Human language evolved to serve human purposes. For most people, that purpose is to just get on with life, to be happy, to work, to play, to provide for tomorrow and to leave this world a better and a safer place for our children. Intellectual freedom promotes those purposes. In time of danger it may be necessary for people to put group before self, but there is always a danger in the group - the madness of crowds. If the group functions so as to oppress its own members, then it becomes self-destructive. Human societies thrive as collections of individuals, not as collective minds. We are not The Borg.
Language is our most powerful tool. By simply using language as a tool, ancient philosophers investigated how this universe works and came up with some surprisingly accurate answers. From using language we developed our ideas of fairness and justice, right and wrong. The greatest triumph of language is probably this:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,We cannot point to any reality or any physical model of equality or of personal freedom. The more we think about the concepts, the more illusory they seem. But this wonderful illusion, this thing called personal freedom has been a guiding beacon to humanity down through the ages.
History teaches a constant lesson about freedom: freedom is not a free gift, it has a price. It has been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Vigilance is insufficient. Of what use is it to be vigilant and to see the approaching firestorm if we fail to organise firefighters? Organisation is the only weapon against danger, whether the danger of fire or the danger of tyranny. With organisation comes power. But power corrupts by corrupting the minds of those who unthinkingly obey. Perfect organisation corrupts absolutely - when freedom of thought gives way to the madness of a collective mind.
In the Star Trek movies, the most efficient organisation is The Borg. There is no room for individual freedom - each mind is subverted to the needs of the collective. The collective has only one goal: the biomechanical preservation and promotion of the species. The collective has no dreams, no aspirations, no poetry, no art, no soul, no conscience, no religion. The Borg is all-powerful. Once within its reach there is no escape from the extinguishment of the spark of individual freedom - resistance only delays the inevitable. When defeat is inevitable, resistance is futile.
Throughout history there have always been people so arrogant as to believe that not only do they have a unique access to "the truth", but they have a duty to force everyone else to accept their viewpoint. The words tyrant, despot, dictator and like terms have been over-used lately. These words no longer conjure up the fear and dread that they once did. Perhaps we need a new and stronger term. Perhaps, when we talk about the sort of people who want to do our thinking for us, we should be calling them borgmasters.
A borgmaster is against intellectual freedom. Once let a borgmaster do your thinking for you and your life is not your own. Your every thought will be self-monitored for submission to the ideology of the collective. And there are many collectives just waiting for you to join, all you need do is to stop using your critical powers of thought and submit, as if to a hypnotist.
What an easy life it is as a borgmember. Who needs to wonder at the complexity and sheer breath-taking beauty of the universe? There is nothing to wonder at once the borgmaster has explained how it all works. In the collective there is no need of any inquiry into the unknown. Nothing can be unknown when the borgmaster is able to answer all questions. The borg is all-knowing, all-wise, and exists only to be obeyed.
Science is a tool for critical thinkers. That is why borgmasters hate science. The method of science is to ask questions and to seek truth. However, the scientist will not accept just any old "truth". The answer to a question must be torn down and built up again using rigorously logical methods. The scientist never accepts an answer as truth just because of the reputation of the source. Independent verification is a must. The scientist demands the intellectual freedom to challenge all assumptions. Science has the power to free us from the shackles of subservience to dogma.
There are quite a few people in this world who would like to force people into organisational moulds. For their own good, you understand. The people who want to impose their world view on everyone else completely fail to see that they are simply promoting a new collective worldview, a new model borg. Given the chance, they will impose their world view on your children, but in a borg collective there are no play rooms.
Freedom of thought is considered so vital in our human world that it is protected by international conventions. We have waged wars against the tyranny of political creeds so that our children do not waken to the sound of banging boots and senseless slogans. In free countries we offer schooling, work and economic opportunity to all, without first demanding to know a person's political or religious affiliations.
Organisation is the only weapon against tyranny, but organisation itself, in excess, is tyranny. Yes, we must organise against those who wish to indoctrinate our children. We must act when tax dollars and gushing praise are heaped on the childrens books promoted by scientologists. We must act when fundamentalist creationists want to infiltrate religion into the classroom disguised as science. But we must guard also against over-organising ourselves into a collective mind.
It is all too easy to seek to counter an extremist religious world view with militant atheism. Agnosticism, say some, is not enough. The agnostic is an appeasing Chamberlain, but it takes an atheist to be a Churchill and fight against religion. Such is the power of language to deceive, if we let it. Only an agendist rabble-rouser would dare so to abuse the good names of Chamberlain and Churchill - supporters of personal freedom - in an attempt to attack a universal freedom.
Attack, not defence. The language used is the language of the drum-beater and flag-waver demanding pre-emptive strikes. The rhetoric used to incite attacks against religious belief insults both Chamberlain and Churchill. Chamberlain, by a policy which Hitler, to his cost, saw as appeasement bought valuable time for Britain to re-arm. When Hitler attacked Poland it was Chamberlain who persuaded the British parliament to declare war. Churchill was a champion for personal freedom. His voice was one of many which led to international agreements on fundamental human rights.
I care not whether a person is a theist, an atheist or an agnostic, provided only that they do not try to impose their world view on me. I will not be a part of their borg. It is my right, enshrined in law. The only organisation warranted by free thinkers is defensive organisation against the borgmasters, since they are the offensive organisers of this world.
My religious views are my own. I firmly believe that advocacy of discrimination for or against any theist, agnostic or atheist religious viewpoint is fundamentally wrong. I care not whether a person is a theist, an atheist or an agnostic, I will defend their right to personally hold that view, but I will oppose their every attempt to impose that view on others, and I will never let anybody else do my thinking for me.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
* Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
* Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
* (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
* (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
* (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
* Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.