Hostility to Reason

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

By Eric Jayne

(editor’s note:

This article first appeared in the June 17th edition of the Star Tribune. It is a response to Katherine Kersten’s article “Hostility to Religion Bodes Ill for Society,” which appeared in the June 7th Star Tribune. The premise of Kersten’s article was that religion, Christianity in particular, is necessary to keep scientific progress in check. She argued that without Judeo-Christian beliefs, society would be morally corrupt and incapable of compassion. )

I am convinced that there is absolutely no value to the muddled ramblings of Katherine Kersten. In her recent column, “Hostility to religion bodes ill for society,” she shamelessly blames secular freethought and atheism for infanticide, the Holocaust and general draconian attitudes toward social welfare while crediting Christianity for human compassion. In making her assertion she conveniently ignores the numerous Bible passages where the bloodthirsty Judeo-Christian God condones war and ethnic cleansing. In Numbers 31: 17-18, for example, God actively calls for the killing of male children and the raping of female children. That’s one of the many Bible passages Kersten is forced to gloss over when she touts that Judeo-Christianity teaches us “universal standards of right and wrong.” Also, since she had brought up Hitler, I would like to point out to Kersten, and her atheist-bashing ilk, that the SS belt buckles Nazi soldiers wore during the Holocaust bared the motto: “Gott mit uns” (God is with us).

Kersten ends her article by suggesting that Social Darwinism is a legitimate science that promotes the notion of the survival of the fittest. Therefore, Kersten argues, scientific progress needs to be constrained by religion so that the poor and vulnerable citizens of society are protected. Her position might have merit if Social Darwinism were an actual science, but it’s nothing more than pseudo-science just like astrology and intelligent design. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is a biological science that was never intended to be co-opted by the social sciences. In fact, Charles Darwin wrote that human beings could not “check our sympathy even at the urging of hard reason without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.” If Kersten simply understood legitimate science she probably wouldn’t be so afraid of it, and she might even tone down her spiteful and erroneous anti-secular rhetoric.

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