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Letters to the Editor - When the State coalesces with Religion

By André R. Gignac
Posted Aug 9, 2012 in
Shortly after the discovery of amino-acids in the dust particles of a comet, the Journal of Spaced Writers published a series of articles on the far-reaching implications of this scientific breakthrough.
Soon enough the Journal received letters galore, of which a lengthy one was put aside for publication. In it, the author applauded science, and then not for the first time launched into a scathing denunciation of organized religion.
This, of course, was now a problem.
The editor knew the risks associated with publishing such an article. There had been already a lot of talk in Canadian editorial circles about the Conservative government’s intention to create some sort of office of religious freedoms, purportedly to defend religion and religious minorities around the world – and, it was presumed, in Canada as well. But defending them against what, exactly?
The idea that the Canadian State would in that manner coalesce with religion was discomforting to a great number of authors and publishers, who signed on a national campaign to call the public’s attention to “crimes of blasphemy”, for which people in some countries end up in prison – or dead – when their writings are considered an insult to religion or to God. The fact was, whatever the intentions of the Conservatives on the subject, authors and publishers in this country simply could not ignore that since its election, this government had lost no time in muzzling Canadian scientists and cutting funds to about anyone else who happened to disagree with official policy, and that its reaction to dissent often had an unpleasant authoritarian flavour.
The Journal’s editor wavered, colleagues vacillated, but it was ultimately decided that the letter should be published. After all, the editor later explained, it was not becoming of a newspaper to stifle its own readers’ right to free expression, even when they poke fun at rituals, religions, or at the light despots of our times.
As expected, the letter drew a large number of replies, some in support, others written by believers chafed by an article they considered to be laced with a belittling they took personally. One missive, equally cutting in its defense of religion, was published as rebuttal, and in time a third letter found its way to the Journal, in which the author seemingly wanted to have fun with both sides.
In the end, those letters turned out to be the salt of one of the most surprising and heated public debates of the year, the publication of which brought to the Journal of Spaced Writers a mix of threats, condemnation and praise, and also a national press award.
Here, for the first time, readers can access all three letters, and a fourth and final text from the Journal’s editor, who wanted – and certainly deserved – the last word. One letter will be published here every week.
Sir: I must say that I regaled myself with your story on the discovery of amino-acids in a comet’s flatus (“Sowing the seeds”). As the author correctly points out, these amino-acids are a source of life, and this can only confirm what scientists have been saying all along about life being sown in all directions since the beginning of time. With hundreds of billions of suns and planets hanging on the dark ceiling, one has to be really audacious to maintain with a straight face that we’re the only show in town. Yet amazingly, some are and some do.
That’s why I rejoice at the thought that a solid demonstration will soon be made that a supreme being did not nail himself to his desk for a full six days with the task of designing a singular garden, only to have the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve then waste a great part of their lives prostrating themselves for the alleged flaws of the garden’s first tenants.
And while we’re on the subject of monkeys, I should like to say that with every new discovery like this one, the gap between science and superstition continues to widen very large. Indeed, each new scientific finding inevitably reinforces the stultifying nature of the twaddle written in the big books and peddled throughout the planet, with all the seriousness of the world, by various cliques claiming to have a direct line with God and a monopoly on truth. People, it seems to me, are not paying enough attention to the fact that so many conflicting sects are in and of themselves an indubitable proof that their lines with God are not so clear, nor so direct.
In any event, this discovery tends to show that God, or whatever you wish to call it, him or her, apparently decided, in an act of infinite wisdom, not to give the universe tibi soli to humans. Now, that there would be other worlds out there to keep him busy might explain why this God is always absent when his children on Earth regularly call for his help in slaughtering each other on a grand scale.
As despairing as it is, the rational mind can only be amused by the fact that so many Earthlings go on being delighted to live in a wonderland of fancies that have been denounced, one after the other, with solid arguments since Galileo in 1632. Any other empire would have long ago been crushed under the weight of so many scientific demonstrations; alas, the tiara and the cloth still carry a lot of moxie. And what to make of our stunning gullibility is not always easy.
But I, for one, believe that it is a simple question of good marketing. Since the beginning of time, humans have always felt a special connection to the stars and the dark universe in which they live. There, in the vastness of space, now on comets and soon on other planets, we’ve been searching like the orphan who dreams of meeting his father or his mother, like the only child who longs for a brother or a sister.
From that hopeful expectation grew a very large market, and fast acting – and imaginative – minds concocted a product, preposterous as it was, and offered it to the tired and justice-seeking masses, in exchange for the riches of the world and unopposed power over the morals of everyone but their own. Probably to their amazement, it worked, and there you have the birth of the greatest fraud in human history, which has been well nurtured and financed even to this day.
Of course, we haven’t found our parents, and that explains why the airs and graces we’ve had to put up with through the ages are still weaving a comforting effect around the masses. It is also very useful to these various religious sects that their intellectual contortions and utter nonsense are kept alive by a diplomatic world too polite to let candor pass.
But they won’t be able to deny the implications of this discovery, which I believe is bringing us ever closer to the real truth. In the meantime, I am sure of that, we’ll have to suffer the plate of official convulsions that will be fed to us to explain the superstitious take on this breakthrough.
- John Tsiehta
Please see Letter to the Editor, Part II, a response to this article.

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