Philosophy

The Rosetta Project

How will people be able to read our texts in thousands of years? The Rosetta Project is working on the solution.

The Rosetta Stone
The year is 1799. For many years the first Egyptologists tried to decipher the enigmatic hieroglyphs that cover the many temples, tombs and palaces of ancient Egypt. In vain.

Huge replica of the Rosetta Stone honoring Champollion.

Then comes the breakthrough everyone hopes for. French engineers in the Egyptian town of Rosetta (now Rashid) accidentally discover a stone covered in Greek letters, demotic characters (a simplified, 'shorthand' form of hieroglyphs) and hieroglyphs.

For the first time, copies of the same text in a known language, Classical Greek (which archaeologists could read), the demotic characters written in Church-Coptic (which were decoded after a few years), and the unknown hieroglyphs are found. After years of puzzling, the French archaeologist Jean-François Champollion succeeded in deciphering the hieroglyphs in 1822. Finally, researchers were able to decipher the epitaphs and papyrus scrolls. This find was a stroke of luck. For example, there are inscriptions from Crete, Linear A, which are still not deciphered.

Future Archaeologists
Suppose it is the year 2982. Humanity was hit by a huge disaster many millennia ago, a nuclear war, virus or asteroid impact for example. The survivors fell back to the Stone Age. After several hundred years, the survivors have developed into a new civilization through trial and error.

The storage capsule contains a glass hemisphere that magnifies six times.

Archaeologists find inscribed relics of our cities and miraculously a few more intact books. Only: after a thousand years, no one understands English anymore. For example, the survivors descend from a group of Twa, pygmies, hidden in the jungle, from Central Africa who spoke Twi, a language that is completely different from English.

In short: what our distant descendants will need is a modern Rosetta stone. The Long Now Foundation now coincidence lends a hand.

The  Rosetta Disk, stored in a metal protective capsule of ten centimeters in diameter, is a nickel disc of about three inches in diameter.

One side immediately attracts attention with the inscription of a globe and texts in the ten major world languages that spiral downwards. The other side contains 13,000 pages of text etched into the disc, readable with a 650-fold microscope.

The disc with stylus and writing material

The disc survives at least two thousand years. The thirteen thousand pages of text describe the basic vocabulary and grammar of each language and contain common root texts.

Both halves of the spherical protective capsule are also utilized. One half is a lens that magnifies six times. The other half contains an engraving needle and a strip of metal on which the owners can leave messages for future generations. Unfortunately, the time capsules are not yet in mass production.

A happy ending?
The archaeologist Kwanzi Ntutu makes a great discovery. In the ruins of a library, he finds a mysterious metal sphere bigger than a man's fist. The sphere contains a metal disc with a globe on one side, surrounded by texts that revolve around the sphere like an ever smaller spiral and seem to dissolve into nothingness. One of them is difficult to read: it is Swahili, an ancient language that was widely spoken in East Africa. The news travels around the world by fanfare. Inventors from all over the world set to work to develop a good microscope. Then the microscopic texts on the other side of the disc become legible.

Deciphering the many paper archives is now fast. Science is advancing by leaps and bounds. A student of Ntutu, the brilliant Lusa Kwama, discovers what caused the disaster: the outbreak of a deadly genetically engineered smallpox virus developed by a military lab as a weapon. The shocking news has spread all over the world. Humanity is learning from its mistakes this time and through proper surveillance and better international cooperation, it prevents such disasters from ever happening again.

Down with religious freedom

Rond 2010 kwam in Pakistan een geval aan het licht van een islamitische geestelijke die een bedrag van vierduizend euro op het hoofd van een christelijke vrouw heeft gezet omdat ze “de islam heeft beledigd”. Discriminatie van niet-islamieten is in Pakistan en veel andere islamitische landen een zeer ernstig probleem.

In Pakistan is religieuze waanzin invloedrijker dan hier, maar ook hier in Nederland kenden we tot 2014 we een verbod op smadelijke godslastering. Rechtsbescherming, met andere woorden, voor iets dat niet door middel van door een rechtbank geaccepteerde forensische technieken, of zelfs maar door welke natuurwetenschapper dan ook, is aan te tonen.

Daarom moet het afgelopen zijn met het “respect” voor religies, alleen omdat het om een religie zou gaan.

Alleen door godsdienstige ideeën te behandelen zoals alle andere ideeën lossen we de godsdienst-gerelateerde problemen op.

Het lichamelijk letsel toebrengen aan kleine kinderen is strafbaar, toch accepteren we besnijdenis omdat het een religieuze gewoonte is.

Er is een filmkeuring die kinderen beschermt tegen beelden van geweld, sex, discriminatie en dergelijke. Het land is te klein als ouders klinderen leren de Hitlergroet te brengen en Hitler ophemelen. Toch wordt kinderen geleerd zogenaamde profeten te respecteren en te vereren die zich schuldig maakten aan etnische zuivering en massamoord.

Discriminatie is strafbaar. Toch worden kinderen op bepaalde religieuze scholen volgepompt met haat tegen on- of andersgelovigen, vrouwen en homo’s.

Dierenmishandeling is strafbaar, toch mogen dieren ritueel en onverdoofd geslacht worden omdat religieuze regels dat zeggen.

Artikel 6, waarin de godsdienstvrijheid is geregeld, kan gezien worden als het voortrekken van gelovigen ten opzichte van niet-gelovigen. Immers, volgens artikel 1 is ieder mens in Nederland gelijk, en is discriminatie dan ook verboden. Toch worden op basis van artikel 6 soms vergaande uitspraken door gelovigen goedgekeurd, terwijl zij wel met artikel 1 in strijd zijn (met dank aan prog.lib)

Daarom. Schaf de bijzondere voorrechten die gelovigen genieten af en vervang ze door de rechten die atheïsten genieten. maak geen onderscheid meer tussen meningen en heilige meningen. Vervang, met andere woorden, de vrijheid van godsdienst door de vrijheid van levensovertuiging.

Islam is overrated

Islam is grossly overestimated by the left, by critics of Islam and by the Islamists themselves. Let us rather focus on really important things.

Islam, according to Islam haters

According to critics of Islam such as Geert Wilders and previously Pim Fortuijn, Islam is the greatest geopolitical threat to the Netherlands. It is, they argue, a totalitarian faith that strives to subject the world to Islamic laws.

They point to the relatively high percentage of children with an Islamic background, approximately 15% of all newborns in 2003. Another argument: the compulsive way in which Islam is imposed by and on many Muslims. They assume that there is an almost perfect group coercion within the Islamic community and that this is sufficient to force Muslims to maintain themselves within the group. People who disagree with them see them as naive fools or traitors.

Islam, according to the 'progressives'

According to a second group, which roughly coincides with the voters who call themselves progressive parties, there is no question of Islamization. Because of their political commitment and often anti-Western orientation, they see the Muslims as valuable allies in the fight against Western imperialism and the narrow-minded conservatives, often referred to as 'fascists', in their own country. They also see the Muslims as the new Jews, as the canaries in the coal mine, the treatment of which shows whether fascism is re-emerging.

In their eyes, Islam is, in contrast to Christianity, a non-Western religion and thus an interesting ideological alternative to the neoconservatives. The rather conservative ideas that many Muslims hold about women and homosexuality are therefore usually condoned. They regard the Muslims as a vulnerable group that deserves extra protection.

There are many gradations between both points of view.

Islam, according to the Muslims themselves

Within the Islamic community there are some, often exaggerated, differences of opinion about the role that Islam and theological sources of Islam should play. Almost all Muslims consider their Islamic identity more important than, for example, their origin: they consider themselves above all as 'Muslim'. This is also reflected in the naming: almost all children of Muslim parents are given an Islamic name, often from a list of names from the country of origin.

Girl from Istanbul. Although she lives reasonably Western, she calls herself a Muslim.

We see this pattern in most Islamic communities. In practice, however, descent appears to play an important role: the reason why cooperation within Islamic organizations is extremely difficult. The degree of practice of religious precepts varies greatly, ranging from burqa-wearing women and long-bearded men who raise money for the holy war to Muslims who drink alcohol and eat pork.

In summary: 'Islam' is especially important as an identity-determining factor. The solidarity and identification with the own group is very great. Opinions about what 'Islam' is, or what a good Islamist is, also varies widely.

The solution: abolish 'Islam'

So there appears to be total confusion about what is meant by 'Islam'. Sunnis, Shiites and more enlightened Islamites, jihadists, seculars and Sufis radically disagree on many points and let me not even talk about the non-Muslims.

Also, the package that 'people' usually agree on is that it belongs to 'Islam', a collection of things that by far most Muslims find repugnant and ridiculous, think of the stoning of adulterers, the ban on music and the 'right' to sexually abuse captive women of an enemy nation, to things that even the most fanatical Islam-hater will agree with, such as the commandment in the Qur'an that everyone should compete in good deeds and that slaves should be released. 

In short: talking about 'Islam' creates unnecessary confusion. If a Muslim does not want to see himself identified with the bearded Taliban terrorists, he must not call himself a Muslim. If an Islam hater does not want 'decent' Islamites to suffer from Islam hatred, then he should not speak of 'Islam' either.

Abolish 'Islam' as an identity-determining construction and treat each other as human beings. Faith or religion should never be an excuse to do things that are otherwise unacceptable or to violate human rights. 'Islam' does not exist, 'Muslims' and 'unbelievers' do not exist. There are only people. Let's deal with the real problems.

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