Cultural differences aren’t our problem; human nature is. Wherever people exist, they take their characteristics with them, improving or tainting every endeavor. Recently I read an article excerpted in The Week that makes the point. The piece was by Pakistani journalist, Nadeem Paracha. He was decrying the role of “Islamic science” in the destruction of traditional methods of discovery. Once Arab and Persian cultures stood at the pinnacle of learning but once religious precepts took control of research, learning suffered. Today, Paracha becomans that, “so-called learned men actually set about discussing things like how to generate energy and electricity from jinns, [Islamic Demons.]” (“Why Islam permeates our science,” by Nadeem F. Paracha, excerpted from Dawn in The Week, February 14, pg. 15)
Science in the west faces a similar threat. Bible literalists insist that evolution is wrong, that carbon dating is wrong and that the earth is 6,000 years old. As I say, human nature is capable of blinding itself wherever passions are high. But science should no longer be considered religion’s chief rival. Another contest has long been foretold. In the 18 & 19 centuries, clergymen saw sports as their bitterest enemy and railed from the pulpit that “the playing field promoted worship of false idols.” (America’s National Religion” by Chris Beneke and Arthur Remillard, excerpted from The Washington Post by The Week, 2/14/14, pg. 12)
Funnily enough, the clerics were right to be concerned. Today religious services are sparsely attended while parishioners stay home to watch sports competitions. Everywhere, stadiums flourish while churches fall into disrepair. Six out of ten Americans admit to being fans of one sport or another, twice the number reported 50 years ago. (Ibid pg. 12). In the stands, the same tribal passions ignite that consumed the battlefields of the Crusades. According to Beneke and Remillard, sport is the new religion. The young are encouraged to tackle one another, lash out with sticks or boxing gloves or balls, all with the intent of defeating their opponents and hearing the roar of their worshipping fans.
(Image of a jinn courtesy of ilmejinn.blogspot.com)