Most people nowadays subscribe to the grand philosophy of ‘live and let live’, and western democracies allow for freedom of religious thought and expression. For decades now so called ‘liberal’ minded folks have ranted and raved (correctly in my view) against the stultifying influence of the ‘church’ in our country, accusing it of being a negative influence in the free exchange of ideas and the open debate of issues often conflicting with ‘church’ teaching. Now that this influence is well and truly on the wane some of these liberal voices are showing the same disdain for freedom of ideas that do not conform to their own. On subjects such as the origins of life on this planet there is one accepted ‘scientific’ orthodoxy and to demur is to invoke the wrath of the new ‘church’ on one’s head.
The latest outpouring of ‘liberal’ finger wagging comes from the militant atheist Oxford scholar , Professor Richard Dawkins who has published widely his contempt for all expressions of religious belief. John J May has written a book attacking the sacred text of evolution called ‘The Origins of Specious Nonsense’ in which he proposes the creation model as the explanation of how life came to this planet. According to newspaper reports Mr May invited Science Minister Conor Lenihan to launch his book, but withdrew the invitation after it embroiled the Minister in some controversy. Leading the posse against Lenihan is Professor Dawkins who made his feelings known through this statement, “ If Mr Lenihan is indeed a Creationist or an anti-evolutionist then he has no business being the Minister for Science.”
So the thought police whom we thought had almost disappeared raise their heads again, this time in the form of an Oxford academic. The issue here is no longer the rights and wrongs of creationism or evolution, but the freedom of an individual ,even a government Minister to believe either. Evolution may be the widely held explanation of life’s origins amongst scientists but it is not universal. A sizable minority of science experts would subscribe to Intelligent Design or Creation as alternative models to explain how it all began. If the Professor and his friends have their way an elite of academics will decide what the rest of us should or should not believe. Lord deliver us from the extremes of right wing reactionaries and the emphatic certitude of the left wing liberals. Both groups would have us conform to their slanted worldview and if we’re not careful the precious jewel of individual freedom gets swallowed up along the way !