much harder to pinpoint those that have advanced the causes and well-being of all mankind.

In America today we see a resurgence of religion in the public square. It's not a loud or overt campaign, even though it is lead by a loud-mouth Napoleon (on Twitter at least) But it's quiet, covert and (I fear) designed to subvert the protections that the founding fathers of that secular democracy put in place over 240 years ago. In Trump's new Cabinet we have all the ingredients. For example vice-president Mike "Snowball" Pence just biding his time, waiting for the dear leader to slip-up. Then we have our "Squealer 1" in Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and creationist, spreading lies and dogma designed to usurp good science and our "Squealer 2" in Betsy DeVos who says she is committed to "advancing God's kingdom" by putting "God" back into American schools (thereby breaking the First Amendment) No doubt DeVos will be keen to introduce those same lies regarding evolution that Carson regurgitates into the Biology curriculum? We have the "attack-dogs" of "fire-hose" Flynn and NRA supporter Perry; good'ol boys, not too clever but good in a scrap, examples of the wild-west "kick-ass" tradition, shoot first ask questions later. Time will tell whether Pompeo turns out to be the "cat" of the group or Purdue possibly "Boxer". Pruitt and Sessions will jockey to be "Moses" both dabble in dogma over science.

Depressingly these analogies to Animal Farm could go on and on; not that I think Trump is another Stalin-like figure but because, I fear his regime will be more "meme" than reality and that the people he's bringing in have a religious agenda that will dangerously diminish one of the few properly secular systems remaining on our planet. It feels like the world is stuck in reverse, and when you're driving backwards at speed, it's difficult to see what's coming, is that the safety barrier or a ravine?

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