Dare to Know

Dare to know

2007/10/31

By Ali Sina

Hermit crab carries a shell on its back. This borrowed home provides shelter and protection from predators. When the crab feels threatened, it pulls into its shell to hide. Hermit crab does not leave its shell unless it no longer provides safety. Then it finds another shell to relocate.

We humans use faith for the same purpose that the hermit crab uses shell. Faith gives us security. We do not abandon our faith, unless we find something better. Very few people can live truly free from faith.

Faiths come in all shapes and forms.  Not all faiths are theistic. Materialism is also a faith. Communism, which is a “sect” of materialism, is an atheistic faith. The carnage of this faith during the last century, in Soviet Union under Stalin; in China during the Cultural Revolution, in Cambodia under Pol Pot, and virtually in anywhere communists came to power or strove for power, is only surpassed by the carnage of Islam.

Not all faiths are murderous, but all faiths are blind. In his first missile to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul says, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21). He then adds, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’” (1 Corinthians 3:19)  Imam al Ghazzali (1058 – 1111) also praised blind faith when he said: “Where the claims of reason come into conflict with revelation, reason must yield to revelation.” (Tahafut al-falasafa, the Incoherence of Philosophers)

Do not think that those who have left religion are automatically faith-free. Many atheists are as blinded by their faith in materialism as religious people are with their God delusion.  Francium is said to be the least stable of the first 103 elements on the periodic table. Less than an ounce of it exists on Earth at any one time. Free thinking is just as rare as Francium. Do not believe it, when atheists tell you that they are free thinkers. Many of them have switched faith, but free thinkers they are not. They believe in materialism. Often religious people are more free thinkers than many atheists. Atheism has nothing to do with free thinking.  Not only some atheists oppose free thinking, they vehemently negate any innovative idea that challenges the materialistic view of the world and become vicious.

In the words of the physicist Max Planck, “science progresses funeral by funeral.” Socrates, who chose poison over silence, in his trial said, “The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.” Socrates was charged with two crimes: He did not believe in the gods of the Athenians, and he “corrupted the young.” How did this alleged corruption happen? He went to the streets (a precursor of the Internet) and spoke of his maverick ideas to the young people who gathered to listen. He told them not to believe in the orthodoxy taught by the establishment, but to use their own intelligence and think. He taught them to use logic in lieu of faith. Although a gentle soul, Socrates was seen by the majority of the Athenians as a trouble maker, a revolutionary and a corrupter.

The Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith, the director of Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood writes, The Copernican model of our solar system, which showed that Earth was not the centre of the universe, was staunchly rejected by the scientific establishment and by religious zealots of Copernicus’ time. In fact Copernicus delayed publication of his theory until the last days of his life in 1543 because he feared persecution. Fifty seven years later Jordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for teaching Copernican theory and when Galileo upheld the same belief some ten years after Bruno’s incineration he was also made to endure horrific persecution.” [1]

When Galileo advocated Copernican ideas, he was accused of putting ideas that were contrary to religious teaching, which claimed that the Earth was fixed and the center of the universe. He went to his friends for support. They showed him their shoulders. He was denounced to the Inquisition and despite his age and frail health he was forced to travel to Rome to stand trial. In order to avoid being burnt on stake he recanted, but spent the last eight years of his life in confinement. The Copernican theory was declared “false and erroneous” and Galileo’s book was banned by decree.

Darwin so feared opposition that he did not publish his book for eight years. When he did, he was ‘greeted with violent and malicious criticism (The Origin of Species, title page, 1968 Penguin edn.) He was even accused of being psychotic. He was so fiercely attacked that he wrote: “I have got fairly sick of hostile reviews…I can pretty plainly see that, if my view is ever to be generally adopted, it will be by young men growing up and replacing the old workers.” (Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin, 1902, p.244).

Darwin was derided for his ideas. During the famous debate at Oxford in 1860 about Darwin’s idea of natural selection Bishop Wilberforce, said, “Darwin’s views are contrary to the revelations of God in the Scriptures”(Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin, 1902, p.236). As a final crushing blow, he turned to Thomas Huxley, the young biologist and the champion of Darwinism who was among the audience and said: “Is the gentleman, related by his grandfather’s or grandmother’s side to an ape?” Springing to his feet, young Huxley retorted: “I would far rather be descended from a monkey on both my parents’ sides than from a man who uses his brilliant talents for arousing religious prejudice”. A roar of rage went up from the clergy, yells of delight from the Oxford students. The day was Huxley’s—and Darwin’s. (Reader’s Digest, Great Lives, Great Deeds, 1966, p.335, 336) However, to keep away from being abused by hostile academicians, Darwin lived a recluse life.

Griffith says, “Each of these giant strides in the journey of demystification met so much resistance that the insights were lucky to survive. Science historian Thomas Kuhn pointed out that there is no guarantee truth will survive prejudice when he wrote, ‘In science…ideas do not change simply because new facts win out over outmoded ones…Since the facts can’t speak for themselves, it is their human advocates who win or lose the day’ (Shirley C. Strum, Almost Human, 1987—Strum’s references are to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, second edn, 1970). Similarly John Stuart Mill, in his essay On Liberty, emphasized that, ‘the dictum that truth always triumphs over persecution is one of those pleasant falsehoods which men repeat after one another till they pass into commonplaces, but which all experience refutes. History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not suppressed forever, it may be thrown back for centuries.”

These words should be engraved in gold. It is a lie to think that truth will automatically triumph over lies or that goodness will eventually win over evil on its own. This is a sweet lie that has no bases on reality and it serves to no purpose other than to lull us into inaction. Truth does not win unless someone promotes it and goodness will not triumph unless someone advances it.

Who will advance the truth? The orthodoxy will not tolerate innovative ideas that defy its paradigm. Kuhn also recognized that “revolutions in science are often initiated by an outsider—someone not locked into the current model, which hampers vision almost as much as blinders would’ (Shirley C. Strum, Almost Human, 1987, pp.164-165 of 294—Strum’s references are to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, second edn, 1970).

Why an outsider? It is because an outsider does not know that it cannot be done. He has no idea that it is impossible. Because he is ignorant, i.e. ignorant of the conventional wisdom, he tries the “impossible,” and indulges in experiments that are deemed to be foolish. The pioneers of science and inventors are often outsiders. They are mavericks and heretics, rejected by the priesthood and the orthodoxy, and are barred from the tabernacle of the custodians of “knowledge.”

Not all learning is knowledge. Most people have learned a lot, but they know little. They are scholars, but not scouts.

Griffith says, “Even Charles Darwin was ‘a lone genius, working from his country home without any official academic position. (Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind, 2000, p.33 of 538). The danger of not being part of the establishment is that the ‘outsider’ is an easy, undefended target for those in the establishment who feel threatened by his/her new ideas.

“The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer summarized the journey that new ideas in science have historically had to undergo when he said that ‘the reception of any successful new scientific hypothesis goes through predictable phases before being accepted’. First, ‘it is ridiculed’ and ‘violently opposed’. Second, after support begins to accumulate ‘it is stated that it may be true but it’s not particularly relevant.’ Third, ‘after it has clearly influenced the field [including members of the establishment quickly remodeling/ plagiarizing the ideas as their own discoveries] it is admitted to be true and relevant but the same critics assert that the idea is not original.’ Finally, ‘it is accepted as being self-evident’ (compiled from two references to Schopenhauer’s quote—New Scientist, 15 Nov. 1984 and PlanetHood, Ferencz and Keyes, 1988).  Note that each stage of recognition is achieved in a way that protects the ego of the onlookers. The extent of insecurity in the human make-up is very apparent. Because the ego or sense of self worth of each generation becomes attached to its view of the world, paradigm shifts typically have to be introduced by new generations.

“George Bernard Shaw warned of the true nature of progress when he said, All great truths begin as blasphemies (from his play Annajanska, 1919).” [2]

Many Muslims tell me that after reading my articles criticizing Islam, their faith in Islam has increased. How can one’s faith increase after reading that the man whom they had believed to be a prophet of God was a mass murderer, a looter, a pedophile, a rapist and an assassin?  This defies logic. What actually is happening is that they feel threatened.  Their faith is challenged, and as the result, they hide deeper in their shell. They will not venture out, until that shell is broken and it can no longer provide them protection.  To achieve that goal, we must pound on it with truth until it is smashed into pieces.

Muslims are not the only people hiding in their shells. The majority of mankind needs the protective armor of a faith. We want to make sense of the world.  We cling to our beliefs because they give us comfort. We fear the unknown. We fear freedom.

Not too long ago I received an email from a Muslim who said, Ali, I agree with everything you say about Islam. But I can’t leave Islam because it is everything that I have. Without it I don’t know what to do.

Erick Fromm in, The Fear of Freedom, (Routledge 17 May 2001) upholds the idea that capitalism frees man from a society that reduces him to a single role, but at a price. The price is isolation. Man has to find or create his place in the world. This causes anxiety. Whilst fascism, Nazism, theocracies, and all forms of authoritarianism, satisfy man’s psychological need to belong. They provide a simple “us vs. them” ethos which gives the adherent something bigger to be a part of. Through conformity man tries to beat the anxiety of separation. That means loss of freedom and loss of independence. By conforming you belong. At the same time you give up your wholeness and become a part of something else.

The fear of being different, to be isolated, to become an outcast, is cause for anxiety and this is what makes us humans conform – conform with the norms and the dictum of the society – with its values, its standards, its mores and its wisdom. We need to find something to belong to. Our peers, our country, our religion and ultimately our faith/ideology give us security and the sense of belonging. They are shells that we carry along to hide within and feel safe. Therefore, we are protective of them. That is why we become defensive if our beliefs are challenged. Some people become abusive, aggressive and even violent when their faith is threatened.  That is why Socrates was forced to drink poison, Jordano Bruno was burned, Galileo was imprisoned, Jesus was crucified, Joan of Arc was incinerated and Bab was executed.  They died because they pioneered new ideas that threatened the faiths of the people.

We humans have not changed much, psychologically. Technologically, we go to Mars, but psychologically we live in caves. We have changed our beliefs. We have changed our shells, but we are the same timid hermit crab, with the same fears that haunted our ancestors thousands of years ago.

Today, the Inquisition is performed in the academia. There are dogmas that are taboos. You must not violate them or you will be assaulted with vicious ferocity, until you recoil and remain silent. If you don’t, you’ll pay the price, dearly. If you are not executed, like in some parts of the world, you’ll be ridiculed, insulted, called lunatic and discredited.

Yet, only those who dare to know are enlightened.  Daring to know does not mean just learning, but also discovering the unknown. It is daring to ask questions that are not allowed to be asked, delving into worlds that are taboo, and to borrow a phrase from the Star Trek movies, “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Answering the question of “What is Enlightenment?,” the German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote:

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] ‘Have courage to use your own understanding!’–that is the motto of enlightenment.” [3]

According to Kant, “laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, … gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians.  It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me.”

Kant compares the unthinking masses to domestic livestock and says, “Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the go-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts.”

Let us dare to know. Let us dare to ask questions that we are told not to ask. Let us take the road less traveled, not be followers, but prophets unto ourselves. Let us explore the unknown. The worst thing that can happen is that we find nothing. But we shall never know until we try.

If there is one thing I can be certain of is that I am ignorant. However, I am not as ignorant as to not know that I am ignorant. Therefore, I will continue wondering, exploring and daring to know.

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No Responses

  1. ᠌᠌᠌᠌᠌ says:

    Actually your server seems going blind like atheist ! Just see you replied my comment from another article in this article. You can see how we Muslims are comfortable in finding and understanding !

  2. Raamis Hussain says:

    Anything said and proclaimed for the first time is never recognized by the contemporary society! Its only left to posterity that we glorify the ones we have tormented, tortured and burnt at the stake. Yesterday's heretics are today's heroes and saviours!

  3. Hello! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

  4. TK401 says:

    Hahaha!

    Keep telling yourself that!

    LOLOLOL

  5. TK401 says:

    LOL. Since when are you qualified to comment? lolol!

  6. smart thinking says:

    U are just like a hermit crab. U have to find a good shell for protection yrself.

  7. everin says:

    No, TK401, u had misunderstood him. He is the modern-day Moses who leads his flock out of the clutches of the "Pharaoh".

  8. Maruf says:

    According to Blaise Pascal (in article http://alisina.org/what-if-god-exists/) we should believe in God. Because if we now believe that there is no God, but after death suddenly found that there is really a God, then no scope to rectify, straight looser. But If we believe in God in this life, then we will be in safe side whether there is God exists or not. So what we have to do is to find out the only true / loving God among the Gods in various religions.

    If Dr. Ali Sina was honest, suppose one of my friends called me, Maruf come out of your home, right then I will asked him where I will live at night? If he could not provide me another home than he has no right to call me come out? My friend should first manage another better home for me if he wants me to leave my current home. But Mr. Sina is not doing that he should have at first come up with a truer / lovelier God comparing to Muslim God before asking Muslims to denounce their faith. But without giving a solution he is offering a problem. This proves that Mr. Ali Sina has something evil hidden in his mind.

    He also suggests that to live ethically this will be enough for you. I am also agree with him in this regard.

    But who will decide the ethics meaning which is bad or which is right?

    Somebody tells, looking to a woman is bad, somebody tells looking is ok but touching is bad, somebody tells shaking and kissing is ok but adultery is bad, somebody tells everything is ok if both agree. Somebody tells Gay is very bad, some tells no it is their right. Some tells to be vegetarian is right , some tells no everything which is permitted can be eaten . Some tells bikini is perfect because it reveals the whole beauty, some tells no- woman should be modestly covered. Doctors say alcohol is harmful but it is permitted in many countries. Some says gambling is bad because it looses man financially, socially but many countries has permitted it. Some says interest is not bad for economy although it can’t resist recession, others tell that Islamic banking is less affected by the recession. A robber says robbery is good because he can earn much money with less effort and enjoy a luxurious life but the victim will say it is crime.

    For these reasons laws of every country differs each other and there is a continuous clash between pro and con.

    So the question is that who will define the good or bad or set limit. It is obviously the God, the Creator. Otherwise every right or wrong i.e. ethics becomes meaningless. So Gods presence/guidance is essential.

    So what is Dr. Sina doing, he is trying to make Muslims ex, without suggesting a more true God/religion for them. He wants to bring them out of home to under the sun, rain, storm, danger. It is inhuman. He is utilizing his brilliancy, literacy for misleading people, for the evil of the society.

    [email protected]

  9. Songadh Lion says:

    Sina Sir is the gretest. For all those who refute him I think that in reality they accept what he says. This I can say with conviction because the very fact that they are here on this site FFI either as a critic or as an admirer goes to prove that it interests them to debate or comment whether positive or negative. Carry on Sina Sir your crusade is very badly required for Humanity. Sina Sir is a hero

  10. John K says:

    Your work is rather more organized than that! 😉

  11. Ali Sina says:

    I am not even pretending. I write what comes to my mind.

  12. Darus Norris says:

    I am sure that Ali Sina is not a philosopher but pretend to be one.

  13. John K says:

    I don't think the verses quoted from Paul concerning foolishness and craftiness can be used to support the concept of blind faith. His usage of these two words is more in reference to the type of puffed-up false knowledge such as proclaimed by the Sophists. The contrast then is more like the "foolishness" of common sense versus the "wisdom" of political correctness.

    Elsewhere, Paul taught that faith is evidence of things which are not seen (Hebrew 11:1). So he is by no means an advocate of blind faith.

  14. John says:

    no he is not. he is enlightened. but doubt is endless if you don't find truth, the real one

  15. TK401 says:

    Planck may not have believed in a personal God, perhaps, but then again who cares? No religion or belief system truly does, since almost all religions, at bottom describe God as truly ineffable.

    He believed in the primacy of consciousness. He was one of the first in fact to to propound that idea.

    "I have now a better understanding of quantum physics"…."much more efficacy"

    LOL. To add to your growing list of imaginary skills and abilities…..

    No one really cares what you think Ali Sina. People like you are ten a penny.

  16. TK401 says:

    You did blather previously on about how you think you live after you die. Along with your incredulous claim that "Buddhism is not a religion" (which is absurd, by your own definitions in your previous rants!)

    But who cares?

    No one really cares what you think Ali Sina.

  17. TK401 says:

    John,

    Don't bother wasting your time with this guy, he has dysfunctional personality traits and will only suck you into a vortex of his own BS!

    He enjoy talking about himself and attempting to sound like a philosopher.

    regards

  18. John says:

    the principle is just a creation. you have yet to walk with God. faiths are blind, relationship is not

  19. Ali Sina says:

    Plank did not believe in a personal God, and neither do I. He however, did not see any benefit in atheism and was critical of materialists of his time. He wrote, "To believe' means 'to recognize as a truth,' and the knowledge of nature, continually advancing on incontestably safe tracks, has made it utterly impossible for a person possessing some training in natural science to recognize as founded on truth the many reports of extraordinary contradicting the laws of nature, of miracles which are still commonly regarded as essential supports and confirmations of religious doctrines, and which formerly used to be accepted as facts pure and simple, without doubt or criticism.. The belief in miracles must retreat step by step before relentlessly and reliably progressing science and we cannot doubt that sooner or later it must vanish completely."

    To a great extent, my own views coincide with those of Plank. Some years ago I had heated discussions with a group of atheist materialists, which are still available in my old site. Today I can make even better arguments to refute them. I have now a better understanding of quantum physics that will allow me to make my point with much more efficacy.

  20. Ali Sina says:

    I did not say we live after we die. I see no evidence of that. It makes little logical sense. However, I do not deny that possibility, which is entirely a different thing.

    There are reports of people clinically dead, who later when resuscitated told their doctor that they saw what they were doing to them during the operation from above. Unless these reports are all lies, until someone explain them logically I will remain sceptic about the survival of the soul.

    As for God I reject the religious definition of it. I don't reject God as the principle underlying the creation. Just as Galileo did not reject the existence of the earth but people's understanding of it, I do not reject God but people's understanding of it.

    Socrates was not atheist, but he would have derided at Muhammad's understanding of God.

  21. TK401 says:

    This loony Ali Sina has a personality disorder.

    His ramblings have been going on for years now, and no one really takes him seriously! It's believed by many that he is a paid agent of a foreign nation (he is Iranian). Personally I think he is a loser with a chip on his shoulder.

    Among his various crap is the idea that we live after we die…..but magically without any higher power sustaining it all! What a delusional fool! 🙂

    I see his in his new drivel he wants to claim Socrates as an atheist. What nonsense.

    Socrates was probably the first Greek monotheist. He rejected the "gods" of the greeks (a family up in the sky fighting with each other and controlling us earthlings) in favour of one single God.

    He also misrepresents Max Plank, who was not only a Believer, but one of the first to put forward the idea of the primacy of consciousness, which is gaining ground today and may become a mainstay in modern physics.

    DT

  22. I have come too far to renege to the demands of the democratic fringe!

  23. Garth Dudzik says:

    Many threads here seem to try and disprove other people’s faith. I have no problem with the idea of faith – there are a few things that I take on faith that I have never seen myself with my own two eyes – such as the brain in the person next to me, and the theory of the atom etc. I have looked at the evidence and made a decision that it is probably true.

  24. Johnathan Harrell says:

    Make sense

  25. Ahmad says:

    Nice Idea, Ali should try it. But his channel is a cable channel. Only broadcasts to few parts of India and Pakistan via cable line. Naik is stupid, Ali should take on his stuff.

  26. Continuum says:

    You can believe your wife is faithful to you, or you can be faithful to your wife which is not belief in that case…

    P.S. – I too don't have a wife.:)

  27. BustedDivinity. says:

    Great write up, faith is certainly useful as long as it doesn’t morph into sinister belief that could physically and mentally harm individuals, faith healing, brutal excorcism, unwarranted spending and the blockage of civil liberties like gay choice.
    Communism as a system of government brought human slaughter, I am not sure we could blame atheism for the crimes of communism since the former lacks central text, in the same way I am willing to give Christianity a free pass though it is obvious that Mohammad was inspired by Judaism and Christianity to create ٠murderous relogion although different from the preceding ones, I will stick with the Socrates’ version of atheism, Pol Pot was no more atheistic than Mohammad was religious.

  28. Larry says:

    I believe that my wife is loyal to me, but what if she is sleeping with my neighbor and I'm having an illusion that she is good?

    P.S. – I don't have a wife. 😉

  29. Larry says:

    No, he is not wisdom of something that doesn't exist

  30. Continuum says:

    The word faith has different meanings. A husband can be faithful to his wife and vice-versa…So faith is NOT belief necessaily.

  31. Larry says:

    Faith is believe in something which we know is not true, but behave in a way that it is true. Religious faith is destructing and dangerous

  32. Continuum says:

    NOT all faith is bad….FAITH in KNOWLEDGE is GOOD…

    “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. "

    I guess this means stepping outside the established paradigms.

    I don't think man fears freedom, what he fears the consequences of attempting to break free of established norms, which means negative repercussions in financial, social, career and other ways…. self-protection…..to go beyond these in search for truth is indeed a sign of courage and enlightenment……enlightenment does not mean knowing everything, but foregoing one's cherished things (ideals, possessions etc.) in search for truth…

  33. Khader Mohideen says:

    Ali sina ,
    You became a great philosopher , As per the enlightenment of Immanuel Kant , You are also a Enlightened Man. " )
    For muslims, darwin , Einstein & galileo who found great things are just waste fellows and they will go to islamic hell ( Jahannam ) because they are not muslims .
    but the cunning and pedophile Mohammad is a great man .
    bullshit ..

  34. mary wilbur says:

    Freedom can be very lonely.

  35. Ilah says:

    I mistook the article's title for Dr. Zakir Naik's Dare to Ask show, lol. I thought you were refuting his claims or so that he might have made on the show. It sounded like that in the beginning of the article.

  36. Grace says:

    If Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God in the experience of those who trust and love him, there needs no further argument of his divinity. — Henry Ward Beecher

  1. 25 February, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dipali raina, Austereview. Austereview said: Dare to Know http://bit.ly/fIJVqh #atheism […]

  2. 10 May, 2014

    […] tulisan Ali Sina disini –> http://alisina.org/blog/2011/02/15/dare-to-know/ saya bisa melihat bahwa Ali Sina tidak sepenuhnya atheist tetapi agnostic, masih percaya adanya […]

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