Some of us remember Floyd R. Turbo, the redneck ignoramus who used to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Dressed in an ill-fitting plaid hunting jacket and hat, he nervously delivered his opinions on the deep issues of the day.

Some of us remember Floyd R. Turbo, the redneck ignoramus who used to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Dressed in an ill-fitting plaid hunting jacket and hat, he nervously delivered his opinions on the deep issues of the day.

About nuclear energy he said, “And what’s all this fuss about plutonium: how can something named after a Disney character be dangerous? …They say atomic radiation can hurt your reproductive organs. My answer is, so can a hockey stick, but we don’t stop building them…” 

With advance apologies to any fundamentalists who might take offense, religionists often remind me of Mr. Turbo. 

Remember in school we learned how Vincenzo Galileo in 1633 was found guilty of heresy because he taught that the world went around the sun (heliocentrism) and not, as the Church believed at the time, that the sun went around the earth (geocentrism). Now, of course, the Church recognizes the great contributions made by Galileo to observational science and the scientific method in general.

It is interesting that in this very year further admissions of religious errors have come forth from the Vatican.

In February 2009 they announced that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed man descended from apes and that his theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. 

This, of course, really challenges the views of today’s Turbos and creationists. It also puts an end to the speculation by some that Pope Benedict XVI might endorse the theory of Intelligent Design. 

Marc Leclerc, a teacher at the Gregorian University, noted that no scholar could remain indifferent to Darwin’s theory that “has left its mark forever on the history of science and has influenced the way we understand our humanity.” 

This shows a tremendous softening of religionist’s views towards the Theory of Evolution. Even so, Leclerc noted that there was “no question of celebrating” it.

In many ways even more astonishing was the story in the July 2009 issue of the Vatican newspaper, L’Ossservatore Romano about Karl Marx by Georg Sans, a German-born professor at the pontifical Gregorian University.

You will probably recall that Marx is probably most remembered for his scathing observation that “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Professor Sans pointed out that Karl Marx’s theories may help to explain the enduring issue of income inequality within capitalist societies.     

My point is to simply point out that humans have reason to be very cautious about what is “truth” at any given time. This is particularly so if the “truth” is based on prejudicial views that are an outgrowth of one’s own tribe, culture or time.