by Greg Krehbiel on 10 September 2004
This is the second in my occasional reflections on Touchstone’s intelligent design issue.
I have followed Touchstone over the years, and it’s developed from a rather cheesy-looking black and white (I think) publication on cheap paper to a color, glossy, rather well-designed piece of work. None of the steps in this process have been all that significant. A printer error could easily account for the change from black and white to color, as well as the change in paper quality. (I’ve worked with printers. I know.)
And we can account for the layout changes by the necessary adjustments that have to be made when you go from Word to Ready Set Go! to Pagemaker 3.0 to Pagemaker 4.6 to InDesign. In fact, while it’s tempting to think that somebody at the helm of Touchstone has been directing these changes, that’s an illusion. Each marginal step is easily explained without any irrational appeal to a designer.
But I digress. I wanted to comment on Carson Halloways’ article today. (Or, rather, comment on the insane rumblings my brain experienced while I read Mr. Halloway’s article.)
Mr. Halloway notes that The Skeptical Inquirer promotes abstinence, and jokingly suggests that, in order to appeal to a larger audience, they make this a “counsel of perfection” — like poverty or celibacy in Catholicism. This got me thinking about these counsels.
American Baptists encourage other counsels of perfection — no drinking, no dancing. It’s worthwhile to reflect on what these two traditions would say to your average young American who wants to be perfect. The American Baptist says, “don’t smoke or dance” while the Catholic says “sell what you don’t need and don’t get married.”
Back to the article — Mr. Halloway writes, “few things are more evident than that most human beings, after hundreds of years of attempted enlightenment, still gravitate just as eagerly toward unenlightened, supernatural, and superstitious accounts of things, as even the Skeptics admit with dismay.”
Think about that, and then imagine a future where Skeptics control the centers of power. They would eventually realize that skepticism itself is a “counsel of perfection” and that only the enlightened few will attain it. The rest will wallow in superstition. Unless they want to kill off all the superstitious folk, they’ll have to take a Bene Gesserit approach to religion.
While I have elsewhere praised the Bene Gesserit, it’s important to note that they are secularists who use invented religions to manipulate the masses. The Skeptics should follow a similar model. They, the enlightened brotherhood, would see through all this religious nonsense, but knowing that the hoi polloi go for that stuff, and that it is a very powerful way to control people, they would (scientifically, of course) design religions to keep the masses under control while they go on with their Skeptically informed view of the future.
I would bet dollars to dirt that it never entered Mr. Halloway’s mind that anybody would take this sort of thing from his article.
-- 2004-09-10 » Greg Krehbiel