Our title was inspired by this article in the London Evening Standard: Law student hacked to death with machete after criticising Islam on Facebook.
We’ve seen headlines about events like that before. This one happened in Bangladesh. You can read the grisly details, but we want you to see this excerpt:
Before deactivating his Facebook account about a month ago after his family feared he may become the victim of an attack, he was said to have written: “Evolution is a scientific truth. Religion and race are invention of the savage and uncivil people.”
We don’t blog about Islam because we know nothing about it, so that’s not our purpose in mentioning this news. Rather, we want to raise a different point. We’re all familiar with the literary cliché of the Mad scientist. For two centuries, from Victor Frankenstein to Dr. Strangelove, the public has been exposed to a number of characters who explore things that “man was not meant to know.” They often seek world domination.
The problem is that one has ever met such a scientist in real life. If you know of one, we’d like to hear about it. On the other hand, dangerously depraved behavior is all too common among those who imagine that they’re on a divine mission. If you doubt that, think of the Inquisition in the Western world, and its Islamic counterparts in the Middle East today.
There are also contemporary creationists living among us who seek to establish a theocracy in which their vision of religion is mandatory for all. And let’s not forget to mention power-crazed politicians, motivated not so much by theology as by sociology.
But with all the genuinely insane and truly dangerous people running around in the world, the myth of the mad scientist is the one that persists in literature. Why? Think about it.
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