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Destroying Faith by Militant Science

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll
2016 6 Mar

Physicist Lawrence Krauss has a bee in his bonnet.

Krauss, a "militant atheist" and proud of it, complains that religion is getting too much respect these days. As he sees it, "we have elevated respect for religious sensibilities to an inappropriate level that makes society less free."

Given the raft of legal actions, fines, civil suits, and bankruptcies experienced by wedding service providers, private businesses, and religious organizations because of their religious beliefs over the last several years, one wonders in what century Krauss believes he's living. 

Oblivious to the irony, he brings up Kim Davis (the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her faith) to ask sympathizers, "To what extent should we allow people to break the law if their religious views are in conflict with it?" Should a "jihadist whose interpretation of the Koran [requires it] be allowed to behead infidels and apostates?"

A passing familiarity with the First Amendment and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act would serve him well, as neither allows anyone to "break the law." What they do allow is for a conscientious objector to have his day in court to determine whether the state has a "compelling interest" that justifies denying him a religious exemption. For the extreme example that Krauss poses, the "compelling interest" would clearly be the protection of the citizenry, which is the most fundamental function of government.

Notwithstanding, Krauss goes on from there to display an abysmal understanding of religion and those who practice it. He accuses individuals (like Davis) and corporations (like Hobby Lobby) of seeking exemptions from laws that "do not focus on religion" but on "social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage." As I recall, the Bible has a lot to say about "social issues" like the nature of marriage, defense of the defenseless, and welcoming little ones in His name.

Liberating the Ignorant

Krauss then asserts that government has a compelling interest "in insuring that all citizens are treated equally." Well, whatever compelling interest the state may have in a given case, it can burden religious objectors only if doing so is the "least restrictive" means of pursuing that interest. In the case of Hobby Lobby, the High Court ruled that the government had no compelling interest to deny a religious exemption to a private corporation, having previously granted broad exemptions to nonprofit religious organizations.

But what really has the physicist's bee a-buzzing are pro-lifers whose religious objections are threatening the operations of Planned Parenthood. To Krauss's thinking, people who protest the harvesting and marketing of aborted babies' tissue are "anti-science" because those practices "could help save lives."  It's a bit like calling those who opposed the harvesting and marketing of tissue "procured" by Josef Mengele as "anti-science."

Anyway, religion is getting too much respect, and something's got to be done about it, so Krauss is calling on his fellow scientists to be militant in liberating "humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance." As to who really needs to be unshackled, Krauss might want to take a long look in the mirror. Read more here.