David Barton and Ken Ham aren’t mistaken, they’re just lying

Karl Giberson and Randall J. Stephens, who we discussed a few weeks ago in “Evangelicals vs. Science,” have an op-ed column in today’s New York Times on “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason.”

The Republican presidential field has become a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann deny that climate change is real and caused by humans. Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann dismiss evolution as an unproven theory. …

The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism, textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious. As one fundamentalist slogan puts it, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” But evangelical Christianity need not be defined by the simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism that most of the Republican candidates have embraced.

This is a real phenomenon and Giberson and Stephens are right to be concerned — both for their own evangelical Christian community and for the nation as a whole, given that this “rejection of science” has become a prerequisite for seeking the Republican nomination for president.

Some Republicans have been — quietly, and without much success so far — pushing back against the anti-science, anti-reality ideology dominant in their party’s primary campaign.

[Former Republican Sen. John] Warner, a former Navy secretary, now travels the country for the Pew project, making speeches and appearances at military bases, and calling attention to the national-security concerns of climate change and fossil-fuel dependence.

Working with Warner on the Pew climate-change project is George Shultz, President Reagan’s secretary of State, who helped advise George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign and who remains an influential Republican voice. Last year, Shultz, who now serves as a distinguished fellow at Stanford University, cochaired the “No on Prop. 23” campaign in California, which successfully defended California’s pioneering climate-change cap-and-trade law against an oil-industry-led effort to overturn it.

“My own opinion is that this problem is very real,” Shultz told National Journal. “I recognize there’s a lot of people pooh-poohing it. Whether they like the science or not, there’s a huge problem coming at us. There’s a huge melt coming in the Arctic regions. There’s melting taking place.” Of Republicans like Perry who deny climate science, he said, “They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

That — from Coral Davenport’s National Journal article, “Retired Republicans Quietly Try to Shift GOP Climate-Change Focus” (see also this from Phil Plait) — is a positive sign. George Shultz is a significant figure. Unfortunately, though, he’s a significant figure from the past. In the present, people like Bachmann, Cain and Perry have much more influence in the Republican Party and, despite what Shultz says, they seem to think they’re entitled to their own facts.

Herman Cain’s proud ignorance about sexuality, Michele Bachmann’s endorsement of anti-vaxxer hysteria, and Rick Perry’s repeated assertions that climate change is a hoax cannot be separated from their shared embrace of the anti-science ideology of “creationism” and dismissal of evolution.

Creationism is indefensible on the evidence. The facts are against it. That leaves its proponents with no option except to go meta, attacking the very idea of “evidence” and “facts” by following Pilate’s example and shrugging off the evidence by asking “What is ‘truth’?” Opposed and refuted by overwhelming scientific evidence, they are forced to attack science itself, suggesting that the whole endeavor and the very possibility of learning about the natural world is somehow illegitimate.

Once you’ve taken that leap and made that ideological claim, there’s no reason not to apply the same no-standards standard to sexuality, medicine, climate science or economics. You’re no longer bound by science, by facts, by reality, by what is. And once that’s the case, you’re free to assert whatever foolish absurdities you calculate will be most politically expedient. You can say that you chose to be heterosexual. You can say that vaccines cause autism. You can say that carbon doesn’t trap heat. You can say that reducing demand leads to economic growth.

And since hermeneutics is also a kind of science — a way of seeking after the truth and determining, as best as possible, the facts and reality of the matter — embracing the ideology of anti-science also means you’re free to say that any text means anything you want it to say. To be unbound by facts is to be unbound by texts as well.

Again, the issue here is not questions of belief in things which simply have not been proved. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe in something despite a lack of compelling proof or evidence that it is certainly true. But it is not reasonable to believe in something in spite of compelling proof and evidence that it is certainly not true. To do that is to say that reality itself does not matter.

And once you’ve said that — as Bachmann, Cain and Perry all have, in public, on television — then you have, as Giberson and Stephens say, “rejected reason.” You’ve left your senses and no longer make sense, only non-sense.

I cannot know or guess whether Bachmann, Cain and Perry have truly embraced the nonsense they claim to believe or if those nonsensical claims are something more cynical. I cannot know for sure if they are deceived or deceivers. But I think we can know which is the case with two of the evangelical leaders discussed by Giberson and Stephens: David Barton and Ken Ham. Barton and Ham, they say, “have been particularly effective orchestrators — and beneficiaries” of the evangelical “parallel culture” that rejects science and reason:

Mr. Ham built his organization, Answers in Genesis, on the premise that biblical truth trumps all other knowledge. His Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., contrasts “God’s Word,” timeless and eternal, with the fleeting notions of “human reason.” This is how he knows that the earth is 10,000 years old, that humans and dinosaurs lived together, and that women are subordinate to men. Evangelicals who disagree, like Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, are excoriated on the group’s website. …

Mr. Barton heads an organization called WallBuilders, dedicated to the proposition that the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation. He has emerged as a highly influential Republican leader, a favorite of Mr. Perry, Mrs. Bachmann and members of the Tea Party. Though his education consists of a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University and his scholarly blunders have drawn criticism from evangelical historians like John Fea, Mr. Barton has seen his version of history reflected in everything from the Republican Party platform to the social science curriculum in Texas.

Barton and Ham are not deceived. They are deceivers. They tell lies that they know to be lies. They tell lies for money.

Barton doesn’t merely misread and misquote the founding fathers due to careless scholarship and ideological blindness. His misreadings and misquotations reveal too much care and craft for that to be the case. His distortions are composed with painstaking care. They are deliberate, intentional and knowing. He devises and markets conscious falsehoods — false claims that he knows to be false. He does not believe what he says. He does not mean what he says. He says what he says only in order to deceive others and thereby to separate them from their money.

The same is true for Ken Ham. Ken Ham is a liar, a charlatan, a con-man, a bearer of false witness. He lies for money. Like Barton, he has been personally and publicly corrected innumerable times over many years, confronted again and again with the demonstrable, undeniable falsehood of his statements. And like Barton he makes no correction and offers no apology for those false statements. With an astonishingly cynical contempt for his audience, he simply assumes that his critics have no influence among those he has been fleecing, and he willfully continues fleecing them, continuing to make the very same claims and statements that he has been shown are false, continuing to say things that he knows are not true. Because he can get away with it and because it’s profitable.

David Barton and Ken Ham are not fundamentalists. They are not in denial, defensively retreating from a bewildering world they do not understand except as a vague threat to their faith. No. Fundamentalists in denial are their prey, their mark — the goose that provides them with golden eggs.

It’s considered rude to state this so bluntly. That’s what they’re counting on. Their ability to continue this lucrative con depends on a misplaced notion of civility that mistakenly presumes that the presumption of good faith is absolute and impervious to evidence. That warped idea of civility is what creates the space in which they are free to act in bad faith with impunity, to lie without any danger of ever being called to account for lying. Refusing to call liars to account is not civility, it’s aiding and abetting — becoming an accomplice in their scam.

 

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  • Thom

    “… Lies propagate, that’s what I’m saying.
    You’ve got to tell more lies to cover them up, lie about every fact
    that’s connected to the first lie. And if you kept on lying, and you kept on
    trying to cover it up, sooner or later you’d even have to start lying
    about the general laws of thought. Like, someone is selling you some
    kind of alternative medicine that doesn’t work, and any double-blind
    experimental study will confirm that it doesn’t work. So if someone
    wants to go on defending the lie, they’ve got to get you to
    disbelieve in the experimental method. Like, the experimental method is
    just for merely scientific kinds of medicine, not amazing
    alternative medicine like theirs. Or a good and virtuous person should
    believe as strongly as they can, no matter what the evidence says. Or
    truth doesn’t exist and there’s no such thing as objective reality. A
    lot of common wisdom like that isn’t just mistaken, it’s anti-epistemology, it’s systematically
    wrong. Every rule of rationality that tells you how to find the truth,
    there’s someone out there who needs you to believe the opposite. If you
    once tell a lie, the truth is ever after your enemy; and there’s a lot
    of people out there telling lies -” Harry’s voice stopped.

    From “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality”
    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/65/Harry_Potter_and_the_Methods_of_Rationality

  • Topher

    This is so true. David Barton in particular. His use of the John Adams letter talking about the need for the government to be guided by the holy spirit is a huge example of this. Just reading the whole letter in context shows how false Barton’s interpretation is. It took him a lot of time and chutzpah to pull that out time and time again.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s considered rude to state this so bluntly. That’s what they’re counting on. Their ability to continue this lucrative con depends on a misplaced notion of civility that mistakenly presumes that the presumption of good faith is absolute and impervious to evidence. That warped idea of civility is what creates the space in which they are free to act in bad faith with impunity, to lie without any danger of ever being called to account for lying. Refusing to call liars to account is not civility, it’s aiding and abetting — becoming an accomplice in their scam.

    Unfortunately, charlatans like them know how to twist an audience.  Even if you call them out,  lay out the facts (which they have already rejected) before them and their marks, it will not do much good.  The liars will just tell them, “Those mean people are attacking your beliefs!  They hate us!  Defend me so I can continue preaching The Truth!”  

    And those marks will circle their wagons around the parasite sucking their money away.  Even if you make a convincing argument that they are being lied to, few of them will be convinced. To do so would be to admit that they were wrong, that their world view is maladjusted, and that they have been duped all this time by someone who took advantage of something very close to their hearts.  For most people, the truth is just too painful to face.  

    You once made another blog post about global warming deniers, how common people, not politicians or lobbyists, who have no personal stake in denying climate change, yet do so anyway, wondering what motivated them so.  That was for the same reasons that such marks would defend their cons, because admitting they bought the lies hurts too much not to.  

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, charlatans like them know how to twist an audience.

    I can’t remember who, but I read an interview some time ago with a biologist who used to publicly debate Creationists and who quit because he kept debating the same people over and over and over and over they kept making statements and assertions and presenting “facts” that he debunked the debate before and the debate before that. They never changed their talking points or responded directly to his criticisms. In short, he realized the people with whom he was debating weren’t debating in good faith.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I can’t remember who, but I read an interview some time ago with a biologist who used to publicly debate Creationists and who quit because he kept debating the same people over and over and over and over they kept making statements and assertions and presenting “facts” that he debunked the debate before and the debate before that.

    And as the biologist walks away in disgust, the Creation proponents will say to their followers “He’s giving up!  See?  We’re right, he’s wrong, he left because he could not back up his so-called ‘science’.  You were right to trust us, just keep those donations coming in so you can continue to be right.”  

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the old “I refuse to admit I’m wrong; therefore, I’m right!” ruse favored by 8-year-old bullies across this nation’s playgrounds, almost as popular as the “BWAWK! BWAWK! BWAWK!” gambit.

  • http://twitter.com/cincodenada Joel Bradshaw

    Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens.  From Conservapedia: “Generally speaking, leading evolutionists generally no longer debate creation scientists because creation scientists tend to win the debates.” http://www.conservapedia.com/Poe%27s_law

  • Bruce Heerssen

    FearlessSOn, it sounds like that may be PZ Meyers or, more likely, Richard Dawkins.

  • Anonymous

    I was once a YEC.  When I realized just how badly twisted my scientific education was (A Beka, the company which provided my school’s texts, still uses 2-kingdom taxonomy), my reaction wasn’t pain.  It was anger–deep-seated, hopeless rage at the people who had been not only allowed, but encouraged to lie to children for so many years.  My school didn’t teach a darn thing about evolution–but there was a so-called evolution chapter in the textbook.  I read that chapter, and it basically boiled down to “Evolution is a nasty lie that scientists spread so they can claim that life sprung up from NOTHING and that there is no god!!”  The fact that any book containing such a thing can be legally marketed as a useful tool for teaching a child science baffles me.  That’s not science, it’s a sermon–and a poisonous one at that.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I was once a YEC.  When I realized just how badly twisted my scientific education was (A Beka, the company which provided my school’s texts, still uses 2-kingdom taxonomy), my reaction wasn’t pain.  It was anger–deep-seated, hopeless rage at the people who had been not only allowed, but encouraged to lie to children for so many years.  My school didn’t teach a darn thing about evolution–but there was a so-called evolution chapter in the textbook.  I read that chapter, and it basically boiled down to “Evolution is a nasty lie that scientists spread so they can claim that life sprung up from NOTHING and that there is no god!!”  The fact that any book containing such a thing can be legally marketed as a useful tool for teaching a child science baffles me.  That’s not science, it’s a sermon–and a poisonous one at that.

    That is a big part of why I fight against ridiculous use of absurd textbooks and sectarian education curriculum.  A person should be given as much information as they want to have about a give subject and trusted to be able to derive their view of the world from that.  By giving someone only limited access to information, one will only bend their world view in a particular direction, vulnerable to information coming from its flanks.  In the crucible of knowledge, the arc bends toward reality.  

    That said, I feel like so much of the reason people reject evolution tends to come from a lack of understanding of evolutionary theory.  Like you said, their education is pretty much “evolution is icky and wrong!” with no information about the actual mechanisms on which it operates.  Heck, a lot of the creationist arguments I have seen are more like refutations of Hollywood style “evolution” rather than the actual theory.  

  • hapax

    That said, I feel like so much of the reason people reject evolution
    tends to come from a lack of understanding of evolutionary theory.  Like
    you said, their education is pretty much “evolution is icky and wrong!”
    with no information about the actual mechanisms on which it operates.

    The last time I was in the Tulsa aquarium (which is a pretty nice one, btw), there were signs and charts all over the place explaining “how populations of [X species] change over time.”  I saw a lot of parents and children (who I would bet dollars to donuts were home-schooled) and groups of kids with matching Bible-themed t-shirts poring over these explanations, absolutely clueless that they were learning “EVILution”. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That said, I feel like so much of the reason people reject evolution tends to come from a lack of understanding of evolutionary theory.  Like you said, their education is pretty much “evolution is icky and wrong!” with no information about the actual mechanisms on which it operates.

    Or their information about the mechanism is false but similar enough that they think they know all about it.

    I knew a guy (university educated professional) who, when arguing with me about evolution, said “evolution says that if I sat out in the sun all day I’d turn black. That’s stupid”.

  • Anonymous

    The book lumped in abiogenesis and the Big Bang with evolutionary theory.

    The icing on the cake was the comic, which even to a YEC kid with no external information, was pretty dumb:  The “evolutionist” bends down looking at the dirt saying “I came from the mud and slime.”  The creationist looks up into the sky and says “I came from God’s divine design.” Um…doesn’t Genesis 2 have God making Adam from mud?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The icing on the cake was the comic, which even to a YEC kid with no external information, was pretty dumb:  The “evolutionist” bends down looking at the dirt saying “I came from the mud and slime.”  The creationist looks up into the sky and says “I came from God’s divine design.” Um…doesn’t Genesis 2 have God making Adam from mud?

    The comic authors do not seem to understand the mentality of scientists.  According to Carl Sagan, we came from stars in the heavens.  Everything after that is just shifting atoms into structures.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think they care about as much for Carl Sagan as they do for the Bible (not much!)

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    This is not new. Well, in the big picture, yeah, it’s new, but we’ve had just around a decade of this sort of… I was going to say ‘epistemeology’, but it’s really not a way of knowing, it’s a way of not-knowing.

    Five years ago, we were introducted to the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics.

    Six years ago, the term Truthiness came into our lexicon, describing things that we want to be true, even if they aren’t.

    Seven years ago, we were introduced to the term reality-based community, originally used derisively as compared to those who “when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    Ham and Barton may be working the religious angle instead of the political one, but it’s just a different shade of authoritarianism.

  • Anonymous

    I actually think that “truthiness” is really “verisimilitude” as said by people who don’t read very much.

  • Vardulon

    No, verisimilitude is about something seeming like the real thing – but never setting aside its artificiality. Truthiness is about using personal pre-existing biases as the arbiter of reality, rather than objective truth. If it `feels`real, it is, the facts be damned!

  • Tonio

    If it `feels`real, it is, the facts be damned!

    Altemeyer on fundamentalists: “they said science did not enable them to work out their own beliefs and philosophy of life, it did not bring the joy of discovery, it did not provide the surest path we have to the truth, it did not make them feel safe (emphasis Tonio’s), it did not show how to live a happy life, and it did not bring the satisfaction of knowing their beliefs were based on objective facts.”

    This matches a point I was making in another thread recently. When we say that science cannot provide answers to “the meaning of life” (which makes the baseless assumption that such an inherent meaning exists), this is not a flaw or defect in science itself. Instead, the flaw is in the expectations that fundamentalists bring to science.

  • Rikalous

    they said science did not…bring the joy of discovery

    It’s like reading that someone doesn’t feel happier when they pet small fuzzy animals.

  • Corvus illustris

    No, there are indirect references in the word “truthy” (or its abstract-entity derivative) to such elements in USAmerican life as “chocolatey” meaning “imitation-chocolate flavored,” “buttery” meaning (same for butter), etc., that would be missing in the apparent Latinate synonym.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Five years ago, we were introducted to the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics.

    To be fair to the neo-cons, the national will to stick out a conflict is actually a huge factor in deciding a war.  Moreso than any amount of actual military industrial output, number of soldiers, or force-multiplication factors, is the will of the nation behind that military to see the conflict through.  The side that loses its will and pulls back first is the side that loses the conflict.  This has been demonstrated across history.  The Vietnam war, for example, was one in which the U.S. achieved tactical victory after tactical victory, and yet still lost the conflict because the will of the Vietcong was so much greater than the will of the U.S. population to see the war through.  

    The issue with both the Vietnam war and the Iraq war is that the will of a large segment of the U.S. population wavers because we do not see those wars as being right or just.  And much like the Green Lantern Corp, if we cannot see the rightness and justice in a course of action, we cannot support it with the necessary conviction.  Indeed, such conviction to win a war that we do not believe right or just would be monstrous of us.  

    Where the neo-cons go wrong though is in the assumption that they can (or even should) manufacture reasons to make a war seem more “just”.  If the justness of a conflict is not self-evident, we hardly have a reason to be in it.  

  • Tonio

    The Vietnam war, for example, was one in which the U.S. achieved
    tactical victory after tactical victory, and yet still lost the conflict
    because the will of the Vietcong was so much greater than the will of
    the U.S. population to see the war through. 

    I had understood that the issue wasn’t the lack of national will but the near impossibility of true victory. Apparently with this type of warfare, tactical victories had little impact on the progress of the war, and the government that the US was protecting lacked any meaningful support among its own citizens. I say “true” victory because the US could have prevailed only by slaughtering most of the citizens of both Vietnams.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    The issue with both the Vietnam war and the Iraq war is that the will of a large segment of the U.S. population wavers because we do not see those wars as being right or just.

    Ermm… no. The issue is that those conflict required more than just the application of military force to create lasting change. Winning the “war” in Iraq was fast and easy. ‘Winning the peace’ was where the problems began. In both cases, the underlying presumption was that if we just fought long enough and hard enough, we would “win”. The ugly reality is that without a post-war plan for nation-building that went beyond guns, bombs, and boots on the ground, any occupied population will turn against it’s occupiers in an ugly insurgency.

    The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics ignores this reality in favor of “Shock & Awe” and/or “Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy”. If you go back and read the opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, you’ll notice that no one, anywhere, ever claimed that the U.S. army couldn’t defeat the armed forces of their enemies. No one claimed that governments of Iraq or Afghanistan were enlightened, open-minded, or socially progressive. The arguments against Iraq and Afghanistan were simple: “Yes, these folks are bad, but there is nothing better to replace them with but armed occupation! And that’s not very good either!”

    The side that loses its will and pulls back first is the side that loses the conflict.

    Careful, you’re falling into a particular framing of the issue. The U.S. won every major battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every armed force that has taken the field against them has lost. The governments that were in place prior to the war have been taken out of power, and many of their leaders killed. By any reasonable standard, the U.S. has won those conflicts.

    Where it has lost is in the hearts and minds of the people being occupied. Where it has lost is not in the conflict, but in the peace following it. The only way to say that we “lost the war” in Afghanistan is to accept the neo-con premise of “leaving is losing”. That was the final resolution of Vietnam: reject that frame, declare victory, and go home. It’s worth pointing out that Vietnam is now a relatively prosperious country with strong, friendly relations with the U.S.

  • Michael Busch

    What annoys me about the rejection of evolution, global warming, vaccinations, and so forth as compared to economical & political disputes is what is being rejected.  Economics and politics are human constructs, and are greatly influenced by peoples’ personal opinions.  But carbon dioxide will absorb infrared if you want it to or not, your immune system needs to be exposed to dead/weakened viruses to be immune to the live ones, and natural selection will keep acting as long as life is around. 

    Perhaps the reason we have this anti-science movement is because of the political side.  If you’re used to feeding people lies about how those other people are satanic baby-killers in order to keep your power base, then maybe lying about vaccines doesn’t seem as evil as it really is.  And then we have politicians proudly proclaiming that several hundred thousand cases of cancer and several thousand preventable deaths should be allowed to happen.

    I’m trained as a scientist and an educator, so my first thought is that we need to educate everyone on what evolutionary biology really is, how thermodynamics works, and how the human body reacts to infection.  And scientific literacy has other advantages than just taking down con artists.  The truth has a great advantage over lies: the truth works.

  • MaryKaye

    The Internet has been a boon to those of us who still argue with creationists, because instead of painstakingly repeating your refutation, you can just post links to the last time.  I think I’ve seen anecdotal evidence that even among people who are not readily convinced by facts, showing that someone is contradicting himself or repeating a point he previously had to concede does affect their view of his arguments.  (I’m not talking about the creationist debater himself–such people are purely tacticians–but about the audience.)

    The debater himself? (Or, more rarely, herself?)  You are more likely to convince someone who is currently playing the Black pieces in chess that White ought to win than to convince a creationist debater that they’re wrong.  It’s not about being right or wrong, only about winning.

  • WingedBeast

    I always find it difficult to tell whether the deliberate ignorance that can be portrayed is actually deliberate or actually ignorance.

    I work in customer service and I find that people have an amazing ability to choose their reality and to acknowledge only the ideas that fit with their chosen reality.  Sometimes, this is an affectation adopted to accomplish something.  Sometimes it’s people who honestly aren’t hearing any concept that doesn’t fit their expectations.  (I’ve had to stop people in the middle of the second request for their credit to tell them that I said yes the first time.)

    Barton and Ham (which sounds like it should be a Creationist Themed Breakfast dish involving heavy amounts of cholesteral, we should find another one named Greene to fill it out), like the rest of us, have a set of expectations inside their head.  We all have that script in our heads, that way things are supposed to go.  Mostly, this “way things are supposed to go” is written up based on repetitions on how it has gone so many times before.  But, sometimes, it’s about the way we will allow things to go.

    For some people, anything that goes out of script gets edited away from memory.  For some, anything out of script is ignored because the profit is in the script.  Healthy thinking adapts the script or learns the new situation in order to write a new script.

    Obviously the Intelligently Designed Breakfast Platter aren’t doing the last.  But, how do we differentiate people doing the first from people doing the second?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Ah, the old “I refuse to admit I’m wrong; therefore, I’m right!” ruse favored by 8-year-old bullies across this nation’s playgrounds, almost as popular as the “BWAWK! BWAWK! BWAWK!” gambit.

    Yeah, but at least with eight-year old bullies you have the potential catharsis of punching the brute.  As long as you lure him into thinking he has you cowed before you catch him off guard, you can throw him agains the wall by his collar and explain in no uncertain terms that his idiocy will stop here and now.  

    Unfortunately, standing up for yourself like that gets you in trouble with the teachers, which is what the bullies count on, both on the playground and as adults.  

  • Anonymous

    Ham has moved his estimate to 10,000 years? When I still followed him, he was going no higher than 8,000, if that many.

  • Anonymous

    I remember reading a bunch of books as a child in the vein of Darwin’s Black Box, which were pro-creationism but not anti-science at all. The argument went like this: Evolution is impossible for reasons X, Y and Z. Scientists simply need to take their blinders off and realize it. Once this happens, everybody will agree on creationism and the Bible will be proven right through the scientific method.

  • WingedBeast

    That’s still the common refrain.  Whatever else Creationists can say about science, they can’t ignore it.  They can’t claim that it hasn’t brought anything.  That’s why they call it “Creation Science”.  Because saying “Science is always wrong” is so blatantly false that even they can’t believe it.

    So, they have to give lipservice to science as a concept.  There just has to be a “true science” that leads to where they want it to lead.

  • Donalbain

    pro-creationism but not anti-science at all.

    No such thing.

    The argument went like this: Evolution is impossible for reasons X, Y and Z.

    Yes, the problem is that X Y and Z are lies.

  • Tonio

    I’m midway through reading Altemeyer’s dissection of right-wing authoritarianism, and comparing this to Fred’s post, Barton and Ham appear to believe what they believe because of the emotional rewards. Would Fred agree?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to believe in something despite a lack of compelling proof or evidence that it is certainly true.

    I disagree, because without that compelling proof or evidence, one doesn’t know whether the belief is true or not. This sounds uncomfortably like the burden of proof is on a challenge to a belief, instead of the burden being on the belief itself.

  • Tonio

    Sorry, I meant the fundamentalists that Barton and Ham are preying on.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    While that may be a part of it, there’s more to it:

    (1) Their belief system is profitable for them, in that it brings in donations and profits from book sales, which could probably further validate it in their eyes.

    (2) David Barton and Bryan Fischer probably believe that the Founding Fathers of the united states honestly saw their religious views as so self-evident that they didn’t bother to *explicitly* state in the Constitution that it was written ONLY for the benefit for the benefit of evangelical Christians, since a “literal” reading of other documents written by them will reveal their “true” intent.  And by “literal,” I mean in the same sense that LaJenkins and other apocalypse-watchers read Scripture.  Which brings us to…

    (3) They flat-out WANT to believe the FFs were the sort of right-wing evangelical common in America today.  And if shown evidence that the Founding Fathers intended for this to be an ecumenical, secular nation, confirmation bias will see to it that they dismiss it.

    (4) Regardless of what the FFs either did or did not intend originally, Barton, Fischer, Ham and others would very much like to see this country drift even further right towards religious authoritarianism, complete with the political and economic disenfranchisement of women, minorities (at least for certain minorities) and different religious groups other than their particular flavor of Christianity and allied sects.  They see this as a good thing, since in their eyes, pretty much the entire twentieth country was a colossal mistake, and a right-wing fascist nation where far more power is wielded by private groups, corporations and the Church than the government strikes them as the perfect way to correct that mistake. 

  • http://twitter.com/zarlachan Carla Spinoza

    Creationism is indefensible on the evidence. The facts are against
    it. That leaves its proponents with no option except to go meta,
    attacking the very idea of “evidence” and “facts” by following Pilate’s
    example and shrugging off the evidence by asking “What is ‘truth’?”
    Opposed and refuted by overwhelming scientific evidence, they are forced
    to attack science itself, suggesting that the whole endeavor and the
    very possibility of learning about the natural world is somehow
    illegitimate.

    This is generally refered to as Anti-epistemology. You’ll probably want to read the linked blog posts, the lesswrong wiki entires themselves tend to be pretty dry.

  • Izzy

    Barton and Ham are not deceived. They are deceivers. They tell lies that they know to be lies. They tell lies for money.

    I’m hugely pro-rationality and tend to agree with your take here. That said, I think there is actually another possibility here, or two possibilities that merge: say you are a True Believer in something, anything, that’s increasingly hard to defend. Creationism, the perfection of the Communist State, the idea that The Phantom Menace is a quality film, whatever. You believe it sincerely, but as evidence mounts you increasingly find those beliefs challenged. To maintain the belief you must meticulously ignore the evidence or otherwise resolve the congnative dissonance. Before long, you’re increasingly arguing for things that are rediculous on their face. Are you lying or simply deluded? A little from column A, as they say.

    Or alternatively, imagine you sell some product you know, or suspect, to be deeply flawed. You market snake oil, or homeopathy, or the Collected Works of Ayn Rand. You do this not out of conviction, but to make a buck. But most people don’t like to think of themselves as fraudulent crooks, so you start to tell yourself you believe what you say. Before long, that line gets blurry and you can no longer remember what you really believe and what you merely claim to believe. Are you lying or simply deluded? A little from column A…

    I think what may be going on here is more terrifying than either lies or delusions. Both of those paths can merge in a place where one finds themselves caught up in something so big that even oneself no longers knows which are sincerely held beliefs and which are convenient cover. I suspect that the price one pays for rejecting evidence one is wrong is that one may be caught in just such a trap, without any way to even recognize which of one’s own beliefs are truly held.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I think what may be going on here is more terrifying than either lies or delusions. Both of those paths can merge in a place where one finds themselves caught up in something so big that even oneself no longers knows which are sincerely held beliefs and which are convenient cover. 

    I hereby dub this the “Glenn Beck Effect”. 

    “When a man’s paycheck depends upon his not knowing something, you can rely on him not knowing it.” – Upton Sinclair.

  • Aaron Peercy

    I use to be a YEC, and I can tell you that most of them dismiss any science that “disagrees with the bible” on the premise that: “Evolutionists” are coming from a secular/atheistic worldview and creationists from a “biblical worldview” (I find it sadly ironic looking back how this “biblical worldview” condoned the torture and execution of human beings). They were able to dismiss the facts because they convinced themselves they weren’t dismissing anything, they were interpreting it through the “biblical lenses” as opposed to the “worldly lenses”. They assert that the facts don’t lead to one conclusion or the other, but their worldview is the view that best explains all the evidence (facts). What really broke me away from that is realizing that:
    1. There is no such thing as a “biblical worldview”. Your worldview is based on your nurture and nature, and is different for each person. Your worldview is not the same as the Paul’s worldview, and that is just that. Saying your view is the biblical worldview is ascribing a false authority to your viewpoint.
    2. Evolution is based not on an atheistic worldview, but on the scientific method. The scientific method is not “atheistic”, it is a method that uses observation and experimentation to come to conclusions about observable, repeatable, natural phenomenon.
    Once I came to those two realizations every creationist argument broke down and I realized it was all a bunch of nonsense and pseudoscience.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I am not sure I agree that they’re liars, by which I mean that I am inclined to identify a liar as someone who sets out to lie.  I don’t think that Barton and Ham intend to lie. I don’t think they care one way or another. I think that we are quickly becoming a society where both our overlords and also their dupes are engaged in a sort of political kayfaybe: they either do not believe in or do not care about objective reality. When the truth supports Ken Ham’s agenda, he will tell the truth. If it does not, he will tell a lie. Does he even know when he’s doing the one or the other? Maybe, maybe not.   It doesn’t matter to him.

    We’ve often said that lying is *hard*. That’s the fundamental principle of polygraphs: in order to lie, you need to know the truth and actively will the contrary, essentially holding two different conflicting worlds in your head at the same time.

    But bullshitting is *easy*.  You don’t need to hold on to two worlds, you don’t even need *one*; if you happen to overlap reality, fine. If not, fine. If you brazenly contradict observable reality, *fine* — you can say that gay sex causes earthquakes and feminism causes economic collapse and the sky is made of flan, and if someone points out that this is so patent in its falseness that your pants are literally on fire and Dr. Freud just saw your nose and wants to ask you about your mother, all you have to do is get offended and complain about the ‘lamestream media’ and their “gotcha questions’.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I am inclined to identify a liar as someone who sets out to lie.

    By this logic, a drunk driver who kills someone is neither a murderer, nor a public menace, as he did not set out to do either.

    By this logic, no one can ever be identified as a liar or a racist or a bigot, because we cannot know what someone’s intentons are! That is not a conversation you want to have. (obligatory Jay Smooth link)

    It doesn’t matter to him.
    ….
    all you have to do is get offended and complain about the ‘lamestream media’ and their “gotcha questions’.

    Which is why we keep circling back to the “What you said” convesation versus “who you are”. (again, watch the linked video if you’ve never seen it before) The post title isn’t “David Burton and Ken Ham are liars”, “David Barton and Ken Ham aren’t mistaken, they’re just lying”.

    Whether or not they’re “liars” (as a personal trait) is utterly unknowable and equally irrelevant. What is knowable, and known, and testable, and provable, is that they lie, often and frequently and without regard for evidence or fact.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    By this logic, a drunk driver who kills someone is neither a murderer, nor a public menace, as he did not set out to do either. 

    By this logic, no one can ever be identified as a liar or a racist or a bigot, because we cannot know what someone’s intentons are! That is not a conversation you want to have. (obligatory Jay Smooth link)

    You seem to be reading something other than what I wrote. Because I never said that “A person is only a bad person if they acted from bad intent” or “a person is only of any negative group if they intend to be”.  I said a very specific thing about liars. 

    My wife likes to say “I lied” when she realizes that something she’d said earlier was mistaken, but it’s not true. *Lying* is not the act of saying something untrue. *Lying* is a very specific thing, and that thing *requires* intent.  If they don’t intend to deceive, then they’re not *lying*. They are also not simply-mistaken. They are doing a third thing which is neither lying nor mistaken.

    And that difference is *important*. Because when someone is lying you can expose them as such by *demonstrating the truth*. You cant’ do that with people like this, because *whether or not the things they say are true is not relevant to them, nor is it relevant to their target audience*. Ken Ham doesn’t make money from credulous donors who *think he’s telling the truth*, he makes money from donors who *want what he’s claiming to be the truth*, and think that if they *believe it hard enough*, that’s more real than if it were actually supported by objective reality.

  • WingedBeast

    Unless I’ve missed my guess, what you’re talking about is that special category known as “doesn’t care about the truth to tell a lie.”

    This is the same as one of my chief complaints about Palin.  Reality is irrelevant to what she says.  She knows what her audience wants to hear, and she says that.  She knows what will make someone she doesn’t like look bad, and she says that.  She knows the reality her followers want to live in and she speaks of that reality.

    True/False doesn’t enter into it.  She just makes of herself the same kind of ego-porn that the Left Behind deconstructions critique.

    What you’re suggesting is that Barton&Ham (I want to create a philosophy themed restaraunt so I can create that breakfast platter) don’t care about reality and would be equally surprised to find the falsity of their statements as they would to find that they’ve been speaking the truth.

    I don’t find that implausible.  I don’t know if that’s better or worse than being a… scratch that, it would certainly be worse.

    I will say that it’s to be expected.  They either come from or just speak to a mindset that believes that a specific set of beliefs is necessary in order to evade Hell.  Once you believe that the right set of beliefs is the only way to escape eternal torment, you don’t care if reality matches that set of beliefs.  So, they’re speaking to an audience that similarly doesn’t care about the truth to recognize a lie.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Harry Frankfurt wrote an essay some years back in which he identified this kind of worldview — statements whose truth value is sort of coincidental so far as the speaker is concerned —  as “bullshit”, which evokes a lot of the right connotations, but “bullshit” has a kind of innocuous texas oilman/used-car-salesman quality to it that doesn’t really cover just how horriffic it should be that our political discourse is being controlled by people who *do not care* whether what they say is true or false.

    I mentioned these things to a friend, who pointed out that a lot of what I’ve said sounds more than a little like what the RTCs seem to believe about non-RTCs: that deep down we all know that the One True God is Their God And Their Interpretation Of The Bible is Right and We’re Just Claiming to Be Atheists, Jews, Pagans, Hindus, Muslims, Liberal Christians or Something Else as an act of defiance.  To this comparison, I say: “Isn’t it funny how pretty much everything the right accuses the left of kinda seems like projection?”

  • WingedBeast

    I will nitpick to say that I don’t think the majority of RTCs actually believe that evolution is true.  I will say that, deep in the pits of their souls (whether immortal or not) they don’t *care* whether or not evolution is true, whether or not abstinence only education results in more STD spread and more teen pregnancy, whether or not global warming is happening, whether or not you can be simultaniously pro-choice and not-evil, etc.

    When the first question is “Will believing this wind me up in Hell?” the next question of “does this in any way reflect reality?” is ceremonial.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m not even sure “Will believing this wind me up in Hell?” is the question they ask themselves in a real way: it’s one of the ways they present the question, but I think that’s sort of a few rationalizations removed, how they try to explain the question when they have to think about the question itself and find it lacking. At the level they actually think about it, the question is really just “Us or Them?”

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    “Isn’t it funny how pretty much everything the right accuses the left of kinda seems like projection?”

    DARVO:  “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.”  Standard issue for both abusers and rightwingers.  (But I repeat myself.)

  • Tonio

    To play Darkseid’s advocate (or Nicolae’s), I doubt that whether Barton and Ham are deliberately lying or not is the important issue here. Far more important is the fact that they’re leading the US into the theocratic abyss, into a future where the nation becomes a terrifying place indeed for religious and sexual minorities.

  • Anonymous

    Far more important is the fact that they’re leading the US into the
    theocratic abyss, into a future where the nation becomes a terrifying
    place indeed for religious and sexual minorities.

    Hell, for anyone who isn’t exactly like them. 

  • Joshua

    The Vietnam War is not an example of the amount of will required to fight a war, it’s an example of the military leaders in America failing to understand the nature of asymmetric warfare. There are different standards by which one has to measure winning or losing against an opponent using guerrilla tactics.

    The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are evidence that America’s military leaders haven’t really learned much. Of course, as Consumer Unit points out in the quote about paychecks, asking  generals to learn that their goals cannot be achieved by military force is, er, tricky.

    How many times America defeats its opponents on a battlefield is pretty much irrelevant, as are its military industrial output or number of soldiers. A guerrilla army just recruits among those alienated by collateral damage, steals equipment or buys more, and rises again. If anything, winning on a battlefield just provides the opposition with more opportunities for recruitment.

    Of course, if the goal is to ensure that the military establishment continues to receive funding then an undefeatable enemy is a feature, not a bug.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are evidence that America’s military leaders haven’t really learned much. Of course, as Consumer Unit points out in the quote about paychecks, asking generals to learn that their goals cannot be achieved by military force is, er, tricky.

    That is also another thing that tends to crop up a lot in military history.  The methods of warfare tend to evolve faster than the strategy of it can keep up.  A lot of effort and lives are lost because of this.  I still think that we need another branch of the military composed of liaisons, diplomats, instructors, engineers, and laborers dedicated to nation-building.  Send them in the wake of the armed forces and let them get to work putting things back together for long term stability. 

    Of course, if the goal is to ensure that the military establishment continues to receive funding then an undefeatable enemy is a feature, not a bug.

    Granted, that seems like the only plausible reason why some of our wars have had such vague objectives that “winning” becomes an impossible determination.  How does one win a “war on terror”?  Hell, how does one win a “cold war”? 

    Remind me to go watch Wargames again.  Been a few decades since I last saw it. 

  • Joshua

    Or better yet, don’t send the armed forces in the first place.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yep, yep, yep.

    “If we build enough schools the people will stop being mad that we blew up their children”.

    (Not putting words in FS’s mouth here; he didn’t say that. But there’s an attitude that suggests a military can expect to buy gratitude after inficting warfare on civilians. Drives me crazy)

  • Apocalypse Review

    I think the USians in charge of things were unduly influenced by the special circumstances of World War Two. The Germans had been so utterly defeated that they welcomed any return to normality, and the Japanese, once shocked into defeat and surrender, took that as their cultural cue to learn from the victor.

    These are not typical reactions of defeated peoples. Especially not those who perceive their occupying authorities as being about as good as the government they used to have.

    That being said it’s like the USA’s military and civilian leaders (Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al) seemed to go out of its way to purposely screw up the Iraqi occupation as badly as it could. By refusing to waive regulations so as to allow Iraqi workers and companies first crack at rebuilding the infrastructure – by refusing to protect culturally important artifacts – by reopening Abu Ghraib and reusing it for its old function* … the list goes on and on.

    It’s like they took the Morgenthau Plan and turned it Up to Eleven.

    And then refused to bother paying attention to the consequences because they don’t have to worry about actual facts, whatever they make up is the truth.

    * parenthetically I’m sure the East Germans were unimpressed when the Soviets reopened camps like Sachsenhausen to use as labor camps.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yep, yep, yep.

    “If we build enough schools the people will stop being mad that we blew up their children”.

    (Not putting words in FS’s mouth here; he didn’t say that. But there’s an attitude that suggests a military can expect to buy gratitude after inficting warfare on civilians. Drives me crazy)

    That would be putting words in my mouth, yes.  :)  

    The place I am coming from with this is to correct the tendancy of politicians to want to go into a war with no clear exit strategy, no thought beyond “Charge!”  As has been pointed out, the U.S. has an overwhelming force of arms, but the problem with their deployment is not a case of needing even more force still, but the fact that once we have occupied any territory, getting out of it again is difficult without something worse flowing into our exit wake.  The need to make a territory secure in the long term without extended U.S. occupation is a real concern.  

    The longer the military maintains a presence in an occupied territory, the harder it will be to remove them, and the longer the symbol of what just blew them up will be triggering resentment.  We cannot buy gratitude, but making the effort not do lasting damage will still pay some dividends.  

  • Tonio

    The right-wing myth about Vietnam is that our military could have won if they weren’t hamstrung by the politicians. What I’ve read in recent years suggests that it was the other way around – the generals were advising against entering into this asymmetrical warfare but were overruled by politicians who didn’t want to look soft on Communism.

  • Joshua

     the generals were advising against entering into this asymmetrical warfare but were overruled by politicians

    Point taken. Certainly, Petraeus seems like a smarter guy that GW Bush. Low bar to clear, obviously.

    Let’s all say it together now: Don’t start a land war in Asia. How many world empires have sent armies to their grave in Afghanistan? Britain, the USSR, the USA. It goes back further, I’m sure. At least Alexander the Great had the good sense to turn around and go home.

  • Marshall Pease

    Just lately I’ve had it laid on my heart to go down to the high school and volunteer to tutor science and math. I ain’t no scientister, but I can handle the HS level. I’ve been putting it off while I finish the new chicken coop, but I guess I better get to it. 

  • Anonymous

    Fred, one of the reasons that I love your blog is that you’re not afraid to say things the way they are. A lot of people on the right spout offensive nonsense and then give a little shrug and say “oh, I guess I’m not ‘politically correct'”, with a smug little smile.

    We need more people like you, who are willing to come out and tell the truth: many on the right are liars, plain and simple. They twist the facts and distort the truth; they prey on the weak for the benefit of the strong.

    I was watching Rachel Maddow tonight, and Ezra Klein was her guest, making that exact point. The Right blames Freddie and Fannie for the ’08 crash, not the Wall Street machinations that allowed those bad mortgages to be turned into catastrophic derivatives. They blame the auto industry bail-out on organized labor, not on the disastrous deregulation of the market. Yet, neither of them seemed willing to come out and say what they should, the message echoing on the streets of a hundred cities through the world:

    The people on the Right are despicable, treacherous, and, though I hate to use the word, they are evil. They blame the poor, they blame the workers, and they ignore the facts. What further infuriates me, and I’m not even a Christian per se*, is that they sit there and carry the banner of Christ and try to posture themselves as righteous in the eyes of God. It’s absolutely sickening to me.

    * If you believe in God, and believe in living by the example of Christ, but can’t bring yourself to believe in a literal resurrection… do you still count as Christian? I guess it depends on who you ask. I doubt that Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry would count me as a brother. Then again, I don’t particularly consider them to be Christians, either. They believe in American Cowboy Jesus. I can’t get behind that.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    If you read the comments below the linked Cain article, someone points out that there is considerably evidence of a biological basis to homosexuality, to which a guy replied that “considerable evidence just means a bunch of opinions”.

    My brain is crying.

  • Anonymous

    Are we mocking Herman Cain this morning? Can I play?

    Electric fence was a joke, says Cain…

    …unless you’re into that. – Stephen Colbert

  • Seanjw20

    The great irony of this is that it seems to be evangelicals who are forever moaning about ‘postmodernism’. Are they so oblivious to what the term actually means? They seem to have embraced a postmodern approach to reality that is pretty much like the worst possible caricature of PoMo. Ken Ham’s scientific papers, footnoted with quotes from the bible rather than academic papers, could easily be a religious version of the Sokal hoax. 

  • Matthew Funke

    Robyrt: I remember reading a bunch of books as a child in the vein of Darwin’s Black Box, which were pro-creationism but not anti-science at all. The argument went like this: Evolution is impossible for reasons X, Y and Z. Scientists simply need to take their blinders off and realize it. Once this happens, everybody will agree on creationism and the Bible will be proven right through the scientific method.

    I was a young-Earth creationist for years, and I read many books like that myself, so let me be blunt.

    These arguments are still anti-science.

    First of all, because X, Y, and Z are demonstrably not obstacles to evolution, or are simply untrue.  Creationists — or their more politically savvy brothers-in-arms, “Intelligent Design proponents” — continue to insist on ideas like “Conservation of Information” (even though no such principle exists in information science) and the “irreducible complexity” of the flagellum, the immune system, and the human eyeball (even though thse have long since been demonstrated rather conclusively not to be irreducibly complex); more banal arguments (e.g., invoking the Second Law of Thermodynamics) have been debunked for decades.  Inventing principles for which no corroborating data exists, or insisting that something is true that has for a long time been discredited, is not science.

    Second, even if these arguments did present obstacles to evolution, discrediting evolution is not the same as providing evidence for creationism.  If you show evolution to be false, you have done nothing to show creationism true whatsoever.  The scientific method doesn’t work like that.

    In other words, these books pretend to be amenable to science, but they end up changing the definitions of “science” and “the scientific method” (at minimum) in order to make it appear as if this is true.  They have to pretend that there are only two alternatives to answering the question, and that discovering the correct answer can be accomplished through debate and pleasing rhetoric.

    Aaron Peercy: Evolution is based not on an atheistic worldview, but on the scientific method.

    True.  Evolution makes no statement about God one way or the other.  The best one can do is to say that evolution is agnostic about the involvement (or existence) of God.

    But that has no impact on whether or not evolution is true.  Television repair is just as agnostic.  But we can still repair televisions with surprising regularity.

  • Aaron

    Hey, well said comment.

    Would you mind editing though to remove my full name? I made the mistake of posting this a while ago, and I’m trying to go back and fix this posts of mine for privacy.

    Thanks,

    Aaron

  • WingedBeast

    About Evolution.

    I think the big beef Creationists have with Evolution is that, for a very long time, the question of “how is it that we came to exist as we do” had only one answer.  To be faithful, you could be a believer, but to be reasonable, you at least had to be a Deist.  Not that there weren’t atheists, but the idea of us coming to exist in our current state without the direction of God in the view of the general public was a non-starter.

    Then comes Evolution.  Evolution, among other things, knocks God off of the default status.  Creationists seem to think that, if only Evolution would go away, God would be the default status again.

    Of course, they also seem to think of Evolution as a theory that applies to anywhere the God of Gaps could also preside.  It’s a view of Evolution not as a theory of the change of characteristics in a population over generations, but Evolution as the Theory of Not God.

    Most atheists in America will have had the experience of someone trying to prove to us that God exists by disproving Evolution.  Some of us have responded by saying “okay, I stipuate that evlution is false, now prove God” and getting no intelligible response.

    Whatever damage to faith the Theory of Evolution has done is already done and the bell can’t be unrung.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Whatever damage to faith the Theory of Evolution has done is already done and the bell can’t be unrung.

    I’m not sure why the ToE is supposed to ‘damage’ faith at all.

    “And the king said to the squire: “THAT WHICH CAN BE DESTROYED BY THE TRUTH, SHOULD BE!””

  • WingedBeast

    It damages faith from a Creationist POV by making God no longer the default proposition for any answer.

    “Why do humans have four fingers and a thumb on each hand?”

    Answer that used to be the default.  “The Creator wanted it that way.”
    Other possible answer now.  “We evolved from fourlegged ancestors with a need for power multipliers, turning capacity, and stability proferred by the four fingers.  As our ancestors evolved in the trees, longer fingers allowed for stronger grips and longer thumbs made more stability of grip.”

    Notice how that other possible answer doesn’t even mention God.  We can argue God’s necessity in other aspects of life, but now God is an unneeded hypothesis for any explanation.

    “Why do humans walk upright?”  “Evolution.”
    “Why does Spring follow Winter?”  “Earth’s tilting axis.”
    “Why does the earth exist in the first place?”  “Accretion discs around a forming star.”

    I think that Creationists and other RTCs view the ToE as harmful to faith becuase, whether true or not, they see ToE as the first usurpor of God’s position of “ultimate explanation.”  Most can’t complain too much about things like Germ Theory, but for some odd reason there is a Flat Earth Society.  So, every science that has to be wrong in order for their personal God to be right is labled Evolution.

    Go ahead, do a search, you’ll find creationist websites denouncing “Geological Evolution” and “Celestial Evolution” as well as conflating Evolution with Abiogenesis.

  • Joshua

    It damages faith from a Creationist POV by making God no longer the default proposition for any answer.

    “Why do humans have four fingers and a thumb on each hand?”

    Answer that used to be the default.  “The Creator wanted it that way.”

    Well, yes, maybe. Maybe it’s just the limitations of my knowledge, but I’m unaware of people actually doing that much prior to modern science.

    Church authors, which I have studied to some reasonable depth in the 0-500 period at least, were perfectly able to distinguish those kinds of questions as being outside their area. The most relevant quote I can think of is the St Augustine one quoted here before a number of times, to paraphrase in modern terms, “The Bible doesn’t teach us the answers to scientific questions [in particular, I think it was the shape of the earth or something], and to claim it does just makes us look like idiots to those who are educated in that area.” Since he was motivated to say that, I guess there must have been some Christians with a tendency to say otherwise, but I don’t recall reading any.

    Pre-scientific natural philosophers, on the other hand, seemed to more often take their cue from the body of Greek learning. They didn’t, to my knowledge, rely on a literal understanding of the Bible because a literal understanding of the Bible is a modern invention. Maybe Galileo would disagree with me, but he did live in a very extreme time and place.

    So I don’t think, on the whole, that “God did it” was really the default answer before Darwin. People back then were plenty smarter than that.

  • WingedBeast

    Two important nits to pick.

    1.  We have to understand the difference between the intelligencia and the educated, which in St Augustine’s time was quite the minority, and the general populace.  In many ways, the mythological was still the default answer to the average subject.

    You know that supersticion about throwing salt over your shoulder?  It spawned from a belief that spilling something as pure as salt would call the attention of a demon.  The way to respond was to take some of the salt in your right hand and toss it over your left shoulder.  The left hand side being the sinister side, it was the one where demons and evil hung out.  That, by the way, was why even the educated higher classes punished children who wrote with their left hand.

    We can speak on the leaders and the nobility and that Ceasar and his advisors most likely didn’t literally believe that man controlled fire due to Prometheus.  But, to the average peasant who’s education is derived entirely from parents, apprenticeship, and what a friend of a friend once said to him.

    2.  We are talking about RTC perception here.  Most Creationists look to the 1950s and think it was great because of everybody knowing their place, as opposed to the New Deal and public works projects.  They also look to a percieved time, whether or not this time actually exists, in which their own faith was the center of all society, a time in which they fit in and weren’t oppressed by people taking prayer out of schools.

    We can debate a lot of the reality of Evolution, in both its scientific understanding and the history thereof, but there’s no doubting that it has a mythology built up around it.  That mythology started right from the beginning, when things like “accelerated evolution” entered fiction.

    For a great many, of which Creationists aren’t the only members, Evolution has a reputation as the “Theory of Atheism”.  A part of that mythology is a world of believers where the only dangers around were witches, devil worshippers, and heathen Tribes before something even more evil than wrong beliefs swept the land, nonbelief, which, by the mythology, swept in on a philosophy that tells that we are animals and, therefore, there’s nothing wrong with anything.

  • Joshua

    Well, for (1) it looks to me like you’re arguing from negative evidence. Your “average peasant” didn’t leave written works behind for us to be able to understand their attitudes. The written evidence we have, at least that I have read, indicates that ancients were plenty smart enough to notice when mythology is being misapplied to answer questions that it couldn’t. Sure, that evidence only covers a small fraction of the total number of people we’re talking about, but as is so often the case in ancient history, the small fraction you get is better than nothing at all.

    And sure, your average peasant may have had a more simplistic understanding of things than those who wrote works that were widely read and copied, but I would be extremely surprised if they resembled RTC attitudes today much at all. What’s a simple and obvious understanding of a myth can differ greatly between cultures, and does differ greatly between any post-Enlightenment culture and any pre-Enlightenment culture.As for (2), your use of phrases like “used to be” and “no longer” led me to think that you were talking about how Christians really did think prior to Darwin, not how RTCs imagine it to be. The two couldn’t be more different – RTCs in my experience are no better at history or theology than they are at biology. So maybe we are talking at cross-purposes here.

  • Joshua

    I actually had more line breaks in there, but they seem to have disappeared. Must be the gnomes in the computer again. Sorry.

  • WingedBeast

    Honestly, where it’s coming from is a little from option A and a little from option B.  It’s partly what I think of the general “ignorant villager” stereotype.

    One thing we do know from more recent observation as well as writings of the literate about the peasants of the middle ages is that literacy was in the minority.  A smaller village was likely to have a scribe handle things like the reading and writing of communications, but even that scribe was unlikely to have access to anything so grand as a library or any of the musings on the origins of life.

    That said, whatever the reality of religious domination prior to Darwin, it’s both exagurated and idealized inside the minds of Creationists.

    The reality is that the basic ideas of natural selection had been considered by many minds prior and Darwin just got to be the name for evolution because of some lucky timing.  Evolution was bound to come out with one name or another.  The evidence was there and the thinking that looked at God and said “I do not need that hypothesis” was present before the ToE made it’s breakout.

    But, what we’re talking about is partly the reality and partly the mythology that goes into a common Creationist website.

  • Anonymous

    Living in the Midwest I see the effects of global warming on a daily basis. I have fought very hard to keep the subject of “creationism” out of our schools. When it comes to injecting newborns and infants with bolus doses of a short-chain alkyl mercury compound, that’s where you lose me. 

  • Michael Busch

    Two points, because this thread is focused on the need to acknowledge reality:

    1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal_controversy  Enough said about that.

    2.  The Gardasil HPV vaccine that Bachmann has been lying about is given to patients between the ages of 9 and 25, with preference given to vaccination by age 12 to vaccinate everyone well before they become sexually active.  And it doesn’t contain thiomersal, or any other mercury-bearing compounds.  Once again Wikipedia has done the research for me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardasil

  • Michael Busch

    It is true that Bachmann is now distancing herself from her statements during the Repulican presidential debate, after being called out on them, saying that she “had no idea” if what she had said was true.  But that doesn’t make her saying them in the first place justified.

    I am particularly annoyed about the anti-vaxxer nonsense, since I experienced pertussis in grade school (that vaccine isn’t 100% effective, and small clusters still occur).  A week spent coughing and drinking foul-tasting erythromycin solutions on a regular basis is a powerful lesson in the virtues of preventative medicine.

  • Anonymous

    I never said Gardisal contained mercury. What I’m refering to is the 12 mercury injections administered in the 1990’s to children at birth, 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age. That’s when my flag was raised. Gardisal uses aluminum as an adjuvant which is another story in itself. This was in the placebo for all safety studies. Get it? There have been over 23,000 adverse events reported with Gardisal. Over 9,000 required emergency hospitalization. Over 100 cases of encepholapathy (brain damage) have been reported. Mental retardation may have been the wrong words to use but it’s not much different than permanent brain damage. In case you missed it, it was recently reported that out of 20,000 cases of whooping cough reported in California last year, over 92% of cases were in fully vaccinated 8-12 year olds. I’m sorry you got whooping cough but I think your’re barking up the wrong tree. Wikipedia? Are you kidding me?

  • Michael Busch

    I use Wikipedia as a reference because its editors have done a very complete job of researching both of these topics.  The Wikipedia articles themselves are nowhere near as important as the sources that they reference.

    As I said, Wikipedia’s coverage of theomersal is quite complete, and there is no point in my repeating the evidence for why it does not cause any known harm.

    I am quite aware that whooping cough cases happen primarily among children who were vaccinated.  That’s simply because the vaccine is not 100% effective.  But it is effective enough for herd immunity to prevent epidemics, and so I was part of a cluster of maybe six kids rather than the entire population of my elementary school.  Alas that I am too old to have escaped chicken pox, but I am very grateful that I did not have to experience measles or mumps.

    And, most importantly: using Wikipedia’s terminology: CITATION NEEDED on all of your statements above on Gardisal.  Using the references in the Wikipedia article, which again is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardasil :

    -Gardisal contains _aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate_ as an adjuvant to improve immune response to the vaccine.  This is the same technique as is used in many other vaccines, and no interactions or disease associations have been demonstrated beyond increasing the vaccines’ effectiveness (although the use of some aluminum salts as adjuvants have recently been proposed to increase the risk of autoimmune disorders later in life, there is no adequate demonstration of this – and I now reach the limits of my knowledge of biochemistry).

    -Out of 23 million doses Gardisal doses administred between June 2006 and December 2008, 12421 adverse effects were reported through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.  The only effects that were greater than background rates were fainting and venous embolism.  While several tens of patients have died after receiving the vaccine, those deaths cannot be causally connected to the shot, since that rate was indistinguishable from background.

    -All of the above means that no deaths, and also no serious side effects, can be attributed to Gardisal.  Not even those patients who died from embolism can be attributed to the vaccine, although there were more embolisms overall.  The data back up Merck’s advertising: Gardisal prevents cancers, and saves lives.

    And now I am done, since I doubt Fred would appreciate my completely derailing his comment threads.

  • Rikalous

    And now I am done, since I doubt Fred would appreciate my completely derailing his comment threads.

    Derailing comment threads is the second most popular Slacktivite activity, barely edged out by ovine murder.

  • Anonymous

    Not all mercury is equal. Much like how small amounts of methyl alcohol will kill you, while equivalent amounts of ethyl alcohol do essentially nothing; Ethyl mercury is essentially harmless, while methyl (The kind that was never in vaccines) is quite deadly.

  • Mergle

    In case you missed it, it was recently reported that out of 20,000
    cases of whooping cough reported in California last year, over 92% of
    cases were in fully vaccinated 8-12 year olds.

    Okay, that you seem to be using this to suggest that vaccines aren’t effective/shouldn’t be used is a actually really good example of why we need to work on teaching people how to use their basic math skills together with critical thinking to understand real-world problems. We don’t do a good job of that at all, which is a shame, and probably is at least _part_ of why these misunderstandings persist.

    Let’s say we have a disease, badatunderstandingproportionsitus. It’s a sufficiently common disease that unvaccinated, 50% of the population will get it in their lifetime. However, say vaccination reduces the lifetime chance of infection to 5%.*

    Suppose we have one million people, and 92% are vaccinated. We expect that of the 920,000 vaccinated people, 5% or 46,000 will contract badatunderstandingproportionitus in their lifetime. On the other hand, of the 80,000 unvaccinated people, 40,000 will contract the disease.

    That means that over half of the cases in the population occur in vaccinated individuals, even though there’s a massive reduction in risk conferred by the vaccine.

    I pulled these numbers out of a hat so we could look at a simple example and see how only knowing what percent of infections occurred in the vaccinated population does not give you a very good idea of how much benefit we get from vaccinating the population.

    *(This is not the same as saying the vaccine is 95% effective, mind you — that number is computed based on how the vaccine reduced risk relative to the control population. In this example, VE=(.5-.05)/.5×100=90%)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    A week spent coughing and drinking foul-tasting erythromycin solutions on a regular basis is a powerful lesson in the virtues of preventative medicine.

    Even better? Cracked ribs, detached corneas or blown blood vessels. All occasional side effects of the pertussis cough. (That and the death)

  • Emcee, cubed

    Maybe it is just me, but I don’t see an ethical or a practical difference between “telling people something you know to be untrue to make them believe it” and “telling people something you know to be untrue because they want to believe it.” Defining whether a person is a liar or not by how his audience reacts to the truth doesn’t make any sense.

    Barton & Ham are not politicians, pundits or laypeople. They claim to be experts in their field. They need to be very familiar with their fields to put out what they do. But if they are familiar with those fields, they couldn’t come to the conclusions they do. So either they are lying about being experts, or lying about their conclusions.

    This is no different from the guy that Al Franken pwned during the Senate hearings, who claimed that a study showed that same-sex couples were bad parents. The “expert” was redefining “nuclear family” as “family with opposite-sex parents”, when the actual definition posted in the study was “family with two natural and/or adoptive parents”, which included same-sex parents. Yes, a layperson or someone unfamiliar with the study might make a mistake like that. But this was supposed to be an expert who was testifying before Congress. And definition of terms is one of the most important parts of reading any study. That makes the odds of it being a mistake much smaller, and much more likely that he was, in fact, misrepresenting the facts, or lying.

  • Emcee, cubed

    When it comes to injecting newborns and infants with bolus doses of a
    short-chain alkyl mercury compound, that’s where you lose me.

    Because using fancy words and scientific terms is scary? Because other than that, there has been no evidence of it being a bigger problem than what it is solving.

  • JosephU

    Erroneously,
    the article says:
    “Creationism is indefensible on the evidence. The facts are against it.”
     
    Q. What does the Biblical creation account say?
    A  The Biblical creation account tells us that God created all the various plants and animals”according to their kinds” (1)
     
    Q. What does the scientific evidence say? What does Cutting-Edge Science tells us?
    Cutting-Edge Science tells us:
    – Molecules-to-man evolutionism violates the Law of Biogenesis:  Life does not come from non-life.
    – The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome doesnot increase
      spontaneously.    Therefore,
      there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales,
      or chimpanzees (or any other supposed common ancestor) into human being.” (2)
    The Biblical creation account and Cutting-Edge Science are in agreement:Creation … Yes.Evolution … No.
     
    References:
    (1) Genesis 1,2 etc.     http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=according+kind&qs_version=NIV1984
         http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%201,%202&version=NIV1984
    (2) What Does Cutting-Edge Science Teach about OriginsFromCreation Doctrine
    http://www.kolbecenter.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83:creation-doctrine&catid=19:creation-doctrine&Itemid=81What Does the Catholic Church Teach about Origins?http://www.kolbecenter.org/images/kolbe/pdfs/what_church_teaches.pdf

  • Anonymous

    If “Cutting-Edge Science” says so, surely you have some studies that prove it. Let’s say, five of them. You cite ’em, I’ll read ’em. Meanwhile I’ll just link you to talkorigins.org and call it a day.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    JosephU has been posting almost the *exact* same comment on blogs all over the shop for months. Either a bit or an extremely limited creationist.

  • Anonymous

    Wait, wait, there are Catholic young-earth creationists? *boggle*

  • Rikalous

    – The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome does not increase spontaneously. Therefore, there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales, or chimpanzees (or any other supposed common ancestor) into a human being.”

    One drink!

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fun:Creationism_Drinking_Game

  • Guest

    Again, the issue here is not questions of belief in things which simply
    have not been proved. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe in something
    despite a lack of compelling proof or evidence that it is certainly
    true.

    Why?

  • Parasum

     “His Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., contrasts “God’s Word,”
    timeless and eternal, with the fleeting notions of “human reason.””

    ## This is the mistake Saint Thomas Aquinas devoted a tidy slice of his work to fighting against. And if one writes him off as a benighted mediaeval with nothing to say to moderns or Evangelicals, the quoted words do not do justice to the Bible, which uses “human reason” constantly. Mr Ham’s “contrast” is torpedoed by his star witness, Scripture itself. Quite apart from being suicidal epistemology.  

  • Andrew Gale

    Abuse is not evidence. I have read over 50 responses to my inquiry “can anyone tell me when the law of bio-genesis was disproved.” I have yet to see a convincing answer to the question. Until you can disprove a scientific law, abusing someone who mentions it only shows you are rude and unscientific!