<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/phobia-shmobia/”>Phobia, Shmobia</a>
on reading of Richard Dawkins’ dislike of the term ‘Islamaphobia’.
FEARS, PHOBIAS, KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF.
The constant mistake of adding ‘phobia’ to so many words nowadays is ludicrous. Homophobia, for instance, is a non-word because for anything to be a phobia it has to be something of which one is unusually strongly afraid or irrationally petrified. If one has a good reason for strongly disliking something that is not a ‘phobia’.
Homophobia is the most commonly used non-word in English. If one does not like the practice of people of the same sex loving and having sexual relations with each other that is not an irrational fear of their preferences, it is a dislike of them. I have many close homosexual friends but I never condemn the sinner when they act in ways I think they shouldn’t. I only condemn the sin. God knows I commit sins enough myself, but just not that one because it turns me off! I actually consider adultery a worse sin because it usually also involves breaking a solemn oath, taken at one’s marriage, not to do it. There are no laws in our country of which I am aware which tell us what we may legally like or dislike. It is what we do about our dislikes – violent actions or insulting and defamatory verbal remarks to peoples’ faces are common examples – that break the law, not the way we feel about them.
Also there is a great disparity between marginalising people because of their natures and because of their actions when the predilections with which they are born are neither their own fault nor within their ability to alter. Medical science may allow us to make all sorts of changes to our physical sexual anatomy, but it cannot change how we started out when we were born. That is in the past. So it is quite unnecessary to single out anybody for censure or applause because of their natures.
One exception here to the use of ‘phobia’ is when words like ‘Islamaphobia’ are coined to describe people who fear a religious or idealistic grouping. While I would never use such a spurious generality myself, I can see that some people might equate being Muslim with being a terrorist who could start world war three. It is very important to recognise that you can be afraid of both the physical threat of fanatics, or of a religious sect which might threaten members of your own religious group if you are a member of one. However, as a devout Catholic I can only say that I believe I should love all men, obviously not everything they might do, but they themselves as God’s children. After all the vast majority of Muslims are perfectly ordinary, harmless, nice people anyway. It is very hard when somebody of another faith deliberately blasphemes in front of me to get my back up. Yet much as I may dislike this the last thing I should do is trash their beliefs. That just alienates us more when I should be trying to befriend them. However, atheists like Richard Dawkins try to rise above this level of fidelity and infidelity by saying we both believe a lot of rubbish anyway. Poor man, I can think of nothing more sad than not being afraid that one might be mistaken. What dreadfully meaningless, hopeless lives atheists must live.
But this leads to the whole question of why we fear some things or groups of people for good reasons just as much as for totally stupid ones. It is usually the conflation of knowledge and belief. Take the arch atheist-scientist Dawkins. A truly brilliant man in his field but a quite pitiable one in his passion for blindfolding himself to the obvious. He says that he knows God does not exist and belittles people who claim to believe that God does. How unscientific can you get? There is a very simple example of why nobody can ever prove that science answers everything or that God exists. Take a piece of string, any length you like, and cut it in half. Throw one half away and do the same to the half you have kept. There is no limit to the size to which you can reduce the piece you retain if you continue this process long enough. But something always remains for nothing can be made out of nothing.
Do you see what this proves? It’s so simple. It proves that anything solid, any form of matter, can never be made to disappear. It can only be split up into ever smaller atomic and ultimately sub atomic particles. Then, in theoretical thought, there is no limit to how large any concept can be. It is self evident in maths, for instance, that there is no number to which you cannot add one. This is the proof of rational infinity and goes way out beyond our cosmos. It must, by definition. So if a scientist thinks that everything can ultimately be empirically investigated so completely that all existence is known and explained, all you have to do is add one to it and you will find there is an infinite, and ergo unknowable, scope to the field of scientific discovery. Yes we can find out and empirically prove how everything originates, works, lives etc physically. But there will always be a limit to that knowledge.
So if I was to say I know God made me, loves me and wants me to live for ever in heaven, that is only ‘knowledge’ as far as I myself am concerned. I really do physically love God, which helps a lot, but basically what I am doing is believing in God even though I cannot empirically prove His existence. But my belief is just as strong and likely as Richard Dawkins’ empirically provable knowledge, because while we are alive and on earth neither of us can know the limits of what we believe, nor how something must at some time have been made out of nothing.
I believe in eternity, and infinity beyond human comprehension. A super mystery which one day I genuinely believe I will understand. But not while I’m alive. Dear Richard seems not to want this kind of really lovely hope, and is content to just dig deeper and deeper into discovering all the practical things in our cosmos knowing he will never reach the end of that search. I do hope he realises this before he dies, or at least thinks about it enough to like the idea of being in Heaven some day. Surely he is far too intelligent not to want to save his soul if he cannot, just by using empirical logic, prove that it does not exist. He is literally taking a helluva risk.