The Register is a tabloid-style IT news site that generally takes a fairly self-satisfied stance when it comes to matters of rationalism.
Especially where God crops up, El Reg does like to put the boot into him and those who follow him. In some cases, it’s with relatively good reason: it’s always worth calling out the irrationality of those who use a religious belief to justify – or try to justify – cruelty, oppression or violence.
Trouble is, the Reg does tend to shove God in where he’s not really relevant solely in order to give him a kicking.
Like here, for example, in their item HERE, discussing the apparent discovery of organic compounds on the surface of a comet.
A pretty fascinating find; very exciting scientifically and, yes, possibly having some relevance to some people’s religious preconceptions about the origin of life. But to subtitle the item “That’s it for God”, while offering absolutely no analysis of the impact such a discovery would have on each of the monotheistic religions? Seems a little slack.
Panspermia – the hypothesis that early, simple life might have arrived here on Earth from space – is a perfectly reasonable idea. But the idea – even the implication – that it immediately defeats any given religion, except possibly hard-line Genesis Creationism, is bizarre.
Personally, I don’t subscribe to the sort of religion they’re talking about; but where panspermia is concerned it’s not religion that gives me trouble. It’s the fact that, even if we decide that life arrived on Earth via meteor or comet impact or gentle sprinkling of space dust from above, we’re still no closer to finding out how life began. That it didn’t begin here might tell us something – that life didn’t need Earth-like conditions to get going, perhaps – but it’s not exactly the End of Science. And, for the record, arguing that this discovery leaves unanswered questions is not the same as arguing for the existence of the god of the Abramic monotheists. The point is, the discovery has no bearing whatsoever on any existing belief as regards that particular deity.
Panspermia is a fascinating idea, certainly, but even if it’s accepted as applying to Earth, it’s still only a step on the path, and I certainly can’t see how it disproves God, when the main complaint about God from sciency types is that’s he’s unscientific because he can’t be disproved…