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February 13, 2006, Volume 13 Nr. 35, Issue 203

The New Dark Age - the 21st Century

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

It has taken a thousand years for the western world to walk out of feudalism and the Dark Ages only to re-enter it in the 21st century.  Physicist John Huebner, in his study of technological innovation per world population, finds that the rate of innovation per billion people per year matches the rate of the year 1600.  Ray Kurzweil, an artificial intelligent expert, and a Huebner critic, disagrees saying that most innovations take place quietly without apparent quantification.  While scientists and innovators debate whether technological innovation has slowed, the public has fallen woefully behind in awareness and understanding of those innovations.  Nor does it care.  Worse, the general population of the planet seems content in swimming within a miasma of ignorance precipitated by neo-medieval religious ignorance.  What people cannot understand, they attack.  Answers to questions that require careful scrutiny and in-depth study, analysis and empiricism are replaced with scriptural artifacts, faith delusions, wishful thinking, hocus pocus, and bogus belief.  Across the board, people are accepting, even preferring, pre-scientific "remedies" for health conditions and pseudo-science for physical phenomena.  People are returning to remedies and explanations long ago discredited: homeopathy for the homo-pathetic; chiro-quacktic for those supposedly requiring weekly adjustments; hands-on healing for minds shut off; astral travel for the homeward bound; prayer in place of prescription; wishful thinking in place of action, etc.  In the United States, a love affair has emerged with the so-called alternative medicine, its therapies, techniques and practices some of which date back thousands of years.  Many of these have long ago been abandoned as nonsense.  The idiocy of giving credence to them now based upon mere chronological longevity is testament to the lack of understanding of what science is and how it works.  Personal preferences and beliefs supplant awareness of science fact.  We prefer things to be the we want them to be, and we prefer them to be simple.  That which requires significant effort to understand is subjected to derision by those who would prefer quickly acquiring solutions.  Relief, then is bottled, packaged, sold and purchased in the ever-expanding capitalist "alternative" marketplace.  "Health food" stores do a thriving business selling their products and remedies as more and more of them are produced up by the same capitalist interests that bring us Coca Cola, Lays potato chips, bottled water, vitamins and minerals.

Over the past few decades, the notion of questioning authority has successful that a lunacy of fact rejection permeates our culture.  The Age of Aquarius deserves much of the blame for the New Dark Ages that have descended upon us.  Since science itself is seen as an authority, it must be rejected, goes the thinking.  But, questioning authority is one thing.  Rejecting the truth is another.  Rejecting knowledge simply because it comes from the authority of science is idiocy.  Billions of people worldwide reject science as a consequence of their perception that science threatens them and their faith in, well, whatever their faith happens to demand that they believe.  In their minds, science challenges their "Higher Authority", or "alternative explanation."  This palpable threat stemming from inadequacy dismisses science altogether.  Tending the flock requires a dogmatic obedience to "Higher Authority".  How else can the sheep be driven to whatever precipice the shepherd demands.  If you are not with us you are against us, says God.  If you are not with us you are against us says the king, or the president.  How dare science challenge God and the tenets of people's faith?  How dare reason, fact and truth challenge the commander-in-chief?  The more important questions, however, are seldom considered.  That is, of what authenticity is a higher authority that is so easily threatened?  What loyalty does a commander-in-chief deserve that fears the truth?

In the State of the Union speech 2006, George W. Bush, the most anti-science resident ever to occupy the White House, stated, 

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos.

Using the phrase "creating human-animal hybrids" pushes the required buttons.  It produces an intended frenzy among the religious Right.  It deliberately sensationalizes and trivializes the complex issues at hand.  Complexity and explanation of it, however, are not what the ignorant seek.  Those manipulating the ignorant prefer to provide neither.  The ignorant are comfortable with simple solutions offered them.  They are content to living their lives with minimal personal involvement in the quest for knowledge.  They are happy to accept what they are told - and to blame those who do not accept it - for the world's ills.  Out of fear, the simple-minded accept whatever new doctrine or enemy their pastor or their president declares.  With God and Karl Rove calling the shots, redemption is just around the corner.  To them there is no need to  question Mr. Bush who is obviously an authority on nothing?  There is no desire to hammer this non-reading president for his ridiculous reference to human-animal hybrids?  Does George W. Bush, for example, believe that a pig heart-valve replacement, if it were needed to save his life, would make him a "human-animal hybrid"?  Does George W. Bush actually know what "an egregious abuse of medical research" is?  I doubt it.  

What George W. Bush was doing, in this the Dark Age year of 2006 State of the Union speech, where his approval poll numbers are in the cellar, was to reach out and touch the religious ignoramus base.  Bush is attempting to throw out the "mad-scientists" and their Liberal lackeys for his own political expediency.  These same "mad-scientists", however, are the ones  required to perform for the Empire in its quest for world domination and global hegemony.  The hypocrisy abounds as Bush relies upon science and the scientific community for the creation of the Pentagon's new generation of weapons of mass destruction.  Current weapons of mass destruction include internationally banned cluster bombs, depleted uranium, tactical nuclear warheads, napalm, white phosphorous, bunker busters, etc.  Here is a man who criticizes science research, for example the stem cell research with the potential to saves lives,  while embracing and admiring the shock and awe that destroys it.  Where are your priorities, Mr. Bush?

When you tell the people you have God on your side, they will, in this New Dark Age, believe anything you say.  George W. Bush's appeal to the public's aversion toward scientific research is an attempt to divert the ever-growing national and international disgust that free-thinking people have of him.  Unfortunately, the number of free-thinkers in this time of disknowledge is alarming.  Why is it acceptable for the United States to traumatize human embryos and create deformed babies by spreading depleted uranium across the country-side of an illegally occupied country?  Why is it acceptable to bomb pregnant women and forcefully abort their fetuses from 50,000 feet?  Why is it an honorable thing to brag about fighting a war by remote control from the comfort of your living room, as Dick Cheney has done?  Why is it unacceptable to create a hybrid species of laboratory mice that could be used to cure human disease and alleviate debilitating human conditions, but acceptable to drop thousands of pounds of bombs on the Iraqi people?  Why are genetically altered animals  acceptable to be eaten by humans as food but not to cure diseases?  Why is the "Flavor Savorô" tomato acceptable for sale in our super-markets?  Including the "Flavor Savorô", there are presently 50 genetically altered plant varieties approved by the USDA (Biotech at SFA).  Why do Bush's friends in the beef industry force feed rendered fowl, poultry, lamb and cattle to cows?  If ever there was a disgusting practice, it is force feeding rendered animal  by-products to ruminants.  

In the year 2006, the world has witnessed violence spurred on by Danish cartoons supposedly defaming a religious figure.  How easily the ignorant destroy and kill?  The world has also heard a "born again" preacher call for the execution of the president of Venezuela.  How easy it is to forget the 6th commandment: thou shall not kill?  Zealots have attempted to replace the evidence for evolution with the non-evidence of "intelligent design" in our schools.  Within recent years, the tragedy of Terry Schiavo was politicized by Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, et al, so that the ignorant could be frenzied into action for the benefit of the regime.  And so, the frenzied await the Rapture when they will be whisked away into heaven.  Little do they know, nor do they care, that the idea of the Rapture is only 170 years old.  What does it matter that Margaret MacDonald, a 15-year old girl, who in 1830 Scotland had a vision about the Rapture?  What does it matter that John Nelson Darby at that time devised the idea of a two-staged return of Jesus Christ?  What does it matter what the truth is, for belief is much easier to come by than the facts.  The truth is that religious lunacy kills.  It is lunacy that kills people in Indonesia who refuse polio vaccinations on religious grounds.  It is the same lunacy that threatens the offspring of NuAgers and the rest of us by their rejection of vaccinations.  Other religious lunacy abounds: "Inquisitions, Crusades, slavery, stoning to death, fundamentalist terrorism, abortion clinic bombings and such like are well known parts of past and present history resulting directly from and because of religious fervor" (Retrograde Religion, David Nichols).  Nichols goes on to say, 

Religion, with its roots springing from the days of scientific ignorance, as an explanation of nature, has outlived its usefulness. It is an anathema to modern humanity and a retrograde notion whose merit is far outweighed by its devastating consequences.

And yet, the public clamors for more religion, for more petitioning of God to solve problems that humans only they had the will could  accomplish.  Only the ignorant and the blank of mind would fail to notice that the more they petition the Lord, the less the Lord seems to do their bidding.  It is, after all, the Bible and prayer belt that leads the United States in unwanted pregnancies, divorces, poverty, floods, hurricanes  It is, after all, the preachers who scream  about sex and thievery, who have the affairs and do the stealing.  James A. Haught in his piece, Adventures in the Bible Belt, writes,

Society is treated to a carnival each time a TV Elmer Gantry is caught in a bordello -- each time Catholics see miraculous tears dripping from a statue -- each time a guru sets another wrong Doomsday date -- each time a faith-healer sees a 900-foot-high Jesus -- each time a supermarket tabloid proclaims that Christ has returned -- each time a glitzy preacher in a lacquered hairdo fleeces the rubes.

In the United States, where everything is up for sale, souls are bought and sold in the "free market" system just like cigarettes or prescription drugs.  As always, only the sale matters.  The hype and the lie of the sale are a means to an end.  Give me your soul and along with it I will take your money and your mind.  And so, we move toward unparalleled ignorance, a New Dark Age in the 21st century.  It is a Dark Age far worse than that of Medieval times.  It is far worse because today we have the tools and the mechanisms at our disposal for understanding the machinations of the physical universe, and we reject them.  It is far worse because given a choice, we choose to be ignorant.  Thousands of years of human development have failed to move us beyond the fairy tale of a  hereafter, a so-called kingdom of heaven that does not exist.  This fairy tale keeps us from taking responsibility for and making our planet a better place on which to live.  Instead, we embrace the egotistical and self-centered notion that we will be with God forever if only we do as the Master commands.  It is far worse, however, as the cynical can and do use science to do more violence and assert more control than the Medieval Church and State could have dreamed.  The kingdom of god is a ludicrous as the kingdom of George W. Bush.  Each, however, is equally dangerous to the well being of humanity.  Each demands the same ignorant obedience.   Each is quick to punish and condemn to "hell".  

Fundamentalism rots the brain.  Religion keeps us ignorant.  And rotting brains and ignorance in high places endangers the human species.  And so, the inmates have taken over the asylum.  Whether in the Middle East or in the Christian United States of America, or on the banks of Atlantis, or in communion with extra-terrestrials, or in astral projection, or within the degradation sessions of Scientology, humanity has abandoned reason.  With so many gods and out-of-Earth entities on so many sides of so many people, with so many prayers petitioning death and destruction on others, with so much stupidity passing for knowledge, the future looks bleak.  Perhaps, there will be a reawakening, a renaissance where the quest for knowledge and understanding will once again pay tribute to the possibility of human mental development?  We can only hope that 21st Century Dark Age comes to an end before life as we know it does as consequence of it.

Our duty is for myth with knowledge replace; 
thus the will to be gullible displace, 
and make true ethics the first duty to Gods 
(thus ignoring the church synods). 
To be consistently moral requires a properly schooled mind
One which logic and science and ethics bind,
Since Gods (if there be any) are both intelligent and kind, 
what would they wish of mankind? 
to put aside all that is odd:
the chirpings of praise, 
the mental malaise, 
the pomp & circumstance, 
the priestly performance, 
the mysteries and rites, 
and claims of divine light; 
and to make reason the guiding light; 
to make reason the guiding light.
  
From the poem "Blasphemy" (poem on Christian Religion), a rant by jk at http://skeptically.org/againstreligion/id12.html

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski is co-editor and co-publisher of Metaphoria along with his life partner and wife, JeanneE.  He is 30-year veteran teacher and a member of Veterans For Peace.  His writings have appeared in After Downing Street, Buzzflash, Counterpunch, Thomas Paine's Corner, Rense.com, Omni Center, Rutland Herald, Times Argus, and others.  

© 2006 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

   
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