Religio Ad Verbum: How Literal Interpretations of Holy Books are Destroying Our World, Pt. 2

Churches and religions pride themselves in having compiled in volumes all the rules by which humanity is supposed to live by and what our roles in society should be. However, what little morality can be found in the Quran can also be found in the cheapest crime novel you can find at your local gas station. The rest of it can be derived simply from common sense and from the connection people form with their fellow human beings. Unless a serious mental illness is preventing someone from acting rationally, there is no way to miss simple moral acts that enrich human experience, i.e. being kind to others, helping those in need, minding others’ fears and feelings, etc. Why? Because we can relate to all these things solely by our own experience of being alive.

Unfortunately, there are those who don’t see it this way and for them, their own interpretation of things is the only interpretation. Belief, based on these interpretations, becomes a dangerous tool to wield. Ideas can be molded into anything, and detrimentally to everyone, in the minds of those whom religion already provides a preemptive answer to everything, interpretation is not born out of logic of differentiating patterns, but rather it is the mental equivalent of muscle memory, a learned behavior with only one intended consequence- hegemony.

In religion, mainly the monotheistic Abrahamic religions, when a bad idea is sanctioned by the text from which it comes from, it is standard procedure not to question it or its origin, but rather accept it and love it as having providence in the mysteriousness of a deity almost as obscure and unknown as the people who claim to have been the messengers of it. When does it become inconvenient for us to question it or outright reject it? How far must things go before we realize that the things we are made to believe really cause pain to people? Certainly not far enough if people truly believe in this day and age that the actions of Abraham were appropriate and warranted simply because it was god’s word. How far can we go if people will be made to believe that subservience is the way to heaven? After all, not more than half a century ago people still believed that the separation between races was divinely mandated. This is an example of how diluted our common sense can become when we are made to believe things that many generations before us could not concretely explain. Must we destroy the entire world before we start to question things?

Christianity has “evolved” over thousands of years from a small insignificant rebellion to the leading form of organized “consciousness” (for lack of a better word in this context) that humanity has ever participated in. It is essentially the most deadly self-imposed psychological experiment that in one way or another has changed the world, sometimes for the worse. In its infancy Christianity was harmless, just another cult, but as its numbers inflated violently for the very first centuries, Christians were known as terrorists, rebels, and racially inferior beings (sound familiar?). They were despised, persecuted, tortured and executed. It should be funny to note that during those first centuries, the desperation of pagans seeing their gods being replaced by a foreign one must have been quite a culture shock.

Following the Constantine decree that Christianity was to become the official religion of the Roman Empire, the cult then sought to infect nations and radicalize them either by “the word” or by the sword. Early Christians experienced a sort of either-you’re-with-us-or-against-us attitude and committed atrocities in the name of unreason. Of course I can’t say this is exclusive to Christians, for earlier religions much did the same, imposing their own mythologies onto other groups of people. This new mythical thing of incredible proportions became faith. Faith then turned out to be the invisible lighthouse in the shores of reason, a place where all sailors wanted to be drawn to but that clad in obscurity it took an enormous amount of effort to find. Not surprisingly, over the centuries many ships have capsized in this place.

Star and crescent icon

Much in the same way that Christianity spread its message by blood, and occasionally by peace, Islam and radicalized Muslims do the same today. Historically speaking, the spread of Islamism was much quicker and much more brutal than Christianity ever was, at least in the first centuries of its creation. Compared within the same time period, no doubt Islam would have been far more effective at indoctrinating the masses. But that is only possible admitting that Islam was born out of the sword of an illiterate warlord who sought to conquer over his oppressors come what may.

The thought that Islam under the caliphates was at one point the better of all evils, and that it advanced mathematical and scientific advancement, is one of the most recycled untruths (not lies) that we tell ourselves during our time. It is no more true than saying that we now have a deep knowledge of the universe because of Christianity. People of science and logic can be found anywhere and everywhere, it only takes the right incentive to provoke them to share their curiosity with the world. However, I cannot overlook the fact that indeed thinkers under ancient Islam were not as restricted under the banner as Christians were under Christianity. Sadly, I can’t say that about “modern” Islam. The brutality with which purely Muslim governments enforce Shari’a Law is the same with which Inquisitors enforced the canon of the Catholic church, and as a result what we have is a new inquisition period, the new Dark Ages. What’s so surprising is that heads are still rolling for imaginary crimes in an age when we can peer into the darkest spots of the known universe. Seeing the events unfold, we have the responsibility to ask ourselves and each other, “How can this possibly still be going on?”

Under the current modus operandi of Islamic nations it seems that the Quran is not taken out of context, as some might believe, but something much worse, it is understood by the most literal interpretation it can be given. If at some point we thought it was a hypocritical thing to cherry-pick the Bible to find passages that conveniently suited our moral needs, then I suggest we go back to that and try to convince our Muslim brethren to do the same. At our demise, the phrase “Beware what you wish for” comes to mind. Then again wishing that it wasn’t so is basically the secular equivalent to praying it wasn’t so.

Islam it seems has inherited the proverbial scepter of unreason. But let me clarify before I start receiving hate-mail. It is not Islam that I have a problem with, but rather literal Islam that I hate. Before we begin to convince ourselves of the fairy-tale illusion that there are many moral passages in the Quran to constitute a moral rule-book to follow, let me tell you that often in the same passages of the hadith where a moral passage can be found, an equally immoral one can also be found. The greatest problem we come across it seems is recognizing what is moral?

As if it wasn’t enough to see women clad in black and knowing that they have been genitally mutilated as children (prominent practice in some Muslim countries and also in some Christian ones), it has become the job of some cynics to declare that the people doing this sort of thing are just radicals and misunderstand and twist the word of the Quran and the Bible. What they continually fail to realize is that these “radicals” are not a band of illiterate sheepherders as they sued to be, or warriors as Mohammad himself was, but rather people of broad-reaching influence such as heads of state and religious leaders. It is not the ignorant who dictate policy, it is the learned. The radicals that we mention command armies and lead nations, these are not gangs, these are people who truly believe every word they read down to the last punctuation mark and they use it to maintain a strict control upon their populations. Whether or not this oppression exists solely for the purpose of near-total hegemonic social control, such as in the case of societies like Saudi Arabia, is something that changes from country to country, from tribe to tribe, and even within the same religion (i.e. Shia Muslims vs. Sunni Muslims, Catholics vs. Protestants, etc.) The fear that we have is not with moderate Muslims, although we should be cautious of their beliefs much in the same way that we are cautious of the beliefs of others such as Christians, Jews, and indeed my fellow atheists- our fear should be grounded in the radicalizing of these moderates as ISIL and other warring factions have effectively managed to do by spreading propaganda with the message that to wage holy war against infidels (everyone who is not a Muslim) is glorious. And what’s more, that to die is immensely better than to live. This is a highly dangerous position to take and defend. As philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris has said, “These people love death more than we love life.”

 

And if none of this convinces you of the severity of the problem then perhaps you will be more sympathetic when you realize that ISIS tortures and kills children, and all we can do is impotently watch in our computer and television screens as it happens. Does any reasonable person dare say that this is not the work of Muslims but rather the work of psychopaths misled to think this is the path to heaven?

This oppression that exists, not only of the body but mainly of the mind then becomes like a poison that kills the fertile ground of thought, and lets nothing grow. The most passive verses of the Quran are continually ignored while those which spell out in detail how to punish and control people are followed to the letter, and they work very effectively. If you thought Communism was bad, theocracy is much worse. Children are brought up thinking that this sort of behavior should be tolerated, celebrated, and repeated. In consequence we have generations upon generations and waves upon waves of faith-fighters willing to die as martyrs in defense of their twisted ideals. Teaching kids that infidels are only good for killing, or that the opinion of a woman is only half of that of a man, does not make children moral, it makes them immoral, or if anything it makes them amoral. To push the envelope a little bit further (perhaps not exaggerating), whole generations are being indoctrinated and groomed as reserves for some future holy war that some are praying, and praying hard, that will one day come. How can we hope to win a war against those who willingly walk to their deaths to defend nothing more than the right to die gloriously as we fight to defend life? It seems almost impossible. Within those circles, the interpretation that is given for men to follow has perpetuated an endless war with the perfect breed of warriors willing to die happily.

Much like the Roman Catholic Church in the Dark Ages, these Muslim theocracies appear to be highly organized even in the face of auto-radicalism. Is there a shred of doubt that they would all wish to see Israel, or the U.S., or the E.U. in ashes rather than form a peaceful world? Of course not. And it seems that money is basically the only thing keeping some of these societies at bay from erupting into war. But how long will this strategy of showering these countries with gold last? When the oil dries up and there is nothing more to sell, what will happen then? If greed fails, what other cards do we have to play?

Even within our nations it seems that the squalling within misinformed liberal groups is giving the enemy the advantage of ideological warfare. While we question what constitutes criticism of religion and indeed freedom of speech, radical Muslims have no problem using social platforms created by Western countries such as Facebook and Twitter to shamelessly (and cowardly) recruit among our own populations. For now it seems their strength lies solely in pushing propaganda, not in their numbers or even in the hope to fight established nation. But for how long? Can we allow this to change? These are questions that must be asked now.

Morality is a tricky thing sometimes. Occasionally it’s difficult to assert correctly what is moral, after all not all moral decisions are good and not all good decisions are moral. But in order to enjoy the benefits of living in a society where its citizens are happy, the freedom to speak one’s mind is paramount to the contribution of that happiness and the cornerstone in building that type of nation. Although I believe that morality is rooted in what we find pleasurable and good without the need to affect others, I also believe that it is corruptible. Some moral things that were considered good and moral before are not any longer and so we have to be able to make that distinction correctly. In that sense, morality has to derive at least in part to the freedom to let your mind be known, for only then can people be aware of other people’s true intentions. And when that right is infringed upon, it creates a domino effect that is very hard to get away from unscathed.

Before the European Enlightenment brought reason back into the minds of people, awakening them from a long slumber, nations had to fight each other for ideological supremacy but also for freedom from oppression which they themselves created. History became a vicious cycle hard to break away from, and men perpetuated this cycle by fueling it with ideas that did not benefit the group en masse, but that only satisfied their own desires. It would be unfair to say that collective reason was completely absent during these times, for even during the Dark Ages there were people who dared to think. If that sounds surprising to read it’s because it is. Yet, from the heap of garbage that myth and unreason originate, sometimes we can find something of great value there.

But while we waste our time looking for these scattered moral passages, ISIL (or ISIS or IS) will have already executed several thousand people, most of them innocent, most of them Muslim, and some of them foreign nationals. ISIS will have also brutally  killed thousands of children and tortured many more people for crimes that should only be judged in an Inquisition court. All of it done in the name of Islam and to defend the honor of a “prophet” long gone. We can go on and on how Islam is a religion of peace, but until we get our hands dirty and dig into these passages ourselves will we know just what exactly is being taken out, or read into, context. And if you are religious, I urge that you do not make comparisons between your religion and Islam, for if taken literally, the Bible is just as violent and damaging as the Quran, and perhaps even more.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaking at a conference.  photo credit: RA_Sun_286 via photopin (license)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaking at a conference.
photo credit: RA_Sun_286 via photopin (license)

It is true enough that we must not blame the wrong people for these atrocities, and it is equally true that only those who commit these crimes must be held accountable. I believe we can all understand that no person wants to be blamed for the crimes of another- even if they subscribe to remotely the same beliefs. But what is imperative for us to realize is that these crimes are not perpetuated in defense of reasons that are beyond their control (race, nationality), instead they are the deliberate result of manufactured beliefs that unfortunately are also shared by those whom are affected most by them, innocent people who also read the Quran or the Bible whose innate morality leads them to reject the obvious immoral passages of these books. The most effective way for moderate Muslims to distance themselves from those who use their religion as a scaffold to greater crimes is simply to weed them out. I admit, it is only simple in theory. The responsibility falls on the moderates to reform Islam, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali has declared, or to edit the Koran itself to reflect 21st century views. Muslims should not fear for that portion of history to be lost, like the Magna Carta- another very important ancient text, and one of the many documents from which the Constitution is based on- the original Quran will never be lost, but it can be updated.

And it is the job of reasonable people to collectively denounce injustice wherever we see it. We should speak out the truth in defense of reason and common sense and be fearless in our resolute goal of condemning censorship of any kind. Admittedly, there will be times when there is little we can do in the adversity, but when we prove to them and ourselves that we are united in this goal, we can surely make some kind of change, even if it’s in our own communities.

Like Christianity, Islam will eventually be reformed. One should hope that it happens by “the word” and not by “the sword,” as religions have done to spread their message. But that, it seems, for now at least, that is our of our control.

Personal interpretation based on our own understanding of the contents of whatever it is we’re reading sometimes is not much more dangerous than blindly following someone else’s interpretation of it. But it is a good place to start. It’s possible we will never rid the world of unreason, of violence and fear, of injustice. But if we shake the foundations of everything we know- or rather everything we think we know- perhaps we can make this one world we have a better place. To question everything should be a mantra to follow.

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In Memory of the victims of Charlie Hebdo and the victims of radicalism.

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For more information please check out the following interesting links:

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/02/islam-will-not-have-its-own-reformation/

http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/fgm_reinfibulation_central_Sudan/en/

http://nation.com.pk/blogs/28-Dec-2014/jack-in-a-box

http://www.pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/

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Skepticism. Believe it!

Questioms in question mark

 

The realm of science can be a very tricky and unknown place filled with doubt and wrong turns. Sometimes it can get pretty dark and lonely, and for each useful discovery, there could be hundreds that are not so easy to find and even less that are very useful. And while you may think that every scientific discovery is worth knowing about, every now and then, humanity uses them for evil, fucked up purposes. And yet, I still trust science more than anything else. And so should you.

That tragic scenario I just described is just one face of the scientific process where even your guides (scientists) doubt themselves often and where even the smartest people in history have felt dumb at times. Science is a surefire way to humble even the most learned, the most respected, the most insightful of human beings. Why? Because it’s perfect!

 

Be a Skeptic!

 

Imagine if all the works of your favorite author, whether it’s Fitzgerald, King, Hemingway or even Dr. Seuss, had never been properly edited and carefully combed through for mistakes and errors, imagine how many glaring punctuation fails and misspellings (Scott Fitzgerald was known for not knowing how to spell simple words) those famous and important documents would be full of had not an army of editors fixed them word by word to shape them into the timeless works of art that we have now. I simply couldn’t imagine having to go through “For Whom the Bell Tolls” stopping every two words to make sense of what I just read- not that Hemingway was a terrible speller or a bad punctuationalist (I think I just invented a new word). Imagine just how difficult to understand anything would have to be if there were not people criticizing and editing every book that came out.

Believe it or not, science works the exact same way. With each experiment performed, and with each result obtained, there is usually an army of scientists all over the world expecting to scrutinize those results to fine-tune the original hypothesis, or to add commentary on it. Sometimes this “fact-checking” starts long before the actual experiment is done and continues on long after the results have been published, sometimes taking years, decades, or even centuries of proofreading, if you will.

Science is like a very exact and methodical art. Unlike a painting, science cannot just be created or manipulated at will, it cannot be thought up or destroyed and restarted, science is discovery, and while some experiments can in fact be manipulated and created, most of the science that is performed in labs, under very specific conditions, follows very strict rules that all scientists are bound by.

If you are thinking we created things like nuclear power, I will be inclined to say that you are very, very wrong. Nuclear power has existed for billions of years, and it is even the stuff that powers our very own star- the sun. However, humans did invent a way to harness that power for good and for nefarious purposes. It can be used as fission to create huge amounts of energy that could power entire cities with just one nuclear plant, or it could be used to destroy entire cities with one bomb. But putting aside for a second the moral implications of this discovery, we can all assert that even discoveries like these- used for good or bad purposes- usually follow this scientific process that we call the scientific method.

Mostly all scientists who devote their lives to the fields of science, recognize the necessity to employ this scientific method in all their work. After all it was a practice (more like a discipline) that has been evolving for millennia and continues to evolve. Without it, perhaps every scientific field would not have gotten as far as it has, and many more preventable accidents would’ve occurred, not to mention that the incidence of questionable practices might have multiplied many times over from what we know now. Along with the moral rules that evolved into their present form not too long ago, the scientific method is not very old either, although its background extends further than we think. But today we will focus on one specific part of this process as you can definitely find everything else there is to know on the rest of the scientific method.

What might look like a common cut-throat practice- as the revision process can be quite brutal sometimes- the scientific method allows scientists to build upon the initial research and help their fellow scientists achieve that goal in global unity. Skepticism is name of the game! It is a very important part of science that, once again, although it might seem harsh at times, it is essential in understanding the work better.

Over the years, many scientists have been bullied and sometimes even discredited for publishing works that, at the time, were condemned by their peers. Some of them have been avenged by the advancement of technology, allowing modern scientists to test these otherwise untestable theories and confirming or denying their results. Some others slipped into obscurity due to the harsh rejection. But for every instance in which a scientist has been rejected even by their own community, there are countless others who have pushed forward progress and understanding due to their ability to work with other scientists in testing these theories. Another important reason to use the scientific method is to simply find better ways to do things.

It is no wonder that in less than 30 years, humanity went from carriages to cars, from dreaming about flying to achieving flight. And less than 50 years after the invention of the first flying machine, humanity was able to do what early humans first thought about doing- reaching space.

The clear, and rather fast, advancement of technology to what we have today is only a testament to the power of this discipline. The power to ask why and how has pushed through boundaries that humans believed were impossible to reach. And yet, there are many who are unbelievers just for the sake of it.

In the realm of science there is a little device each and every scientist must make use of to expand the knowledge that any person has just acquired, not only for the advancement in his or her field, but for everyone’s understanding, the scientist and the layperson alike, this thing is called skepticism.

If you were not aware of this before, skepticism, in this context, is not the willing deniability of something simply because you don’t believe it, it is the questioning of ideas and processes to better understand them. Basically, it’s scrutinizing the scientist’s own work. Why do scientists do this? You might ask, well the answer is a lot more fascinating than you think. Keep reading, if you are interested to know just how skepticism, not only helps science, but actually is one of its cornerstones.

Skepticism takes whatever claims science and scientists make about the world and questions them to make sure that what’s being said is correct and clear and that it benefits us in some way. Sometimes the results, even those already questioned, are a bit muddled and what they say doesn’t benefit us in the ways that we would like, but really the point of being a skeptic is to understand the conversation. And in this regard, we are all beneficiaries.

There is also an ugly side to skepticism that doesn’t benefit anyone, not the scientists, not the policy-makers, not the public, not anyone. This ugly side actually shuts down the conversation and stops whatever possibility of understanding right in its tracks and it should never be used. Deniability is the thing to avoid.

 

Deny the Deniers

 

Imagine that you’re standing in the Louvre, there are hundreds of people crowded around you trying to get a glimpse of one of the most important paintings ever, and all you can see is a wooden frame, no picture inside it. You’re wondering what the hell is going on, you even ask someone next to you what it is that everyone is staring at. You expect some museum curator to walk out with DaVinci’s famous Mona Lisa. The person next to you turns and starts laughing at you, and you’re just there wondering why all these crazy people are laughing at you.

Deniability exists everywhere. From the moment we wake up, to the time we go to bed, we are deniers of one thing or another. Whether we believe in god or not; whether we believe in aliens or not; whether we believe in the healing power of popping plastic air bubbles or not, deniability exists everywhere. The world is ripe with it. However, there is one place where deniability just has no place for. If you said “church”, you might want to stop reading here and go pray or something. And no, the answer is not the church.

While you may think that denial and skepticism are two faces to the same coin, or that there is a fine line in between them, let me tell you flat out that you are wrong! To not make it sound so harsh I’ll just say, nah.

The word skeptic is not very well understood by many people, while the word “denial” is clearly defined by most, the problem is when people confuse the two- and it happens a lot more often than you think.

Let’s go back to the Louvre.

Imagine yourself among hundreds of people laughing and pointing at you and you are just terrified. People are urging you to look at the picture, but all you see is an empty wooden frame hanging on the wall. How can you possibly see something that it’s not there? Then someone tells you to go and touch the picture. You do, and to your surprise, before your hand touches the wall it touches something else. It feels flat and grainy- a canvas. Then you see it, the face of the Mona Lisa staring at you smirking, watching as the security guards are racing towards you to tackle you.

Science is very much like this scenario. Researchers and scientists formulate conjectures about problems they come across and review ideas formulated much earlier than them to turn that canvas into something real. Sometimes it takes a lot of work and a long time to make that canvas appear before all those who can’t see it. These people are trained over many years and mostly always have a lot of schooling behind them to prove that the rest of us are not just crazy, and that certainly they themselves are not cuckoo.

So when does skepticism become deniability and how does it hurt us?

At present, 18% of people in the United States don’t believe that global warming is a real phenomenon. An even bigger number, 40%, does not believe that it is man-made. And being skeptic about the following poll numbers, a preposterous 36% of Americans believe that global warming is directly related to the end-times. Now I don’t want to offend anyone, but this is my blog so I can pretty much say what I want, and in that regard I’ll say, don’t pay attention to this last group of yahoos. As for the other two groups, there is a huge disconnect between what scientists know and what people believe, even though those numbers have been declining over the years.

It is no secret that people will believe what they are often told by authority figures, even if some of those figures have nothing to do with scientific research, ahem, politicians, cough cough. And it is also not news that what people believe is psychologically understandable in some context or other. What seems to be true however, is that the majority of people often believe- or don’t believe- what is convenient or inconvenient, respectively, for them. Even when the problem is staring them straight in the face.

China is the most populated country on Earth. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, China has 1.3 billion people living within its borders. Out of those at least 50% of its population already live in major cities where the vast majority of rivers and canals are severely polluted to the point that there will not be any potable water left in China in the next few decades. These are figures that you can find anywhere but even the Chinese ministry of public health is saying that soon even the aquifers are going to go dry and that there will be no more clean water in the surface. And yet, there are no massive mobilization efforts to clean up the very water that the Chinese people consume on a daily basis.

If you can muster the courage to look at the pictures of animal carcasses floating by a child swimming in oily, trash-ridden, lakes and rivers, you should. The clear devastation of the environment in a growing economy, cannot and should not be ignored any longer and yet it is. It is inconvenient for the Chinese government to reduce it’s CO2 output and stop factories from dumping acid in the water systems. It is inconvenient for a growing economy and at best it is mostly allowed by the Chinese population, at worst they are being victimized by it.

There is no reason to deny such clear-cut evidence of human destruction on the environment on this case- any attempt would be cynicism at its worst. But there are other instances in which the evidence is not so well defined by what we can see, and which affects us at a pace that’s so slow that most of us deny it almost unanimously. This is when scientists have the hardest time convincing us that the Mona Lisa, really is there. Yes, this is one of those blogs!

 

Why Should We Trust the White Coats?

 

Right now, there is no doubt that the planet is heating up. The polar ice caps, and many glaciers around the world, are melting faster than previous years, and the chaotic weather anomalies all over the world seem to be multiplying year to year.

Over the decades many people, some scientists included, have declared that these weather patterns and natural occurrences are not due to human actions (“how could they be?” is their battle cry for some). But as more and more studies are done, something incredibly difficult to do by the way, many of these people have even retracted their statements showing- keyword SHOWING- us that not only is global warming a real issue, but that it is also man-made because of the burning of fossil fuels combined with the natural heating patterns of the planet, among other causes.

We could debate the issue in public forums, and we could even go as far as to say that the research is incomplete or fabricated, and yet we continue to experience rising temperatures and crazy weather all the time. The people denying these claims simply say that it is a normal occurrence and forget that 97% of scientists  (government and private organizations included) say otherwise. And that their denial hurts honest opportunities to set the course straight.

But that is the beauty of science, that it is blinder than justice, because although you can mask the results, destroy the research, even stop all further inquiry, the answer will always still be there, truer and permanent for any other person to eventually find it. Many discoveries scientists, or natural philosophers as they were known not too long ago, have been duplicated and even rediscovered by a lot of people over the centuries in different ways or for different purposes.

Most people who deny sound scientific evidence, cannot themselves put forth a better explanation of the facts and/or lack the capacity to conduct these herculean researches due to a lack of understanding of science. I mean 97% of scientists is no small number. Most of these people often fear what the results will show and thus deny them out of incomprehension- this is involuntary denial. These are the ones we forgive because with education we can show them that the evidence, while scary, it’s true and most of all important for we can still reverse that course. Then there is the other kind, those who deny it out of interest. Those are certainly the ones we do not forgive, even though they often walk free. It is no surprise that destroying the environment is much more profitable than protecting it, but if these people at least had the balls and the decency to admit what their interest does, not just to environment but to all forms of life, us included, and stopped trying to falsify the evidence and hard work that has been put into showing the population what they do to us, then maybe we would have a greater chance of doing something about protecting the environment or at least giving a lot more credibility to scientists and researchers. Until they do, public policy will always sway in between those who believe and those who stupidly don’t, to the benefit of no one. It is sad to admit that while science is infallible, public opinion and public action are not.

 

The Benefit of Believing.

 

If you are one of the objective ones, it will console you to know that the gap between those who trust science and scientists and those who still do not is narrowing. In essence, as the population gets smarter and more educated, there is a new front pushing for logical principles based on evidence, and this totally helps the scientific cause- the most noble of them all.

No one is telling you to believe blindly. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Scientists and researchers invite and encourage others- especially people not very literate in science- to question everything, even their very own beliefs. They ask you not to trust, in good faith (pun intended), anyone’s claims until they have been substantiated by hard evidence, through the revision of their work. And we should trust what scientists have to say because unlike the rest of us, they can actually explain it and they do. Not to mention they way more PhD’s than I do. The best part is that the more they know, the more we know and then we can influence our decisions and base our fears on more solid evidence than on no evidence at all.

It is a basic human need to feel accepted and included, and even scientists feel annoyance, frustration and even anger when the arduous work they put into understanding something doesn’t yield the results they hoped for or is simply not accepted by the scientific community or the public. However, most of them are adult enough, and sound enough, to admit when they are wrong and when their research lacks substance. But unlike the scientists from thousands of years ago, when nobody had any idea what the hell was going on, and even if you did you couldn’t prove it, the science from today is conducted in a more professional manner in which not only you question what they do, but they also question it among themselves. And if you have ever been questioned by someone who knows exactly how your job is done, then you know just how frustrating it can be.

Scientists- or at least the honest ones- are not making empty claims that they know you will simply trust. Unlike religion, or other organizations that make impossible-to-prove claims, science is relatively easy to use, if you have the know-how, and everyone is welcome to do it. I will not deny that science has created some of the most vile inventions in human history and I will not justify that reality. But, if humanity had the power and determination to create such horrible things, then we surely have the power to turn that destruction into creation. Let’s not forget that scientists are humans too and they err, but lets’ also remember that science is true and that it exists whether we deny it or not, but most importantly, it can be tested and proved to be either accurate or otherwise.

There is an obvious benefit to trusting what people who are more knowledgeable than us can teach us. Not only will we know way more about the world we inhabit and the universe we are part of, but we can also spot the threats, change the course in which history is going, and perhaps even one day do what countless generations before us have imagined they could do, to go places where we think it’s impossible to go. While other, less true disciplines deny their own impossibilities, science is the only one that can prove that nothing is as impossible as we once thought. And we should trust that.

But above all, question everything.