Monday, April 21, 2008

The Aliens and Richard Dawkins

So I went to see Expelled, Ben Stein's new movie the other night. It was actually very refreshing.

The plot revolves around Stein's frustration with the scientific institution over a lack of freedom in regards to teaching or publishing arguments based on intelligent design. I enjoyed the fact that this movie wasn't about the scientific evidence supporting ID or Creationism. Instead it mainly dealt with freedom; a plot that I believe ignites conversation rather than extinguishing it. A much needed piece in uniting the right and the left.

I was especially intrigued by the discussion Stein had with popular Atheists. I may be completely errant in stating this, but I found it odd that many of these men would go so far as to call religion "evil." On one hand it broke my heart that they might choose aliens as the seed-planters, the originators of the species, over God. What has to happen inside someone that they would choose the former over the latter? Is it really all science or is there an element of experience involved? Is it pride? Is something the church did? Is it a cultural paradigm shift? Is it a backlash to the many scars religion has left on the collective conscience of our world? Aliens over Jesus?

On the other hand I struggle to understand the Atheistic view of morality. I always have. I probably always will. I respected the views of one Columbia professor who made no bones about following a completely evolutionary existence to its final end. I believe his progression went something like this. There's no God. Therefore, there' no controlling ethic. Therefore, there's no meaning to life. Therefore, there's absolutely no free will. Honestly if there's no God I think I agree.

But I do believe in God, and I have to ask question, if you follow that progression how then can religion be evil? How can anything be evil, or good for that matter? I know that in a relativistic world, morality is chosen rather than bestowed. I get that. But how can you call religion evil? And for that matter, in view of World War II, how can one blame all wars in history on religion? And for that matter, isn't belief that aliens planted the seed that put us here today just as much faith as believing that God did it?

So yes this movie was thought provoking, and honestly I really appreciated Richard Dawkins speaking cooly and confidently about what he believes, deciding to engage in a discussion that he knew wasn't bent in his direction. I think we could learn a lot from Dawkin's actions; taking on the attitude that there is no reason to react with anger, like an animal backed in the corner, when things we believe are questioned. We should possess the same cool, believing confidence that he does, because after all we believe that God created life packed with meaning, significance, and beauty, and it was good.