Welcome To The Age of "Unenlightenment"

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[Beating Dead Horses]
Charlie Brooker of London's Guardian writes, "In the 18th century, a revolution in thought, known as the Enlightenment, dragged us away from the superstition and brutality of the Middle Ages toward a modern age of science, reason and democracy."

But now, he claims, we're entering a new era: The Unlightenment - in which centuries of rational thought are overturned by the superstitious.

In the 18th century, a revolution in thought, known as the Enlightenment, dragged us away from the superstition and brutality of the Middle Ages toward a modern age of science, reason and democracy. It changed everything. If it wasn't for the Enlightenment, you wouldn't be reading this right now. You'd be standing in a smock throwing turnips at a witch. Yes, the Enlightenment was one of the most significant developments since the wheel. Which is why we're trying to bollocks it all up.

Welcome to a dangerous new era - the Unlightenment - in which centuries of rational thought are overturned by idiots. Superstitious idiots. They're everywhere - reading horoscopes, buying homeopathic remedies, consulting psychics, babbling about "chakras" and "healing energies", praying to imaginary gods, and rejecting science in favour of soft-headed bunkum. But instead of slapping these people round the face till they behave like adults, we encourage them. We've got to respect their beliefs, apparently.

Well I don't. "Spirituality" is what cretins have in place of imagination. If you've ever described yourself as "quite spiritual", do civilisation a favour and punch yourself in the throat until you're incapable of speaking aloud ever again. Why should your outmoded codswallop be treated with anything other than the contemptuous mockery it deserves?

Maybe you've put your faith in spiritual claptrap because our random, narrative-free universe terrifies you. But that's no solution. If you want comforting, suck your thumb. Buy a pillow. Don't make up a load of floaty blah about energy or destiny. This is the real world, stupid. We should be solving problems, not sticking our fingers in our ears and singing about fairies. Everywhere you look, screaming gittery is taking root, with serious consequences. The NHS recently spent 10m refurbishing the London Homeopathic Hospital. The equivalent of 500 nurses' wages, blown on a handful of magic beans. That was your tax money. It was meant for saving lives.

Inevitably, the world of science and logic is slowly fighting back. Hence the recent slew of anti-God books, one of which, The God Delusion, was written by Richard Dawkins, writer-presenter of The Enemies Of Reason (Mon, 8pm, C4). Dawkins has softened his style somewhat since his previous series, The Root of All Evil, in which he toured the globe interviewing religious extremists. Trouble was, their views made him so uppity, he occasionally came off worst. They remained eerily calm, while he huffed furiously. And because he looks and sounds precisely like Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss, the end effect was often unintentional hilarity.

In The Enemies of Reason he's still angry - how couldn't he be? - but this time round Dawkins controls his temper, focusing it like a laser beam, taking on spirituality and superstition in all its forms. The overall tone is less hectoring, more persuasive, and occasionally outright playful. It's more likely to win people over.

The end result is possibly the most important broadcast of the year so far; important because it presents a passionate argument we really all ought to be having right now, if we want to prevent a great slide backwards into mud-eating barbarism. And if you think that's hyperbole, I suggest you pick up a newspaper and see how many of the world's problems are currently being caused or exacerbated by the rejection of rational thought. From fundamentalist death cults to arrogant invasions: a startling lack of logic unites them all.

Cold, clear, rational thought is the most important thing we have; the one thing that can save us. If I was made Emperor of All Media, I'd broadcast something akin to The Enemies Of Reason on every channel, every day, for 10 years. This is an urgent message that must be heard if we want to survive, as a species. Oh. And I'd also broadcast a load of Tex Avery cartoons, just to show off my lighter side. Man, I loves dat Droopy.

Slaves to Superstition is on C4 Mon 13 Aug 2007 8pm; part 2 Mon 20 Aug 8pm



Posted by irony. on 2007-08-13 07:50:28
I revel in the irony of this opinion piece, starting out by painting a picture of barbarism of people standing in muck throwing turnips at witches, and then turns around and starts picking on spirituality, which includes, but is not limited to, contemporary Wicca.

Where's my turnip? I must take a stand for reason... in the muck, and throw turnips.
Posted by Pile on 2007-08-13 16:43:40
It there's anything more consistent among the religious, it's their tendency to pick on other people just as misguided in their supernatural beliefs.
Posted by Jonny on 2011-02-17 15:50:11
That's all very well, but please be careful with your indignation. Sometimes irrational systems produce positive benefits. My brain-damaged brother spent 3 years having a torrid time in 3 different NHS and private brain injury rehab centres around the country, being grossly mistreated, and having his brain further massacred by lethal cocktails of drugs. He's now at a nursing home in Kent which specialises in 'mistletoe therapy', homeopathy and stuff involving scented oils. Now I don't have any truck with this kind of thing, but ever since he went there he's been able to ditch all of the anti-psychotic drugs that have been destroying his mind and body, and he's being looked after by people who care about him. If NHS funding gets pulled from places like this, because of people who think like you, there's a group of very vulnerable people out there who will be absolutely buggered. There are good reasons for this: the main one being that people with as shared ethos -- however irrational -- are often better at acting collectively and with commitment than people without one. If you don't believe this story, check out the success rate of adoptions of disabled and troubled kids by the now defunct Catholic adoption agency. Even rational self-righteousness can land people in a mire.
This cuts both ways
Posted by Johnymt on 2016-01-29 10:42:03
The Age of Unenlightenment has been brewing along nicely for about 40 years or so and is only now becoming the norm across the globe. Instead of reason and logic, now our world is governed by feelings, opinions and political correctness on the left, and religious dogma on the right. It is a bi-polar descent into ignorance along with cultural suicide,propagation of ignorance in our schools, abandonment of even rudimentary public civility in our politics and the attempted homogenization of diametrically opposite cultures in the most violent and forceful way possible. All in the name of "progress". Well, my progressive friends, we will reap what we sow. On that point at least, the bible is spot on.
At the present rate we should all be living in caves again in a few more generations, provided we arent wiped out by AI machines first.


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