“We don’t like what we don’t understand and in fact is scares us, and this monster is mysterious at least.” These song lyrics from a 1992 Disney movie (bonus points if you can name the title) detail a trait of the human race. We fear what we don’t understand. For some reason, that fear turns to hate quite easily. This has been the way of the world for some time, but I think it must be changing. How could it not be with the pace of technology these days? Given our acceptance of so much which we don’t understand, certainly hate will soon be a thing of the past.
That’s a lie, I know. We still see people all over the globe fearing what they don’t understand. With the wonders of the internet, we have the ability to at least attempt to understand anything/one, but many turn straight to hate. What strikes me as interesting is how hateful people still use things they don’t understand.
Okay, so maybe some still think the Earth is the center of the universe and dinosaurs and humans lived on this planet at the same time (what, did you miss that chapter of the Bible?). Yet, even if they refuse to explore the science that says otherwise, I bet those same people still use cell phones, computers and cars without really understanding how they all work. They don’t fear the devices they hold in their hands. They don’t hate them and they don’t understand them. I dare say, they may even like these things which they don’t understand.
That is one thing that has always irked me about what I call “overly religious” types. They ‘don’t believe’ in so many scientific facts, but are more than happy to use devices whose very existence is dependent of those same facts. Maybe that’s where the absence of understanding comes in. If they don’t attempt to understand the technology they use, then they can go on denying those facts without ever once questioning that conviction.
I won’t go so far as to say science is the be all end all of the world. There is an opposite to the “overly religious” type for which I have yet to name. “Overly scientific” seems ill-fitting as the nature of science is to question. If one has no questions, I can hardly call them scientific (maybe you guys can help me come up with the right term). Whatever you choose to label these people, they incorrectly believe science is fact and nothing else is true.
What the extreme sides of both religion and science miss is that their beliefs and facts change over time. Yes, even religion changes over time. Science is more uncomfortable, though. For every answer we discover, we find a dozen more questions to be answered. If the human race goes on for another hundred thousand years, I am sure we will still have just as many unanswered questions as we do now. We don’t like that. We want concrete answers that never change, but that’s not the world we live in.
As a race, we have sought to organize and understand the world, shunning anything that doesn’t fit our defined patterns. Progressing into the future, we are going to have to change that perspective. No single human being will ever understand everything about everything and every single human being will be required to use something they don’t understand to survive.
Knowing this, I see two potential futures. There is the future where we are comfortable not knowing everything and let go of the fear of what we don’t understand. Then, there is the future where we just believe. The television works because we believe it does. The airplane flies because we believe it does. What would we believe in? Perhaps it would be a form of science with all questioning ripped away. Maybe those who create such machines would be held up on a psudo-god pillar, above all questioning.
In all honesty, I hope those two futures will merge to create something more beautiful. It’s sad that, in the current state of the world, I associate belief and religion with the restriction of questions. I think that’s because those who believe in anything rarely stop to question those beliefs, to the point where such questions become forbidden. That bothers me, because asking questions, especially the hard questions, is how we grow and progress. We learn new things by questioning old ways.
But maybe there is a future where people believe and question in harmony.
Do you have a term for the scientific equivalent of “overly religious”? What items do you use on a daily basis even though you don’t understand how they work? Why do you think some people are threatened by certain things and people they don’t understand, but not others? What makes the difference?