"Somebody's gotta stand up to these experts!"
November 14, 2013 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Creationists' Last Stand at the Texas State Board of Education
posted by brundlefly (82 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The board demanded abstinence-only health textbooks and succeeded in excising a line drawing of a woman performing a breast self-exam.

That's a menace to public health. These people can't fail soon enough. I'm glad their influence is waning.
posted by arcticseal at 5:44 PM on November 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


"But to take his place in that fight, he needed to understand what he hoped to disprove. 'They said, "You just have a bachelor's degree." When I got to Probe, my education began immediately. If I'm going to be a critic of evolution, I have to make sure I understand in detail how it's supposed to work.'

Bohlin invested years of his life in the graduate program at North Texas and the molecular biology doctoral program at the University of Texas at Dallas, absorbing everything he must refute. While his fellow students accepted a theory that had stood unchallenged by science for more than a century, Bohlin believed he alone was capable of assessing evolution with a critical eye. He admits, though, that his conclusions may already have been deeply entrenched. To alter his view of creation, he says, 'would have required a major shift in personal and professional connections with people.'"


He went into - and completed - a doctoral program in the sciences with this as his express purpose?

The mind boggles. I suppose this is where I lose, then, because I just can't imagine dedicating a Ph.D. program's worth of time and intellectual labor to an enterprise that I thought was at the heart of all that's wrong in the U.S. I mean, given his views on the evils of secularism and science as its handmaiden, I get why he chose to do it, and it seems to have given him the clout that he needed within his movement, but just... damn.
posted by Austenite at 5:49 PM on November 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


One day we'll find a vaccine for creationism.
posted by benzenedream at 6:00 PM on November 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


Yes, a man who dedicated his life to exposing himself to the truth while holding steadfastly onto his lies... I can't think of anything more tragic, except the damage he and his allies have done to "modern" society.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:03 PM on November 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


It details five-, 10- and 20-year plans to see intelligent design become the dominant theory. They're looking far beyond whatever victories or losses they receive in Texas. They're looking to a future in which faith and science are indistinguishable, and where faith and society are inextricable.

You rarely see people actively cheering for dystopia.
posted by kafziel at 6:07 PM on November 14, 2013 [42 favorites]


I have forwarded this to my wife. Her master's thesis was about the vagarities of the Texas Board of Education. It will either be nostalgic or she will come after me with a stick for dredging up past horrors...
posted by jim in austin at 6:10 PM on November 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


It details five-, 10- and 20-year plans to see intelligent design become the dominant theory. They're looking far beyond whatever victories or losses they receive in Texas. They're looking to a future in which faith and science are indistinguishable, and where faith and society are inextricable.

You rarely see people actively cheering for dystopia.


Yeah, but that wedge document is 15 years old and nothing like the plans in it have come to pass. They've been pretty thoroughly stymied on all fronts, and have been largely silent for the better part of a decade.

The intelligent design people are done for now; look for them to come back under a different name some time in the next ten years or so.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:14 PM on November 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


...possibly armed, to hear the rhetoric.
posted by absalom at 6:16 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


All they need is some Corporate backing with a vested interest, like the Big Oil companies have accomplished with Climate Change "skepticism". Now, what businesses will profit most from such ignorance?
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:19 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dunce cap factories?
posted by brundlefly at 6:33 PM on November 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


...look for them to come back under a different name...

Clever Arrangement?
Smart Plan?
Evolution 2.0?
Intelligent Design the White?
The Design That Shall Not Be Named?
posted by Behemoth at 6:41 PM on November 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Design That Shall Not Be Named?

it's been traded for a theory to be named later.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:44 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cunning Plan. It would actually explain a lot about the universe.
posted by Sequence at 6:46 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Most people do not consider themselves animals," Gabler wrote.

This is true. Give them several hundred more years of evolution.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:51 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


If these people were created in God's image, then God is an idiot.
posted by notme at 7:01 PM on November 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


If these people were created in God's image, then God is an idiot.

An awful lot about the Bible makes more sense if you realize that God has really, really low self-esteem.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:04 PM on November 14, 2013 [80 favorites]


One day we'll find a vaccine for creationism.
posted by benzenedream at 9:00 PM on November 14


...and people will refuse to take it because they'll think it causes autism.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:04 PM on November 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


You rarely see people actively cheering for dystopia.

Watch any cable news recently?
posted by anifinder at 7:09 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


God has really, really low self-esteem.

Mrs God probably opens the ketchup for him.
posted by arcticseal at 7:13 PM on November 14, 2013 [59 favorites]


As a Texan, I am saving this article for a moment when I'm either in a good enough mood that this can't ruin it or for a moment when I'm so annoyed and disheartened by the state of things that it won't matter. I know if it involves the SBOE, it's going to piss me off.
posted by immlass at 7:23 PM on November 14, 2013


He admits, though, that his conclusions may already have been deeply entrenched. To alter his view of creation, he says, 'would have required a major shift in personal and professional connections with people.'"

Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the single most impressive case of confirmation bias in history.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:27 PM on November 14, 2013 [34 favorites]


If these people were created in God's image, then God is an idiot.

So if we're dumb, then god is dumb.
And maybe even a little ugly on the side.
posted by TedW at 7:31 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to see that there really was a need for people to call BS on textbooks back when this trend started - nukes in the Korean War?!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:35 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


In 1993, voters installed three religiously conservative members of the school board of Vista Unified School District. Vista's a medium sized, highly conservative, quite religious town in northern San Diego whose most famous residents these days are Darrell Issa and Carrie Prejean.

The board, when looking at the standards for science in schools, voted to use Of People and Pandas (mentioned in the article) as a science book in VUSD schools. After quite a bit of national scrutiny and lots of angry words and threats of lawsuits, the board backed down.

The issues with creationism in Vista schools never stopped. In AP high school biology my senior year, the teacher was very clear that students didn't have to attend the session on evolution but they did have to learn it, as it was going to be on the test. I can still hear the carefully controlled anger at this 'compromise' in her voice.

The point of this sketch I'm trying to give you is that, as the end of the article points out, though we can certainly hope that the Texas State Board of Education will get their religion out of their science, the bigger battleground by far is local school boards.

And small town local school boards? Are filled with some of the most ideologically rigid people you ever had the misfortune of meeting. I can't imagine what some of those hot, dusty towns in West Texas will adopt. Texas: so constantly exasperating to anyone not born here.
posted by librarylis at 7:37 PM on November 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


An awful lot about the Bible makes more sense if you realize that God has really, really low self-esteem.
posted by Pope Guilty


I think this is legit, folks.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:43 PM on November 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Damned cdesign proponentsists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:54 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mrs God probably opens the ketchup for him.

Shh!
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:55 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


One day we'll find a vaccine for creationism.

Unfortunately, creationist groups reproduce and mutate, and swap little dna snippets of rhetoric with each other, so there's a chance they'd evolve vaccine resistance. (Taking over the Texas State Board is sort of like HIV going after helper T cells.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:58 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards." - Mark Twain
posted by mosk at 8:09 PM on November 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


Here's what I don't get. I'm not religious. But if you show me proof that the universe was created last Tuesday by a guy named Steve who sits astride the heavens on a lily pad, and your proof has useful predictive power, then I'm gonna happily use your proof, whether or not I believe in Steve. The philosophical and theological trappings are just frippery -- if the proof is good enough to use as working tool, then let's use it!

I simply don't understand why this has to be such an issue: believe God created the world however you like, in whatever timeframe suits you. But also believe that evolutionary theory is a tool for understanding God's creation. Any contradictions and paradoxes that arise are because WE CANNOT KNOW THE MIND OF GOD.

If your God is reducible to a pat explanation, well, you sure do have a tiny little God.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:14 PM on November 14, 2013 [42 favorites]


Creationism will evolve under the pressure of overwhelming scientific evidence. They will find God's hand in the Big Bang and will view evolution as being divinely guided with man being the absolute pinnacle of natural selection. They will declare the Bible still inerrant as the first six days of creation, described in Genesis, is a very rough picture of the evolution of life on Earth. There will be a few young Earthers left but those will be so fringe, even the evangelicals won't talk with them.

However, Creationists will have the bad luck of latching onto the big bang ("In the beginning was the Word... And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.") just as mainstream physics moves away from it, and they'll spend the next 100 years yelling at scientists and muddying Texas textbooks.

Should be fun.
posted by honestcoyote at 8:22 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, though—does anyone have any idea what motivates people like this? It's such a bizarrely specific form of sociopathy.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:25 PM on November 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's interesting to see that there really was a need for people to call BS on textbooks back when this trend started - nukes in the Korean War?!

I noticed that line in the article, too. And I noticed it didn't say what textbook made this claim. And it didn't give any source for the information that the Gablers spotted the error and had it corrected. Which makes me suspect that the source might be the Gablers themselves.
posted by layceepee at 8:26 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though—does anyone have any idea what motivates people like this? It's such a bizarrely specific form of sociopathy.

You only have to ask them, they'll tell you that much in a way that doesn't require too much decoding. The idea of an indifferent universe, which has no purpose and no purposeful hand except that which thinking beings like ourselves manage to work out or become, is completely unacceptable to them. They are frightened of living in a world without god, and some of them believe -- which considerable justification in recent history -- that the less need we find to invoke god in any given manifestation of nature, the less room there is for god in our beliefs, period. So they're trying to stop that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:40 PM on November 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


If your God is reducible to a pat explanation, well, you sure do have a tiny little God.

Puny god.
posted by Phire at 8:50 PM on November 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Seriously, though—does anyone have any idea what motivates people like this? It's such a bizarrely specific form of sociopathy.

Mostly it's the fact that other people will be burning in hell for all eternity.

They're trying to stop that from happening, no sociopathy about it. In fact from their perspective it's the people leading children down a path to damnation who are criminally irresponsible.

It really is as simple as that. It can be hard to understand if you approach the world from a scientific standpoint -- hell, from a scientific standpoint it's hard to understand that there are any other valid approaches to the world at all -- but if your life is about your relationship to God you're going to be appalled at children being led astray.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:58 PM on November 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


The sad thing is, it's perfectly possible (as most of Christianity has done) to have a Biblically-based theology that's quite compatible with science, evolution and all. As Rowan Williams said, when discussing John 14:6 - "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"" - which some people say proves that only bog-standard Christian theology is acceptable, "Who are you to say how Jesus makes this happen?".

The Bible bangs on about God's omnipotence and ability to do things however the hell he wants, much of which is going to be mysterious to us mere mortals because, well, we're not God. But these darn fundamentalists keep restricting him to their way of thinking. Ain't Biblical.

So, for example, a part of orthodox evolution is random mutation followed by natural selection. The mutation bit happens through a bunch of known mechanisms, all of which are randomly applied to the genome. Radiation, exposure to mutagenic chemicals, errors in DNA duplication, there's a bunch of them but they all end up applying or not depending on happenstance.

Nothing stops God tweaking that happenstance. He's God. Indeed, he could have set up that happenstance on whatever day of Creation applies, thus creating all the species including all the ones that only pop out of the genework billions of years into the future. You gonna tell him he can't? Good luck with that, says the Bible.

There we have it. Evolution and creationism, as compatible as you like.

The Discovery Institute ain't about the religion, is it?
posted by Devonian at 9:00 PM on November 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Seriously, though—does anyone have any idea what motivates people like this?

It's in the article, "They believed that if you turn away from absolutes, you are on your way to turning away from God entirely."

They implicitly recognize that the kind of exceptionalism they've believed all their lives vanishes with evolution, and they're deathly afraid of it. You'll note that other churches have basically hand-waved around the issue, e.g., man is an animal but has a god-given soul. But basically, the need for a god to explain and account for humans no longer exists once you understand evolution.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:03 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seriously, though—does anyone have any idea what motivates people like this? It's such a bizarrely specific form of sociopathy.

Young-earth creationism is part of the mental contortion required to maintain a fairly literal reading of the bible - a lot of fundamentalists put great stock in the idea that their interpretation is the One True Truth because it's not an interpretation a somewhat literal interpretation.
A somewhat literal reading of Genisis says the earth is 6000 years old and that life was created in a few days. Evidence saying otherwise is in error, and leads people to question the Truth. Children being actively taught in school that the heavens and the earth were NOT created 6000 years ago - that's unacceptable.

Flat-earthers (similarly required for an even more literal interpretation of the bible) seem to have largely died out though. Probably because the Apollo program was able to show photographs of earth in space. Photographs might not convince a flat-earther, but they'll put a crimp in their ability to spread that belief.
posted by anonymisc at 9:26 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If your God is reducible to a pat explanation, well, you sure do have a tiny little God.

PUNY GOD.

can't resist
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:33 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Young-earth creationism is part of the mental contortion required to maintain a fairly literal reading of the bible - a lot of fundamentalists put great stock in the idea that their interpretation is the One True Truth because it's not an interpretation a somewhat literal interpretation.

Where this gets fun is when they start explaining how one version -- generally King James -- is the only correct bible to be reading from, because [something about it being the only divinely inspired translation]. I don't know if you are allowed to read from a different language if you know it or not, though I assume not.
posted by jeather at 9:38 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Science in general and evolution in particular are deemed by radical Protestants to be inconsistent with two doctrinal first principles: Biblical inerrancy and predestination. These are the fundamentals of the Christian "fundamentalists," bequeathed to America in the calamitous seventeenth century when antiestblishmentarian Protestant sects emigrated to the colonies to escape the sway of the Church of England. Rejecting any mediatory ecclesiastical hierarchy, they purported to rely solely on the Bible—in English, of course, King James Version—as the single source of Truth to guide the faithful residents of a community where every man was his own priest. This was the crux of evangelicalism, or Anabaptism, the founding myth of the Baptists of today.

Add to this the dour Scots Calvinism of the "Scotch-Irish", settled in Ireland by Cromwell to displace the native Papists, and who turned to America when the economics of life in Ulster turned against them. Imbued with Jean Calvin's lawyerly notion that human beings are predestined to salvation or damnation as preached in their Reformed and Presbyterian churches, they rejected any concept that might call into question the dogma of predestination.

Any suggestion that the KJV is not literally true in all particulars is wholly subversive to those who maintain that the Bible is the sole inerrant source of moral, political, and scientific knowledge. That Darwin's theory was inconsistent with Genesis—taken literally, of course—was a feature of the first attacks on Darwin by British clerics such as "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce when Darwin was still alive. The same rap is still echoed today by creationists of all stripes.

Second, the concept of evolution is also subversive of the stasis inherent in predestination,where God is busy every day deciding which newborn should get Dem Golden Slippers, and which, through no fault of his or her own, will be cast away for eternity, deprived of the Beatific Vision—and stabbed in the ass by demons in an environment that makes Bikram Yoga seem positively antarctic. Moreover, once God has decided the fate of an individual, no further amendment is possible, irrespective of how well that individual might lead his or her life.

This notion of an Unchanging God the 24/7 Superintendent simply cannot be squared with a concept that posits that life is a machine that goes by itself at random. If the Intelligent Designer of Everything That's Happenin' is not actually supervising the fall of every sparrow, intolerable cognitive dissonance results. The frantic efforts to deny evolution are, at bottom, efforts by those who imagine themselves to be The Real Faithful ™ to extinguish this intolerable cognitive dissonance: "God said it; I believe it; and that settles it."
posted by rdone at 9:48 PM on November 14, 2013 [24 favorites]


I'm tempted to say these people have their heads up their ass, but I guess it's more of a...

•_•)
( •_•)>⌐■-■
(⌐■_■)

Texas Schoolbook Suppository.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:06 PM on November 14, 2013 [53 favorites]


ShutterBun, I think I love you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:10 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nah, ShutterBun is just a grassy troll...
posted by Devonian at 3:37 AM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"If we were to interview 100 individuals who were raised in the church, believed everything and have since fallen away, I bet a majority would say at least that the things they learned in science class were a part of that pulling away," he says."If we were to interview 100 individuals who were raised in the church, believed everything and have since fallen away, I bet a majority would say at least that the things they learned in science class were a part of that pulling away," he says."If we were to interview 100 individuals who were raised in the church, believed everything and have since fallen away, I bet a majority would say at least that the things they learned in science class were a part of that pulling away," he says."If we were to interview 100 individuals who were raised in the church, believed everything and have since fallen away, I bet a majority would say at least that the things they learned in science class were a part of that pulling away," he says.

When your religious sect is based on an extremely rigid, inflexible view of the world that resists being challenged or questioned, then yes, some people are going to abandon it when faced a more open-minded philosophy. Especially one that emphasizes analysis, reproducible results and intellectual flexibility. This is literalist Christianity's design flaw: it does not adapt and evolve when challenged.
posted by zarq at 4:02 AM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a bunch of friends who were all textbook editors with a big publisher in Austin who worked on science and social science high school textbooks in the late 90s and early 00s.

It's not my place to tell these tales, but this was definitely one of those sausage factory things and a large portion of the ugliness had to do with dealing with the Texas Board and particularly with certain reviewers.

It wasn't just the creationist nuts, it's that so much was at stake with Texas being a large part of the national market that ensuring that a book didn't get held up by a board member or a reviewer was extremely important ... so they would be forced to cater to individual people's known idiosyncrasies. Such-and-such very minor topic would be included because it was someone's specialty and they would complain if they thought it was given short-shrift. Things like that.

The other thing I didn't know until my friends did this for a living (and, seriously, there were like five of my college friends who were all working at this publisher for a while) is that the editors create a very large portion of the content in modern textbooks. The authors write the main text. But all these editors write and create all the other stuff — the sidebar text, the graphics and photos and their captions, the quizzes and reviews, and all the supplementary material like handbooks and workbooks and multimedia and everything else. And they're not paid very well.

It was all very interesting from a distance.

Anyway, people oughtn't be depressed by this article. It's a testament to how much things have improved. That's what it's about. It was a lot worse not too long ago. These nuts don't have the influence that they once had.

And I thought it was very weirdly ironic that a bunch of johnnies — alumni of a college that uses no textbooks — were making textbooks.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:10 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish:It's interesting to see that there really was a need for people to call BS on textbooks back when this trend started - nukes in the Korean War?!

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
posted by dr_dank at 4:10 AM on November 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Germans?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:28 AM on November 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Flat-earthers (similarly required for an even more literal interpretation of the bible) seem to have largely died out though. Probably because the Apollo program was able to show photographs of earth in space. Photographs might not convince a flat-earther, but they'll put a crimp in their ability to spread that belief.

Hopefully not too much of a derail, but here's a fascinating interview with a flat-earther explaining his beliefs and why he believes it, from earlier this year. Well worth a listen. It's part of the "Be Reasonable" podcast, in which people with fringe beliefs are invited to explain and explore their ideas for a skeptical audience. The interviewers get criticised for not arguing enough against their guests' wilder assertions and leaps of logic, but IMO it's interesting to hear the guests explaining themselves without being forced into an aggressive/defensive posture. Good for building empathy.
posted by metaBugs at 4:29 AM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Where this gets fun is when they start explaining how one version -- generally King James -- is the only correct bible to be reading from, because [something about it being the only divinely inspired translation]. I don't know if you are allowed to read from a different language if you know it or not, though I assume not.

They use the KJV as source text for their translations.
posted by ardgedee at 4:58 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I took five semesters of biology at a giant but relatively okay public high school in a very liberal city. All my teachers were very well qualified and I'm sure none were creationists. But there were precisely zero mentions of evolution. Because on top of the gang fights, the students without enough money for food, the random and bizarre district testing requirements, and classes that were supposed to have 30 students but really had 45, the last thing the teachers needed was phone calls from the one crazy Christian parent. Intelligent design will never be a widely accepted theory, but it does have the power to seriously change things at the margins, in situations where education is already stressed and fragile, and I think its proponents know that.
posted by miyabo at 5:11 AM on November 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


One day we'll find a vaccine for creationism.

Yes, but then people that are at least nominally non-religious and pro-science will still claim it causes autism.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:34 AM on November 15, 2013


Pope Guilty: "Germans?"

Don't stop him, he's on a roll.
posted by Sphinx at 5:49 AM on November 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


It has always seemed silly to me that believers in an all-knowing and all-powerful God feel it necessary to critique the details of how he did his job.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:30 AM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


see also
posted by elizardbits at 6:38 AM on November 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Germans?

it's one of those pop-culture references.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:54 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


And "Germans?" was the next line.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:10 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


miyabo: "Intelligent design will never be a widely accepted theory, but it does have the power to seriously change things at the margins, in situations where education is already stressed and fragile, and I think its proponents know that."

Definitely.

Worth noting as well that ID/Creationism fights which happen in school districts that are not stressed and fragile have had mixed results, and are probably determined by a level of majority apathy. The Dover Area school district in Pennsylvania (for example) is not ethnically diverse, does have an average standard of living compared to the rest of the US, and yet creationists attempted to force them to place religion on the same academic level as science.

Creationists know that the average parent is unlikely to challenge them when they initially try to change things through a school board, for (at least) a couple of reasons: For one thing, the average person isn't as invested as a religious zealot. For another, when it comes to school boards (and other committee boards) people tend to be responsive rather than proactive -- they only pay attention and react after the fact, when they realize something has become a problem.
posted by zarq at 7:36 AM on November 15, 2013


His Phd university is not ranked particularly high on international QS rankings. 366th. http://www.topuniversities.com/node/3805/ranking-details/world-university-rankings/2013
posted by Che boludo! at 7:42 AM on November 15, 2013


It has always seemed silly to me that believers in an all-knowing and all-powerful God feel it necessary to critique the details of how he did his job.

What's inexplicable to me is how they're constantly freaking out, panicked to the point of mortal terror that non-Christians, scientists and various other kinds of sinners are somehow going to thwart God's plan if they don't step in and set the world right themselves right this instant.

If they actually had more than superficial faith, they'd trust God to judge other people and they wouldn't be running around so scared that the Gays and Athiests were going to keep God's plan from working out. They would behave as if, whatever evolving state it's in, the world is exactly as it should be at all times, which they clearly do not believe.

To me, this betrays how insecure their "faith" actually is. What we're really seeing is people who are starting to doubt their beliefs doubling down on public displays of piety and devotion defensively because they feel threatened.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:55 AM on November 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


If they actually had more than superficial faith, they'd trust God to judge other people and they wouldn't be running around so scared that the Gays and Athiests were going to keep God's plan from working out.

Are you suggesting that the Lord would take care of the righteous and lay his vengence upon those that give them problems? Where would they get that impression?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:06 AM on November 15, 2013


Just want to say that I love to see links from the Dallas Observer. One thing I look forward to when in DFW is grabbing a copy from their newspaper boxes.
posted by hwestiii at 8:12 AM on November 15, 2013


Hopefully, Creationism's lack of diversity in thought and inability to change or adapt with the times will lead to deminishing reproductive success as an idea before going extinct all together.
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Technology reporter Virginia Heffernan explains Why I'm a creationist

In the hazy Instagram picture I have in my mind of the mechanisms that animate my ingenious smartphone—a picture that slips in and out of focus, and one I constantly revise—it might as well be angels.
posted by phoque at 8:23 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That Virginia Heffernan interview, man. It's always weird for me to see someone defending ignorance and... Disinterest?
posted by PMdixon at 8:35 AM on November 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


saulgoodman: " If they actually had more than superficial faith, they'd trust God to judge other people and they wouldn't be running around so scared that the Gays and Athiests were going to keep God's plan from working out. They would behave as if, whatever evolving state it's in, the world is exactly as it should be at all times, which they clearly do not believe.

To me, this betrays how insecure their "faith" actually is. What we're really seeing is people who are starting to doubt their beliefs doubling down on public displays of piety and devotion defensively because they feel threatened.
"

Christianity itself has historically treated challenges to dogma as a threat. They're not the only religion that has done so.

The religious command Christian missionaries follow is Matthew 28:19: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Since they believe they have been commanded by their messiah / deity to teach and convert people to their faith, anything that gives lie to (or cause people to question) Christian religious mythology are considered obstructions to that mission. Yes, their dogmatic, unquestioning faith probably stems in part from fear and defensiveness, but that behavior is reinforced both by their beliefs and the mindset imposed by the religion itself.

You're describing a problem which cannot be solved by people becoming more invested in their religion or sure of their faith. The problem is inherent to the religion. Or at least to the sect of it that they belong to.
posted by zarq at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nah, ShutterBun is just a grassy troll...

PUNNY GOD
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:55 AM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Zarq: Not all Christians. Lutherans, for example, have a deep commitment to predestination and believe in salvation only through Divine Grace (basically, some people are saved at God's whim regardless of their actions or beliefs; others are not and never will be regardless of their actions or beliefs).

While you're right, there's definitely scriptural support for evangelism, not all accepted forms of the Christian faith emphasize those teachings, and some plainly minimize or reject them, in practice.

But I agree 100% when you qualify it this way: "Or at least to the sect of it that they belong to."
posted by saulgoodman at 9:09 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wilful ignorance always astounds me. Why wouldn't you want to know how things work?
posted by arcticseal at 9:10 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"God's will be done, and I'm the one to do it."
posted by an animate objects at 9:24 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


His Phd university is not ranked particularly high on international QS rankings.

He could have a Ph.D. from Yale and still be a useless bag of shit.

Wilful ignorance always astounds me. Why wouldn't you want to know how things work?


Fear of God. Fear of mankind moving on and forgetting your special contribution. Unchecked ego. Etc.
posted by disconnect at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The part that always gets me frothing at the mouth is their outright refusal to accept the FACT that there are thousands of transitional fossils and regular fossils. The amount of research that has been done, and is being done, is staggering. In all of science, it is one of the areas with the most data. Anyone who refutes this is absolutely denying facts and isn't worth listening to- there is no "debate" to be had.
posted by agregoli at 9:58 AM on November 15, 2013


One thing I've always thought was weird is that they like to harp on is the "missing link" between terrestrial whale ancestors and modern day whales. My understanding is that that transition has been fleshed out. Meanwhile, I believe turtle origins are pretty up in the air, but I never hear them bring that up.
posted by brundlefly at 10:08 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that was covered extensively in the gospel of Eastman and Laird.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:09 AM on November 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


brundlefly: "Meanwhile, I believe turtle origins are pretty up in the air, but I never hear them bring that up."

The Turtle Moves.
posted by zarq at 11:25 AM on November 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seriously, though—does anyone have any idea what motivates people like this? It's such a bizarrely specific form of sociopathy.

In addition to all the other good takes on this, there's also just the whole "You think you're smarter than me just because you went to college?" thing. That "I always trust my gut, and my gut says your facts can go screw" bootstrapping exceptionalist one-man-against-the-world idiocy. It manifests in religious arguments, but also in any other argument that says someone might not be the smartest, bestest person in the room on a given topic.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:01 PM on November 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


jason_steakums: "...there's also just the whole "You think you're smarter than me just because you went to college?" thing. "

Exactly. There's a huge anti-intellectualism bent in America. Has been for many years.

escape from the potato planet, Charlie Pierce wrote an essay for Esquire back in 2005 called Greetings from Idiot America. His book of the same name was published later, and is truly worth reading. The essay is fantastic.
Fights over evolution -- and its faddish new camouflage, intelligent design, a pseudoscience that posits without proof or method that science is inadequate to explain existence and that supernatural causes must be considered -- roil up school districts across the country. The president of the United States announces that he believes ID ought to be taught in the public schools on an equal footing with the theory of evolution. And in Dover, Pennsylvania, during one of these many controversies, a pastor named Ray Mummert delivers the line that both ends our tour and, in every real sense, sums it up:

"We've been attacked," he says, "by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

And there it is.

Idiot America is not the place where people say silly things. It's not the place where people believe in silly things. It is not the place where people go to profit from the fact that people believe in silly things. Idiot America is not even those people who believe that Adam named the dinosaurs. Those people pay attention. They take notes. They take the time and the considerable mental effort to construct a worldview that is round and complete.

The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It's not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents -- for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power -- the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they're talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it "common sense." The president's former advisor on medical ethics regularly refers to the "yuck factor." The Gut is common. It is democratic. It is the roiling repository of dark and ancient fears. Worst of all, the Gut is faith-based.

It's a dishonest phrase for a dishonest time, "faith-based," a cheap huckster's phony term of art. It sounds like an additive, an artificial flavoring to make crude biases taste of bread and wine. It's a word for people without the courage to say they are religious, and it is beloved not only by politicians too cowardly to debate something as substantial as faith but also by Idiot America, which is too lazy to do it.

After all, faith is about the heart and soul and about transcendence. Anything calling itself faith-based is admitting that it is secular and profane. In the way that it relies on the Gut to determine its science, its politics, and even the way it sends its people to war, Idiot America is not a country of faith; it's a faith-based country, fashioning itself in the world, which is not the place where faith is best fashioned.

Hofstadter saw this one coming. "Intellect is pitted against feeling," he wrote, "on the ground that it is somehow inconsistent with warm emotion. It is pitted against character, because it is widely believed that intellect stands for mere cleverness, which transmutes easily into the sly or the diabolical."

posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on November 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Standard-Bearer in Evolution Fight: Eugenie C. Scott Fights the Teaching of Creationism in Schools
posted by homunculus at 1:39 PM on November 15, 2013


Celsius1414: "Nah, ShutterBun is just a grassy troll...

PUNNY GOD
"

oww...
posted by IAmBroom at 1:42 PM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


These kooks were covered in PBS' The Revisionaries. It was as enraging as it was eye-opening to see the momentum the creationists have in places like Texas. In addition to trying to change the science curriculum, they held meetings to revise the public social studies texts (no shit, at one point the motion was made to revise all instances of "Barack Obama" in textbooks to read "Barack Hussein Obama," because after all, that's his middle name, right?). Well worth the watch, especially now that they've got Dr. Dinojesus as a poster boy.
posted by Rykey at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why climate skeptics and evolution deniers joined forces
posted by homunculus at 5:00 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


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