I was thinking about something I read lately about how some preachers are telling their congregations that if it is a choice between science and the Bible, the Bible has to be right. They explicitly teach putting faith over the evidence of not just science, but their very senses.
This thought had been rattling around in my mind for a few days when I happened upon a picture that someone had created based on the slogans of Ingsoc from George Orwell’s 1984. They were:
War is Peace
Hate is Love
Ignorance is Strength
It was the last one that really hit me like a bolt between the eyes and actually gave me a shock. This is exactly what these preachers, ministers, priests and imams are teaching the flocks: Ignorance is strength. It is the same kind of dangerous ignorance that is taught in Winston Smith’s dystopian world; not just the ignorance of the unknowing, but willful ignorance in the face of facts and even your own senses.
How different is what these religious leaders teach from what the Party of Ingsoc taught in 1984?
It is said that if you repeat a lie enough people will believe it. If you keep telling people that God will heal them, that he will fulfill all their needs, that if you ask it will be given unto you, people will stop relying on themselves to make decisions and put their faith instead in nothing but superstition. What is the difference between believing that carrying a rabbit’s foot or four leaf clover will bring you luck and that an invisible entity will answer your prayers? How does one have anymore more validity than the other? The truth is that they don’t because neither has any validity what-so-ever.
Children die because their parents choose to pray for them rather then get them qualified medical help. Albinos in Africa are killed because it is believed that their body parts have magical powers. Women are killed in other parts of Africa because someone believes they are witches. All of these terrible things are the consequences of superstition and magical thinking.
When we allow ourselves to believe that there is strength in ignorance, that learning and education is somehow dangerous because it is a sign of “elitism”, we put ourselves at the mercy of superstition and fear, and lives are destroyed because of it.
Ignorance is weakness of the mind and one of the greatest evils that our species faces and can lead to nothing but suffering and darkness.