Christian Fundamentalism Encourages Ignorance

Stop the Madness!!!

It is hard these days to keep track of which State is in the lead in the move to drive our country backwards…to the 19th Century.  Surely, we are all aware that Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, and Missouri are on the list.  A quick re-cap of the current standings:

Arizona:  While the majority of my post will deal with evolution and creationism, I would be remiss if I included AZ off of this list.  To the best of my knowledge, AZ does not have any anti-evolution legislation currently in play.  (Someone please correct me if am wrong on this).  AZ is moving at light speed to ensure that women lose pretty much all control of their own body.  If Gov. Jan Brewer (the irony being that she is a woman) had her way, women and cockroaches would be on equal footing over their future reproductive status.  Pregnancy starts at the time of a woman’s last period?  WTF is that?  By that logic, I guess my wife is pregnant…yay us!  I think I will wait another few weeks before painting a baby room though….

Tennessee:  I already wrote a post on the lunacy occurring in Tennessee which you can read here.  What I would like to highlight today is the passing of House Bill 368 which allows teachers to criticize “controversial” science such as global warming and evolution.  It is a license to teach creationism.

Louisiana:  For many years, Louisiana was a leader in anti-evolution/pro creationism legislation.  Not much has changed.  Kudos to high school student Zach Kopplin for challenging Louisiana Science Education act, which is quite similar to TN Bill 368.

Texas: This state is full of fundie nuttery.  What I would like to call your attention to specifically is the GOP platform’s wording that states:

“Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”(Valerie Strauss, Washington Post)

Missouri: Who can forget the insane Amendment 2  that passed a few months ago.  I recently blogged on that topic which you can read here.

Not a bad list when it comes to promoting ignorance.  By no means is the list complete, but I am writing a blog post and not a book.  For those of you looking for additional reading on States’ challenging evolution I would point you to the American Geosciences Institute: Political Challenges to the Teachings of Evolution.  It is a great site that outlines all of battles fought on this nonsensical topic.

My purpose today is to highlight a new entry into the race for Christian Fundamentalist Ignorance.  Today’s contender is no stranger to the topic, as it is the home of the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.  Yes, we are talking about Kentucky.

Rob Boston discussed some new developments in Kentucky in his blog on Americans United which you can read here.  Boston discusses two specific state legislators who are in a tight race to keep their constituents ignorant.  First we have Sen. David Givens whom Boston quotes as stating, “I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution.”  Face meet palm.  Boston accurately points out that this has been tried in numerous other states and has failed to be upheld in court—every time.

Boston then turns to Rep. Ben Waide.  Waide sees Givens’ stance and decides to up the ante of idiocy.  From Boston’s blog:

“The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science – Darwin made it up,” Waide said. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.”

 

(In case you’re wondering, Waide is not a biologist, an anthropologist or a scientist of any kind. He is a physical therapist with a bachelor’s degree in health science.)

Wow, that must be on a list of the most idiotic and ignorant statements made by a politician on this topic.  What is maddening is that Waide is in a position of power in his State and could actually effect KY’s education policies.

This entire conversation is one of my main problems with Fundamentalist Christianity.  It promotes ignorance—and is not shy about doing so.  Can you imagine what would happen to our society if policies such as these are a) allowed to pass and/or b) allowed to stand if they have already passed?  Each of these States are accomplishing two things.  First, they are promoting a specific religious viewpoint.  Second, they are hurting the future of the U.S.  Neither is acceptable in my opinion.

It is incumbent upon the rest of us to point out the lunacy and prevent it from becoming policy.

The citizens here in the U.S. had better wake up.  This type of legislation is being proposed at an alarmingly increasing rate.  We cannot solely rely on organizations like Americans United, the FFRF, etc to fight all of the battles.  We need to take it upon ourselves to oppose legislation of this nature.

It matters not what your religious views are (unless of course you are a Fundie).  The rest of us, secular Americans, Catholics, moderate/liberal Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc need to oppose the wave of ignorance that is threatening to extinguish the light of science and leave future generations in the dark.

Thanks for Reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-John

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37 thoughts on “Christian Fundamentalism Encourages Ignorance

  1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    The very last thing a fundamentalist christian organization wants is an educated audience. Education includes science. Science encourages critical thought and tends not just to contradict religion, but to make it look like the foolish, ignorant bilge water that it is. People generally don't like to have their intelligence impugned, and thus will leave such an environment (i.e.: that church). One might almost expect a relating slogan: Keep 'Em Stupid to Keep 'Em In Church!

    Here's the really scary thing, though: a LOT of these same people who disparage science and pride themselves on their baseless faith are the ones who also claim American exceptionalism. They point to our leadership position in the world as evidence of such … yet they forget that said leadership position is at least in part the result of our scientific achievements! If they were to succeed, the US would sink even LOWER in math and science test scores, and eventually, the US would devolve into a third-world backwater while China and India took the lead in technology.

    We're the country that mapped the human genome, that pushed the understanding of the human animal, that makes medicines and innovates treatments and builds hospitals around which the world flocks to. Much of this ability is built around the science of biology and the theory of evolution, on whose principles those medicines and treatments are based. Has ANY curative regimen EVER been based on the idea that god created the universe in six days? If that was what our schools taught, what would happen to the US's expertise in the biological and medicinal fields? We would become a laughing stock, plain and simple.

    Once, just once, I would like to go up to a promoter of intelligent design or creationism and ask them if they are proud of America's scientific accomplishments. When they would (doubtless automatically) say, "yes," I'd then ask, "THEN WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE US STUPID?!?"

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

      Your point on American exceptionalism is spot on. Oraxx1 brings that up as well. My thought is that the rest of the world is not enjoying this. The economy is global. The U.S. needs to be a large & productive part of that. The Christian Right will destroy what took generations to build.

      Reply
    2. Paul Hobbs from Victorville, CA, United States

      Loren,

      You say, "The very last thing a fundamentalist christian organization wants is an educated audience." What specific organization are you referring to? Have considered the following?

      "The numbers of scientists who question Darwinism is a minority, but it is growing fast," said Stephen Meyer, a Cambridge-educated philosopher of science who directs the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. "This is happening in the face of fierce attempts to intimidate and suppress legitimate dissent. Young scientists are threatened with deprivation of tenure. Others have seen a consistent pattern of answering scientific arguments with ad hominem attacks. In particular, the series' attempt to stigmatize all critics–including scientists–as religious 'creationists' is an excellent example of viewpoint discrimination."

      Signers of the statement questioning Darwinism came from throughout the US and from several other countries, representing biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, geology, anthropology and other scientific fields. Professors and researchers at such universities as Princeton, MIT, U Penn, and Yale, as well as smaller colleges and the National Laboratories at Livermore, CA and Los Alamos, N.M., are included. A number of the signers have authored or contributed to books on issues related to evolution, or have books underway." (http://www.reviewevolution.com/press/pressRelease_100Scientists.php/)

      I would hope that you being an educated person would understand that simply teaching one perspective is not education at all, but rather indoctrination. Why are atheist afraid to have both taught? Are are people called stupid for not agreeing with you? Simply calling some one stupid be disagreeing is a bit childish. There are intelligent people on both sides of this argument who should be able to have intelligent dialogue.

      Paul

      Reply
      1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

        Paul, the Discovery Institute is very much discredited by reputable scientists. It is a group that propagates lies to further its own ends. It is nothing more than psuedo-science at best. If you want to make your point, you will need to expand your argument well beyond what comes from that Institute. FYI—you may have tried to do so in your post, but the link does not work. Also, you fail to acknowledge the reason creationist (pseudo) scientists are being passed over for tenure is because they are not taken seriously as scientists. They are wrong. We would not grant tenure to a professor of any other field for being wrong would we? We would not grant tenure to a scientist who says H20 is not water, to a mathematician who argued against the Pythagorean Theorem, to a physiology professor who said that our "heart is the origin of our emotions" (as Jesus said by the way)….those things would all be absurd in today's modern scientific culture….so too is creationism.

        Reply
      2. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

        Paul, the issue of questioning Darwinism is a load of horse hockey, and if you were truly informed, you would know that.

        The best rebuttal to such noise I find is Project Steve: http://ncse.com/taking-action/project-steve

        A somewhat whimsical yet utterly on-point response to those who wish (generally on religious grounds) to promote (un)intelligent design or creationism as valid scientific pursuits. Project Steve, by itself, has more signatories on its roles than ALL of the dissenters to the theory of evolution COMBINED.

        You might as well attempt to promote the ether theory of light or the phlogiston theory of chemistry in a modern-day classroom … because you'd get about as much traction.

        Reply
        1. Paul Hobbs from Victorville, CA, United States

          Loren and reasonbeing,

          Your response to my reply is simply circular reasoning. Your definition of "a real scientist" and "real science" is based upon their agreement with your beliefs. The educational institutions in my response are very reputable. What you call "real science" ventures off into science fiction when discussing the origins life and of the universe. Panspermia??? This is a joke right?? And according to your "real scientist" nothing no longer means nothing. Interesting! The belief in an infinite regress of causes is also interesting but lacks logic.

          Paul

          Reply
          1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

            Okay, how about this:

            Neither intelligent design nor creationism have ANY support in the scientific community at large, because they have no evidence to back them up. Their primary claims of "irreducible complexity" in such structures as the flagellum of some single-cell animals and "no transitional fossils" have been completely discredited, including once in a Dover, Pennsylvania courtroom during the Kitzmiller v Dover trial, which tried to introduce ID to classrooms there. They have no peer-reviewed papers to cite and no mechanism to further justify any rational reason to subscribe to the supposition of intelligent design (it doesn't deserve the appellation of "hypothesis," let alone "theory.").

            Worse, it has been well-documented by Dr. Barbara Forrest that:

            1. Intelligent design is nothing more than rebranded creationism, and
            2. ID was part of an overall "Wedge Strategy," whose ultimate aim was to REPLACE the teaching of evolution in schools with that of intelligent design.

            Regarding the Wedge Strategy, I refer you to the following:
            http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_fo

            Both the above points were introduced as evidence at the Kitzmiller trial.

            Science and its products frequently give rise to utilitarian principles which may be applied to life and built on from that point, both to further understand phenomena in a given field and in a practical way for human benefit. The principles of evolution have repeated been used by the medical and pharmaceutical industries in this fashion to develop effective medicines and treatments. The only principle intelligent design appears to have is "god did it," which teaches us NOTHING and cannot be built on in any coherent fashion to develop technology based on it. The "god did it" principle does not enhance our understanding of ANYTHING, nor does it supply us with processes or mechanisms applicable to further research. In short, IT STOPS LEARNING.

            If there were any real science behind intelligent design, it would have shown up by now. There is NONE. What is has is religious zeal to usurp education and push an untenable supposition which has no evidentiary support, versus the theory of evolution, which may be the single BEST supported scientific theory currently in existence. If intelligent design can bring hard facts and tested evidence to a peer review committee for scrutiny, analysis, and criticism (like any other hypothesis under test), then circumstances will have changed. As of yet, this hasn't happened, and I am dubious it ever will.

          2. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

            Phil—I am in complete agreement with Loren. Here is what I would add to it. You mentioned in a previous comment that you had read Dawkins, and asked if he is the best at his craft and/or who else you should read. I cannot state this more plainly: I have no idea if Dawkins is the "best at his craft", he is certainly one of the most well known and certainly good enough for our purposes. If a reader can read his books detailing evolution and come away unconvinced then one of two things is occuring:

            Either the reader does not fully understand how evolution works, as there is more evidence to support that than there is for the theory of gravity, and as I said before, I do not see any proponents of ID signing up to jump out of their window to disprove that. AND/OR

            Second, the reader is not being open minded and honest. They are reading the texts of evolution in one hand, and clinging to the bible with the other. They are accepting what pseudo-scientists with an agenda have to say rather than what the vast majority of unbiased "real" scientists are saying. Yes, "real" science is unbiased on this matter. Scientists come from all religions, ethnic groups, races, countries, creeds, whatever–there is no particular bias against the bible. They follow the evidence where it leads them. Which leads me to my next point.

            You wrote that most atheists, "are such because they simply do not want to be accountable to a god." That is a false statement. I do not know one atheist who feels that way. We are atheists because that is where the evidence has led us. We are open and honest. If some new evidence were presented, verified by the vast majority of experts in the necessary field of expertise, repeatable, testable, and falsifiable, to show that a deity exists, then yes, I would most likely change my view. Here is the rub…that has never happened. We follow the facts and the evidence. Our calling it "real science" has nothing to do with us agreeing with them. It has to do with the facts. We agree with them because it is "real" not the other way around.

            Lastly, many of your comments, on such things as "something from nothing" demonstrate that you do not really understand quantum mechanics or the theories involved in that statement. There is nothing nonsensical about it once properly understood. In fact, it happens all the time and is happening countless times right next to you right now. Furthermore, you have manipulated the problem of infinite regress. That is the theist's problem not the atheists. The theist is left to deal with the question of "who then created god?" with infinite regress of the question. To posit that god has always existed is incoherent for several reasons. First, why god? Why not just say the Universe has always existed? Second, does god then exist outside of space and time? If your answer to that question is yes, then a whole new can of problems and questions arise. Such as: What does that even mean? How could anything in space/time have any knowledge of something outside of it? How could a being outside of space/time possibly act within space/time? The entire conversation becomes incoherent. The only possible answer for a theist is to use a claimed notion or quality of god to answer those questions, but it would be fallacious to use what you are trying to prove as part of the evidence.

            My suggestion, is that you re-read much of the literature—"real science", "creationist science", Christian apologetics and their critiques (I recommend starting with John Loftus Why I Became an Atheist) with an open and skeptical mind. Put aside your bias towards religion and see where it leads you. I am asking you to do, what I, and so many atheists, who started as theists have done.

  2. PushBackNow from Superior, WI, United States

    Atheist Religion: To embrace & evangelize things w/o knowledge. To disparage & deny things without research. To persecute diversity ad hominem. THis is the mean spirited, closed minded vapid and hate-filled motus operandi by liberal atheists, our conservative Atheist friends like S. E. Cupp have an entirely different bent, it is not a socialistic, evil creedo. But rather a genuine Choice. God bless America, God Bless Americans.

    Reply
    1. @TheStudio7 from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

      Thank you for illustrating so poignantly the entire point of this discussion. Views such as those you have expressed above in a neopolitic world are either insane, stupid, ignorant, or have a controlling agenda. There is no rationale. There is no logic. There is no sense. There is just willful stupidity. I believe in total honesty. I can prove what I say, can you?

      Reply
    1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

      Of course they love it. We are collectively shooting ourselves in the foot, by promoting BS instead of workable, viable fact and theory. If they had their way, the pharmaceutical companies of the US would very likely fail for lack of knowledgeable and employable candidates for their research and development positions. Merck and Glaxo Smith Kline and their fellows would crash and burn in the time it takes to talk about it because their personnel would be praying to some non-existent god rather than attempting to decode nucleotide sequences (and BTW, I'm an engineer, NOT a biologist!). These creationists idiots want to promote their BS because it's THEIR BS. For reasons I utterly fail to comprehend, they can't see past their short-sighted goals to the long-term impact of their actions.

      This is sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. Make no mistake.

      Reply
        1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

          The long term impact of creationist BS is ignorance. I realize that you disagree, but the facts are the facts. Creationism is wrong. A myth. Period. By promoting that (creationism) series of beliefs we accomplish only one thing: the scientific retardation of the next generation of young American students. The rest of the world is going to move forward with established scientific facts…meanwhile our young people will grapple with nonsensical questions like "how did the dinosaurs fit on the ark?" Paul, you need to do some serious reading of materials that comes from elsewhere than the Discovery Institute. The evidence for evolution is, in the words of many scientists, the strongest evidence we have, as humans, for anything that we have ever discovered. We have more evidence that evolution is true than we do for the theory of gravity…I don't see anyone from the Discovery Institute jumping out of their windows to disprove that.

          Reply
  3. Ahab from Carlisle, PA, United States

    "This entire conversation is one of my main problems with Fundamentalist Christianity. It promotes ignorance—and is not shy about doing so."

    Fundamentalists not only encourage ignorance in others (i.e., schoolchildren), but work very hard to maintain their own ignorance. How often do fundamentalist Christian read up on legitimate science or diverging viewpoints? Is their faith so fragile that it couldn't withstand the weight of real facts?

    Reply
  4. Infidel753 from Saint Helens, OR, United States

    It's inherent in the nature of religion that it fosters irrational and false beliefs even in areas which have nothing to do with religion.

    Religion venerates faith, which is acceptance of beliefs as true regardless of evidence or even in spite of evidence. It upholds belief without evidence as better and nobler than belief on the basis of evidence. Religion must do this to survive, since its own core tenets fly in the face of evidence.

    Once this way of thinking is legitimized in one area of life, it's hard to rule it out of bounds in other areas of life. The tendency to elevate wishful thinking and gut feeling above hard data inevitably spreads. So, for example, it's mostly conservative (the more religious element of the US population) who embrace global-warming denialism and libertarian economic dogma, even though those beliefs have no obvious connection with religion — indeed, libertarian economic dogma conflicts with some of the alleged message of Jesus.

    What you're describing in this post is the same psychological mechanism being turned into a policy mechanism. Religionists need to oppose logical thinking in order to ward off the threat that such thinking poses to religion. If that means a population whose lack of thinking skills leave it vulnerable to a wide range of nonsense, even in non-religious fields, that's a price they're willing to pay.

    Reply
  5. Infidel753 from Saint Helens, OR, United States

    In the political sphere, no doubt you've seen Rep Todd Akin's startling statement yesterday.

    The totalitarian cruelty of his opposition to abortion for rape victims is commonplace among Republicans, but his claim that rape rarely results in pregnancy because of some (completely imaginary) biological mechanism which selectively prevents it — that startled a lot of people.

    It's an extreme case of wishful thinking and gut feeling elevated above facts. The fact that pregnancy can result from rape is psychologically inconvenient for abortion-banners, for obvious reasons. So, just make up something which would take away the problem, then believe that it's true.

    This parallels what humans in general have historically done with religion as a whole. Death is frightening, so make up something which would mean that it isn't really the end, then believe it. (Then yell belligerently at anyone who calls it into doubt, because they're threatening to bring back the old fear.)

    "I don't want it to be true, therefore it isn't."

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

      I think you touch upon the problem of apathy that I commented on below. I think that most Americans are clueless about what our Religious Right Candidates really think. You are correct, Akins statements shocked many people, but not those of us who comment on the nonsense that regularly comes from that group of people.

      Reply
  6. fester60613 from Binghamton, NY, United States

    I have always been intrigued by Martin Luther's condemnation of reason as "Die verfluchte Huhre, Vernunft. (The damned whore, Reason). (See more of his quotes here: http://www.jesuscult.com/Luther_Anti-Reason.htm)
    Again, the stress of the cognitive dissonance must be horrific: modern society – including most religious people – revel in the technology that provides us with safer and more efficient cars, access to the worlds / universes of the internets, life-saving and -altering medical science, all of which are brought about through reason and logic and the scientific process, yet condemn any "knowledge" that appears as a threat to their fantastic notions about some all transcendent powerful being who hears the thoughts of every single individual and monitors their thoughts and intentions 24/7/365. Yet, while this transcendent being can't seem to communicate with us directly, can't make his purported "will" known in plain and simple terms, demands abnegation of all logic and suspension of scientific fact in order to save us from ourselves as "he" himself created us.
    It's poppycock. Balderdash. Hogwash. Crap.
    Seriously, folks, we're surrounded by insanity. Perhaps L. Ron Hubbard was onto something – perhaps Earth is an insane asylum for some sector of the galaxy! LOL!

    Reply
  7. Matt B from Clacton-on-sea, Essex, United Kingdom

    Having read your blog all I can say it makes me so very proud to be European
    Perhaps the US should apply for educational support from the rest of the world or you could be heading back to the bronze age based on bronze age myths
    A question do your legislators regard the Flintstones as a documentary?; they obviously are too ignorant to understand the meaning of the term theory
    The sane people in the US need help

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Matt. I agree, we do need some help. In my view, what we need the most help with is overcoming apathy. I believe that most Americans would reject much of what fundamental Christianity has to say…however, most of my fellow citizens, I believe, are unaware that this debate is a) even happening or b) aware of what the stakes are…

      Reply
      1. Paul Hobbs from Victorville, CA, United States

        I don't think many people really give a crap about this. All most Americans care about is there bank accounts. Most Atheist are such because they simply do not want to be accountable to a god. Most Christians are such simply because their life turned to crap and a some one helped them out. Truth is longer the issue. It just seems to me most people do not even believe that truth exist. Therefore who really cares?

        The only reason that I care about this is that I personally needed more that cute little stories in order to continue to believe in God. I also could not reject the notion of God because there is no other reason why anything exist. Without God there just seems to be a mindless, purposeless progression to nowhere. I believe the phrase would be "dancing to our own DNA". I have studied science and philosophy on the undergraduate level and what I saw all pointed to the fact that all this had to come from some where for some reason. From nothing comes nothing and from nowhere nothing can go nowhere.

        I realize that my comments may not satisfy the majority of those who visit and comment on this site, but I believe it surpasses all logic to say that everything that exist simply popped into being without a cause and void of any purpose. Christians are constantly referred to as unintelligent and uneducated. If be such means that I reject the absurd notion that everything that exists just popped into being form nothing then just continue to call me stupid. Oh by the way I have studied the theories of the origin of the universe and they just seem to fall in on themselves. But hey run your theory passed and maybe it will be a new to me. I don't claim to know everything.

        I would wish you a great day but if where have come from nowhere and are going nowhere for no good reason than who really cares if anybody has a good day or not? Anyway evolve on into nowhere.

        Paul

        P.S. Are Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins the best at their craft? If not who else should I read.

        Reply
      1. Paul Hobbs from Victorville, CA, United States

        Just type in scienceagainstevolution.org

        Also I am wondering what theory of the origin of the universe you believe in? I know that we have been talking about evolution but I just thought that I would ask. Have a great day.

        Paul

        Reply
        1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

          The Big Bang still works as a theory, and is well-supported. And before you go off about: "oh, but what caused the Big Bang?", Dr. Lawrence Krauss has tackled that and has some intriguing ideas regarding how a universe could come from nothing:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

          The curious and frankly fascinating thing about Krauss' hypothesis is that "empty" space may not be so empty as was previously thought! It would seem that empty space has energy … and if you take that concept and add E=MC(squared) to it under the right circumstances, there's no telling what might happen.

          But listen to Lawrence tell his own story about that. He does it better, anyway!

          Reply
  8. Sue Blue from Hood River, OR, United States

    Better add Kentucky, home of Ken Ham's nauseatingly popular "Creation Museum", to the list. As far as I know, Ham is having some success weaseling funding out of the state for his proposed "Ark Park". Kentucky taxpayers may soon be forking over some long green for this biblical travesty aimed at retarding children and further lowering the collective IQ of the entire state.

    Reply
    1. Sue Blue from Hood River, OR, United States

      OOps, didn't read far enough into the article before posting – I see you already mentioned Kentucky and the Ken "Bible Scam" Ham. Sorry!

      Reply

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