Friday, March 14, 2014

The Mind In Chains

Nothing is more dangerous than a dogmatic worldview - nothing more constraining, more blinding to innovation, more destructive of openness to novelty - Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) paleontologist, biologist, and science essayist 
A favorite theme of freethinkers is that the human mind is often bound by the chains of orthodoxy and religious superstition (which thought, by the way, I agree).
A thought not often given its due is that the so-called freethinker can also become bound in mind by slavish devotion to certain concepts.
There was a time, quite long ago, when religion and science weren't bitter enemies. I hate that today we are increasingly being goaded into a choice of accepting either one or the other.
The modern resurgence of atheism - the popular New Atheism (frankly, I found the "old" atheism more challenging) - is probably a reaction to theocratic-leaning religious fundamentalism, efforts to find a way to smuggle God into the public school's science classes and mandatory prayer back into the public classroom, jihadism, erosion of the separation of church and state, etc.
I suppose those things were reactions to modernism, the shrinking of our world and recognition of the vastness of cultural diversity, and what follows then, the rise of secularism. 
Yet through it all modernism has found ways to embrace both faith and reason. And from ancient times even as now reason has been able to stand on its own.
Science has marched steadily forward giving humanity deeper insights into the cosmos, and spirituality has been available to temper the starkness of those findings. 

It seems to me that true mental freedom cannot be dogmatic.

(Image credit:


  1. I agree! (Am watching Cosmos) Am thinking there may be a God, just not quite how the KJV explains "Him."

  2. I'm not able to catch the updated Cosmos with my schedule. Maybe later, or when it comes out on DVD. I loved the original!

    There are some good things concerning God in the Psalms and some of the Prophets, but there are also some very primitive concepts preserved in the Bible as well - a real mixed bag.

    1. You can watch Cosmos online at ... but, I think you have dial-up. (Now that I was writing this, it occurred to me that you were back in the olden days, but, oh well.) :)

    2. Yeah, I keep saying I'm gonna upgrade but somehow I never seem to get around to it. Dial-up works well for what I use the internet for, excepting videos. I'll get around to Cosmos eventually, I'm sure.

  3. I agree Doug. Like your commenters, I am enjoying the "new" Cosmos.