This week’s TIME magazine (October 30, 2017) carries two totally unrelated articles that deserve to be seen in juxtaposition. One concerns an event that happened 130 million years ago, the other events that are happening right now in the State of Alabama.
Astronomers have just discovered that two neutron stars in a galaxy far, far away, collided in a cataclysm that produced gamma-ray radiation that could destroy life on any planet in its path. The only human life we know has been around for only 200,000 to 300,000 years, but whatever life was on Earth at the time survived because our little planet was not in the line of fire.
I didn’t know, but apparently neutron stars are ordinary stars compressed to just twelve miles across, which gives them a density such that a single spoonful of one of them would weigh a billion tons. TIME calls neutron stars “insane”. Fair enough. But I take the epithet as a literal description of the Mad, Mad, Mad World which “God”, the “Intelligent Designer”, is supposed to have created. Believers speak of the “order” in the Universe as proof of God’s existence. As I’ve pointed out in at least ten previous posts (see the list by searching “Expanding Universe”), the Expanding Universe (subject of Stephen Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis), on the contrary, proves just the opposite.
Now let’s come down to Earth and see what’s happening in Alabama. TIME devoted just one column to the piece on neutron stars, but gave us six full pages on Roy Moore and his candidature for the Senate seat vacated by that pesky Hobbit, Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for Attorney General of the United States. Moore is, even in the Redneck Bible Belt, something of a star as a Christian fundamentalist politician. Besides his Steve Bannon-backed populist positions (TIME reports that “he recites anti-abortion poetry, rejects the theory of evolution, doesn’t think Muslims should be allowed to serve in Congress”, promoted school-segregation, opposes same-sex marriage and suggests that 9/11 was “God’s punishment for American sins”), Moore has a thing about the Ten Commandments. The TIME article tells us that they are posted above the bed he shares with his wife, and used to decorate the walls of his court-room when he was a circuit judge. As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he put a granite monument bearing them in the rotunda of the courthouse. In his office at the Foundation for Moral Law which he founded, there are no less than five plaques of the Decalogue adorning its walls. Lest he forget them ?
The juxtaposition, I hope, underlines the double absurdity of believing in a Divine Architect of the Universe, and of seeing in American Redneck religion what Judge Moore calls “the relevance of God”. Roy knows “Thou shalt not steal”, but his “relevance of God” looks like plagiarism of my post of September 11 : “The Irrelevance of Religion”.