I listened last night to the podcast of Kathy Shaidle's appearance on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin, where she debated the concept of worshipping at secular altars with (among others) Warren Kinsella and Dr. Robert Buckman.
Buckman is memorable to English kids of a certain age for his appearance on a science show called 'Don't Ask Me' alongside the mad scientist Magnus Pike (who starred in Thomas Dolby's 'Science' video, but I digress). Buckman made a number of TV series in the UK before emigrating to Canada in the early 90s, where he again pursued parallel medical and TV careers. Recently he's been most famous as the defacto mouthpiece of Canada's humanists.
Now, I like some of Dr. Buckman's work. His books are humurous and interesting, and his take on things like 'alternative' medicine such as reiki, cancer quacks, etc. is right on. But he, in common with most professional atheists, doesn't have much of a case when he comes up against someone like Kathy Shaidle.
Essentially Buckman's problem with religion is that so many bad things have been done in its name. When, as Kathy did, you take this argument apart a little, you find that (a) this can be said of lots of things, (b) that someone perverts a religion, or any cause, and does something bad does not invalidate or in any way imply any judgement of the religion itself, and (c) that people are in general ignorant of the true nature of any religion they criticise in this way.
In an age when secularism surrounds us, envelopes our children from the moment of birth, dominates our political life, our justice system, our education system and every other aspect of our communal life, it's somewhat ironic to hear any problems being blamed on 'religion'.
Kathy manages to bring out several central truths in a very few words in this debate. It's quite masterful and I strongly recommend it.