What a Bunch of Rubes

The contents of this post represent the opinions of JT Eberhard, not the Secular Student Alliance.

What does it say of Christianity that, when wielded by some people who are utter rubes, clueless about both history or science, that their belief in the absurd can trump actual intelligence in the eyes of the voting populace?  It says that Christianity does not place a premium on intelligence.

Rube #1: Rob Steven Lindsey of New Hampshire

New Hampshire House Bill 1148 would “require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”

In constructing legislation on science, it is obvious it never occurred to Lindsey to consult scientists.  Making decisions without asking people who know about the subject is behavior beneath a fry cook.  Yet lots of religious people thought this person had the cognitive capacity to help lead a state.  Thanks Christian community.

And he wants us to teach the ideological viewpoints of the people who came up with evolution?  Who gives a shit?  Galileo could have had sex with donkeys and kicked puppies for chuckles, he would still be right about heliocentrism.

And teach evolution as a theory – that’s precisely what it is.  Scientific theories are badass!  Also, teach gravity, heliocentrism, germ theory, aerodynamics, etc. as theories.  A scientific theory is as good as it gets, which is exactly what evolution is.

And I can imagine what a lesson on atheism would look like.  “Kids, atheism means you don’t believe in any gods.”  /end lesson

The second proposal in the New Hampshire House, HB 1457, does not mention evolution specifically but would “require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire [sic] results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.”

This is countered by Zen Faulkes, who won the award for Scientist with the Coolest Name in 2010, using language I fully intend to steal in the future.

“Bill 1457 turns skepticism into bewilderment,” said Zen Faulkes, a biology professor at the University of Texas, Pan America. “It would ask teachers to say to students, ‘Don’t commit to the hypothesis that uranium has more protons than carbon,’ or ‘Remember, kids, tomorrow we might find out that DNA is not the main molecule that carries genetic information.’ Evolution is as much a fact as either of those things, so it should be taught with the same confidence.”

Zing!

The theory of evolution has become a flashpoint for religious conservatives, many of whom argue that the idea of life evolving over billions of years clashes with Biblical beliefs.

It does.  Don’t get pissed that’s where the evidence points.  Change your mind.

I’m looking at you, rube #2, Gary Hopper.

Republican State Rep. Gary Hopper, who with his Republican district mate John Burt introduced HB 1457, told the Concord Monitor that the theory of evolution teaches students that life is nothing but an accident.

It was certainly the product of chance.  So was the formation of the earth.  So what?

“I want to introduce children to the idea that they have a purpose for being here,” Hopper told the newspaper.

Lucky for him, we don’t have to lie to kids about science for that to be true.  For instance, my purpose today will be to have a hibachi lunch with Michaelyn, watch Harry Potter 7.2, watch Cirque du Soleil (Alegria, w00t!), and go stargazing.  Those are all damn fine purposes that are not precluded by life diversifying over millions of years.

Now, it does put a real dent in the idea that humans are important in the grand scheme of things or that some celestial dictator has decided what our purpose should be, regardless of what we want for our own lives.  But who in their right mind wants that scenario to be true?  My life is my own, and I give power to what makes me happy.  So yes to pre-marital sex, yes to dancing, yes to sleeping in on Sunday.  No to suppressing physical desires, no to giving away 10% of my income to anything other than the groups I choose, and no to suppressing my desire to learn by swallowing the simplest story about talking snakes from a simple time and calling it wisdom.

Enter rube #3, Jerry Bergevin.

Jerry Bergevin, a Republican who introduced HB 1148, went further, telling the Concord Monitor that atheism was linked to Nazism and the 1999 Columbine school shooting.

Some people are arguing in good faith but are honestly mistaken.  They’re trying their best to figure out what is true and just slipped up and listened to the wrong person.  Those people deserve our time and care in making a solid contrary argument.

Then there are people like Jerry who need to be given the bird for flailing like a man on fire trying to pin the blame on disbelief in god for tragedies, derided for barricading their minds against the forces of information, and mocked when the spirit moves us.

“I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the idea to be presented,” Bergevin said. “It’s a worldview and it’s godless.”

Galileo.  Donkeys.

And evolution is not a world view any more than axial tilt is a worldview.  These people, considered by a sufficient number of Christians to be leadership material for them to get into office, wouldn’t recognize science if it bit them.  The greater crime is that they haven’t shown the first inclination to learn.  And for a belief system which tells us that being saved is all you need and that faith is all you need to be saved, what could be more Christian than that?

Salute to Donald Morton for the link.

  • BaisBlackfingers

    While your lesson on atheism is certainly correct, it might still leave kids wanting to know more. I suggest Steve Martin’s more thorough treatment of the differences between atheists and religious folk should be a mandatory part of the curriculum:
    http://youtu.be/EVMT8vq9zqM

  • kirk

    Another New Hampshire bill that has been talked about before was vetoed by the governor, but the House and Senate just overrode that veto today. So, it will soon become legal in New Hampshire for parents to object to any material used in the classroom and ask for alternatives:

    http://www.wmur.com/news/30132663/detail.html

  • mywall

    “including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism”

    Do they know about the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints? I mean, Darwin himself was given a burial in Westminster fucking Abbey, in the Victorian era, when Christianity and (what we would term) conservatism were near compulsory; if they’re aiming to scare people off the theory by linking it with the “evil godless” they’re in for a surprise.

  • Charles Sullivan

    Completely off topic, but please do the NFL bit this weekend (despite the demise of your Raiders).

    This gives you a chance to be a Steeler fan (along with me) when they destroy Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

    There are also other games too that weekend that any atheist can appreciate.


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