Well, I'm finding myself in somewhat of a dilemma. I had previously (and somewhat offhandedly) mentioned the potential formation of a Lassen County chapter of the Illuminati after visiting the new Thai restaurant in nearby Janesville with some friends. Well, you would be amazed at the sudden deluge of emails and phone calls I've received expressing interest in participating in such a group (although in all seriousness, I wonder if this has more to do with making sure the new Thai place stays in business to facilitate the welcomed break in the standardized cuisine here...). This means I probably have to take this a bit more seriously than I had originally intended...
Well, first, let me suggest a formal name for the group: Lassen County Society of the Illuminati...LACOSI for short - turns out "LaCoSi" also happens to be the elemental designation of a Pauli paramagnet (whatever the hell that is - but it at least has a specific connection with science!).
I also went back to Dan Brown's Angels & Demons novel to refresh my memory on the definition and nature of the Illuminati (from where I derived the term). Let's just say the definition was more on target than I originally contemplated:
"So who were the Illuminati?" Kohler demanded.
Yes, Langdon thought, who indeed? He began his tale.
"Since the beginning of history," Langdon explained, "a deep rift has existed between science and religion. Outspoken scientists like Copernicus - "
"Were murdered," Kohler interjected. "Murdered by the church for revealing scientific truths. Religion has always persecuted science."
"Yes. But in the 1500s, a group of men in Rome fought back against the church. Some of Italy's most enlightened men - physicists, mathematicians, astronomers - began meeting secretly to share their concerns about the church's inaccurate teachings. They feared that the church's monopoly on 'truth' threatened academic enlightenment around the world. They founded the world's first scientific think tank, calling themselves 'the enlightened ones.' "
"Yes," Langdon said. "Europe's most learned minds...dedicated to the quest for scientific truth."
Well,so far so good...
...."Unfortunately," Langdon added, "the unification of science and religion was not what the church wanted."
"Of course not," Kohler interrupted. "The union would have nullified the church's claim as the sole vessel through which man could understand God."
Again, no problem...here's the kicker:
..."But aren't scientists today a bit less defensive about the church?"
Kohler grunted in disgust. "Why should we be? The church may not be burning scientists at the stake anymore, but if you think they've released their reign over science, ask yourself why half the schools in your country are not allowed to teach evolution. Ask yourself why the U.S. Christian Coalition is the most influential lobby against scientific progress in the world. The battle between science and religion is still raging, Mr. Langdon. It has moved from the battlefields to the boardrooms, but it is still raging."
Perhaps there is a need for a new Illuminati afterall...