Today is being celebrated as Darwin Day - a celebration of science, humanity, knowledge and intellectual inquiry. I dedicate this post to the Darwin Day celebration efforts and make a firm stand for science and the quest for greater knowledge.
Maldives is increasingly becoming hostile to science, knowledge and free thought. I strongly believe that this undermines the very pillars of progress and enlightenment and would, or rather WILL and IS, sinking the country into a terrible period of ignorance. There already is nationwide hysteria and hostility towards many scientific principles and theories. Certain unchallengeable, unscientific, illogical "truths" about the world are being fiercely hammered into people through TV, radio, newspapers and magazines - all of which contribute towards a sense of authority and authenticity to the false message it delivers. The history of science in Maldives is nonexistent. How many science books/articles are there in our beloved language? How many programmes on our national television/radio cater to furthering a scientific, realistic understanding of the world around us? How much science does our national primary schooling curriculum contain? Who/what encourages free thought, understanding, experimentation and/or knowledge? The National Library, as per my last visit to the place, is an intellectually dry institution that joins the ranks of the media outlets in bolstering fantasy and fairytales with its utter lack of journals, magazines and academic books.
There is one thing in science that faces more hostility than all others put together: evolution. I was naive enough to assume that the evolution-creation debate that (re)sparked off in the US just several months ago would never manifest in the Maldives, for people seemed informed and seemed to accommodate the scientific explanation gladly. After all, much of the country have the privileges of watching educational programs on BBC, National Geographic and Discovery Channel and the likes right at their homes. Some even made jokes about how stupid the American creationists were. Sadly, things didn't remain such for long. The debate has made its emergence in the Maldives and so far, just like it always has been, is a one sided assault on evolution. It has been shot down as pure devil speak and has happily been made fun of in print and on the web. I challenge every and any Maldivian media outlet to talk of evolution fairly and scientifically in even a single article among the barrage of crap they spew so freely. The opposition to the entire concept of evolution has become so strong that even the young students that supposedly follow a modern syllabus are quick to bin this very cornerstone of modern biology as trash without a hint of grasping the beauty of this fundamental process that has shaped the world as we know it. People’s objections to Evolution all stem from a misunderstanding – a misunderstanding derived almost always from reading one of the many intentional misrepresentations from an author whose understanding of the matter is next to zilch. It’s as if people never read up and learn. The Wikipedia page titled Objections to Evolution
contains all the popular objections people throw at it and explain it all concisely and with clarity.
Maldives has, as a consequence of giving up on scientific inquiry, let the supernatural world gain solid footing in the country. It has been accepted as a standard and an undeniable "fact". Fanditha, Jinn, Sihuru, Faalu belun etc is thriving as ever. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, psychosis are all treated as afflictions from "bad" jinn. Treatment is sought from self proclaimed exorcists and faith healers. Recent stories of the "miracle" kid from Thulhaadhoo curing people with inspired medicine has run amok and people are apparently flocking for cures. The kid waves Jinn and blessing from God as his ticket to the authenticity of his work. The article on Haveeru
on the matter quotes a socially respected religious scholar who vouched for a "possible" validity of the kids doings - an act that certainly credits and bolsters the exploitation this kid and his family is carrying out in public. WTF!!!
I call for all science lovers, educators and the curious to read and read diverse. Get the Origin of Species
by Charles Darwin. Get the Selfish Gene
by Richard Dawkins. Get the Brief History of Time
or Universe In a Nutshell
by Stephen Hawking. Get Six Easy Pieces
by Richard Feynman. Get How the Mind Works
by Steven Pinker. Pick up a book on Philosophy, Logic, Mathematics, Quantum Mechanics, Astronomy or even Dinosaurs... And most importantly, help the fellow countrymen/women understand the scientific knowledge that has driven the world so far and propelled humanity into stellar heights. The scientific method has helped humanity achieve so much ever since the very first beginning and there is no reason it can't do wonders for the stagnant Maldives as well...
Viva la science