All of this provoked by my reaction to the book I am now reading -- Richard Dawkins' latest, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Dawkins is beside himself at the fact that 40% of Americans report themselves as believing that the earth was created 10,000 years ago. That is, give or take a handful of cashews, 120,000,000 nuts within the borders of the lower forty eight [and God alone knows how many more lurking up there in Alaska or out in the Pacific in Hawaii.]
When I encounter facts like that one, my first reaction is simple denial. "They cannot mean it," I tell myself. "Surely they are no more serious in their belief than the vast number of people who claim to expect the Rapture any moment but also buy life insurance and put money away for their kids' college expenses."
Nevertheless, I must confess that I have the following mean-spirited thought: Every time one of those one hundred and twenty million shows up at a hospital with a life-threatening condition that is treatable by modern medicine, he or she should be asked, "Since this treatment we are about to give you assumes, for its efficacy, either directly or indirectly, the truth of evolution, are you prepared to forswear your absurd beliefs as a condition of having us save your life?" If the answer is no, then turn them out into the street and let them pray to their god for relief.
Now, that is about as low and mean spirited as you can get, I realize. And if I were a hospital administrator, I would not dream of enforcing such a rule. But, Lord forgive me, I would be tempted.