Albert Einstein was proud of many things but his contribution to the construction of the atomic bomb was not one of them. Whatever about its peace-time benefits as a deterrent of M.A.D., “Mutually Assured Destruction”, and the debatable use of nuclear, renewable energy as a motor of industry and the economy, in spite of its inherent costs to the environment, the health and the security of its beneficiaries, Einstein famously said that it was easier to disintegrate the atom than to destroy prejudice. (If you or I had said that, it would not have been a quotable quote. But even the obvious carries more weight when it is expressed by a celebrity presumed to know more than we do, even outside his field of recognized expertise.)
Few of us are experts in nuclear science, but all of us are experts in prejudice. Everyone knows how OTHER people’s prejudices blind THEM to objective truth. Some of us even get to recognize our own. It is not easy to admit that we have let others do our thinking for us, or worse, that we have been contaminated by unjustifiable opinions based not on fact but on inadequate if not ignoble human sentiments. We allow ourselves to be too impressed by pronouncements of gifted, even “inspired”, writers and speakers, to bother to examine the “data” on which they are based. By a sort of social osmosis we absorb beliefs and attitudes and emulate behavior without realizing how credulous we have been. We atheists have our work cut out in demolishing prejudice, but different from atomic fission and even fusion, when we do, there is no collateral damage.