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Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Mind that has closed in on Fixed Opinions

In my book A Tale of Two Deserts I refer to minds that have closed in on fixed opinions. Recently, through Twitter, I had an encounter with such a mind, belonging to an atheist.

There is something that you need to know about atheism in the modern world: we now live in the era of extreme atheism; people, who, armed with an anti-religious dogma, can be as bad as the religious zealot; both are equally dangerous. The term there is no one more dangerous that he(or she) who knows the truth, comes to mind – it can be found in my book Encounter with a Wise Man, which is about the madness that often stems from those who adhere to an ideology, what ever that may be: scientific, religious, economic … And there are many people who are caught up in an ideology, but being ideological, do not see themselves as such.

One day in October (2013), through the twitter hash-tag Atheism, I encountered the dogma that is modern atheism. Here I found a tweet “…. given what religion has done.” Immediately I recognised a tweet that had derogatory overtones, and I wondered which religion was being referenced here, for there are many and some, like Buddhism, on the whole, have no record of violence (there is a notable exception to this which I will write a blog about in the future), this being totally contrary to what Buddhism aims to achieve and its theology. And of course, religion actually has done nothing, for it is religious people that have done things, both bad and good. Religious people actually do a lot of good work in communities, for such work is seen as a spiritual act that blesses both those that give and those that receive.

Another tweet that I noticed, questioned the morality of a God that allows cancer in babies. Why blame God for such, as it is not a universal religious belief that God created the universe? Indeed, there are many imperfect aspects to what used to be called creation, including humans – we are indeed highly imperfect. I thought also that a more relevant question to ask is why humans have created so many carcinogenic materials and allowed these to become a common feature of our world. The answer of course is because these are result of science and people make a lot of money out of these chemicals and materials, and whatever we do, let us not question that which we can change – the morality of science and free markets.

After looking at a few tweets I realised that I had entered a world of dogma, and of minds that have closed in on fixed opinions, where people are blind to the implications of what is being said. I also noticed a lack of compassion, love, and empathy in the tweets. What also struck me was the anger in these messages. The similarity of all this to that which sometimes spouts forth from religious (and scientific) minds that have also closed in on fixed opinions, is notable. So in response to the blind dogma of atheism, I sent a few calming tweets into their cyber-world:

1. There is God and there is religion: two completely different things;

2. Religion and science are both inventions of the human mind; both are highly imperfect, but God is not;

3. You do not have to be religious to believe in God;

4. The religious extremist, the scientific extremist: the same mind-set with different names;

5. Without doubt religion has a bad name, but so does science: both need to be made better;

6. In atheism and in religion I find a lot of angry people blinded by their dogma – please change;

7. Atheists are like theists – highly imperfect and inclined to do good things and sometimes very bad things;

8 The great mistake, seen across history, is to judge all based on the actions of some or even the many.

Then I received a message from someone who asked why atheists should be angry. To this I replied: It’s human, made worse when people believe that theirs is the sole truth. All religions are true including atheism!

This apparently was not an answer, and the question was repeated, to which I sent another reply: people have a tendency to seek reinforcement of beliefs – regardless of what these beliefs are.

Then all went quiet, but this was not the end of the matter. I decided to follow, on Twitter, the person who had asked the question, but then quickly discovered that a request had been made to Twitter that I should not be allowed to follow this person. Very interesting I thought, so I began to dig deeper, and what I found was a person so blinded by atheist dogma, a mind so closed in on a fixed opinion, that they were not even willing to hear anything that would call in to question their beliefs. And these people I have encountered everywhere in society: in religion, in science, in technology, in politics, in business, and so forth. And very frightening such people can be, being I fear, in some cases, close to the edge of doing bad things, although none would admit to such. This, you see, is the danger inherent to any dogma, for it eventually leads to the imposition of one persons will, on others. And atheists are no different from anyone else, so let us not be deluded into thinking these are harmless people, tolerant of all!

One of the interesting things about this person is that they had adopted a slogan “I think therefore I am armed.” Not so. A more appropriate slogan would be, “I once had a thought, then I stopped thinking because I found the truth and I now have no need to think anymore”. 

There are many minds in the modern world which have closed in on fixed opinions. They can be found inside the heads of atheists, priests, scientists, engineers, technologists, economists, entrepreneurs, investors, … the list is endless. And from this, great madness flows, leading to a future that must not be.

Atheism has failed. Religion has failed. Science has failed. Materialism has failed. Capitalism has failed. Socialism has failed. Technology has failed. The Nation State has failed. Experts and professionals have failed. And so on … But there is an answer to this, but it will not be found if people insist on keeping their minds closed. We need, as a species, to move forward, and to do this we must ourselves move beyond minds that have closed in on fixed opinions: A Tale of Two Deserts.

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