THE NEW OPIUM OF THE MASSES
by Servando Gonzalez
A long time ago Karl Marx coined his famous dictum: religion is the opium of the masses. Since then, is has been quoted over and over ad nauseam, mostly to prove the evils of religion. But, what is a religion?
A religion is basically a body of doctrines based on beliefs, accepted without mental reservations by its adepts because they have faith. Actually, the main characteristic that distinguishes religion from science is that, while the first is based on beliefs, the latter is based on observable, reproducible facts. Religious people who try to find scientific proof for their religious beliefs are either confused or their religious beliefs are not solid enough. Truly religious people don't hide or are ashamed of the fact that their religion is a dogma based on beliefs.
Religion and science pertain to two different domains of human knowledge, both independent and necessary. Criticizing the Catholic dogma of the trinity, calling it unscientific, is like criticizing Einstein's law of relativity calling it unreligious. Both statements are true, but as irrelevant as comparing apples to oranges. By the way, both the trinity and relativity are unaesthetic, but this is also irrelevant, because art is another domain of human knowledge, quite different from religion and science. Making science the measure by which one must judge all human knowledge is not only foolish but also tantamount to turning it into a religion -- a very unscientific belief for that matter.
Without ignoring the historical evidence that great crimes have been, and still are, committed in the name of religion, it is no less true that it has played a rather positive role in society. Probably the main one, which Marx pointed out, was to keep the ignorant masses in check. But he failed to mention that there was a good reason for it. Tough individual men have been capable of great accomplishments, the masses, particularly the populace out of control, have proved to be one of the most destructive forces on earth. Therefore, keeping them under control is a difficult task deserving praise.
The main tool of most religions for peaceful mass control have been the moral carrot and stick: if the believers follow to the letter the prescribed rules of conduct, after their death they would be sent to heaven, to live a nice life forever, free of all earthly nuisances. But, if they fail to do this, they would end up in hell, for an eternal life of suffering and pain. As foolish as it may seem to some people, a great majority of the masses, and even some of the educated upper classes as well, believed it and, sometimes reluctantly, tried to live up according to their religion's rules of moral conduct. In this sense, most religions have acted as a moral barrier to evil.
A perfunctory analysis of the main world's religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism, shows that there is a great social redeeming value in all of them. If, suddenly, every single person in this planet would decide to follow to the letter the true moral precepts of these religions, planet earth would be a nicer place to live. These religions condemn killing, lying, stealing, coveting other people's possessions, and most types of vices and excesses. And, more important, these precepts are based on the individual's self-restraint. But, particularly after the 1960s, the masses began distancing themselves from traditional religions, specially the Judeo-Christian ones. One of the main causes for this was the emergence of a new religion: Darwinism. But, contrary to the traditional ones, who never hide the fact that they were based on beliefs, Darwinism was sold to the ignorant masses not as a religion but as pure, unblemished, true science.
Though initially Darwin's theories gained some followers in Europe, it was in America where it flourished: monopolist capitalists found in Darwinism's principle of the survival of the fittest a moral justification for their cutthroat business practices. Putting all their power and money to work, the robber barons began funding, through the nonprofit foundations they control, all "scientific" studies proving that Darwinism was a true science, and, at the same time, blackballing any scientist who expressed doubts about it.
Concurrent with this, they took control over government schools (the ones erroneously called "public schools"), to guarantee that the masses were kept in ignorance. Only ignorant masses would take at face value the blatant lies told to them in the name of science. Since then, they have been effectively controlling the government schools both to guarantee that the children are kept in ignorance and to implant the Darwinian pseudo-science in their impressionable minds. And there is no doubt that they have been highly successful. Further proof that Darwinism is a religion rather than a science is that most of its faithful followers (un)educated in the government's schools refuse to read any of the growing scientific literature refuting the claims of Darwinism, and get very upset when somebody dares to tell them that Darwinism is not a true science.
It is not a coincidence, though, that Americans, who invented a type of sugar that is not sugar, a milk that is not milk, a coffee that is not coffee, a butter that is not butter, and two political parties that are actually the two sides of the same coin (I call it the Repucratic party), also invented, out of the blue, a science that is not a science: Darwinism. Free from the ethical and moral restraints of religion, we have become a country of liars who love being lied to.
The tragic result of this act of mental juggling, however, is a proof of the effects of the law of unintended consequences. Free from the constraints of religion, the ignorant masses are now totally out of control, and the main cause for this is Darwinism itself.
Contrary to the precepts of the main religions, which see life, and particularly human life, as sacred, because it is a gift from God, Darwinian "science" tells that life is just the result of a combination of factors which turned inanimate matter into animated, living matter. To Darwinists, life is not a miracle, just the result of chance. Human life is nothing but the culmination of an evolutionary process by which, through trial and error, life evolved from inanimate matter into more complicated forms. Which reminds me of the assertion that of a million monkeys typing for a million years on a million word processors, eventually one of them will end up writing Don Quijote de la Mancha.
But, don't ask a Darwinian "scientist" any of the obvious questions about the weaknesses and inconsistencies of the evolution theory, because he will call you unscientifically minded, a conspiracy nut, or a religious fanatic -- further proof that, as it happens with all religions, Darwinism's dogmas are self-evident to the faithful believers and should not be questioned.
But the masses (un)educated in the Darwinian dogma at the government schools took the Darwinian beliefs at face value and interpreted them in an unexpected way: if life is not something sacred, that has been given to us by our Creator, but just the result of the evolution of a piece of inanimate rock, and religion, with its ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, honesty and dishonesty, truth and lies, heaven and hell, is pure unscientific nonsense, then everything goes. No wonder lying, cheating, nihilism, negativity, cruelty, drug use, low character, promiscuity, sexual aberrations, and other types of destructive behaviors, have become a normal part of daily life. As they say, if it makes you feel good, then do it.
For example, if that piece of evolved rock is driving a Ferrari, and you desperately want it, just destroy the rock and get the car. If you are a millionaire in need of a kidney transplant, and that evolved piece of rock in Central America that looks like a poor peasant has one in perfect condition, pay somebody to destroy the rock and get the kidney for you. If you are a CEO of a pharmaceutical monopoly, and you know that this new drug your company has created actually kills the evolved rocks it is supposed to save, you will put it in the market as soon as possible and make some serious money. If you are a physician, and this rock comes to your office with a minor ailment, tell him that he has a high cholesterol level, and prescribe him some drugs that, far from curing him, will destroy his kidneys. Eventually he will need a kidney transplant, and you will make plenty of money. If an evolved rock has developed and unwanted little rock in her belly, you can scientifically make a hole in the little rock's head, suck its brain out with a vacuum cleaner, cut the little rock into pieces and later sell them to a chemical corporation to use it as raw material in the production of cosmetics. Or, if an evolved rock is homeless, living on the streets, and cannot defend himself, let's hit him in the head with baseball bats until he dies, just for the kicks.
This Darwinist "scientific" morality (or lack of it) contributed to the lowering of the sensibility threshold of the masses, opening the doors to the most incredible excesses mankind has witnessed. Left by himself without moral guidelines and laws, man's inherent aggressive instincts take command, and he will torture and kill wantonly, violently, and without remorse. This explains why Darwinism was embraced both by Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. This perhaps explains why most Americans don't find anything wrong with Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, or other common daily horrors, which they don't see as too different from the hazing rituals that take place at most colleges and universities.
A symptom of the times is that in the 1990s American teenagers enjoyed themselves in watching a documentary film appropriately named Horrors of War, showing real war footage depicting the most horrific images of gross carnage one can conceive. Another example is the growing popularity of snuff films, pornographic films depicting violent raping and the killing -- sometimes faked, sometimes real -- of people during the sexual act. And this type of mentality is not limited to bored teenagers or sadistic sex maniacs, but has become widespread. Proof of it is Vince Flynn's Memorial Day, a recently published novel I just finished reading. It deals with current terrorism, and its main character and hero is a CIA assassin and torturer. It rapidly climbed to the New York Times' bestseller list.
Currently, however, the Darwinian "scientists" and their faithful believers are scared and running like headless chickens. The cause for their consternation and alarm is the apparition of a new scientific theory called "intelligent design". As expected from people who don't care much for the truth, they immediate began calling intelligent design a disguised form of creationism. But this is another lie concocted by the Darwinist spin doctors. Creationism and intelligent design are very different things. Contrary to creationism and Darwinism, both based on beliefs, intelligent design is a true scientific theory based on observable facts, and there is nothing religious in it. Let me explain this a little more.
Nobody is going to convince me that the Macintosh computer I have on my desk is the result of chance evolution. But the fact that I am convinced that my Mac is the product of intelligent design does not make me a creationist. Moreover, I also have strong doubts about accepting the Darwinist's "scientific fact" that the genetic code, a computer-like language containing a program a million times more complicated than the most advanced computer programs humans have ever created, is the result of chance evolution. Does that makes me a creationist? I don't think so.
Actually, the ones that should be concerned about the intelligent design theory are religious people of all persuasions, because the creator we may find behind it may differ quite radically from the one they have in mind. But, as it happens, once more the religious right has proved to be more progressive and open to new scientific theories than the regressive, dogmatic, reactionary religious left.
If initially the main goal of monopolist capitalists was making money, in the second part of the past century they began fearing a new phenomenon, which turned into an obsession: planet earth was overpopulated by the poor, ignorant masses they helped create, and it was necessary to control population growth. Given the dramatic increase in world population since the second part of the past century, wars, their main tool for both enrichment and population control, was not enough. According to some of their ideologues and spokesmen, in order for this planet to be livable it was necessary to get rid of the excess baggage, that is, killing no less than 60 billion people, and reduce the rest of the masses to pre-industrial, feudal standards of living. Fortunately, they have plenty of Darwinian "scientists" lacking a minimum of social consciousness well positioned in universities' labs, generously funded by nonprofit foundations, working on creative ways to kill as many evolved rocks as they can. These "scientists" are the same ones who are putting all their creative efforts in developing new and more efficient weapons of mass destruction, among them modifying though recombination the DNA of existing pathogens that would selectively kill members of a particular ethnic group. And, since it could seem to be naturally occurring, death would be attributed to natural causes.
Paradoxically, most of the great ideological themes of the American (religious) left -- environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, gun control, sustainability, evolutionism, etc. -- have been secretly developed in think tanks created, funded, and controlled by the most reactionary right, and implanted in the leftists' pocket-controlled minds with the help of plenty of money provided by the right's hidden hand: its nonprofit foundations. Don't forget that, just to mention some of them, "leftists" like Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse worked for the OSS, Timothy Leary worked for the CIA, and Noam Chomsky worked for the Pentagon. The fact may explain, for example, the convergence of goals of leftist radical environmentalists and reactionary, rightist oil monopolies: both are against the creation of new cheap nuclear energy plants, the creation of new oil refineries, and the exploitation of known oil and gas fields, and both foment the myth that oil is a fossil, nonrenewable resource.
Definitely, Darwinism is not a science, but a religion. You have to be a true believer in miracles to accept its farfetched claims. As a new opium of the masses, however, it evidently has not worked. Contrary to most religions, Darwinism is not a religion based on peace, love and harmony, but on war, hatred, and death. It has stirred the basest and darkest instincts in human beings. Faithful to the principle of separation of religion and government, Darwinism, like creationism, should not be taught at government schools paid with taxpayers' money.
The religious right has always understood this, that is why there are Christian and Jewish schools, where children are indoctrinated in the religious beliefs of their parents. If the religious left wants to indoctrinate their children in religious beliefs like evolution, environmentalism, feminism, sustainability, and the cult of Gaia, it is okay with me. But for this they should create their own schools, and pay for them. Using government schools to indoctrinate other peoples' children on religious dogmas disguised as science is not only unethical, but also unconstitutional.