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homosexual relationships”, the ensuing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq saw a whole slew of the same know-nothing, douche-nozzles, at Americaʼs illustrious 24 hour cable news channels, sent scrambling for anyone who would go on camera to say anything quasi-patriotic about Americaʼs heightened mistrust of all things Islamic. Fox News led the charge others followed and began feverishly trying to stuff Sam Harris into the same suit tailored for Bill Maher and other agitator-by-numbers shock jocks, only given airtime in the first place because lazy liberalism makes even cheeper television than the cerebral and thought-provoking Jersey Shore—while serving the 10 second soundbite agenda, squeezed from the same pustulated sphincter as the box-office sensation Beverly Hills Chihuahua, for an emotionally stillborn audience ill prepared to handle talk-show punditry that actually makes sense. The general illiteracy of the target audience notwithstanding, a critique of their habitual shortsightedness coming from someone armed to the teeth with a knowledge of world religion far outweighing that of his fellow panelists, didnʼt sit well with those also invited to speak on the prima-facie understanding they would field softball questions on a subject they had, previous to meeting Harris, considered themselves something of an authority. Fever pitched and highly partisan opinion formers, whose job it is to create a conflict where none would otherwise exist, the current affairs based rightwing entertainment channel Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdochʼs News International, barely had chance to prepare a new set of on-screen heightened state of alert terrorism warning graphics, before their staunchly conservative audience were reminded by Harris that alongside Al Jazeera, Fox News also almost uniquely specialises in giving voice to extreme religious fundamentalism, differing only in the choice of ancient parchment mounted in the teleprompter. ! In those early days of my most prolific blogging, you could almost set your watch by the time it took for the Bill OʼReilly show to finish and the arrival of the first angry retort to an article or opinion piece posted hours earlier. Given my intense disliking of stereotypes, it was with no lesser sense of irony that this most active phase in my passion for citizen journalism enabled me to identify two distinct types of apologist—or three if you count those who would describe themselves as scholarly or theologically learned without any embarrassment at their inability to use a spell checker, much less form an intelligible abstract. At this end of the scale reside the young-earth creationists and anti-everything brigade, who united in their fear of themselves, lack the education to escape the circular reasoning which lives in denial of the scientific method, while seeing no irony in spreading their message via modern fibre-optic data networks, that function upon the very same deductive logic they claim to have falsified. ! At the opposite end of the scale are those who, by virtue of the fact that they have an interest in the sciences, grimly hang on to such an especially thin definition of God, it begs the question why they continue to describe themselves as Christian at all—especially given that they find themselves having so little in common with those in the remainder. Iʼve since come to suspect that this group is considerably larger in number than the disproportionate emphasis placed in the media upon the empty vessels who rattle the loudest—who whilst ostensibly in the middle ideologically, in practise tend to hold a rather more varied mix of occasionally somewhat radical views on certain issues, such as stemcell research and abortion, while being just as fervently in favour of a separation of church and state as any secular humanist. Not that the air of respectability this mix and match cover story provides for the extremists is to be downplayed, but I underline my earlier assertion that it is the practical agnostics who make up the vast majority and who therefore hold the key to persuading the minority that, far from lacking faith simply because they no longer hold court to supernaturalism, in their understanding of the natural processes at play inside every atom under the sun, they posses something far more profound and coherent than anything conjured in the fear theology of long dead kingships.

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The pursuit of happiness  

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