Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Screams in the Ignorant Darkness

There are few things less interesting to read right now than one more piece about the pope. One of those things is a rant about excessive media coverage the papacy is getting. Still, here we go, because many people are saying that while this election shouldn't concern them, they realize the far-reaching effects of the papacy on world politics, yet I haven't seen them follow that up with the obvious question that raises: What the fuck is wrong with us?

A group of superstitious people has elected a superstitious man to lead them through the modern world, not in spite of his obsessive and irrational dedication to superstitions, but because of them. Instead of being marginalized and ridiculed, this group maintains much of the power it's had since it was calling heresy on those who dared suggest the Earth rotates around the sun.

For some reason, we focused our attention, our media, our cameras, and our discussions on the color of the smoke they sent out of their ancient building. We used our technology to beam their primitive smoke signals around the world in realtime. It's as if they were daring us to write them off by showcasing their obsolescence and rigorous adherence to tradition in the face of better methods and better ideas.

Sure, the colored smoke is a tradition, something that lets them feel connected to their predecessors. I'm not suggesting that there is anything wrong with embracing tradition. What I'm suggesting is that this particular tradition is a great example of how religions are clinging to the comforts of the past, and keeping the world from moving forward.

You see, the colored smoke was chosen as the most effective way to get a message from a sequestered group to the outside world, without risking other information leaking out, or influence sneaking in. Modern technology provides a variety of more effective and more reliable ways to do this, and the smoke could easily continue alongside anything else. Military drill teams still toss around 1903 Springfield rifles, but nobody is suggesting we continue to fight wars with them.

Still, a group that would accept a new communications medium would be a group that would be open to allowing the use of condoms to help cut into the AIDS epidemic in Africa. They'd consider contraception as an effective way to reduce the number of abortions performed. They'd allow their believers to listen to modern biology as it screams answers about the origin of life into the ignorant darkness. Obviously, this isn't that group.

Much of the world is so infatuated with faith, so eager to embrace easy answers without question, that they've turned their minds over to the vestigial institutions of our dim past. The rest of us are so afraid of controversy that we sit idly back, and smile at them as they play pretend about gods, angels and brimstone.

I'd like to suggest it's about time for us to stand up and push the Vatican and the other capitols of today's religions to take their place in the history books next to the Pyramids, the Parthenon and the Maya temples. Theocracy never wanes without a fight.

This is a fight of reason, of words, of ideas. There is no blood, there is no risk, so why aren't we fighting?


Anonymous omoshiroi said...

I agree absolutely - with one exception, towards the end. There has never been a war of words and ideas that didn't end in bloodshed, particulary one involving religion.

It's not just the theocracy you have to worry about, it's the institutions of thought and language that go along with it, excusing the behaviour of the people who believe. You can't fight a religion, you can only PERSECUTE the believers. You cannot reason with a believer, because reason is the province on Man and a lack of faith dehumanizes you and makes you a tool of the Negative - whatever that might entail - and renders your opinions and ideas as unworthy and dangerous.

5/01/2005 11:30:00 AM  
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I don't suppose you have a Livejournal feed so I don't have to deal with guessing when you're posting things?

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