An even greater number of our fellow citizens believe that there is no such thing as biological evolution, that the planet Earth is something like 6,600 years old and that early man and dinosaurs coexisted at the same time, confirming a suspicion I’ve long held that the Flintstones was really a National Geographic documentary in cartoon form.
Another recent poll turned up the fact that close to half of all Americans believe that heaven resembles something like the upper and upper-middle-class suburbs of today, and that when die they will meet their favorite pets, dogs, cats and the rest, presumably housebroken in advance by Our Heavenly Father. (No mention of Pablo the gardener or Imelda the maid; perhaps they get to commute in from limbo once a week to do their chores.)
I was pondering these and other random happenings the other day while I was trolling the internet in search of the latest Kardashian sisters’ sex tape and simultaneously channel-surfing, my current version of multi-tasking, when I tuned in to the History Channel just in time to hear something that truly astounded me.
Most of us, I presume, have heard of that historical catastrophe, the burning of the great library in Alexandria, Egypt. According to scholars, this disaster was the worst setback to human progress in recorded time. Centuries, millennia, of human inquiry were destroyed: mathematical and geometric revelations, metaphysical speculations spanning infinity and eternity, discoveries in the realms of chemistry and physics, inquiries into the very nature of knowledge, cognition and consciousness. We will never know what was lost; it was if the human species had undergone a mass pre-frontal lobotomy.
Many historians mark the library’s burning as the beginning of the Dark Ages.
The library actually was damaged by several accidental blazes over the centuries; armies fighting over control of the city set fire to enemy fleets in the harbor, warehouses and downtown neighborhoods, and some spread to the library and destroyed or damaged a portion of the contents. But the big fire, the one deliberately aimed at destroying the books (actually papyrus manuscripts) themselves, happened in 391 AD, and the firebugs were – guess who? – Christians, bent on destroying anything not written by Christians, for Christians, about the greatness of Christianity. They had been whipped up into a hysterical fury by some fourth century Glen Beck/Rush Limbaugh clone named Theophilus.
Six-hundred-thousand books, manuscripts, and a tradition of scholarship dating back to Alexander the Great nearly two thousand years before: gone.
A few centuries later, a mob of similarly idiotic Moslems burned whatever books the Christians missed, for similar motives.
Why think at all? Thus the Dark Ages, and thus America today; for we, like the denizens of the Dark Ages, scorn libraries: why read some dumb book when you can play Grand Theft Auto XXX! Or Wii, buggering off 18 hours a day?
No wonder the Tea Party’s programs read like they were written by Cheech and Chong after they smoked seven-hundred bong-fulls of Paraquat-laced Jimson weed.
And the “news media” and the public are too dumb to call them on it.
We done burned the library at Alexandria and replaced it with a Taj Mahal full of video games. Good-bye, Plato; hello, Larry the Cable Guy. Dark Ages for sure.