Wednesday, July 06, 2005


This article appeared in Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 7.

Two Planets at Work Here

By Dr. Mohammed T. Al-Rasheed

While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)plays out Hollywood fantasies in real time and real space,there still are people who argue whether a woman should drive a car or not.

I really don’t understand how or why blasting a comet should lead us to learn more about our origins, but I have full faith that it will.

Why? Because the people working on this matter don’t care for interpretations of anything and deal with solid scientific facts.

The rest of us have to interpret everything. And interpretation is mightier than any original material we deal with. Human history says as much.

Holy books, for example, are standard issue, yet the interpretations abound and still pour forth endlessly.

While watching the NASA event on television, there was Billy Graham on Larry King Live peppering his answers with “I spoke to God and he told me”.

The Arab News in front of me was loaded with articles about women driving a car without anyone asking why she is allowed to ride a camel and not drive a car. Fourteen hundred years ago, the camel was the Hummer of high society.

It seemed to me that there are two planets at work here and not simply one. NASA was on one, Graham and Arab News on another. How can you argue or ask anything of someone who claims he “speaks to God” as you and I speak to each other?

The Bible tells us that “speaking” to God is not that easy nor is it possible for anyone who wants to. Even the pope does not claim that right for he knows better.

Communicating with the deity is one thing, actually talking or speaking to God is quite another.

Mysticism and logic are not easy bedfellows, as Bertrand Russell tried to explain in his famous tome, but one would think that common sense could prevail.

The same mechanism applies to those arguing against women driving. They do not see the logic of it and try to mystify us with anguished proclamations. In their convoluted way, they are trying to tell us: “Trust us on this issue because we spoke with the Law.”

In reality, they are working hard to keep women as subjects and not partners. This is what I call a NASA truth: A woman can fly into deep space and come back, but she can’t drive to the supermarket.

In very broad terms, interpretation is divided into two schools: The literal and the metaphorical. Erroneously, in my view, we know them in political terms as “Liberal” and “Conservative.”

Worse, we give directions: left and right. For some odd reason, Marx’s interpretation of History puts him on the left, and Billy Graham finds himself on the right. In my view, anything or anyone who proclaims and refuses to discuss is dead center in the frozen part.

If you don’t believe me ask yourself this simple question: Which one of the two schools of interpretation is likely to have adherents who will summarily denounce another human being to death, or blow themselves up and others to prove a point?