Saturday, 27 October 2018

The siren song of certainty

I’ve been too busy to post over the past few days but the story about Sinéad O'Connor converting to Islam caught my eye.

Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor has announced she has converted to Islam.
The artist, who is best known for her 1990 hit version of the song Nothing Compares 2 U, said she had changed her name to Shuhada'.

In a message on Twitter, she thanked fellow Muslims for their support.

She has said that her decision was "the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian's journey". and uploaded a video of herself singing the adhan, or Islamic call to prayer.

Her stated reason for converting is nonsense of course and as such is uninteresting, but there is a wider aspect because there appears to be a global fear of uncertainty. 

This fear seems to be evident in hostility to Donald Trump because he is seen to represent uncertainty where the emollient but ineffectual Obama did not. It seems to be evident in the Brexit debate where the EU is presented as a bastion of certainty while Brexit is not.

Yet progress requires us embrace uncertainty, requires us to embrace even tentative knowledge over political doctrine, faddish social memes or superstition. It requires us to tease apart uncertainties and discover what can be known in the hope that future generations will face their future knowing more than we do. In too many areas of life this is not the ideal being pursued but without it Western civilisation won’t work.


James Higham said...

Wonder what the Muslims will make of her tatts.

Sam Vega said...

Cultures that favour doctrinaire certainty over an open-ended and agnostic engagement with reality are weaker. They will discover less, their technology will dwindle, and they will have difficulty with change. That's what threatens our culture at the moment, and I suspect the rise of China and the irrationality of many "educated" Westerners will lead to our undoing. Let's hope that little news items like this - just one mentally ill ex-celeb doing another daft thing - will act as a cumulative wake-up call.

James: I suspect the tatts issue has now been solved. When Allah and the Imams say "put them away, love!" their words carry more weight than our expressions of disgust.

Demetrius said...

I keep asking what is for lunch but am told only that it might be in the freezer.

A K Haart said...

James - unlikely to approve would be my guess.

Sam - I agree, it is what threatens our culture at the moment and as you suggest it will probably lead to our undoing. Increasing complexity suggests we have to become better and better at analysis but it isn't happening.

Demetrius - one day it may not be.