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The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam's first science fiction film since "12 Monkeys" is an inventively designed but oddly inert satire on technology, God and the future of humankind.

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Tusk

It's not surprising that Smith's characterizations and dialogue lack subtlety given the type of broad comedy that Smith has practically made his brand. But somehow,…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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New Agers and Creationists should not be President

astrology.jpgNew Age beliefs are the Creationism of the Progressives. I move in circles where most people would find it absurd to believe that humans didn't evolve from prehistoric ancestors, yet many of these same people quite happily believe in astrology, psychics, reincarnation, the Tarot deck, the i Ching, and sooth-saying. Palmistry and phrenology have pretty much blown over.

If you were attending a dinner party of community leaders in Dallas, Atlanta, Omaha or Colorado Springs and the conversation turned to religion, a chill might fall on the room if you confessed yourself an atheist. Yet at a dinner party of the nicest and brightest in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and (especially) Los Angeles, if the hostess began to confide about past lives, her Sign and yours, and her healing crystals, it might not go over so well if you confessed you thought she was full of it.

New Age beliefs have largely stolen the stage from traditional religion in progressive circles. At dinner in my environs I rarely hear anyone share that they have been born again in Jesus. They may well have been, but they keep it to themselves.

They were raised to avoid religion and politics at dinner parties with strangers. Yet they assure everyone they are "a typical Gemini," were royalty in a previous lifetime, have a personal spirit guide, and have been told they will develop a serious disease but will recover from it. I rarely hear anyone share that they were a toilet cleaner in a previous lifetime and have a year to live at the most.

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In polite company where fundamentalist or New Age beliefs are expressed with confidence, you have three choices: (1) Silent agreement, (2) eagerness to contribute your own similar finding, or (3) mentally composing a new answering message for your cell phone.

It's curious that so many people of different camps are offended by opposing beliefs, but will accept just about anything in their own. Most progressives believe Kirk Cameron is playing the Village Idiot in his infamous video explaining how God shaped the banana to fit the nature of the human hand (still unreleased: his video about watermelons). Most non-New Agers believe Shirley MacLaine is nutzoid for her citations of her previous lifetimes. On mainstream talk shows, MacLaine gets away with it by kidding herself. Mike Huckabee is a charmer when he answers that, yes, he does believe the earth is pretty much 10,000 years old. But don't let anyone unskilled tell Jay, David, Craig or Regis such beliefs and they're taking a chance. The audience will take their cue from the host in deciding whether to laugh at them (MacLaine yes, Creationist no.)

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We are edging into an Election Season where strange beliefs will get an unusual airing. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee are up front in their disdain for Darwinism and their embrace of one degree or another of Creationism. Obama and most Democrats, and many Republicans have no problem at all with Darwinism, but will be wise to keep that out of their basic stump speech. Palin can draw applause by affirming she doesn't believe mankind shared a common ancestor with oran utans, but Obama will prudently refrain from revealing his belief in the quite provable fact that we do.

It will be a fascinating aspect of the coverage of the approaching campaigns to watch how mainstream news organizations tread on this thin ice. There was an outcry in some circles when most news outlets were slow to simply state that George Bush was wrong about Brownie doin a great job, and Palin was wrong about the Bridge to Nowhere. They were wrong, but few in the MSM said they were, and even fewer, perhaps none, of those outlets will say that Palin or Huckabee are just plain wrong, wrong, wrong about Creationism. Not since Flat Earthers has there been a public dispute in which one side (Darwinism) has so throughly and merciless demolished the other (Creationism). Yet at most the MSM might venture to mention a "debate" or "controversy" between Darwinism and Creationism. News at 10: The debate about the theory of gravity.

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It was agreed by responsible, Constitution-reading Americans during the Kennedy - Nixon campaign that religion had no place in a presidential campaign. When Norman Vincent Peale said that it a was an issue that Kennedy was a Catholic, Adlai Stevenson observed, "For those who find Paul appealing, Peale is appalling." Quite true. All right now, in 2010, should it be an issue that Huckabee and Palin are Creationists? How should Romney, who is not a Creationist, handle that in the GOP debates? Safer not to go there?

But hold on, you say! Creationism is not a religious belief! Intelligent Design is a science! That's the argument being used to shoehorn it into public schools. Very well then, it's bad science, and anyone who buys into it is making that a campaign issue.

There's no indication that JFK's Catholicism affected his political positions. To the contrary. To this day, one Kennedy or another is being threatened with excommunication by one bishop or another. But is Creationism equally irrelevant to political policy? It didn't cost George W. Bush any votes that he didn't believe in Darwin, but then the old charmer was so vague you suspected if he had ever been asked point blank at a press conference who Charles Darwin was and what he discovered, that might have led to a fascinating answer .

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Still, Bush's beliefs did have an obvious influence on him in such science-related areas as stem cell research, global warming and conservation. The first seems to have been belief-driven, the other two more fossil-oil-lobbyist driven. All three were all indeed relevant. Which campaign correspondents and news organizations will lead the charge on this?

It's not my purpose today to argue the equal absurdity of Creationism and New Age beliefs (no, not even though the tenets of astrology were formed when astrologers knew piss-all about the planets). Those debates have been pretty much settled to the satisfaction of both sides, which agree with themselves.

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I adamantly support the right of any candidate to profess any faith, or none. And in the separate case of their New Age or Creationism beliefs, I emphasize my words "should not" rather than "can not" be President. If a candidate professes the story of Creation as an ancient legend or symbol, as so many do of Adam and Eve, that is quite understandable and has long precedent.

It is in the specific cases of those with literal belief in the scientific truth and application of such beliefs that I raise a red flag. We live in the harrowing early years of a century when the nation must compete in a new way, and this battle will be fought on the grounds of science defined by the traditional Scientific Method. We can have no patience with a chief executive who professes the value of ancient superstitions in the forming of policy.

My only purpose today is to state early and often that if a Presidential candidate believes early humans used saddles to ride on the backs of dinosaurs, as they are depicted at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, that candidate should not be elected President.

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And if a candidate counts among close friends and advisors anyone in communication with the spirit world, that candidate should not be elected President.

And if a candidate accounts for the fact that humanoid and dinosaur bones are never found at the same level in the fossil record by evoking the action of sediment after the Great Flood, that candidate should not be President.

And if a candidate has a spirit guide, consults his or her Chart and takes more than a passing amusement in the horoscope, that candidate should not be elected President.

I would be much relieved if the MSM would subscribe to these guidelines now, when our minds are clear, and not muddle them later in the fray of an election. Serious belief in either the New Age or Creationism should be as much a cause for ineligibility as -- why, not being born in the United States.

And if a candidate counts among close friends and advisors anyone in communication with the spirit world, that person should not be elected President.

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Astrology and the Occult

Creationism and the Garden of Eden," video by creation scientist Kent Hovind.

Creationism and the Garden of Eden

"The New Age: A Superstitious Religion in Modern Times." How hippies, Vietnam and the Beatles converted today's Left to the New Age.

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