Exit, Frothing

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The reports of God’s death, written by Nietzsche, Darwin, Marx, and others in the 19th century, were, in Mark Twain’s immortal phrase, greatly exaggerated. God may well be done for in the long run – science probably slipped poison into his ambrosia – but it’s a slow poison, and he’s like one of those ham actors who spend all of Act V staggering, twitching, and convulsing while orating his last lines. The macabre twitching and convulsing, the scenery-chewing apocalyptic melodrama, are technically known as fundamentalism, and there seems to be a pretty good chance that this noisily expiring scene-hogging ham deity will bring the whole damn theater crashing down on our heads. Between the Muslim fundamentalists addicted to absolutist violence and the Jewish and Christian fundamentalists addicted to goading them on, civilization and its pleasures are now in a state of siege. The ancient philosophical sect known as the Epicureans believed that the gods existed, but they were serenely unaware of us, so we weren’t obliged to worship them or worry about them, just to seek our own serene happiness. Instead of abolishing the position, let’s advertise an opening for that kind of god.

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