Beware the self-appointed preacher

Peter
Peter Jackson
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There is no God. British physicist Stephen Hawking has confirmed it.

In his new book, “The Grand Design,” Hawking argues that the law of gravity reigns supreme, and that creation occurred during  — you guessed it — the Big Bang. “The universe can and will create itself from nothing,” he avers in excerpts published last week in the Times of London.

Hawking’s desire to drop the divine from the Great Equation is hardly new. Physicists have been doing it for eons. The idea that some Wizard of Oz is pulling the strings is not palatable to such scientific purists.

But Britain seems to be a hotbed of atheism these days. You may remember the advertisements on London buses two years ago, paid for by a group of humanists: “God probably doesn’t exist.” A watered-down message, to be sure, but still a bold gesture.

In the past year, two of Hawking’s fellow countrymen, Richard Daw-kins and Christopher Hitchens, have been busily peddling their own atheist apologias.

One has to wonder whether it’s not just a counterpoint to growing fundamentalism in the world today.

The U.K. has experienced a large influx of radical Islam, as has Europe generally. These radicals have distorted Islamic teachings and turned the faith into a violent, revolutionary movement antithetical to secular governance.

It’s a frightening phenomenon, one that Western nations understandably fear, particularly since

9-11.

Oddly, though, few feel threatened by a similar distortion of Christian faith on this side of the pond. Yet, U.S. Christian right forces have also morphed into a militant movement that advocates confrontation as a means to achieve faith-based government. And no one manifests that insidious path more than U.S. TV and radio commentator Glenn Beck.

Beck comes across as an evangelistic clown. He laughs and cries and waves his arms in the air, but turns deadly serious when he warns of an imminent (but largely ill-defined) scourge. Usually, he imagines the country lapsing into a mutant combination of Communism and Nazism. To that end, he has rewritten history and declared the two ideologies as one and the same.

More recently, Beck has espoused a misguided school of thought that argues the United States’ founding fathers did not intend to separate church and state — even though their intentions were clearly entrenched in the constitution.

In another amazing twist, Beck even suggests Jesus had no interest in helping the poor, because he would not have endorsed the pursuit of “social justice.”

When Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington last month, it provided an opportunity to unmask the sort of followers he’s attracted. And it was quite an eye-opener.

The audience was full of naïve, confused citizens who have some vague notion that something bad is happening to their country, but can’t express it. The catch words were on their lips — big government, socialism, muslim, Nazi, anchor babies, etc. — but they had no idea what it all meant.

Racism abounded, of course, along with the requisite qualifiers (“I’m not racist, but …” and “I’m not against Muslims, but …”). And the general consensus seemed to be that America was God’s chosen land, the last bastion of hope on Earth.

It’s alarming so many people could be worked into a lather about such phantom menaces.

 Because those are exactly the conditions under which messy revolutions occur. Whip people into a frenzy of fear and anger, then let the bloodletting begin.

Glenn Beck is basically a highly visible cult leader, railing about non-existent threats and conspiracies on national airwaves.

Every now and then, there are signs Beck’s star may be falling. The cumulative effect of his absurd contradictions may finally catch up with him.

But he is proof positive that the godless intellectuals among us are not the real threat. Nor are those who seek a modicum of fairness and justice for all citizens.

It’s the ones who hijack God for their own radical agendas — right or left — that deserve the closest scrutiny.

So yes, Glenn, danger looms. But the danger is you.

 

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor. He can be contacted by e-mail at pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Geographic location: U.K., United States, London Europe U.S. Christian Washington

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  • Pete
    September 07, 2010 - 17:21

    It appears that there are two ways to start a furious debate - either the topic has to be easily comprehensible or totally incomprehensible. The price of fish or whether they were created or evolved?? Ironically western scripture is quite candid when Isaiah states ".....For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.....". Are not the mere dimensions of the post big bang universe beyond comprehension? As far as the proponents of either side of such debate goes, it is not a matter of mere intellectual argument but rather the persuasion of those whose lives are too busy to think that deeply? The law of gravity may reign supreme, but it was only in this century that its speed was measured.[http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3232-first-speed-of-gravity-measurement-revealed.html] What about using rhetoric, exaggeration and hyperbole as a device to convey a message? The Nazis used the fear of communism, not so much Stalin, to weasel into power via a pizza parliament. Churchill warned of an armed Hitler more than fascism, per se. Would that Churchill had been more "over the top" in his delivery??!!! Whatever... What is most incomprehensible that for every six billion people there are six billion unique points of view. No leader or message medium has been able to grasp that one?