Fundamentalist Beliefs, the Real World, and Science Fiction

“Those of us in the U.S. think we’re amazing at everything… mostly because we’re blissfully ignorant about how the rest of the world operates.”

Here’s a fun video of a fundamentalist pastor from an Atlanta suburb whose mind is boggled by the discovery – upon visiting Sweden and Denmark – that everyone in the world doesn’t possess the same religious beliefs as his own. See him struggling to wrap his mind around the idea. Wow, he keeps saying. He can’t quite believe it.

The point is not to make fun of this guy (though it would be easy to do so — see him parroting bogus references to ‘missing links’, which obviously he does not actually understand); he is, as I suggested in a recent post, a member of most of the population of Earth who lives comfortably within their like-thinking communities and who otherwise doesn’t get out much, intellectually. It’s to cite another example of how most human beings are blissfully unaware of the true scope of the universe, of the Earth, the billions of years of history, the vast numbers of cultures that have lived on the Earth (even within the past few thousand years, for those who don’t ‘believe’ the evidence about the true age of the Earth and the universe).

It works for most people — they live comfortable lives within their communities, their tribes, and they die with calm assurance in their beliefs in religious myths about everlasting life. Does it matter in the end? Only if you care about what is truly real, and the evidence in the world for that.

This is not a frivolous post; in fact it keys in with a fundamental theme of this blog, which is an awareness of what is real, beyond any local tribal beliefs, social assumptions, and political stances, which are all trivial and transient in the big scheme of things. A consciousness, if you like, about how vast human culture, the world, the universe is. This is what I appreciate about the writings of Edward O. Wilson, for example, as I alluded in my previous post; he’s a scientist who addresses the huge scope of human existence, and what it ‘means’, in a way few writers have attempted. (But in a way that science fiction, in its finest examples, strives for.)

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