In a previous posting, we saw Gnu activist Jerry Coyne’s idea of co-existing with religious people in a pluralistic society:
If religious people just kept to themselves, just went to church, respected the findings of science and a) didn’t teach it to their kids (which I think is a form of child mistreatment) and b) didn’t try to take their religious beliefs into the public sphere and make them law for everybody else, than I wouldn’t care so much.
Of course, there is a certain kind of familiarity with this kind of militancy, one that was apparently picked up by Coyne’s interviewer. For she responded with a very good question:
But we do now have experience of atheistic societies. I’m thinking of the Soviet Union and post-1949 China, both of which rejected religion and claimed to be scientifically-based societies. If you take faith out of the picture, don’t other crazy schemes emerge? Is it really religion that is a danger to science and society or is it human beings that are a danger to science and society?
Coyne’s response is quite lame:
The problem with the Soviet Union and China is that religion was replaced by an ideology which was largely anti-science and certainly anti-rational. In Russia, under Stalin, the cult of the leader replaced religious belief. That’s why they didn’t like religion, because it displaced people’s affections for the leader. It was in the Soviet Union that Lysenkoism, which is explicitly anti-scientific, took over and ruined Russian genetics for 30 years.
An “anti-science”, “anti-rational” ideology? That is certainly not how the Marxists viewed and promoted themselves. Like the Gnu atheists, the communists/Marxists postured as Champions of Science as part of their anti-religious worldview.
In fact, that leads to the great irony.