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America: Stupidly stuck between religion and science

 
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2014 07:14 am

America: Stupidly stuck between religion and science
Andrew O'Hehir
Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 12:30 PM EST

Karl Marx’s famous maxim that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, can apply just as well to the history of ideas as to the political sphere. Consider the teapot-tempest over religion and science that has mysteriously broken out in 2014, and has proven so irresistible to the media. We already had this debate, which occupied a great deal of the intellectual life of Western civilization in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it was a whole lot less stupid the first time around. Of course, no one on any side of the argument understands its philosophical and theological history, and the very idea of “Western civilization” is in considerable disrepute on the left and right alike. So we get the sinister cartoon version, in which religious faith and scientific rationalism are reduced to ideological caricatures of themselves, and in which we are revealed to believe in neither one.

Young-earth creationism, a tiny fringe movement within Christianity whose influence is largely a reflection of liberal hysteria, is getting a totally unearned moment in the spotlight (for at least the second or third time). Evangelist Ken Ham of the pseudo-scientific advocacy group Answers in Genesis gets to “debate” Bill Nye the Science Guy about whether or not the earth is 6,000 years old, in a grotesque parody of academic discourse. Ham’s allies, meanwhile, complain that Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new “Cosmos” TV series has no room for their ludicrous anti-scientific beliefs. If anything, Tyson’s show has spent a suspicious amount of time indirectly debunking creationist ideas. They seem to make him (or, more properly, his writers) nervous. Not, as Ham would have it, because somewhere inside themselves these infidels recognize revealed truth, but because religious ecstasy, however nonsensical, is powerful in a way reason and logic are not.

Everyone who writes a snarky Internet comment about why the T-Rex couple didn’t make it onto Noah’s ark betrays the same nervousness, and so do earnest Northeast Corridor journalists who rush to assure us that Ham’s elaborate fantasy scenarios about fossils and the Grand Canyon are not actually true, and that we would all find science just as wonderful as religion if only we paid attention. (Such articles strike me as totems of liberal self-reassurance, and not terribly convincing ones at that.) Repeating facts over and over again doesn’t make them any more true, and definitely doesn’t make them more convincing. I suppose this is about trying to win the hearts and minds of some uninformed but uncommitted mass of people out there who don’t quite know what they think. But hectoring or patronizing them is unlikely to do any good, and if you believe that facts are what carry the day in American public discourse then you haven’t paid much attention to the last 350 years or so.

This creationist boomlet goes hand in glove with the larger political strategy of Christian fundamentalism, which is somewhere between diabolically clever and flat-out desperate. Faced with a long sunset as a significant but declining subculture, the Christian right has embraced postmodernism and identity politics, at least in the sense that it suddenly wants to depict itself as a persecuted cultural minority entitled to special rights and privileges. These largely boil down, of course, to the right to resist scientific evidence on everything from evolution to climate change to vaccination, along with the right to be gratuitously cruel to LGBT people. One might well argue that this has less to do with the eternal dictates of the Almighty than with anti-government paranoia and old-fashioned bigotry. But it’s noteworthy that even in its dumbest and most debased form, religion still finds a way to attack liberal orthodoxy at its weak point.
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Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 1,294 • Replies: 10
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dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2014 10:58 am
@bobsal u1553115,
Bob thank you for that

Did you write it
If so without revealing ID can you tell us about yourself, your credentials, etc
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2014 02:34 pm
Reading
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2014 05:20 pm
@dalehileman,
I hate when I do that. I usually remember the source, let me search the first sentence and see if I can't dig up the link. I'm a christian and I am worried over the dumbing down of this nation and how it seems to be related to religious schools and schooling.

I went to Missouri Synod parochial schools in Cleveland, Ohio during the fifties and early sixties and we were taught creationism and we were taught dinosaurs were fakes.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2014 05:22 pm
@dalehileman,
http://www.salon.com/2014/04/12/america_stupidly_stuck_between_religion_and_science/
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 11:31 am
@bobsal u1553115,
Quote:
I'm a christian and I am worried over the dumbing down of this nation and how it seems to be related to religious schools and schooling.
Thanks Bob for the response. In turn I'm an apodictical existential pantheist and also concerned about its dumbing down but I'd bet that however absurd we consider their beliefs, they're a shade happier than you and me
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 07:17 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
bobsal u1553115 wrote:
I went to Missouri Synod parochial schools in Cleveland, Ohio during the fifties and early sixties and we were taught creationism and we were taught dinosaurs were fakes.

What was it like for you discovering all that wasn't true? Or did you always know it wasn't true?
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 09:28 pm
@dalehileman,
If they're so happy, why are they yelling all the time?
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 09:36 pm
@rosborne979,
[img]What was it like for you discovering all that wasn't true? Or did you always know it wasn't true? [/img]

What may seem different is that other than the natural history and all the memorization of "Luther's Small Catechism" the education was substantially better than the public schools.

I imagine that it was about seventh grade when I was able to understand dinosaurs.
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2014 11:39 am
@bobsal u1553115,
Quote:
If they're so happy, why are they yelling all the time?
Point well taken Bob. However if they're louder, the skeptics seem angrier and more firmly entrenched
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2014 12:56 pm
http://i.imgur.com/gqilfZI.jpg
0 Replies
 
 

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