So what is a fact? We used to know that. It was a given. There were always conspiracy theories and wild paranoiac plots going on in untrusting minds all over the world, but now we’re in a different Era. It seems even the most basic facts are put into question: is the Earth flat? Do vaccines work? Did man really go to the Moon? Is climate change real? All of these questions should have evident answers, but no longer. We used to trust basic Science before, but no longer. How can we? Science is changing every day. What used to be true to science yesterday is no longer the norm, and studies seem to contradict themselves every day. More than that! Many pranksters have shown that «serious» science magazines will publish anything. How can we trust them?
Scientists themselves seem to disprove their own in wild ways. Thomas Khun established that science depends on scientists’ creativity. Karl Popper argued something to the point that absolute proof is impossible, as it requires infinite observations. Facts, in that absolute sense that we were used to, are no more. We live in a ‘post-fact’ world. And I’ve written somewhere else and here, about how some Science Fiction nowadays, what I call Narratives of Conscience, actually question our own take of what Reality is, of what the Facts are. See, for instance, my posts about the MATRIX here.
But let’s look at Science for what it really is. I argue here that Science is a language to understand Reality. I’ll go a little bit further in the discussion. Science is an Ethical Standard. It’s a set of values. A set of values that allow everyone to question Reality and what we all assume are facts. Within these values we are directed to prove truth, or to prove hypotheses until they are accepted (even temporarily) as facts. Science demands that we experiment, and replicate experiments and argue with logic and certainty to prove our points. Science is the Ethical Standard of only accepting as facts what has gone through the thorough extenuating process. Many scientists have lost their reputations and their livelihood by not being able to get their ideas proven by the process. And many have come to glory by being able to prove ideas that before seemed impossible. So Scientific fact is not absolute fact, but it is as close to Reality as we can usually get.
On the other hand, Religion is not an Ethical Standard; it is an Aesthetical Standard, as I argue here. There is no way possible to prove the existence of God or its inexistence. Atheism is as arbitrary as every Theism out there. Religion is about belief: it’s about how the Universe makes sense to each and every one of us. Is the Universe more beautiful if there is a Creator behind its Creation? Or does it make sense and is it beautiful if it blossomed spontaneously? Religion is about what we feel, not what we reason. Religion is about opinion.
That is set in many constitutions around the world, including the most important one, the one that started it all, the American Constitution. In its First Amendment, it states: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.’ There is a reason for this: the Constitution is acknowledging that there is no absolute truth or fact about Religion: it is a matter of opinion. And as it is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal, we are not to impose one’s Religion over another.
I write this post as it is becoming evident that another big country, Brazil, will fall to the Forces of National-Traditionalism, that worldwide movement trying to destroy the Liberal Agenda that was set by the American Constitution and which we fought for for over two centuries. This movement is not of extreme-right or extreme-left, it is something completely different. It is against globalization, against the idea of an international world order, against the UN, against NATO, against the idea of a Human conscience or a Human culture. It is isolationist, nationalist, anti-modernist, and it believes in a radical return to the isolationist cultures that stimulated imperialisms and the tragedies of the late 19th century and both world wars of the 20th century. They follow the ideas of the likes of Alexander Gudin and Steve Bannon, and books like the Science Fiction novel LES CHAMPS DES SAINTS by French novelist Jean Rafail. Among the world leaders and forces abiding by these ideals are Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Bibi Netanyahu, Iran’s Ali Khamenei and, if you think about it, also ISIS and Al Quaeda. And now, unfortunately, Brazil’s Bolsonaro.
These National-Traditionalists sow many scary and threatening concepts, but one of them I can describe like this: they believe that Science is an Aesthetical Standard and that Religion is an Ethical Standard. If you think like that then Science becomes a matter of opinion and Religion a matter of fact. And if you think like that then Freedom of Religion becomes worthless. Another idea at the centre of the Liberal Agenda, that allows us to believe what we want to believe, to make the Universe beautiful ourselves, will turn to dust.
This is one point where the Agendas are radical opposites: Liberals believe in an Aesthetical Standard of Religion, believe in the ideal that anyone can imagine and practice their own version of metaphysical philosophy and their own version of religious thinking. Also, Liberals should believe that Science is an Ethical Standard which demands the highest efforts of proof and analysis to establish something as a scientific fact. It should be clear for liberals that climate change is real, that the Earth is round, that the American flag is on the Moon, that vaccines work. Because, to the best possible standards, these are facts.
Traditionalists, however, will fight for the opposite. Here are the words of Alexander Dugin himself: ‘The notions of tradition, religion, and pre-modernity already offer us an undoubtedly broader spectrum of alternatives. If we reject the laws of modernity such as progress, development, equality, justice, freedom, nationalism, and all of this legacy of the three centuries of philosophy and political history, then there is a choice.’
I don’t know about you, but for me the choice is clear. These Trads scare the daylights out of me!
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