In case anyone has been watching, a new world is beginning. The Arab countries, North Africa and most of the Middle East are approaching democracy like a scared crab smelling a salty, beached whale. They know they want it, they know it’s good, but it’s much bigger than what they’re used to and not sure if they can handle the excitement. Their religion is 600 years younger than Christianity, the other young religion living on the sacred block. Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism all date to the B.C. eras. Islam rattles my nerves because their followers haven’t had the time to express themselves fully enough to realize that holy books are merely guides to living righteously, not literal translations of “one true God.”
Their Imams have been teaching them in the same manner the Catholics taught the Germans until Martin Luther had enough of the hypocrisy and nailed his 99 problems to the cathedral door. Islam is still waiting for their Martin Luther, someone to call out the insanity of killing any “infidels” who don’t worship Allah. They are waiting for their King Henry VIII to say that the church’s rules don’t apply to him; then seeing that he still went to “heaven”, still got 72 virgins (and a few on Earth) and still remained King without being smote by lightning from the angry God in the sky.
Being 600 years behind in 1500 would not have been as big a deal as it is today. Today, there are advanced computers, weaponry and agriculture. Today, there are billions instead of millions of people walking the Earth, all believing in a different form of God. Today, there are countries with confident, jingoistic militaries capable of raining more than fire and brimstone upon cities where some enjoy sodomy and/or alcohol. There is little room left for God in modern society.
Faith is the only remaining proof left for the Christian God. Yet, truth has been eclipsed by blind, obstinate faith in many Islamic countries. Saudi Arabia still disciplines women harshly with archaic punishments for seemingly innocuous behavior like riding in cars with boys or exposing neck skin. I believe the moral behind the story unfolding around the lower Mediterranean countries is that the freedom teenagers found on the now inexorable and ubiquitous internet has infringed upon the sacred tenets of dictatorship.
Leaders could use the Koran to keep their citizens in check. Objective people are aware of the utility of making rules for people to follow when no one is looking. If you think the man in the sky will see you stealing that goat from the sleeping shepherd, you are less likely to do it, lest you spend eternity wearing scratchy burlap bags eating sulfur in Hell. Rules usually only beget followers if they are coupled with strong penalties. In the time before lawyers, humanity needed a code to live by without chaos erupting. With courts, police, teachers and elected representatives making rules for a collected mass of humanity, we don’t need to be told stealing and killing is wrong anymore. Others, like honor your parents or honor the church seem a bit trivial today with all the child abuse and impropriety at the hands of the priesthood.
It is being called the “Facebook Revolution.” Iran’s population is 30% under 30 years old. “Your old road is rapidly aging,” warbled Bob Dylan. As the world turns, as a younger, repressed generation becomes the rulers, as the people begin to see science and facts replace religion and faith, we will see more revolutions. There is nothing implicitly wrong with religion. There is something obtuse with thinking you talk to God or you know God’s plan or you are on God’s side and the others are demons or devils. There is something dangerous in misinterpreting Holy Books to suit your deadly or extreme agendas.
Anyone who can stand outside a soldier’s funeral holding signs that read, “God Hates Fags,” has become a toxic believer. God, whatever it is, doesn’t hate anything. You hate something or someone and use God as your shield from criticism and condemnation. Islam will be thrust 600 years forward in the next decade. They will develop more web pages, web cams at Mecca, create more safe places to pray in more countries and see Allah’s work through science. How else can you explain quantum mechanics or the tides? Sure, indivisible atoms and gravity are present all around us, but who put them there?
Plato and Aristotle, the rock stars of their day, posited that the world was “imparted motion” and therefore required some “self-originated motion” to set the chain moving. If you want to believe in God, use science to prove it, or at least to stop anyone who may be arguing against you. Don’t tell me that you prayed for a miracle and then passed your Algebra test to prove God’s existence. To all the faithful of any God, your proof for it lies in scientific evidence, not a book written by spurious prophets thousands of years ago. To all the freedom lovers, desperate for sovereignty, patience is a virtue and in the 21st century, the pen is certainly mightier than the sword.