Some of the replies to my previous post have predictably remarked on the casual violence therein. Truthfully, I am a little uncomfortable with it --- but only a little, since I see it as an illustrative thought experiment, not an incitement to actual violent action. I don't actually advocate using a baseball bat on Intelligent Design advocates, any more than Schrödinger advocated giving radiation poisoning to cats.
Nevertheless, I do take the point that the seductiveness of violent rhetoric is a dangerous thing to fall into. Therefore, I will apologize for my previous post if Intelligent Design advocates agree to disavow the text containing the following passages:
Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the first born of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as has never or will ever be again.
Moses became angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. Moses said to them: "Have you allowed all the women to live? These women here, on Balaam's advice, made the Israelites act treacherously against the LORD in the affair of Peor, so that the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves."
Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given authority like the authority of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.
Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, "Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God's wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.
The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire; they were scorched by the fierce heat, but they cursed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.
The fifth angel poured his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness; people gnawed their tongues in agony, and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and they did not repent of their deeds.
Any Christian who doesn't disavow the above has no grounds for criticizing the violence in my previous post. These passages aren't from some random blog; they're from the central text of a religion. The crazy thing is that, unlike my completely hypothetical thought experiment, Christians seriously believe that God did (or will do) these things, and that he's righteous in doing so (everything God does is axiomatically righteous).
By my estimate, I have a huge amount of headroom here. Unless I start wishing that Intelligent Design advocates choke for a thousand years on the putrid rot of their own entrails while watching their children being raped by goats, I'm still way undershooting the cruelty that's glorified by the Bible.
But this is just the same old story: there's a double standard for secular and religious folk. When a secularist, even in jest, even in a moment of frustration, invokes hypothetical slapstick violence to illustrate a point, it's evidence that we're evil. Yet when the central holy text of a religion advocates deadly serious, brutal violence on a massive scale, that's somehow OK. Similarly, evolution has mountains of evidence behind it, but should be dismissed because there are still some open questions. Yet Intelligent Design, which completely lacks evidence --- or even anything resembling a testable hypothesis for which evidence could be adduced --- should be taken seriously. What can one call this, but intellectual dishonesty on a massive scale?