NEWS YOU WON'T FIND ON CNN

  Send Page To a Friend

In the Absence of Reason

By Charles Sullivan

06/17/07 "
ICH" -- -- Former vice president Al Gore has published a new book called, “The Assault on Reason.” I have not read the book, but the title, like Gore’s documentary film title about global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth”, is compelling. I have never been a supporter of Gore’s Plutocratic politics, but the titles he has chosen for some of his projects are excellent.

The reason I find the title of Gore’s latest book so compelling is that I have had extensive encounters with the assault on reason. Like many of you, I encounter it daily and am often exasperated by it. Were the results of these encounters not so tragic, they might be seen as comical.

I earn a modest living by working in a small wood shop specializing in architectural radial millwork. The owner, like most of the employees, considers himself a devout Christian. He is convinced that he is doing the will of his God. My coworkers are good people, but they are sadly misinformed about the world in general, and things political in particular. They have subscribed to the mythos that the United States can do no wrong, and that the actions of the government in the Middle East, and elsewhere, are not only justified, but sanctified by god. That is the thinking behind manifest destiny.

How so many intelligent people could arrive at such an erroneous conclusion is not as mystifying as it might appear. It is the result of an assault on reason that is sweeping the nation and actively promoting ignorance and superstition in place of rational and ethical thought.

The prevailing view among my coworkers is that science and reason are shams because they undermine Christian orthodoxy, and thus contradict their belief system. For them, this makes science and reason not only anti-Christian, but the enemy of faith. By exposing the fallacy behind religious dogma, science and reason diminish the power of the religious hierarchy to exercise control over the lives of the faithful multitudes. Increasingly, however, critical self examination is being censored by the authoritarians in control of the government.

The religious right has used Christian orthodoxy to infiltrate our public schools and to obliterate the separation of church and state. The halls of congress are teeming with born again Christians with activist agendas, as are the courts. Politicized Christians are abolishing science and reason and replacing them with religious dogma and superstition. Once again history is repeating itself because we have failed to grasp its lessons.

Some of my co-workers believe that the earth is little more than two thousand years old, despite convincing evidence to the contrary. There are trees in North America with annual growth rings that go thousands of years beyond that. The earth, according to the best empirical data, is thought to be about 4.5 billion years old. I share that belief—based upon extensive, scientifically tested, peer reviewed evidence. I am willing to change my mind about this if more compelling evidence comes to light. Only the fossil record is written in stone.

The acquisition of knowledge is an incremental evolutionary process that is formed layer upon layer, through generations of human encounters with nature. That process must always be open to change and critical self examination. Otherwise, it serves no useful purpose, other than to concentrate power and privilege and to control the population for nefarious purposes.

Knowledge is liberation. Dogma is enslavement.

One must examine the evidence, listen to the arguments, and give them due consideration; and follow where the evidence leads, even if it contradicts what one wants to believe. That is the difference between religious dogma and sound science derived from reasoned thought. This, I believe, is the point of Mr. Gore’s book.

The religious right’s coordinated assault on reason has paved the way for the onslaught of the new dark ages. It laid the ground work for America to become what she is today, with still more horrible things to come—unless we awaken and rise up in powerful, unified opposition.

Centuries ago Ptolemy subscribed to the belief that the earth was at the center of the universe. During the age of Ptolemy the religious orthodoxy believed that man was a ‘special’ creation—a direct descendant from god—that existed on a plain above the so called ‘lower’ animals. This was the view held by the all powerful church, and it was about as malleable as a piece of granite. Religious doctrine was also civil law, which accrued power and privilege to the religious hierarchy.

Those who opposed official church doctrine based upon incontrovertible evidence to the contrary—men like Galileo and Copernicus, were treated as heretics and severely punished. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for contradicting widely accepted religious doctrine.

Ultimately, however, the heretics proved to be right and the church wrong. Thus humankind progressed in its understanding of the cosmos by the persistent efforts of a small number of dissidents and truth seekers. It has always been so.

The inability or refusal to reason, to seek truth and understanding, inevitably leads to intolerance and intellectual torpidity. We see the tragic consequences of this all around us. Ignorance and superstition are replacing knowledge and reason as the dominant cultural paradigm. Since reason and logic have no effect on the adherents of dogma, encountering it is akin to running into a brick wall many feet thick. There is no getting through to the other side.

Occasionally, conversation at the shop centers on politics and the moral justification for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. The justification for the invasion: the Iraqis attacked us when they flew those air liners into the Word Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. I have pointed out that the Iraqis were not involved in those actions, but there is good evidence that the government was.

The men with whom I had this discussion were utterly stunned, even flabbergasted by this assertion. It was as if I had renounced their god and was, like Bruno, to be burned at the stake as a blasphemer. I offered to cite the evidence and even provide source materials for them to peruse. Neither of them was willing to examine the evidence. Neither would hear any of it. Both men were visibly agitated at the thought that such evidence may actually exist, and that it could be so easily produced. They were afraid to confront the facts, or to be confronted by them. Their entire belief system was at risk.

The very idea that the United States government might be complicit in the death of thousands of its own citizens as a pretext for war is still preposterous to most U.S. citizens, despite the historical record that is suppressed in the mainstream, but widely available from other sources. The sound of so many minds slamming shut like a steel prison door is deafening.

One of these men tried to argue his point. He stated that there is evidence for his views that are as good or as valid as my own in regard to the demise of the World Trade Center buildings. There is an important distinction that must be made, however. There are arguments, there is evidence; and there are indisputable facts.

One can argue the existence of god, but the issue is not likely to be resolved by arguments and debate. There is no incontrovertible evidence to prove or disprove the existence of god. It is a matter of faith; what one chooses to believe on a spiritual level, rather than empirical evidence obtained from the physical realm.

There is the fossil record, which can be regarded as evidence not only of the earth’s age, but also of evolution. Evolution does not necessarily preclude the existence of god. The age of fossils can be ascertained with reasonable accuracy through carbon dating. One must decide how convincing that evidence is and decide how much weight it deserves in shaping their belief system.

There are the principles of physics and thermodynamics, such as Newton’s laws of motion, which qualify as immutable laws of nature. Gravity is an example of natural law that is not, as far as I know, in dispute by anyone.

The laws of nature are not affected by human arguments and conjecture. They simply are. It is gravity that keeps us bound to earth, whether we accept that fact or not.

The temperature at which steel melts and the heat produced by specific fuels under known conditions is an example of natural law. We know that the steel in the World Trade Center buildings could not have melted from low intensity fires caused by jet fuel, as the government purports. Even if those fires had burned for months the steel towers could not have melted as a result. Jet fuel simply does not produce enough heat.

Then there is the problem of building seven, which wasn’t hit by a plane. Yet it too had unexplained low intensity fires of short duration, and fell at near free fall speed within in its own footprint.

Even the untrained eye could see that those buildings were brought down by controlled demolitions, which had to be expertly placed weeks in advance. Fire fighters in the buildings confirmed the sound of internal demolitions just prior to the collapse of the buildings. Other visual evidence confirms their assertions. The corporate media has suppressed this evidence—propaganda through omission. Thus we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the government lied, and it continues to do so with regularity. No surprise there.

There are reams of evidence for government complicity in the felling of the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. But none of this evidence emphatically proves the government’s participation in the murder of thousands of U.S. citizens. It does, however, completely undermine the government’s credibility. It leads to more questions that must be addressed through objective scientific and moral inquiry, none of which have been forth coming.

Why is the government covering up the truth about 9/11? Who is responsible?

Given what we know about history, the players involved in recent events, and the existence of documents that called for a new Pearl Harbor well before 9/11 as a pretext for war in the Middle East, it is very plausible that the government brought down those buildings, and murdered thousands of innocent civilians. I believe that is what happened, but I cannot prove it empirically.

Following the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, most of the physical forensic evidence was deliberately destroyed, and normal criminal investigative protocols were ignored.

The death of civilians means nothing to a government that routinely murders civilians around the world, and sends its own to kill and be killed for imperialistic purposes. The historical record speaks for itself. Pax America is an old phenomenon, not one that is peculiar to George Bush and Dick Cheney. It is a phenomenon that is deeply rooted in plutocracy, corporatism, racism, and capitalism—a fact that too many U.S. citizens are terrified to face.

It is tragically sad that so few U.S. citizens are even willing to confront the evidence and demand accountability. 9/11 and subsequent events were made possible by a systemic absence of reason in our culture. We behave as if ignorance somehow protects us from reality. It does not. Eventually, darkness must give way to the light.

Hiding our collective heads in the sand out of fear can hardly be considered an act of courage or enlightenment. Indeed, it is moral cowardice of the worst kind.

What we don’t know, and what we refuse to know, does us, and the world, considerable harm. Reality has a way of intruding upon our preconceived ideas. Hiding in fear does not make evil go away; it assures its continuation.

Charles Sullivan is a wood worker, nature photographer, and free-lance writer residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia. He welcomes, but may not always be able to respond to commentary at csullivan@phreego.com.

Sources:

Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, Michael Ruppert

The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11, David Ray Griffin

Oil Empire, www.oilempire.us/

Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Stephen Kinzer

9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Volume 1, David Ray Griffin

A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn

 

Click on "comments" below to read or post comments

  Comment (0)

Comment Guidelines
Be succinct, constructive and relevant to the story. We encourage engaging, diverse and meaningful commentary. Do not include personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and emails. Comments falling outside our guidelines – those including personal attacks and profanity – are not permitted.
See our complete Comment Policy and use this link to notify us if you have concerns about a comment. We’ll promptly review and remove any inappropriate postings.

Send Page To a Friend

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information ClearingHouse endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

 

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon

 Sign up for our Daily Email Newsletter

  Amazon Honor System

HOME

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

 

Video