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March 8, 2006 8:50 AM   Subscribe

"God created man exactly how Bible describes it." A Gallup report released today reveals that more than half of all Americans, rejecting evolution theory and scientific evidence, agree with the statement.
posted by The Jesse Helms (177 comments total)

 
Jesus wept!
posted by OmieWise at 8:55 AM on March 8, 2006


And that's why low voter turn out was a good thing.
posted by furtive at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2006


I bet most of these idiots are in the South!!!!!!
posted by xmutex at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2006


I bet most of these idiots are in the South!!!!!! - xmutex

Are you seriously going to make that stereotyped based assumption and be proud of it? Or are you kidding?
posted by raedyn at 8:57 AM on March 8, 2006


I bet most of these idiots are in the South!!!!!!
posted by xmutex at 8:56 AM PST on March 8


What's funniest about this shitty pre-emptive comment is that it's correct; basic demographic data will bear it out.

Those with lower levels of education, those who attend church regularly, those who are 65 and older, and those who identify with the Republican Party are more likely to believe in the biblical view of the origin of humans than are those who do not share these characteristics.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:58 AM on March 8, 2006


And that's why low voter turn out was a good thing.

I thought that the people in this poll and the people who voted for Bush were basically the same people.

It would be kind of funny if it turned out that acceptance of the scientific method would be a primary indicator of which party you vote for.
posted by illovich at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2006


From what I've read, no one who can actually read Genesis in Hebrew reads the story this way (but I would love to hear about any counterexamples!)

The entire cultural phenomenon is based on, not just blind adherance to a book, but blind adherance to what can be demonstrated to be a faulty translation of a book.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:05 AM on March 8, 2006


Confound that rarebit!


...oh, wait, that poll actually happened. I am going back to bed now.
posted by everichon at 9:08 AM on March 8, 2006


Why is this news? Most people could not adequately explain or even understand the science behind cloud formation, electricity, land-mass movents, photosynthesis. Most people are somewhat stupider than most other people. Most people like simple explanations for the world. Most people voted Republican in the last election. Thanks, Gallup, for pointing out the obvious. This poll is probably causing the RNC to become fully tumescent knowing their message is getting out.
posted by docpops at 9:09 AM on March 8, 2006


In other news, more than half of all Americans should get punched in the nose.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 AM on March 8, 2006


In my experience, people will agree with just about anything, given a sufficiently sympathetic and engaging interviewer.
posted by lodurr at 9:13 AM on March 8, 2006


Most of these people are vaguely religious and haven't read or don't remember the Genesis creation story. If you asked those 50% of people whether the world was created in 6 days by god maybe 40%-50% would say yes. If you asked whether man evolved from apes maybe 15-20% would say yes.

These people are dipshits all across the board, but I bet many of them had a thought process kinda like "That sounds like the right answer for a religious person, I'm a religious person, yes sure the bible" So they're a different kind of dipshit than you would be supposing.
posted by I Foody at 9:14 AM on March 8, 2006


AstroZombie wins.
posted by grubi at 9:16 AM on March 8, 2006


"Support for this Bible view ... declines steadily with education, dropping from 58% for those with high school degrees to a still-substantial 25% with postgraduate degrees."

Leaders of tomorrow.
posted by maryh at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2006


From the article:
Surveys repeatedly show that a substantial portion of Americans do not believe that the theory of evolution best explains where life came from

Yeah, and a substantial portion of Americans also do not believe that the theory of gravitation best explains why people like chocolate.

Now, if they asked americans if they believed the theory best explained something IT INTENDS to explain, or even made some claim about it, perhaps results would be different.
posted by qvantamon at 9:26 AM on March 8, 2006


I Foody beat me to the punch. I agree with him.
posted by Falconetti at 9:28 AM on March 8, 2006


.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:31 AM on March 8, 2006


Belief is a funny thing...even the "right believers," those people who believe in evolution, couldn't tell you why they believe in evolution, other than it's the right thing, or sounds more plausible, or they heard it on PBS, or something of that nature.

I'd like to see a Gallup poll of how many people actually reason an argument either way without relying on pre-digested "talking points" provided to them by their revered pundits.
posted by mrmojoflying at 9:34 AM on March 8, 2006


See: you don't have to believe in evolution for it to be real. Whereas religious views on the creation of the universe RELY on people believing in them.
posted by grubi at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2006


Belief is a funny thing...even the "right believers," those people who believe in evolution, couldn't tell you why they believe in evolution, other than it's the right thing, or sounds more plausible, or they heard it on PBS, or something of that nature.

Those reasons are a lot more solid than "the Bible sez." And there are plenty of us who know why we believe evolution is an accurate model, thanks.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2006


God bless the rabble.

This isn't news, though. These numbers are consistent with lots of other polling that's been done over the years.

Yet another reminder of why the framers were profoundly uncomfortable with direct elections.
posted by killdevil at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2006


To be fair, the 25% of post-grad degree people they're talking about all have JD's from Liberty U.
posted by aaronetc at 9:44 AM on March 8, 2006


That's why we call the "groundlings."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:45 AM on March 8, 2006


Yeah, and a substantial portion of Americans also do not believe that the theory of gravitation best explains why people like chocolate.

I just had to repeat that. First good smile today.

...even the "right believers," those people who believe in evolution, couldn't tell you why they believe in evolution, other than it's the right thing, or sounds more plausible....

What kind of "why" would satisfy you? "Sounds more plausible" would usually come with some reasons for why that person thinks it's more plausible -- would those not be sufficient for your "why", or do you have something else in mind that would satisfy it?

If you're simply saying that people aren't generally able to come up with articulate defenses for each and every thing that they believe, or act as though they believe, then sure -- that's pretty obvious, and in fact is only really interesting when you have to deal with it in the face of someone cutting people down for same.
posted by lodurr at 9:46 AM on March 8, 2006


Shouldn't that be "God done created man exactly how Bible describes it"?
posted by uosuaq at 9:49 AM on March 8, 2006


Jesus wept!

Charles Darwin and Julius Wellhausen are weeping, too

and by the way, creation is one of the Torah's many doublets. so the question is, even if "God created man exactly how Bible describes it", which version is the right one, P's or J's?
posted by matteo at 9:55 AM on March 8, 2006


and by the way, I don't believe in gravity
posted by matteo at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2006




"Support for this Bible view ... declines steadily with education, dropping from 58% for those with high school degrees to a still-substantial 25% with postgraduate degrees."

That is great. In the game Civilization, priests can not convert people that are near a university. I always thought that was sweet.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:58 AM on March 8, 2006


exactly how Bible describes it

After reading that, I pictured a survey taker trying to translate the questions to Jethro on the other end of the line:

Pollster: "You like Bible?"
Jethro: "Yes, me like Bible."
Pollster: "Is we created exactly how Bible describes it?"
Jethro: "Yes, we is."
posted by thanotopsis at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2006


In the game Civilization, priests can not convert people that are near a university. I always thought that was sweet.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:58 AM PST on March 8


Are we talking about Sid Meier's Civilization or what because if so that is not true.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:01 AM on March 8, 2006


"you're you seriously going to make that stereotyped based assumption and be proud of it?"

Based on everything I know from living in the south, and all the data available, I would stand by this as a sound conclusion. If you're so goddamned offended by it, perhaps you would like to cite evidence to the contrary? Or do you have anything but your knee-jerk mock outrage?
posted by 2sheets at 10:05 AM on March 8, 2006


If you're simply saying that people aren't generally able to come up with articulate defenses for each and every thing that they believe

I'm not saying that, though I concede that it can be construed that way. I'm saying that people don't feel compelled to articulate what they believe because beliefs come easily and that popular discourse falls back on them moreso than sound critical judgement. Beliefs are too often the answers that belie the questions that should be asked to obtain a more informed opinion. Why didn't we hear a question from the poll that amounts to "why do you believe the statement that God created the Earth as the Bible narrates," or "why do you believe in evolution?"

These just aren't valuable questions to the public.
posted by mrmojoflying at 10:06 AM on March 8, 2006


Are we talking about Sid Meier's Civilization or what because if so that is not true.

Oopps! I meant Age of Empires.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:07 AM on March 8, 2006


And let me say. It's all god's fault. If instead of punishing men's disobedience with mortality he came up with something else, there would be none of this natural selection stuff anyway.
posted by qvantamon at 10:07 AM on March 8, 2006


"Support for this Bible view ... declines steadily with education, dropping from 58% for those with high school degrees to a still-substantial 25% with postgraduate degrees."

Leaders of tomorrow.


Not bad, that's almost the 27% required to further prove the Crazification factor.
posted by butterstick at 10:12 AM on March 8, 2006


Who are these Gallup people anyway? I've never been part of a survey like that. No-one I know has ever been part of a survey like that. For that matter, no-one I know, or have even met for that matter (far as I know), is representative of the demographic that the poll seems to find so prevalent. Then again I am a scientist (sort of - archaeologist) so perhaps my Small World is pretty insular.

I always kinda snort when I see these polls. I'm convinced the only people who get polled are either cloistered in the same bucolic little town or the whole thing is created by an Illuminati of media lords who cackle wildly at what they can get people to believe.
posted by elendil71 at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2006


More than half, eh? A couple of years ago it was 42%, if I remember correctly. Waddyaknow? Americans are getting thicker. Poor world.
posted by Decani at 10:17 AM on March 8, 2006


"you're you seriously going to make that stereotyped based assumption and be proud of it?"

Based on everything I know from living in the south, and all the data available, I would stand by this as a sound conclusion. If you're so goddamned offended by it, perhaps you would like to cite evidence to the contrary? Or do you have anything but your knee-jerk mock outrage?


Yeah. Ohio is not in the south. Rural Michigan is not in the south. Despite the name, South Dakota is not in the south. The point is, Northerners try to make themselves look better by comparison by pointing to some idiot stereotype of the south.

fwiw, I'm a northerner, but I see this sort of blind biblical acceptance just up the street from me.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:17 AM on March 8, 2006


I don't need a poll to tell me I'm surrounded by ignorant, superstitious lemmings.
posted by sourwookie at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2006


Yeah. Ohio is not in the south. Rural Michigan is not in the south. Despite the name, South Dakota is not in the south.

That doesn't do. What's needed is a demographic breakdown of how many people agree with the statement, state by state.

If I were forced to bet, I'd bet that more agree in the south than the north. I bet you would too, if you're honest.
posted by Decani at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2006


Just today, Hundreds of Human Genes Still Evolving
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:23 AM on March 8, 2006


Metafilter: Do you have anything but your knee-jerk mock outrage?
posted by S.C. at 10:24 AM on March 8, 2006


A pretty good overview of the various places in the Bible that reference creation (especially the conflict between Gen 1:1-2:3 and Gen 2:4-25, which matteo mentioned above).

This isn't a pro-evolution argument—just a note that Americans seem pretty uncritical about the Bible. It doesn't "exactly" describe how God created man at all.

I guess you folks could google something like this pretty easily but I thought I'd save someone the hassle. (Also not sure if I'm going to get shushed for linking to religioustolerance.org ...)
posted by aparrish at 10:25 AM on March 8, 2006


Can we just kill these people off now? We’ve got enough people to sweep the floors already.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:32 AM on March 8, 2006


more than half of all Americans, rejecting evolution theory and scientific evidence, agree with the statement

So this means I'm, at least, smarter than more than half of all Americans.
posted by wakko at 10:38 AM on March 8, 2006


Yeah, but more than half of all Americans would say the same thing.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:39 AM on March 8, 2006


I mentioned this to the very capable programmer at the desk next to mine, and learned that she's one of them.

Private schools filled her head with nonsense beliefs and despite being pretty bright, she just can't question them.
posted by Malenfant at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2006


A thread to be proud of.
posted by Witty at 10:43 AM on March 8, 2006


In regards to people reaching a higher education level rejecting strict Biblical literalism, I am not sure that there is a demonstrable causation between education and faith.

To whit, one could postulate that the reason more "persons of faith" don't pursue higher degrees is because they are discouraged from continuing with their education because of their faith.

Furthermore, I have been through way too much grad school and came to the conclusion that, in many cases (though not nearly a majority of cases) the grad students were no more intelligent than anyone else; just more persistent.

Ergo, a moron (be they a person of faith or no) can get a PhD if they just keep plugging away at it. Now, I am not saying "all PhDs" are morons, as that is absolutely not true. I am saying "some PhDs" are morons.

Furthermore, mastery of one discipline (say, Math or English) does not necessarily mean understanding of another (say, Evolutionary Science).

In conclusion, and to put it in Christian terms, only God can make a moron, but only man can give that moron a PhD.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:47 AM on March 8, 2006


This is natural selection. Evolution has chosen those who are more inclined to form alliances with power than seek truth. Would you rather be right or alive? If the powerful make their gods and demons undemonstrable or invisible, the dilemma disappears. Then they write history, and the cycle continues, occasionally broken by those who care enough about truth to die for it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2006


I took an IQ test last week, and have found that my IQ has remained steady for the past 10 years, each time I have taken a new test. I am hovering around 126-130, which pleases me, even though I haven't really capitalized on this supposed advantage (ie. I work at a grocery store!). But anyway, when I read articles about the prevalence of bibly beliefs. I have no doubt it is related to IQ.

It is a question of smarts, pure and simple. Yes, sure, there are many smart people who are religious, I am sure, but somehow I have the feeling that when they are alone, in a moment of reflection, they KNOW, they just KNOW, that they are wrong.

But what do I know - I work at a grocery store.
posted by newfers at 10:55 AM on March 8, 2006


You're party-poopers:
Evangelicals are 26 percent more likely to describe themselves as "very happy" than Americans as a whole, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last month. Almost half—43 percent—of evangelical Protestants described themselves that way, compared to only 34 percent of Americans.
posted by matteo at 10:59 AM on March 8, 2006


"I bet most of these idiots are in the South!!!!!!"

This is honest-to-goodness old-school trolling. And you hooked one right away! Well done.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:59 AM on March 8, 2006


This survey doesn't mean anything. It doesn't even mean the people in the study reject evolution. The question was basically asking "Do you disagree with the bible?" and people responded with "Shhh! God's listening!" We already know that the majority of Americans say they are Christians. Even if they have never read the Bible, and they don't think about evolution one way or the other, they aren't going to say the Bible is wrong.
posted by team lowkey at 10:59 AM on March 8, 2006


Faith is never wrong.
posted by Witty at 11:03 AM on March 8, 2006


Faith is never wrong.
posted by Witty at 11:03 AM PST on March 8



posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:06 AM on March 8, 2006


Rather than North-South dichotomy, it's more likely a coast/city-rural dichotomy.

fwiw I've known a fair number of PhD chemists/biologists/medical doctors who are very devoutly religious (Judeo/Christian) and they have no problem reconciling their beliefs in a spiritual god and the observations born from science.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:07 AM on March 8, 2006


Witty is never right?
posted by wakko at 11:08 AM on March 8, 2006


newfers:
I might add that the intelligent religious people I know are probably in the opposite extreme of fundies. They might actually be practicing, but they tend to focus much more in self-perfection than in "perfecting others", and give importance to the tolerance and charity parts of the canon rather than the stoning to death parts.
Never met any intelligent fundie that wasn't just machiavellically using religion.
posted by qvantamon at 11:10 AM on March 8, 2006


wakko loves me.
posted by Witty at 11:10 AM on March 8, 2006


Optimus Chyme - What are you trying to show me? That there are crazy people in the world that do horrible things? 'Cause you can't possibly believe that faithless people are never responsible for anything, living lives of innocence. That image has nothing to do with what I said.
posted by Witty at 11:14 AM on March 8, 2006


I read recently that as much if not more British believe the same thing.
posted by xammerboy at 11:15 AM on March 8, 2006


wow , it only took three posts for a brain fart like,
I bet most of these idiots are in the South!!!!!!

awsome.
posted by nola at 11:18 AM on March 8, 2006


Optimus Chyme - What are you trying to show me?

That would be a plane piloted by Muslim fundamentalist extremists flying into the World Trade Center; you may have heard of the event.

'Cause you can't possibly believe that faithless people are never responsible for anything, living lives of innocence.

I never said that.

That image has nothing to do with what I said.

Sure it does. The hijackers' faith in the rewards of the afterlife was sufficient for them to carry out a plan that would kill them and thousands of others. To claim that "faith is never wrong" is the vilest folly.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2006


Optimus Chyme - What are you trying to show me?

A group of people had faith that flying planes into buildings was the right thing to do, and secured a pretty sweet afterlife.
posted by Jairus at 11:24 AM on March 8, 2006


If you say so.
posted by Witty at 11:25 AM on March 8, 2006


Most people are somewhat stupider than most other people.

Can someone please clarify this statement for me? I believe I can deduce the intended meaning, but I would like to see it stated explicitly. Just to be certain there isn't an Inverse Woebegone Wormhole Effect going on or something.
posted by dglynn at 11:25 AM on March 8, 2006


The previous comment was for OC.

A group of people had faith that flying planes into buildings was the right thing to do, and secured a pretty sweet afterlife.

So to those people, there was nothing wrong with what they did. K... just checking.
posted by Witty at 11:26 AM on March 8, 2006


What's your point, Witty? Take off the tapdancing shoes and quit getting all coy with us.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:28 AM on March 8, 2006


Faith can be wrong just as empirical knowlege can be wrong. In the case of empirical knowlege it is a simple matter of updating the facts to fit the observation.
Faith is a whole other thing. But one can make errors in logic, and that is a similar classification of knowlege as faith.
Faith itself can’t be wrong in the sense logic itself is wrong. So that statement (if taken that way) is obvious to the point of uselessness. The color blue cannot be wrong.

I can accept the idea that faith is relevent despite whatever empirical observation is made.
I can’t however accept that initial premisis within faith never have to be updated or amended based on a clearer picture.
Reality is not logical. Nor can faith literally move mountains - whatever power it may have to do that metaphorically.
Apples and oranges.

“’Most people are somewhat stupider than most other people.’
Can someone please clarify this statement for me?”

You know how stupid the average person is? Half of them are stupider than that. But just because the other half are smarter - doesn’t mean they’re any less stupid.

Hope that helps.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:36 AM on March 8, 2006


Optimus Chyme: Wow. Just wow. Do you really think that was appropriate in any way? Overall, I'm on your side of this issue, but to use, no, exploit, 9/11 just to score points on an internet chat board is pretty low.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:38 AM on March 8, 2006


to use, no, exploit, 9/11 just to score points on an internet chat board is pretty low.

Not as low as using it in a State of the Union address, though.
posted by verb at 11:42 AM on March 8, 2006


This whole thread is about scoring points elwoodwiles. Of course, at this point, they're just running up the score. What's to debate? Metafilter thinks religion is stupid and people who subscribe to it are idiots. Yet, for some reason they need to rehash said opinion at every turn. I would have figured they got it all out of their system by now. How many times is someone going to post a link to the front page with a poll about how many Americans believe in God, etc.? Jesus Christ!
posted by Witty at 11:43 AM on March 8, 2006


verb: I would hope that people would at least aspire to be better than those they despise.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:46 AM on March 8, 2006


I honestly believe that for a certain percentage of people, saying "No!" to evolution (and science in general) is just another way of stickin' it to those elitist liberal hippies. It doesn't matter what the issue really is, it's just an opportunity to be a contrarian.
posted by maryh at 11:48 AM on March 8, 2006


Do you really think that was appropriate in any way?

It's a shocking image. It was a terrible day. I place the blame squarely on the religious beliefs of the hijackers. Faith properly harnessed is a dangerous thing, and to pretend that there are no consequences to ignoring reason and morals in service to your God is foolish and disgusting. Witty's encouragment of faith's supposed infalliablity is every bit as shocking and tasteless as any picture I could post.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:52 AM on March 8, 2006


Haha!
posted by Witty at 11:57 AM on March 8, 2006


about how many Americans believe in God, etc.?

I have never seen a post on metafilter with a poll "about how many Americans believe in God", I've only seen stories about how people's belief in god has been taken to absurd conclusions, sometimes that conclusion is racism, stripping people of their human rights, mass murder or in this case the relatively benign but still distressing denial of the basic science behind our world.

Denying evolution, or any of those other more terrible acts, are not even in the same ballpark as believing in god, despite some people's attempts to conflate the two issues. If the religious folks were just minding their own business going to church and holding their faith there would be no post about it, but it's once they start pressuring school boards, governments, or resorting to violence that's when belief in god becomes a suitable topic for fpp derision.
posted by Jezztek at 11:57 AM on March 8, 2006


> Most people are somewhat stupider than most other people.

It's circular, but only for about a femtosecond--then all intelligence everywhere disappears down the intelligence hole. About the same length of time a lab-induced singularity takes to collapse the rest of the universe. And to think it appeared right here on mefi and not on, oh, Power Line. Or somewhere down yonder in de Souf.

posted by jfuller at 12:09 PM on March 8, 2006


Haha!
posted by Witty at 11:57 AM PST on March 8


Will that be the bulk of sir's argument or do I need to give you a couple days to think about it?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:11 PM on March 8, 2006


In my experience, most people are perfectly capable of holding two contradictory beliefs, and can sometimes even bring those ideas together. If you engage almost anyone in a discussion of the scientific method, evolution, astrology, you will get very little argument. But they will still walk away thinking "God did it." They see no need to contemplate whether God did it in six 24-hour days, or over the course of a million years, or exactly how he did it. If you "poll" people about the Bible's version of Creation, they will not want to give an answer that seems to deny their faith.

My father-in-law, for example, is a doctor and a bishop, and fully believes in the theory of evolution...and that the Creation story of Genesis is simply a slightly garbled account of how God set in motion the chain of events that brought about "life." He'd tell you that God created man "exactly how the Bible describes it" - and if you bothered to ask, he'd also tell you that you misunderstand what the Bible describes.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 12:15 PM on March 8, 2006


Optimus Chyme: First: Why do you ignore the positive aspects of religion? Martin Luther King used his faith to bring equality to the disenfranchised. Ghandi used his to free his people from the bonds of colonalism. Mother Theresa used hers to help the starving, sick and infirmed. There are many examples of faith being used in a positive way to make life better.

Second: Your use of the picture is not justified by witty's posts in any way. It just makes you look petty.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:18 PM on March 8, 2006


Why do you ignore the positive aspects of religion?

Because saying "my religion says X is right/wrong" apparently absolves the speaker of all obligation to reason. When MLK says that Christians must embrace equality and Johnny Racist says that Christians must not fraternize with the Negro, how do you determine who is right, if both sides are using the same book? Reason gives us corroborating evidence; religion merely gives us an excuse. I admire progressive Christians and count them as my friends, coworkers, and family members, but I do not accept their arguments based solely on the strength of their faith.

Second: Your use of the picture is not justified by witty's posts in any way. It just makes you look petty.

Shall I post a picture of Christian Klansmen hanging a black man? How about one of a thief getting his hand cut off? Maybe you would prefer the corpse of Lisa MacPherson or a video of an IDF member shooting a Palestinian kid. Closing your eyes doesn't make it go away.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:28 PM on March 8, 2006


Closing your eyes doesn't make it go away.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:28 PM EST on March 8 [!]


Oh? does that also apply to bad things done by Athiests like Josef Stalin or Chairman Mao then, or only to pictures of stuff done by "teh Evil Xtians!!11!1!"?

This thread is, of course, utter nonsense. It's just another excuse for people like Optimus and his friends to stand around shouting "I'm an Athiest, and that makes me better and smarter than you! So there!"
posted by unreason at 12:35 PM on March 8, 2006


Does your faith in reason absolve you from conducting your discourse in a repsectful manner?

Reason gives us corroborating evidence; religion merely gives us an excuse.

I'd say that religion (or as I prefer here, the more inclusive "faith") gives a bit more than an excuse; it gives a motivation. Then reason is brought to bear on the problem people of faith have been motivated to address.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:38 PM on March 8, 2006


Ahhh. Another catfight about religion. There sure aren't many Christians wasting company time on Metafilter, as far as I can tell. Otherwise someone would have pointed out that atheists like Mao and Stalin killed more people than people of faith ever did.

(btw, I'm not a person of faith. Just passing on the Christian's stock rejoinder to the argument that religion causes a lot of the world's unpleasantness.)
posted by kozad at 12:40 PM on March 8, 2006


I'm so glad I live just north of the United States of Americhrist.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:52 PM on March 8, 2006


New poll results show that more than half of all Mefites believe that when Optimus Chyme stated that misguided faith can be dangerous, he actually meant every religious person is a mass murderer and atheists have never done one bad thing ever.
posted by turaho at 12:56 PM on March 8, 2006


Does your faith in reason absolve you from conducting your discourse in a repsectful manner?

What, exactly, was disrespectful?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:57 PM on March 8, 2006




Witty, don't be so obtuse.

Just in case you aren't being disingenuous, what Optimus Chyme is showing you is that faith can be wrong. Not that it is always wrong, but that it can be wrong. How so? 9/11 was an act of faith. Was it an atrocity? Yes. Was it monstrously misguided? Yes. Was it motivated by profound religious faith? Absolutely. But surely they were crazy, right? And completely unswayed by reason? Of course, they don't need reasons when they have faith.

So faith can be wrong. It is not always right. Now eat your words and go away.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:59 PM on March 8, 2006


If I were forced to bet, I'd bet that more agree in the south than the north.

I think I'd bet that the 'North' probably has more high-density cities than the 'South' does, which are probably more attractive to the well educated than rural areas - For various socioeconomic reasons.

Ever since I moved from central Indiana to the outskirts of Philly, I get into a lot less of the 'Why don't you believe in geebus?' discussions than I used to - And people are a lot less belligerent about trying to cram their religion down my throat than they used to be: Heck, one of them even dropped the subject when I said 'Sorry - I'm just not interested in religion.'! That NEVER stopped anybody in Indiana.
posted by Orb2069 at 1:03 PM on March 8, 2006


What, exactly, was disrespectful?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:57 PM PST on March 8 [!]

Using tragedy to score points on an internet discussion forum.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:03 PM on March 8, 2006


Using tragedy to score points on an internet discussion forum.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:03 PM PST on March 8


Are all mentions of 9/11 disrespectful or just pictures?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:11 PM on March 8, 2006


Stalin was an atheist, sort of. He grew up being groomed as a priest, and many scholars have discussed his messianic complex, and his penchant for religious rhetoric (replace "God" with "the will of the Soviet State," and you get the picture). At least, that's what this guy thinks.

Sure, atheists commit atrocities, but usually in the name of another article-of-faith that is just as dangerous as religion: Communism, the Third Reich, my ethnicity is better than your's, my God's is better than your's (the former two are often intermingled).

So yeah, polls like this scare me a bit. I just have to remember than many religious people of all stripes are raging hypocrites, and tend to do in private many of the things they scorn in public.
posted by bardic at 1:26 PM on March 8, 2006


Oh, c'mon. It's the context. Bringing in references to 9/11 as evidence of the evils of religion is so reductive I can't help but think you're being totally disingenuous. There were many more factors involved that day than the religions of the attackers. You want it to stand as the symbol of the evils of religion, but this assignment is, at best, only rhetorical, and, at worst, a strawman. That you'd so quickly reduce the tragedy of 9/11 into a piece of evidence in a discussion about religion is just short of ridiculous. But, whatever, if you think it's appropriate to use 9/11 as evidence, as out of context as it is, that religion is inherently bad, well, I don't know, good luck with that. I doubt it would stand many other places than mefi. Flagging it and moving on.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:28 PM on March 8, 2006


Yeah, bardic, true enough about Faith in Communism. It's even more true about Faith in Kim Jong Il, in the country that is a cult. Strange religious history in Korea, which has also spawned the Most Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Funny that while I was typing my comments about Stalin and Mao, unreason had just posted about The Two Bad Atheists.
posted by kozad at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2006



Witty sez: "Faith is never wrong."

OC sez: "Oh really? what about this ::insert highly resonant image of religious faith gone horribly wrong::?"

Witty sez: "Well... it was right for them!"



Gosh. All Optimus Chyme did was point out a time when, hopefully as we can all agree, faith was "wrong." I imagine he picked the image he did to point out just how utterly erroneous witty's comment was. I don't think he was saying anything about faith never being right, and those attacking him for not addressing that point are being presumptive.
posted by solobrus at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2006


Using tragedy to score points on an internet discussion forum.

I thought he was making a point, not scoring one.
posted by Zetetics at 1:33 PM on March 8, 2006


Oh so what? So you're going to end up with an educated elite making all the important decisions on behalf of a populace of semi-literate, superstitious peasants. I'd love to see a historical example of a time when this wasn't the case.
posted by slatternus at 1:34 PM on March 8, 2006


Three cheers for the link to the article "Our Godless Constitution" from thenation.com .
posted by mystyk at 1:35 PM on March 8, 2006


"Can we just kill these people off now? We’ve got enough people to sweep the floors already."
posted by Smedleyman at 10:32 AM PST on March 8 [!]


And the asshole of the day prize goes to Smedleyman, for giving birth to one of the most crass, disrespectful, asinine statements I've ever read.

First, and let me put this as simply as possible - if you believe that a person's chosen career or profession has something to do with their right to share this planet with the rest of us, you are a dick. You are worse than a dick. You should be made to sweep out the nastiest fucking toilets in the filthiest part of town.

A comment like this can only come from the exact sort of person the conservatives brand as 'the liberal elite', someone so completely out of touch with the plight of the common worker that he believes his life would go on just fine if everyone would go to college and work in an office.

Not to mention - if you carried out this poll in a third-world country, in a place like India or Pakistan, what sort of result do you think you'd get?

Do you think those people all deserve to be killed off for their beliefs?

I lost major respect points for you right there, Smedleyman.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:42 PM on March 8, 2006


FWIW - I'm familiar with your posting history, smed - and I know that you aren't some egghead sitting in the ivory tower. I also suspect that you've had a couple of shitty jobs, one in particular that I can think of.

But you just directly insulted members of my family, man. It's hard to find work, and working a sanitation crew or hauling trash doesn't make you a conservative, it doesn't make you worthless.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:44 PM on March 8, 2006


“Metafilter thinks religion is stupid and people who subscribe to it are idiots.”
- posted by Witty

Fair comment. I think though that pushing creationism, et.al. things going on in society are a more serious form of aggression, exclusion and derision of those who don’t conform to a set of ideas.
No one says you have to be at Metafilter. We all have to live in society tho’

Call it blowback if you like.

Of course, not addressing any point I honestly attempted to debate is a bit disingenous I think.

"I'm an Athiest, and that makes me better and smarter than you! So there!" - posted by unreason

That point would be less sharp if bevets wasn’t on your side.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m an athiest. My points were on how we qualify knowlege.

If I compare knowlege derived from science and that derived from faith and say they are different and question why some “X-ians” assert that faith derived knowlege is somehow superior and derides the other, despite the repeatable and observable results from science and someone quotes a bible verse at me it’s a bit irritating and degrades the debate.
Indeed, it reframes it in such a manner that insults my intellect.

Why are all Christians child molesters if there is a God?

“And lo! the followers of Christ did all molest children throughout the ages, and yay unto the 13th generation” - the Bible (version xyz).

You wouldn’t buy that any more than I would. But it’s presented as somehow valid refutation.

That or reasonable folks are ignored; to wit:
'Sorry - I'm just not interested in religion.'! That NEVER stopped anybody in Indiana.

Some Jehovah’s witnesses came by the house when I was sick at home one day.
I told them I couldn’t talk. Sick. etc. Politely as one can with a dripping nose and 102 fever.
They said “Well, we can come back for your family later this week.”

I know what they meant. But parse that sentence from someone with my reflexive world view.
Did ever I mention I keep firearms handy?

Religious conversion even assertion is not such an innocent game. There is indeed aggression involved. Granted it’s modulated. And granted it’s tempered by good intentions.
But I would not trade a “good” outcome for any freedom I might have. Security, peace, whatever - not even MLKs very righteous cause, if I have to sign on with a certain brand of God.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:45 PM on March 8, 2006


A comment like this can only come from the exact sort of person the conservatives brand as 'the liberal elite'

I was under the impression that Smed was fairly blue collar - maybe even more so than jonmc. :O
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:45 PM on March 8, 2006


Funny that while I was typing my comments about Stalin and Mao, unreason had just posted about The Two Bad Atheists.
posted by kozad at 4:32 PM EST on March 8 [!]


Well, it's pretty much a certainty that when someone like Optimus begins ranting about how religion is the source of all evil that someone's going to post a counter example where someone not of faith does bad stuff. It's also important to note that people are perfectly capable of killing without any religious motives even when they are not shouting in the street Athiests. If you think about it, most of the bloodier wars in the past few centuries have not been about religion. WWI was about nationalism and interlocking treaties. WW2 was about fascism and unresolved issues from WWI. The War in Iraq is pretty much about oil. The Napoleanic Wars were about territorial conquest. European Imperialism was frequently crouched in religious terms, but was pretty much a land and resource grab. Obviously, there have been religious wars, such as the crusades and the Arab conquests, but there have been a slew of bloody wars that had little to do with religion. My point in mentioning Stalin and company is not to say "The Athiests are like Stalin!". The point I'm trying to make is that while trolls like Optimus can rant all they want about how religion is the source of all the world's ills, the evidence says that people will kill each other quite happily in the absence of religious rhetoric.
posted by unreason at 1:46 PM on March 8, 2006


Well, it's pretty much a certainty that when someone like Optimus begins ranting about how religion is the source of all evil

Did you actually read my posts? Take a look at this and get back to me, brainiac.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:48 PM on March 8, 2006


You know how stupid the average person is? Half of them are stupider than that.

That quote/sentiment always gets me thinking; is that the median, the arithmatic mean or the geometric mean?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:49 PM on March 8, 2006


I agree that that image is a very harsh one, elwoodwiles. But I think OC made a valid point (and one that has been naively, or disingenuously, distorted.) "[U]sing tragedy to score points on an internet discussion forum" that happens to be about a topic as pivotal, as important, and as (sorry elwoodwiles) rife with tragic potential as religion in this world seems logical enough for me.

There are some passionately religious people in this world who view that same 9/11 picture with the exhaled reverence that some Christians view the cross. THAT'S quite frightening, no? And OC's pointing this out (in direct response to the notion that faith is always right) does not mean that FAITH is the cause for all tragedy, or that ATHEISTS can't be perfectly wretched sadists, or anything else of the sort. (GEE-WHIZ, FOLKS--Where's the critical thinking skills??)
posted by applemeat at 1:50 PM on March 8, 2006


Did you actually read my posts? Take a look at this and get back to me, brainiac.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:48 PM EST on March 8 [!]


I was actually refering to your general posting history in this kind of discussion, not your comments in this particular thread, Optimus.
posted by unreason at 1:50 PM on March 8, 2006


Are you serious? Okay, look:

Witty sez: "Faith is never wrong."

OC sez: "Oh really? what about this ::insert highly resonant image of religious faith gone horribly wrong::?"

Witty sez: "Well... it was right for them!"


Why a pic of 9/11 or any other tragedy? Why not a diagram of a geocentric solar system? You choose 9/11 in order to give your "point" more rhetorical force, not because anything about 9/11 (or your incredibly reductive view of it) makes you right.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2006


Optimus Chyme, I thought you made your point well, and don't find your use of that image to be exploitative at all. But then, I'm not an American or a Christian.
posted by The Monkey at 1:54 PM on March 8, 2006


exalted, not exhaled.

(Gee-Wiz, Me!--Where's the spelling skills??)
posted by applemeat at 1:57 PM on March 8, 2006


applemeat, with all due respect, your post isn't an example of critical thinking, but an example of spin. Nothing in OC's post or subsequent posts imply anything like you claim his use of the image "means."

Here, for an example:

It's a shocking image. It was a terrible day. I place the blame squarely on the religious beliefs of the hijackers. Faith properly harnessed is a dangerous thing, and to pretend that there are no consequences to ignoring reason and morals in service to your God is foolish and disgusting. Witty's encouragment of faith's supposed infalliablity is every bit as shocking and tasteless as any picture I could post.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:52 AM PST on March 8 [!]


I don't see much of a case that OC was pointing anything else out.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:58 PM on March 8, 2006


You live where you live.

Are so many of you really incapable of acknowledging that you share the country, and challenge your little brains to come up with ways to get along?

Try it. You'll be happier.

Different people offer different thngs to the country. Make the best of the lot of folks who ARE here.

No, you CAN'T Kill them all. Tough Toodies. You ain't all that yourselves.
posted by HTuttle at 2:02 PM on March 8, 2006


I think the public is too sophisticated for polls like this to be accurate. Most people are going to answer in the way they think best supports their overall agenda, not necessarily the way they really believe.
posted by Jatayu das at 2:03 PM on March 8, 2006


Elwoodwiles, what image of "faith gone horribly wrong" would have been appropriate to you? Jonestown massacre? Bosnian mass graves? Execution of a rape victim under radical fundamentalist islamic rule? The suicide comet (can't remember their name) death cult in their purple sneakers? The point was to show the absurdity of the notion that "faith is never wrong".
posted by applemeat at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2006



Why a pic of 9/11 or any other tragedy? Why not a diagram of a geocentric solar system? You choose 9/11 in order to give your "point" more rhetorical force, not because anything about 9/11 (or your incredibly reductive view of it) makes you right.



Er. I think we agree. The image he chose is more powerful than a picture of a geocentric solar system would have been. Again, OC was responding to witty's blanket claim that faith is never wrong. If we can agree that this is one very tragic example of when faith was wrong, then I think the discussion is basically over. If not, then we have a fundamental disagreement that we're not going to resolve here.
posted by solobrus at 2:10 PM on March 8, 2006


Oh, I completely agree that faith can be wrong. I'm only arguing about the rhetorical means that OC used to make his point. I worry about 9/11 being thrown around so loosely, as that seems to lead to all sorts of other problems. In the last few years, it's been the conservative wing using 9/11 imagery to their advantage. I always found such a use of the imagery of 9/11 to be, if not disgusting, but rhetorically low. When I saw OC just thoughtlessly throw the image out to refute witty's claim when there were so many other, even more effective, ways, I felt the same sort of disgust.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:21 PM on March 8, 2006


Is there a way to believe in God [or gods] and also believe in evolutionary?
Yes.

The one reason people believe in the Bible version rather than the evolutionary model is simply because the evolutionary one is not 'definitive' like faith belief is. And so the religious folks use the 'missing link' to nullify the entire theory.

Part of the problem too is that since the time of Darwin science and religion have been portrayed as being pitted against each other. There is never a middle ground. Science is considered anti-religion, which really isn't the stance of science. But the religious folks define it that way.
posted by Rashomon at 2:21 PM on March 8, 2006


unreason, well spoken. To boil something fairly complicated down, here's my 2 pennies: Religion qua religion isn't the problem. Religion as a subset of unprovable, infallible ideologies is the problem. If you kill someone, society can point to a shared set of values regarding the value of life, the need for people to be safe, and lock him or her up for good. But if you kill someone in the name of [insert ideological belief and/or mythological deity here], societies lose their ability to condemn those actions, because some aspect of the soceity will say, well, Mothra said he should kill him. Mothra is always right.
posted by bardic at 2:24 PM on March 8, 2006


It's funny how images can make people get all upset.
posted by moonbiter at 2:27 PM on March 8, 2006


there were so many other, even more effective, ways

I'm pretty interested in hearing about all these ways. Bonus points if you can list them all within three minutes from now.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:27 PM on March 8, 2006


I should also repeat that 9/11 is an example of much more than "faith can be wrong." To treat it so reductively deprives us of the opportunity to really examine the factors that led up to 9/11. Much, much more was in play than faith that day......
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:27 PM on March 8, 2006


... It kind of reminds me of some dust-up I read about recently concerning cartoons. [Note to self: "Post Comment" is not "Preview"]
posted by moonbiter at 2:29 PM on March 8, 2006


I already said one: Geocentric models of the solar system. To actually be on topic, it seems that to deny natural selection is also wrong. And since you wanted three, it appears that the idea of the Earth being less than 10,000 years old also seems to be incorrect.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:30 PM on March 8, 2006


You choose 9/11 in order to give your "point" more rhetorical force

And this is wrong, how, exactly? It was an elegant rebuttal.
elwoodwiles, you're clearly worked up about this but you can't seem to give a reason.
(on preview: 'because other people use irresponsible rhetoric about 9/11 is not a reason to chastise OC)
You appear to be ascribing some kind of irrational sacred quality to that event, such that it can only be referenced 'respectfully' Most of us here won't accept that.
posted by Zetetics at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2006


“A comment like this can only come from the exact sort of person the conservatives brand as 'the liberal elite'” - Baby_Balrog

Really? I’ll let my precinct captain know. He thinks I’m conservative for some reason.

“Do you think those people all deserve to be killed off for their beliefs?”

Deserve? No. But I am a blood thirsty SOB. I’d like to cut the world population down by about 98%
(Call me Ra’s Al Ghul if you like, but given the technology, I think we’d be better off. Lately I’ve been in the kind of mood to pull the trigger myself).

Also - I come from a blue collar background. I did indeed do a lot of shit work as a kid. I’m fairly well off and white collar now. That didn’t happen from sitting on my fat ass.
My uncle in fact, sweeps floors (et.al) for a living. He’s in maintainance. Works hard at it enough to raise four kids and owns a house in the suburbs. Nothing wrong with that. I happen to have more money. I’m conventionally more “successful.” But he has things I’ll never have. It’s not about the money.

“I lost major respect points for you right there, Smedleyman.”

But apparently it is about the points. Sucks to be me then.

“You should be made to sweep out the nastiest fucking toilets in the filthiest part of town.”

Yeah? Who’s going to make me?

“...if you believe that...” - Baby_Balrog

AHA! A - fucking - HA!
Do I believe it? Do I indeed think people should be killed for their beliefs?
Do I indeed think that people of faith are only suited to sweep floors or other menial tasks?
Have I shown through other comments that this is the basis of my thinking?

Or am I as tired of this argument as Witty and everyone else and making a point about aggression and paranoia of certain people on both sides?

I missed the part where I was impolite or derisive or didn’t consider, say, unreason’s comments or anyone else’s as worthwhile or actually sought to kill anyone in opposition to my ideas.

“I'm familiar with your posting history, smed”

Are you? I seem to remember arguing quite strongly in favor of the right to express oneself more than a few times here. Where did I make an exception for people of faith? In fact, when did I ever concede that principle at all? In fact - when did I ever assert anyone should so much as be banned? I think I’ve flagged maybe 2 comments as bad in some way.

Most of my text is in the subtext. There’s more to reading than just looking at the words. I for example get you don’t mean some things you wrote literally. I get the emotional meaning of what you said.

I’m not any smarter or more subtle than anyone, it’s just how I write. A bit of “Darmok at Tenagra” metaphor, emotional explication and reference to previous statements in how I express myself. Matter of style I guess.

I apologize if my word choice was misleading as to my intent. I’ve often acknowleged my poor execution here. No excuse for it not getting better of course, but we can’t all be Hemmingway.

I can absolutely guarantee you I didn’t mean to insult anyone in your family - Baby_Balrog - nor anyone who does manual labor. My father was a bricklayer.

It’s usage was meant in the sense that - some people are so intellectually careless they cannot be trusted not to break dishes when they wash them, so they are relegated to sweeping floors. It’s a metaphor. The actual sweeping of floors or washing of dishes is not meant to imply that the folks who do such things are worthless. It could be any two mundane, straightforward tasks one of which requires more delicacy than the other.
Of course I try to avoid writing that much - since I tend to make errors.

But that does, in many ways illustrate the point. Not only that, perhaps I can be accused of the same carelessness - given your reaction it’s obvious my execution was poor - but that any knowlege of that kind that cannot be independently verified is subject to interpretation.

You thought I meant something I didn’t mean. Without revision and feedback you would have been in error to base a plan of action on that assumption.
(e.g. forcing me to clean out nasty toilets).

With empirical knowlege you can look for yourself what the fact of the matter is without relying on whether my reiteration is lousy or flawless.

Anyway - no offense meant. I’m sorry I put it the way I put it. I’m not sure that my desire is instead to kill off billions of people is any better. But if you like I’ll try to avoid your family Baby_Balrog if I ever consider acting on that.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2006


Oh, you said "three minutes" for some reason, not three examples. Oh well.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:32 PM on March 8, 2006


“That quote/sentiment always gets me thinking; is that the median, the arithmatic mean or the geometric mean?” -posted by PurplePorpoise

Um, yes. Yes, it is.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:32 PM on March 8, 2006


I already said one: Geocentric models of the solar system. To actually be on topic, it seems that to deny natural selection is also wrong. And since you wanted three, it appears that the idea of the Earth being less than 10,000 years old also seems to be incorrect.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:30 PM PST on March 8


Do you honestly think that those are more effective, elegant, or compelling than that photograph?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:36 PM on March 8, 2006


Argh!

...I probably should have metalked that rant or sent Baby_Balrog an e-mail or something.
...hopefully the last bit was on topic. Sorry.

*pulls out .45, aims at foot for irony’s sake*
posted by Smedleyman at 2:36 PM on March 8, 2006


you're clearly worked up about this but you can't seem to give a reason.

well, here

And here.

Now that I review, I see I forgot to move on.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:37 PM on March 8, 2006


Smedleyman, when the browser refreshed.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:37 PM on March 8, 2006


> In my experience, most people are perfectly capable of holding two contradictory
> beliefs, and can sometimes even bring those ideas together.

...but not, apparently, the moderately bright denizens of Metafilter, who feel that if two ideas are contradictory one must be discarded.

The test of a first-fate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald

posted by jfuller at 2:38 PM on March 8, 2006


> the question is, even if "God created man exactly how Bible describes it", which version is the right one, P's or J's?

Yes. Among others.

posted by jfuller at 2:40 PM on March 8, 2006


Fair enough. I should have said . . .a coherent reason that in anyway relates to Optimus Chyme's point". But lets move on.
posted by Zetetics at 2:48 PM on March 8, 2006


Points to jfuller for not using the clichéd 1984 doublethink.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:49 PM on March 8, 2006


FWIW, Fitzgerald was paraphrasing John Keats: Negative Capability.
posted by bardic at 2:52 PM on March 8, 2006


"This is natural selection. Evolution has chosen those who are more inclined to form alliances with power than seek truth. Would you rather be right or alive? If the powerful make their gods and demons undemonstrable or invisible, the dilemma disappears. Then they write history, and the cycle continues, occasionally broken by those who care enough about truth to die for it."

weapons-grade, that is probably the most succinct and accurate analysis of the current human situation that I've ever seen. Brilliant. I commend you, sir. That is being added to my list of Very Important Ideas that I use as personal maxims, so thanks.

I think OC's post of the 9/11 picture, while disturbing, is entirely relevant to his response to Witty on the question of faith never being wrong. Clearly sometimes it is horribly wrong. Some older religions included human sacrifice within the tenets of their faith, which I think is pretty wrong.

I still haven't heard from Witty whether he thinks the faith that drove the 9/11 attackers was wrong or not. Saying "well it was right for them, wasn't it?" isn't the same as declaring whether he thinks it's wrong or not.

Personally I don't think all religious people are stupid, because I know plenty of smart ones. However I do think that religion is an effective method whereby unscrupulous smart people can wield control over otherwise well-meaning ignorant people. It's all the more powerful because ignorant people seem to gleefully, if not contemptuously, close their minds to any ideas that their unscrupulous controllers deem heretical, thus bolting their own metaphorical chains to their metaphorical cell walls.

I think that's more likely the cause of all the world's ills, unreason - not religion itself, but the exploitation of it as a control mechanism, with the concurrent discouragement of
rational analysis, questioning of authority, etc. Too many people are all too happy to go along with it.

To those of faith (and I have quite a bit of it myself), faith is a powerful thing and can do great wonders for you, but don't let faith allow you to be controlled by the unscrupulous and selfish.

Of course, not allowing that control would require asking questions of authority, which willfully ignorant people don't seem to want to do. I wonder why not? Fear?

HTuttle: "Are so many of you really incapable of acknowledging that you share the country, and challenge your little brains to come up with ways to get along?"

I don't have a problem with sharing the country with anyone, and I'd be happy to get along with religious types who disbelieve in science, if only they would in turn stop trying to shove their version of morality down my throat, and stop trying to force my future children to follow their religion, to name two of many examples. I can live in peace just fine with people who respect my personal way of life.

So that's my way for us to get along. I'm not going to accept you trying to force me to live life by your narrowly-interpreted Bible rules, especially the ones that I consider to be distortions, since I've read the whole book and have a pretty good understanding of it. You do pretty much whatever you want, outside of that stricture.

Does that sound like something you can accept, HTuttle? I suppose I could couch it in more polite terms, so I apologize for the somewhat aggressive tone, but I wanted to be concise.

For the record, I believe in God, but I don't limit my belief within the Bible's constraints. I also believe the scientific method of question and discovery is probably the greatest and most powerful tool ever created by humans, and I think its application and findings should be what we base our material activities upon. In fact, my study of science only makes me appreciate God more fully - far more so than any religious text.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:04 PM on March 8, 2006


ARRRRGGHHH!

Okay. I got that out. "A coherent reason?" Good God. What is not coherent in saying:
1) to use 9/11 as an example of "faith being wrong" is reducing the events of 9/11 in a specious way. More than faith led to the 9/11 attacks
2) to use 9/11 is out of context (see 1). There are many other, closer, examples of "faith being wrong" that could be used. Since no one seems to be reading very well, I'll repeat them: the geocentric model, the denial of natural selection and the assertion that the Earth is younger than 10,000 years.
3) to use 9/11 to gain the rhetorical advantage is disrespectful. It was used, rather than an example that is both more accurate and more on topic (see 2), only to gain rhetorical force. This is not a proper way to deal with a tragedy. Tragedy is not a piece to move around the board.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:04 PM on March 8, 2006


Um, yes. Yes, it is. - posted by Smedleyman

The median = same number of people above, same number of people below number X.

Mean = add everyone's "IQ" up, divide by # of people.

Geometric Mean = the product of everyone's "IQ" to the root of the # of people (is like a mean but reduces the statistical influence of extreme outliers).

I suspect that there are a lot more people below mean "smartness" than above the mean.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:56 PM on March 8, 2006


Elwood, you understand that I used the 9/11 photo to demonstrate moral error and not factual inaccuracy, right?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:20 PM on March 8, 2006


Not to keep beating the horse, but when Witty said "Faith is never wrong" I didn't take it as him meaning the more literal understanding of the phrase. The way I understood it is that, for person X who believes proposition Y to be true based on faith, Y is always true for X instead of the less nuanced statement of Y always being True in the captial "T" sense of being true because it is held as an article of faith. Thus, I saw Witty actually expressing a bit of wit which, in all snarkiness, was somewhat suprising.

Sorry if this has already been pointed out. I didn't want to wade through the rest of bickering to verify I was making an original statement
posted by Fezboy! at 4:49 PM on March 8, 2006


A few notes.

The geocentric system was formalized by the Greeks and was not attached to any religious system until much later.

Ignoring Witty is always a good idea. As I've commented a couple of times before, not one of his posts is even slightly witty.

And it's atheist not "athiest".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:55 PM on March 8, 2006


I didn't take it as him meaning the more literal understanding of the phrase. The way I understood it is that, for person X who believes proposition Y to be true based on faith, Y is always true for X instead of the less nuanced statement of Y always being True in the captial "T" sense of being true because it is held as an article of faith.

If faith is "never wrong" in that manner, it can also never be right.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:58 PM on March 8, 2006


Optimus Chyme writes
"If faith is 'never wrong' in that manner, it can also never be right."


Objective Truth, meet Subjective truth.
Truth, truth.
truth, Truth.
I believe the two of you have a lot to talk about, so I'll leave you to discuss matters.
posted by Fezboy! at 5:03 PM on March 8, 2006


2) to use 9/11 is out of context (see 1).

Would you grow a pair already? We're all adults here, we can discuss 9/11 without a moment of silence and a bowing of our heads and a rambling prologue reminding us to consider the manifold factors that influenced, and in turn were influenced by, the horrible tragedy that bla bla bippity bla.

It wasn't especially relevant to the point Witty was trying to make, but quit it with the boohooing already. Six million jews died in the Holocaust (the alleged Holocaust, anyway), do you throw a fit every time someone Godwins?
posted by iron chef morimoto at 5:04 PM on March 8, 2006


hah, fezboy! It hadn't occurred to me to consider witty's authorial intent beyond what I took as the literal meaning of his post, but that would make a lot more sense than the untenable position we've been assuming he was defending.
posted by solobrus at 5:35 PM on March 8, 2006




elwoodwiles writes "Optimus Chyme: Wow. Just wow. Do you really think that was appropriate in any way? Overall, I'm on your side of this issue, but to use, no, exploit, 9/11 just to score points on an internet chat board is pretty low."

Absolutely.

Optimus, please read the rules: mentioning 9/11 or using the victim's families as props is never appropriate, unless you're doing so to justify a war or the abrogation of civil liberties.
posted by orthogonality at 6:02 PM on March 8, 2006


I'm surprised the percentage of Creationists is that low. After all, God actually punishes people for lacking faith in him, while the average scientist doesn't give a shit how ignorant you are. Between risking eternal damnation for denying God's word, and not getting any extra pills, prosthetics or Playstations for choosing science, the choice seems way more clear-cut than the polls make it out to be.
posted by boaz at 6:24 PM on March 8, 2006


"I suspect that there are a lot more people below mean "smartness" than above the mean." - posted by PurplePorpoise

Putcher arms up Purple! The jokes are goin' over your head!

(I probably should have gone with my first instinct: 'Yes, it does'- easier to catch on the nonsensefilter)

...unless you got it and, uh...didn't think it was funny....yeah...
*shuffles off to bed*
posted by Smedleyman at 7:29 PM on March 8, 2006


boaz: Pascal's Wager. However, I like your use of pills, prosthetics, and Playstations as the counterweights.

Good ol' Blaise... one of the first to use game theory in addition to everything else he accomplished in a mere 39 years. Friggin' brilliant, he was.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:46 PM on March 8, 2006


The Gallup Poll does not state that "more than half of all Americans" reject evolution. It says "about half" do.

Then it goes on to explain that the people who do reject evolution tend to be poorly educated, old Republican church goers. At least in its opening statement, the poll does not distinguish them geographically, racially or in any other manner.
posted by chance at 9:34 PM on March 8, 2006


100% of all statistics are stupid.

There's what other people believe and there's what actually is, and then there's whatever the hell I believe, and I have never done little more than pretend to be an authority on any of those topics. Nor can anyone else.

JC once said the meek shall inherit the Earth but he neglected to mention that the stupid will fuck up the Earth. Maybe he did, and it just got lost in translation. So long as there's people on this planet blowing themselves up in heavily populated areas to make a statement about what they believe in, I'm ashamed to believe in anything.

Yes the posting of that picture was inappropriate and yes it absolutely was appropriate. Wrap a census around that.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:53 PM on March 8, 2006


PT Barnum would be so proud!
Overestimating the general public may make for great "patriotism" but fails in the marketplace.
These are the same people who love American Idol and buy lottery tickets thinking they will "win big" you gotta remember.

Yeah, ZachsMind is correct, stupid defines it very well.
posted by nofundy at 6:32 AM on March 9, 2006


Hypocracy rears its head once again (ref). wakko must have conveniently missed it, despite the fact that he was the next to comment, almost 10 minutes later... selective vision I guess.
posted by Witty at 6:39 AM on March 9, 2006


Pascal's wager should be inverted in the same way the question on rescuing frozen fetuses or a passed out worker from the burning fertility clinic is posited.

It seems odd to sacrifice a manifest good in favor of a potential no matter how great that potential is.

Similarly - creationists might be perfectly correct and God did create the earth and man exactly as ... however it's interpreted or a priori reasoned.

But you cannot reiterate that information or practice it in any meaningful sense of the term precisely because it requires constant reinterpretation whereas evolutionist theory doesn't.

It can be checked, tested, independantly verified. The other is a subjective judgement on the order of interpreting literature or art - there are 'wrong' answers clearly, but there are degrees of correctness, and those depend on execution. So we grade the execution and reject fully grading on content.
In science, one can grade on content.

I'm not asserting that in no case can a priori knowlege be graded on content, it's just hard and it requires a common initial premise - which could be flawed.
All elephants are pink. Doris is an elephant. Doris is pink.
Perfectly logical - but elephants aren't pink.

So again - any content yielded from an a priori system must still be based in execution.

Still waiting for a rebuttle witty. If you don't have the time or inclination to address my points, that's cool. You're not on my clock. But seems to me you (and others - I don't mean to pick on you exclusively save that I'm addressing your 'faith can't be wrong' comment) prefer to waste your time with acrimony.
(and again - far be it for me to criticise, but on the other hand - who better knows the sin than a sinner?)
posted by Smedleyman at 8:45 AM on March 9, 2006


"any content yielded from an a priori system must still be based* in execution." --- *observed or qualified or judged - should be.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:47 AM on March 9, 2006


Acrimonious? Yea, sure. There's nothing debate or rebut. You've already got everything figured out.
posted by Witty at 9:09 AM on March 9, 2006


Hypocracy rears its head once again

That's hypocrisy.

A hypocracy would be the current US administration.
posted by quantumetric at 9:30 AM on March 9, 2006


Fezboy! re. Pascal: Friggin' brilliant....

Probably. But Pascal's Wager is a classic example of how gamblers (and addicts) reason. (And if I recall correctly, "ol' Blaise" was both.)

Which is to say, it's a really, really bad example of sound reasoning. And kind of gutless, to boot. Richly deserving of contempt from agnostic and fundamentalist, alike.
posted by lodurr at 9:36 AM on March 9, 2006


100% of all statistics are stupid.

100% of all "100%"-generalizations are stupid.
posted by lodurr at 9:39 AM on March 9, 2006


"There's nothing debate or rebut. You've already got everything figured out."

From your posting history and "debate style," Witty, the same can be said about you.

And I'm still not clear on your actual position re the faith of the 9/11 attackers, as opposed to your question about it being "right for them." By that, do you mean that you feel their faith was right?

Yes or no are acceptable answers, though some further explanation after yes or no would be appreciated.
posted by zoogleplex at 9:53 AM on March 9, 2006


"There's nothing debate or rebut. You've already got everything figured out."

From your posting history and "debate style," Witty, the same can be said about you.


What I do have figured out is that Metafilter's obsessive Atheist contingent (as in, not all of them) are a bunch of raging hypocritical loud-mouths and hardly deserve the attention of anyone, certainly not from those who find themselves on the side of faith.

And I'm still not clear on your actual position re the faith of the 9/11 attackers, as opposed to your question about it being "right for them." By that, do you mean that you feel their faith was right?

Who cares? Is that really what we're talking about? Discussing the faith of a handful of lunatics is pointless. Lunatics are lunatics, no matter what they believe, assuming they believe anything at all. Let's just say Fezboy! summed up the "faith is never wrong" comment best and leave it at that.
posted by Witty at 10:07 AM on March 9, 2006


"100% of all "100%"-generalizations are stupid."

100% of all generalization dissings are stupid. Don't be dissin mah generalizations.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:55 AM on March 9, 2006


“You've already got everything figured out....raging hypocritical loud-mouths and hardly deserve the attention of anyone” -posted by Witty

And I get shit on for trying to be reasonable. Well, there you have it.
I said if you don’t have the time or feel like responding no problem. You had plenty of time to deride me though didn’t you?

“Metafilter's obsessive Atheist contingent”

Did I mention I wasn’t an atheist?

“Let's just say Fezboy! summed up the "faith is never wrong" comment best and leave it at that.”

I see and your faith says it’s ok to insult folks who pose philosophical questions?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:39 PM on March 9, 2006


Don't be dissin mah generalizations.

Why doncha all just ffffade away
Don't try to dig what we all say
Not tryin' to cause such a big sen-s-s-s-ation
Just sittin' here makin' gen-r-r-r-raliza-shuns
My Gen'ral'zations, baby
my gen'ral'zations, oh yeah....
posted by lodurr at 1:44 PM on March 9, 2006


If I did have everything figured out I doubt I’d ask questions or put forth a proposition for comment.
...it really is so much easier to shoot people though. I mean c’mon.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:49 PM on March 9, 2006


lodurr writes "Probably. But Pascal's Wager is a classic example of how gamblers (and addicts) reason. (And if I recall correctly, "ol' Blaise" was both.)

"Which is to say, it's a really, really bad example of sound reasoning. And kind of gutless, to boot. Richly deserving of contempt from agnostic and fundamentalist, alike."


Sorry to be unclear. I'll not vouch for Blaise's character or the soundness of his Wager. I was merely pointing it out to boaz, who was musing on the same question.

Friggin' brilliant was in reference to his work in the areas of probability, fluid dynamics, geometry, theology, and specifically the idea that he was using a rudimentary form of game theory to make decisions well before there was anything in the literature resembling the same. Further, that he accomplished all of this in the space of roughly 23 years while suffering from various physical maladies—including a lesion on his brain—and finding the time to gamble away he and his sister's inheritance. In the words of HST, he stomped on the terra.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:49 PM on March 9, 2006


Well Smedleyman, if you feel the need to include yourself in the "contingent" to which I referred, feel free. But that's on you, not me. I don't have a "position" on the faith of the 9-11 attackers... so I don't know what it is you keep fishing for.
posted by Witty at 2:07 PM on March 9, 2006


Yeah, I was riffing on Pascal's Wager, which is loads of fun and applicable to nearly any theological controversy. I always thought Pascal was half-joking and half-avoiding church controversy. IIRC, Galileo was imprisoned when Pascal was about 12, so I've long suspected the downsides Pascal was wagering against happening were far more tangible than God's mercies.

On the other side, there's that great Simpsons quote: "What if we chose the wrong religion? Every week, we're just making God madder and madder."
posted by boaz at 2:21 PM on March 9, 2006


“But that's on you, not me.”

Er...yeah. Look, I respect that you are saying you weren’t trying to insult me. So we’re cool. Understand that your comment was made and grouped with one in reference to me - so I took it that way. You didn’t mean that to refer to me? Ok. No problem. My mistake.

“...so I don't know what it is you keep fishing for...” - witty.

This comment:

“Faith is never wrong.” - Witty

I understand the way Fezboy! explained it. I have defended faith in much the same way - here and elsewhere.

My question is on the transmission of that faith. I don’t want to retype all of what I commented: (posted by Smedleyman at 8:45 AM PST on March 9).

For purposes of argument lets grant that faith is never wrong. Leave the nuances aside - what is to be our unmoved mover?
I’m arguing that it has to be observation, not interpretation.
As true as faith is, it is not true for everyone everywhere in the same way. Whereas certain kinds of observation can be.
I’ll also grant that some kinds of internal knowlege (logic comes first to mind) similar to faith are, in method, true everywhere in the same way - but that is based on the same kind of methodology as we use in observation (science, et.al).

I guess the gist is on the one had we can all independantly verify one kind of thing and we can’t all independantly verify the other kind.
That being the case - doesn’t it make sense to rest transmission of knowlege on the thing that everyone can look at and get the same answer from?

(whatever we later get or believe in our heart of hearts)

Same concessions as before. You don’t want to deal with the question or don’t know or don’t have time for it - no problem. I’m not being sarcastic, I’m giving you the respect and consideration that maybe you haven’t (or have) thought about it and need more time - or it’s so besides the point in your world view that you don’t care.
/In which case we don’t have common ground, but that itself is not an issue. It’s not like we’ve got the format or the time to develop it.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:33 PM on March 9, 2006


And Witty, remember: Faith is never witty.

So, as Bob Dobbs said, "If you don't have a sense of humor, don't try to be funny."
posted by boaz at 2:34 PM on March 9, 2006


Ok witty - I guess you didn’t want to deal with the issue I raised. No sweat.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:54 AM on March 10, 2006


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