I got the idea for The Good Atheist after reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. His book got me thinking:
What if his ideas, as well as those of Sam Harris, actually take root in society. What if law makers and trend setters and opinion molders actually start to take these guys seriously.
The results could be scary. I envisioned a world about fifty years from now in which the ideas of Harris and Dawkins have taken hold in society. Ideas like the following pearls of wisdom from the pen of Sam Harris:
‘faith inspires violence’
I specially liked this little gem: ‘Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.’
And then there is this tortured train wreck: ‘The very ideal of religious tolerance – born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe…is one of the principal forces driving us towards the abyss.’
Such gems like these are not the only ones that can be gleaned from Harris’ feverish pen, but you get the general idea. Apparently free thought and tolerance is pushing civilization over the edge. Call me crazy, but I find it disturbing that there are a lot of people out there taking these guys seriously.
And these guys and their ideas are being taken seriously, as frightful and medieval as they are. What might such a society look like? Images of Stalin-like regimes come to my mind, in which faith is violently oppressed. Where tolerating faith is not tolerated. Where free-thought and dissent is ruthlessly suppressed.
In my stories I used terms like ‘intellectual crime’, ‘cerebral terrorist’, ‘intellectual anarchy’ to fit with this future imaginary milieu. At the time of writing I thought I was still being far-fetched. But I have since heard of a scientist who was black-listed and labelled an ‘intellectual terrorists’ for believing that there may be some scientific evidence to support Intelligent Design.
It seems my science fiction isn’t so far-fetched after all.