Scepticism, critical thinking; yes, they do exist in the Middle East, or at least Islamists “claim” that their God tells them to think for themselves. I think you read that definitive “but” without me writing it: It is either silent, or a pretty facade for the ugly Islamism, only pretending to be scepticism, or even “thinking” for that matter. I was a silent sceptic. At some point in my life, I decided not to give into stupidity, not to surrender to the temptation of having all the answers in faith, even if it meant that I had to shut up and say nothing about my thoughts, for that would have been heresy, and meant suicide.
The educational system in the Middle East is one of the best for carrying on the process of brainwashing children, but it is interesting that with all their effort to make people stupid, they sometimes fail in the worst ways. Since it is compulsory to sit through Koran and other religious nonsense classes, children sometimes develop a sense of immunity to them. After all it is only in human nature not to listen to the same music for a decade!
But, even so, children do not learn to try and logically challenge the moronic propaganda that is thrown at them day and night, children do not have the intellectual capability of doing so. I remember, the first time that I heard about arguments in favour of the existence of God I was only fifteen, and we had a class of “Islamic thought”. Before that, it was always “assumed” that we know a deity exists without any explanation at all. Even so, how can a fifteen year old develop an intellectual defense against what “seems” to be logical? Especially when nobody first teaches him about logic, logical fallacies and how to think for himself.
At the age of sixteen, when I came out to myself, I started rejecting the whole idea of religion. Up until that point I was neutral toward most of its ideas, but then I started knowing myself, and knowing about being gay, learning from science. I realized that not only they are mutually exclusive in my mind, but also to me religion is of the most horrific crimes against sanity.
Since I never believed it, the only rationalization that I needed to declare all of it nonsense came from Muslims’ belief in Koran, from religion itself: They believe that “No part of the Koran can be wrong.” I simply asked myself how about the part concerning the story of Lot? How about all those Islamic and Koranic rants about Homosexuality? Of course it was wrong, and so obviously the whole idea is insanely stupid. Then I started studying philosophy of science on my own, trying to get a better understanding of science and its domains, including what separates it from religion and what makes it make sense.
That is not the worst part, it is the start of the case. What makes a brainwashing actually successful is not just the lack of scepticism, it is creating psychological barriers that would ensure sceptical thinking would never breach them, and sometimes even abuses logic in its own way.
You are nine years old, and you are given a book, you are told that that book is “holy”, so holy in fact, that you cannot and it would be sinful to touch it without performing “wudu”* which is basically washing your hands, face and feet. You are told that that book contains the answer to all your questions, it can tell you how to live your life, and if you read it carefully you will be able to find the way to heaven.
For years, until I was sixteen, I could not touch the damn book without a certain hesitation; and the interesting thing is I didn’t even believe it! It takes years of critical thinking, scepticism and self training to get rid of those barriers. The unfortunate thing is, you have to “be” a sceptic to get rid of them, and even in that case there would be no guaranties.
The horrifying fact is, it is extremely easy to believe there is one book that has all the answers. I have seen people that are calm, happy and satisfied with what they have faith to be the truth; an illusion nonetheless, a dream maybe, but they don’t want to let go.
I am too fund of the truth and reality to let go into the darkness of a dream senselessly, even if reality suffers me. It is like coming out of the closet, you cannot be honest with yourself and go back in.