It was already clear by the overreaction from certain quarters that atheists have recently been making a little noise. The really insightful types, like Paul Greenberg, know what's going on: Nonbelievers are looking to wipe out or suppress all believers and their forms of worship. It's a war, baby! Haven't you noticed that Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are agitating for a full-throated embrace of a scorched-earth policy? Greenberg has.
Fortunately for believers everywhere, Greenberg is stylishly accoutered in the armor of righteousness. Since his weapon is the pen (neatly engraved along the side with “former Pulitzer Prize winner”), he wields it with oracular zest. The result is a portrait in ink of a post-apocalyptic paradise of nonbelief, where everyone can rejoice in a rigorously enforced culture of Darwin-worship. Here are the words of St. Paul Greenberg, prophet of faith despoiled and religion routed, as he portrays the ruminations of Brother Erasmus, devout evolutionist and nonbeliever:
Erasmus had assumed that all the Old Believers had been hunted down by the survivors of the Last World War. The massacres had begun during the Great Secularization, when people had realized how the old, divisive ideas had caused the final cataclysm. Most of the religious had been burned at the stake, along with the books that had spread their dangerous ideas. That should have been the end of their baneful influence. But here was one more false prophet.Greenberg has obviously laid hands on a bootleg copy of the Atheist Agenda (which is like the old Gay Agenda, but less religious). Otherwise, how could he forecast so accurately exactly what atheists are planning for the new order of the world? We're all champing at the bit to start the great pogroms on our to-do list. Greenberg knows that if you scratch an evolutionist, you get a Grand Inquisitor. Who ratted us out?
The Darwinian order to which Brother Erasmus belonged taught only pure science at abbeys like his own, and no one was allowed to question it, lest the Dark Ages return. Those certified to teach the young were not allowed to question Darwin's revelation, and certainly not present alternate theories. That way lay division and dissent and, inevitably, fiery chaos.
St. Paul Greenberg, however, wants religionists to know that Truth is hardy and will not simply pass from this earth. No, it will rise anew! In fact, it will rise from the suppressed words of the divine Darwin himself. Yea, verily I say unto you:
Then he noticed the little book he would eventually come to think of as the Lost Gospel. It was entitled “Recapitulation and Conclusion,” and it was the strangest thing he'd ever read, at least in Old English. It was written as if it were the last chapter of “The Origin of Species” itself, mocking the style of Darwin Our Deliverer, blessed be his name.If you haven't checked your copy of the Atheist Agenda lately, you may have forgotten the plan to extirpate the last chapter of Darwin's Origin of Species. As quoted in Greenberg's cutesy parable, it contains a deeply religious invocation of the power of God. Or, depending on your point of view, Darwin's use of a literary trope, in which “Creator” is employed as an anthropomorphic invocation of the power of Nature. Since Darwin was not a believer (and, no, did not embrace God on his deathbed), which do you think is more likely?
Brother Erasmus knew he should have burned the forgery then and there, but even the best of us are sore beset by temptation. He began to read: “I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one.”
Well, Brother Erasmus was shocked. No one had ever showed him such a passage before in holy writ. He could not resist reading the whole thing—to the very last sentence:
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
Amen, Erasmus heard himself murmur before thinking. That was when he realized how subversive was the document he held in his hands.
Greenberg, of course, posits that evolutionists would out-Darwin Darwin. Indeed, evolutionists would prefer that the last chapter be forgotten, lest the simple-minded fall into the error of belief in God. It may be that St. Paul has his tongue tucked at least partway into his cheek, preening himself over his cleverness, but a touch of verisimilitude is necessary to made a satire work. Would he like to explain why Stephen Jay Gould—famed atheist and evolutionist—quoted Darwin's last paragraph or alluded to it in his essays? Why did Sean B. Carroll borrow the phrase “endless forms most beautiful” for the title of his book on evolutionary developmental biology?
We keep celebrating something that we're supposed to be suppressing—at least in Greenberg's astigmatic world view.
But let's face it. Greenberg has peered into the depths of our shriveled souls and perceived that our conception of an evolutionist's utopia is a mirror image of Inquisition-era Spain. Clever man! With Paul Greenberg standing in the gap, how shall we ever achieve our vision of a Darwinian paradise on earth? I know! In keeping with our doctrinaire embrace of the law of natural selection, let us prey.