This morning I did the usual very brief scan of the headlines of both local and remote media. This exercise makes me long for the days when radio waves were less used and the internet was something my mother did not know anything about while I was using it to arrange my affairs. On a side note, do recall that I like the word affair. So, let us get back to the bit of public affairs that got me in a bad mood after a delightful morning at the keyboard composing the challenges of my latest love, the character in a novel. It is this gem in the New York Times on the new war between science versus religion.
I hesitated there for a little while on the case for religion. I wondered if I should write pseudo-religion, and then settled for dropping the pseudo. Prefixing religion with pseudo is a modern day oxymoron. Argument concluded.
Let’s clarify matters. These things need clarification. Religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, something like God, although I prefer god, lower case and just a noun like many others. Now this is where the argument gets involved. For most of the twentieth century, at least in the USA, not only has the separation of church (religion) and state failed, church and religion suffered what I can only call a devolution. It is perhaps no small detail that of all states (here I do mean nation-states), the good old USA is up there on the front line of human rights violations, all of it in the name of the law and by literal interpretation of texts (legal and otherwise) and straight right out moral criminal intent on the part of those who dismiss ethical intent, do lip service, and do not sign or ratify international treaties and agreements that would allow a more peaceful coexistence of all peoples on the planet. It is an allegation, and I am willing to stand by it without taken on the burden of proof at this point. There are some problems here:
a. First states do not act, people do; people make decisions, states are virtual constructs and the product of human social interaction (in a way you could say that they are like Twitter, just another website with agreededbterms of service).
b. Second it is the very belief in science as a superhuman controlling power that has led the technocratic thinking prevalent in US, but not only there, to literally allow for bullying and all levels because if offered the illusion of rationality and allowed the construction of the story of the rational state. Science replaced religion, and religion replaced science. The result is confusion, and in an age of overabundant information, confusion abounds. How on earth are we going to sort this out?
I will at this point skip the little cognitive diversion of debating what democracy means, and why the US should be the last place on earth to even think that it can export democracy to anywhere else in world, especially when its favoured tool of export is the use of explosive arsenal that kills humans, and go on to say that we should not be surprised that science and religion are at war.
Science has replaced religion in many aspects of governance where the latter had lost nothing. Science has been abused by making it supreme and and omnipotent. It ain’t either! Science is an humble discipline of fact finding, it works in discovery mode, it stumbles in its enterprise, but above all science learns.
I do not care for religion, I never did. I grew up between catholics, jews and a few scattered protestants. I consort with buddhists and moslems, I do not pay church taxes, the freedom to believe, and the freedom to exercise a religion are fundamental. The first one, the freedom to believe makes humans human. The second, the freedom to exercise a religion is a fundamental human right. I respect and recognize both of these fundamentals, and I add that while the first is general and collective, the second is individual. Nobody, no state, and no agency has the right to impose on any other human being, animal or monkey, their own belief. Period. Not even when that belief is science, not when that belief is a misinterpretation of some texts written in the heat of some cognitive convulsion. We do live in a collective, but at the end of the day it is the individual who acts and takes decisions.
Damn! Why is this so hard to get through the thick heads of the power hungry administrators and politicians?