Are they out to get us?
Are they covering up the fact?
Shocking numbers of Americans believe not only in a wide range of religious, mystical and paranormal claims, but that evidence of these “facts” is being concealed. From the internet and newsgroup buzz to talk shows, fringe zines and even prime-time “unsolved mystery”-style programs, we discover ourselves immersed in a sea of speculation where fiction and fact seems to have no definable boundaries. It’s the penultimate in postermodernism. Who’s to say that any claim isn’t true, right?
But while fin de siecle moderns are consuming this diet of paranormal fantasy and religious revivalism, there is a serious problem. We’re becoming a nation of science illiterates, and in the process ignoring the need for more science-based curriculum in our schools. The battle over sex ed courses and AIDS awareness training has already divided communities... and the same folks who are constipated over the mention of premarital sex in a high school classroom often head for the barricades when the subject of evolution is raised.
This month, the AMERICAN ATHEISTS ELECTRONIC FORUM wants to sample attitudes relating to a seemingly diverse group of religious-mystical and psuedoscience phenomenon. After all, what exactly do claims about apparitions of the Virgin Mary, sexual molestation or abduction at the hands of rapacious aliens, or that now -- more than ever -- we need to take the Bible seriously and literally as we enter the Last Days, have in common? We suggest that they are part of a wide culture of the irrational that is enjoying an incredible vitality in these final days of the Twentieth Centurty. Is it premillennialist angst? Too many reruns of The X-Files? Proof of the Second Coming? Anomie and uncertainty in the midst of unprecedent technological and social change? You tell us...
Before you charge into the polling, you might want to know where we got the idea for this month’s topic. We must credit two remarkable characters, televangelist Pat Robertson and Mr. Richard “Face On Mars” Hoagland. Both lay claim to their own territory in the realms of pop culture weirdness, of course. When not warning us about the need for prayer, or how homosexuals will soon be running rampant through our streets, Robertson wears the hat of a slick political power broker on the religious right, mixing a folksy, almost avuncular style on “The 700 Club” with marching orders for the Christian Coalition. Hoagland is associated with more new age terraine, though, specifically the claim that the U.S. Government and NASA are concealing evidence of the “Face on Mars,” a huge artificial monument purportedly depicted in photos returned by space probes. Astronomers see light and shadows but Hoagland, and millions of folks who spend their evenings tuned-in to The Art Bell Show, have a different take. What’s the connection? Freemasons. At least that’s what they say, so check out our Web Edition article on FREEMASONS AS OBJECTS OF CONSPIRACY THEORY.
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