Saturday, August 25, 2012

Brief Reflexions on Posterity's Chances

I have a question which has been tugging at the back of my mind for a while.
Does religion turn a person stupid, or does a stupid person feel attracted towards religion? Is it one, or both? Is there a chicken-and-egg scenario, or is it a feedback loop of some sort?

I am usually good at pushing such existentialist questions to the back of my mind. What prompted the return of this problem to the forebrain with renewed vigor today was the following situation.

The celebrated American Astronaut, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, passed away today, at 82 years of age. Intimating this piece of news in a post today, FreeThoughtBlogger Ophelia Benson - whom I read regularly - snarkily reminded her readers of a long-standing urban legend.
Did you know he was a Muslim? The Zionist media won’t be telling you that, of course, but it’s the truth... What happened is, he heard the call to prayer while he was strolling around on the moon, and that was so awesome that he was all "O Allah" and he totally converted.
The "... heard the call to prayer while... strolling around on the moon" bit was a dead giveaway, but never having heard this one before (I know! Total geek FAIL, right?), I was intrigued and followed the link (that Ophelia provided in her post) to a page on on this urban legend about Neil Armstrong. The page had a couple of short paragraph describing this enduring myth - which even prompted an official denial by the US Department of State in 1983, and seems to be one of those legendary hoaxes that carry on and on by the sheer power of being passed on.

But that is not the story I wanted to tell today. Being a sucker for punishment, I waded into the comments from religious folks following the above-mentioned page. GAAAH!! By everything that is holy, TEH STOOPID! IT BURNS!!

See for yourself - choicest comments presented herein straight from the page, in their glorious originality preserved for posterity via a screenshot...

Neil Armstrong - Muslim? From (screenshot)

This is, sadly, not an isolated incident; one can see similar comments in similar contexts in different fora wherever religious issues are brought up. Ordinarily, I'd ignore such stupidity put on display. But at another level, it bothers me. These are obviously not some random illiterate fools who don't know any better; they seem to be educated, at least to some extent. English may not be their native tongue, but they are conversant in the language. They are computer/internet savvy enough to find an page (possibly via the use of an internet Search Engine, and to leave a comment by clicking the appropriate button/link on the page and typing in the response in the text box. I know nothing about which country these commenters are from, but it is not difficult to presume that being educated and internet-enabled, they, and folks like them, represent perhaps currently - or perhaps in future - the next generation of the workforce of their respective societies, engaging and interacting with others at work and at leisure. With this level of abysmal ignorance and patent refusal to deal with the realities of life - put so abundantly on display by this generation - what would happen to the societies the generation belongs to? As time goes on and humankind moves forward, how would these society ever cope, how would they survive?

I know that a lot of these societies try to deal with the influx of the modern times by tightly closing their eyes, ear and minds, and walking backwards while desperately clinging to old, anachronistic customs, traditions and superstitions that are often inequitable, regressive and disturbing, but nevertheless comfortable-by-familiarity. But this attitude can't last long; it cannot remain viable. The times, they have a way of a-changing.

I keep hoping for the best, that reason and sanity will return to humankind. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but one day.

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