The title is not a misprint. I wrote a while ago about Relational and instrumental understanding. In short, most so-called understanding today is of the instrumental type. People learn facts and processes but they are not taught the overall picture. One aspect of this is that you will consistently find that when talking to people who have only an instrumental understanding of a subject, they will attempt to shut you down if you question any of their assumptions. They have been taught ‘facts’ and they depend on the knowledge of these ‘facts’ to justify their jobs and salaries.

On the other hand, people who have a relational understanding relish discussion and controversial ideas.

There’s a saying that if your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail. So when governments ask for advice from epidemiologists about COVID-19 they get answers that revolve around how fast and under what conditions the virus can spread. They don’t get answers that relate to how people can build up their immune systems or what the results of lockdowns will do on the economy. And because epidemiologists are trained instrumentally, and because governments have given them power, we get the problem that any attempts to question the prevailing view are met with shutdowns: videos are removed from YouTube and magazines that present an alternative view are banned.

But it goes further than this. Science (or what passes for science) has become the new religion. Places of worship are considered non-essential and as the media emphasises the importance of ‘listening to the science’ it attempts to debunk any other view including religious views. The BBC, who are masters at disseminating ideas, have taken this on in a typically subtle British way. In a news report on the BBC World Service at the start of Ramadan the newsreader made the point that Muslims would not be able to socialise in the way they are used to, but then finished off the report by saying that the medical evidence was that fasting weakens your immune system.

Not only is this factually incorrect, it subtly presents the idea that religious people are ignorant and that science knows better. Scientists (or really people who have been trained in simplistic scientific ideas) have been given power by governments but they wield this power by using fear. Because people don’t understand the whole picture they rely (and the media tells them to rely) on them.

Atheists promote the idea that Atheism is based on science and rationality and religion is based on blind faith. The reality is the opposite. The Quran emphasises throughout that people must use their senses and their intelligence, and to always question. The so-called scientists are telling us to blindly trust them and questioning is seen as being ‘divisive’ and ‘unscientific’.

By Philip Braham on .

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