08 September 2009

Intellectual Cowardice

I came upon a disturbing news article earlier today. It had something to do with Yale University, and how it is under criticism for a certain decision that its publisher, Yale University Press, has decided to take.

It had something to do with the Danish cartoon controversy.

Remember back in 2005? When a Danish newspaper published a series of cartoons caricaturing the Islamic prophet Muhammad? And because of that, diplomatic tensions rose, with embassies being burned and protests being held all over the Islamic world? This has something to do with the Muslim tenet of not portraying the prophet for fear of idolatry.

I suppose this is a classical case of the clash between the East and the West. Of course, one would expect that there are multitudes of people that will not be happy with it, since after all, people can see this as a grave violation of their beliefs and faith.

It also is fanaticism.

What I do not get with religion and its followers is that for the most part, everyone thinks that they are right and that they believe the right religion, sometimes to the extent that they think they have the right to dictate to others what to do and what not to do. Numerous occurrences in history prove this. The Inquisition, for example, when Christianity tried taking over the whole European continent, and people would be punished if they do not convert. The same thing with the cartoon controversy.

Humans have the right brain to think. I would really wish that everybody use their brains accordingly, instead of simply following the crowd, and acting irrationally. Yale University Press is publishing a book about the incident that occurred back in 2005. For all intents and purposes, this is a scientific endeavor, so why would Yale back down and remove the cartoons from the book? The official answer that is given is because they fear violence. Wow. This somehow reminds me of Copernicus and Galileo. I didn't expect that a member of the Ivy League would be the first to lead us back to the Dark Ages.

(Weird Vehicle, from my Air and Space Museum Series)


  1. Its ironical that the Muslims are terrified of 'idol worship' (which they wrongly accuse Hindus of, but thats another story) while on their single biggest and most important pilgrimage, their holiest of holy places, they walk in a circular path (just like the Hindus/Buddhists) around a shrine that houses, guess what, some stone relic. There cannot be any rational discussion with fanatics, and keeping idealist thoughts away, I think what Yale did was sadly appropriate.

  2. Priyank,

    I know. I was being an idealist and an empiricist when I wrote this criticism of the university, but you are right, sometimes one must be pragmatic as well.

    I should like to point out however, that I have met a few Muslims who believe in tolerance, and that not all Muslims are like what we see in the news, engrossed in fundamentalism.

    Overall however, I find religion to be counter-intuitive, and just creates chaos both in the individual and the societal level. But I suppose you already know that.

  3. I used to think that religion could become a thing of the past with enough mass education. I now know mass education won't do squat when there are many people who don't or can't pay attention.

    The real enemy here is attention span. People need to have an ability to think through a problem for a length of time, from beginning to end, but most really lack that ability and even lack the desire for that ability.

  4. Glen,

    Hello and welcome. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The thing is, religion also has its functions, and for some people, that is important. Religion can provide hope to some people, letting them think that there is a better life after the current one, after they die, so it's okay to just endure the bad experiences that they have at the present moment. Religion also provides a way to have social cohesion. And for the most part, plenty of people value those traits far more to the point that they would rather turn a blind eye to education.

    And yes, I agree with the attention span problem as well. I suppose the good thing is to attack a problem aiming for a long-term solution, but some people just want to see the immediate.