When I read this Richard Dawkins quote on page 194 of Schick and Vaughn’s How to Think about Weird Things (5th edition), I smiled at its echoes of religious manipulativeness:
If superior creatures from space ever visit Earth, the first question they will ask in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: ‘Have they discovered evolution yet?’
The (not so) subtle message: you are among the universe’s superior creatures—you’re one of Daniel Dennett’s “brights”—if you accept Darwin’s theory of evolution. But if you question evolution by natural selection, like Michael Behe and Jerry Fodor do, you’re dull. The superior aliens, when they come down from the heavens, won’t want to have dinner with you. You’re not a good representative of the highest level of our civilization.
So we are all faced with the same question: do you want to be excluded from the marriage supper of the superior aliens? No? Then believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. And the heuristic at work here is this: if you believe something you take on the characteristics associated with that thing. And so, by simple belief in the Lord Jesus Christ or in what aliens presumably believe in, you instantly acquire their likeness in you—a certain type of superiority.
It’s not hard to trope Richard Dawkins’s quote into a familiar religious appeal:
When that most superior of creatures, God, comes from space to visit Earth, and all the holy angels with him, the first question He will ask of each of the nations, in order to assess their level of civilization, is: ‘Have they accepted my Son?’
And He shall separate out the nations, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The New Atheists are leading a spiritual movement, aren’t they?