Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The diseases of the Republican Party

I rejoice that Barack Obama has won re-election.  It is terrifying that the Republican Party, as presently constituted, should control the White House.

I have stated many times that I believe that the United States needs two healthy political parties.  There is plenty of room for disagreement about a host of important topics.  This will always be so.

However, the Republican Party is in deep trouble.  It would be better for America, and better for the Republican Party itself, to rid itself of the following diseases:

1.  The Republican Party tolerates denialism.  It somehow feels free to deny scientific fact whenever those facts conflict with the financial interests of its wealthiest members.

2. The Republican Party is based on religious conservatism.  As a militant atheist, I regard any religious basis for political power as revolting opportunism, but basing a political agenda on the religious doctrines of a small minority of Americans is a recipe for permanent minority status.

3. The Republican Party is a party of fiscal and monetary chicken hawks.  Its leaders talk about reducing the deficit, but are, in fact, in favor of budget-busting programs such as the prescriptions drug benefit and the F-35 fighterJohn Mauldin, a prominent financial analyst, eloquently writes about the dangers of large deficits on the one hand, while on the other hand he counsels his rich clients about how to avoid taxes.  How can he not see the contradiction?

4. The Republican Party somehow believes that the wealthiest people in the United States should be exempt from shared sacrifice, and that the rich should be specifically exempted from higher taxes.  This is an absolute failure of political, economic and moral leadership.

5. The Republican Party embraces, rather than repudiates, the contemptible practices of Fox News.  It has become a party of 24/7 propaganda and self deception.  A healthy party would welcome real debate; the present diseased party tolerates the shouting down of all who would dare disagree with it.

To summarize, the Republican Party asks, "What can government do for me?" (less taxes, more contracts, more religious conformity), rather than, "What can government do for all its citizens?".  The Republican Party seems unable to confront the world as it is: a world that is mostly poor, mostly non-white, and deeply in danger of ecological calamity.  It is a party of the insulated and isolated privileged and of the religious fringes.  It can, and must, do better.

Why I am a miltant atheist

The short answer is, because all the facts and evidence demand that conclusion.  We can break down the argument into several parts:

1.  The theory of evolution disproves all super-natural theories of creation.

2.  The is absolutely no evidence for any of the world's religions.

Here are the major influences on my thinking:

1.  Stephen J. Gould. His wonderful popular books about paleontology, evolutionary theory and the history of science showed me how revolutionary evolutionary theory is.  They also showed me how beautiful and powerful science is.

2. Sam Harris, and especially his book, The End of Faith.  This book exposes the absolute lack of evidence upon which all religions are based, and confronts the real danger that religious ideas pose to the world.

3. The scientific journals, Nature and Science. These are the most exciting, the most informative, and the most important journals in the world today.

Once I saw the true beauty and power of scientific thought, it became impossible to believe the drivel that we know as religion and most (not all) forms of spirituality.  It became clear that religion is a crude form of political manipulation, with fear of eternal damnation as its only real weapon. There is no evidence whatsoever for such fear.  To give up religion is to give up the fear of death.

Seen in this light, the new atheists could be said to be stating the obvious.  However, there is a lot more that can be said on the topic of replacing religion with science.  I recommend the following YouTube videos as a starting point.

Richard Dawkins: Militant Atheism

Sam Harris vs an evangelical (The full debate is here.)

Sam Harris: Death and the present moment

Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

Harris and Dawkins are both respected scientists.  I recommend all of Dawkins's books.