It is our own American meme to believe that ignorant and dangerous ideas will die out as science and enlightenment evangelizes our globe. The problem is that as knowledge moves increasingly faster in this Information Age, it seems that the growth of these intellectual/spiritual/societal landmines is also accelerating. Before I get comments about the state of world education, let me explain myself a bit further.
Our collective education level is well above what it was even decades ago. Progress has accomplished a drastic increase in literacy and general knowledge worldwide. But the turn of the century deterministic idea that enlightenment principles would end in utopianism proves itself markedly false. This should bring great pause to atheistic ideas of freeing a populous from religious “wives tales.” Religious ideas are obviously not simply produced by indoctrination. There is something in the human condition that naturally seeks to answer a question of purpose spiritually. But the dark underbelly of this is the natural human tendency to believe lies tied to prejudice and hatred.
This belief that we will conquer this spiral is ever-resurging, despite all evidence to the contrary. Perhaps this is its own lie for those who feel themselves above believing lesser wives tales. In their estimation, no obstacle will get in their way of a future where a godless science brings eternal peace, unless the evil power-brokers of religion attain their goal.
Many Christians hold to a similar view. In their mythology, the spread of the gospel creates an eternal Kingdom on earth. This happens through of a battle of attrition with evil forces as people around the world slowly accept Christ. This is clung to with equal fanaticism as each century since Christ becomes bloodier than the one before. If we are getting better, we are mostly getting better at killing each other.
Despite the fact that they want to achieve their goals in exactly opposite ways, both religious and secular utopians believe themselves to be the Rebellion against the other evil Empire. Both have Darth Vader’s to kill on their way to the happier-ever-after. And both sides believe that the way to achieving peace will largely lie in exterminating those opposed to their goals.
So what is this all leading to? That is the million dollar question, of course. It isn’t easily answered because, despite all the generalizations I’ve made so far, sociology and history isn’t so linear. Humanity didn’t start out with genius, and peace, and happiness (Eden excluded) any more than it is going to end up in scientific utopia. As Mark Twain once said, history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme. -Ryan