NLQ Question of the Week: Why is Established Science Ignored?

NLQ Question of the Week: Why is Established Science Ignored? July 9, 2015

QuestionoftheweekThis is a new series we have started running on Thursdays. Examining some of the questions involving long held Quiverfull theology and life.

Yesterday when I was reading through The Daily Mail’s interview with Advanced Training Institute/Institute of Basic Life Principles founder Bill Gothard and preparing to post it here I was struck anew by the complete denial of scientific thought in Quiverfull. Example: In last night’s posting Gothard claimed that the wrong kind of lust can damage the immune system and the endocrine system. There’s no science to back this up any more than his claims that the semen of a man who is not your husband will cause cancer. No science behind it.

Just like the claims of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar about birth control causing miscarriages. Nothing to back it up.

One of the biggest science fails on the part of many in the QF world is denial of global warming, pollution and climate change.

Why do you think it is that they ignore science to claim the wildest things?

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  • Friend

    They’re histrionic.

    It’s one thing to say “lust causes depravity.” So much more attention will come to the person who says, “Sperm other than your husband’s will give you cancer.”

  • Allison the Great

    Science proves them wrong. Religious Fundamentalism flourishes when there is little education and people are completely in the dark. That’s when the pastors and the homeschool moguls have their control. Religion was for a time when mankind didn’t have the answers. Now that we’re discovering more and more things about the world, the universe, who we are and how to heal diseases and so on and so forth, people are starting to look to science instead of religion. Denial of science helps keep people under the influence of religious fundamentalism by making them stupid and scared.

  • Nea

    Well, if you keep your audience ignorant enough, you can spout any kind of bullshit that sorta sounds sciencey and sell it to them as truth.

    I still want to know why Michelle Duggar’s first miscarriage was a conviction that she needed to become a Gothardite, but all the subsequent ones just kinda happened, what can you do?

  • Mel

    Bluntly, they don’t know much about science to start with. Relatively few people get college degrees in science fields – 10% in the US of graduates or 3% of the total population- and precious few of those degree holders decide to homeschool.

    Add in an anti intellectual bias and soon you’ve created Zsu with her claims that stevia causes miscarriages because 2 of her 4 miscarriages happened while she was using stevia as a sweetener.

    Or Gothard’s claim which I think is a badly garbled and twisted understanding of HPV causing cervical cancer. The original research noticed that cloistered nuns who volunteered to be studied for medical research had no cases of cervical cancer which was completely unexpected. This lead to a hypothesis that some sexual vector was increasing cervical cancer rates. Eventually, HPV was identified as a causitive agent. In broad terms, more sexual partners increases the absolute probability of contracting HPV which raises the probability of getting cervical cancer.

    The problem is that if your husband has HPV, the fact you are married isn’t going todecrease yyour probability of getting HPV or cancer.

  • willow

    I think some of it a security issue…combined with laziness, and some of it is a control issue. Environmental concerns can be disturbing and resolving them is hard work, but for the conservative: la-la-la-fingers-in-the-ears-it’s-not-real and *poof* I don’t have to think about it or deal with it. On the other hand, don’t want your daughter to have sex before marriage? Convince her she’ll get cancer if she does.

  • Rebecca Horne

    What confuses me isn’t when people deny science, but when they simultaneously deny it and appeal to it.

    You don’t think that the scientific method is worthwhile? Whatever…but you don’t then get to go on and make highly specific claims about the endocrine system.

    Why do you even BELIEVE in an endocrine system anyway?

    What do you think an endocrine system IS?

    How did you learn about it?

    Why did you decide it was a worthwhile thing to value?

    Why do you want other people to value it?

    This mindset is the embodiment of “this statement is false”.

  • I wonder how the uterus knows that the woman’s married. Are there nerves from the fingers to the uterus, that intuit some man “put a ring on it”? Is the sperm somehow communicating to the poor uterus that it’s all OK, because God sanctioned this? These are questions I would like Gothard to answer.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Heck, even the analytical thinking which underlies the Scientific Method is a threat to biblical literalism!

  • The first one was God’s way of pointing her in the right direction. The others were probably punishment for not submitting enough.

    I feel ill now.

  • Ruthitchka

    Wow. I didn’t know Bill Gothard was still making pronouncements and people were still reading them – not kidding about that. The last thing I had read about Bill G. was the whole scandal about him being very inappropriate with female employees. What is the wrong kind of lust? What is the right kind of lust? From what I’ve read elsewhere, Mr. Gothard was rather a lusty fellow himself. Interesting.

  • Antoinette Herrera

    Science, much like critical thinking, undercuts the Quiverfull demand of absolute trust and obedience. To men invested in patriarchal power, that’s anathema. They prefer to do without the competition.

  • Karen the rock whisperer

    In this context, science making scary assertions about behaviors is simply another way to construct behavior-controlling lies. Since people clearly aren’t influenced enough by the notion that God says such-and-such is wrong (at least, according to the interpretation of the would-be controllers), let’s call in another authority to influence them!

    It’s the bald-faced lying that really gets to me. It would be one thing to say that there is scientific evidence for avoiding X if that were true. For example, telling smokers that their actions are going to shorten their lives and increase their chances of being chronically ill, as a way to influence the behavior of smoking, is a legitimate thing because it is true. (Self-interest disclosure: being asthmatic, I prefer that people don’t smoke because of my interest as well as theirs.) Telling people that if it were NOT true, much as I would like them to not smoke, would be an unacceptable lie.

    Or at least, it would be an unacceptable lie to me. But then I’m a godless atheist who has no stake in Lying For My Deity. The thing is, even when I was a Christian, I was taught not to lie, so I know all religionists don’t do this. These jerks are giving the whole religion a bad name.

  • gimpi1

    I think it all started with their need to deny the basic principle of modern biology, evolution.

    If you can’t accept the elemental principle of how life developed on earth, then why not claim that birth-control pills will somehow cause future miscarriages or that a woman’s body magically “knows” her husband’s semen and can “shut down” semen from a rapist or give her cancer if she’s unfaithful. After all, since you don’t accept basic scientific principles, these things could be true. It all could be some sort of “Godly” interference that makes it happen. You can’t prove that it’s not true. (Except, of course, you can.)

    As to pollution and climate change, I think that’s more about group-loyalty than anything else. Conservative Christians have made common cause with the Republican party, which has also made common cause with businesses that pollute or harvest, develop or sell fossil fuels. Since Republicans are in general loath to accept anything that might harm their large donors bottom-line, they work very hard to deny the affects of pollution or climate science.

    I think many conservative Christians simply support the policies of their comrades because they are comrades, not because they’ve investigated them or even thought hard about them. Many conservative Christians are quite authoritarian and loyalty to the group or those who share your beliefs is considered an important virtue, even if you must disregard facts to display that loyalty. Facts are regarded as more the ornamentation you hang around your beliefs than the framework for them. People who aren’t authoritarian tend to put a much higher value on facts and see no virtue in denying reality to support your comrades or belief.

  • Julia Childress

    Fundies are black/white, good/evil thinkers. If everything in nature can be boiled down to science, then the universe is cold and uncaring, and our existence here ends at the point of death and is ultimately meaningless. God is unnecessary. So they create a mythology that puts God at the top, and man a “little lower than the angels” because their egos can’t tolerate the thought of their lack of importance. The Bible is the source of all Truth, and anything that can’t be proven empirically (and even some things that can be) is going to be viewed and interpreted through the Biblical lens. The truth of the Bible is more important than the truth of science, because the Bible is from God, and science is from man. (I say this as a Christian who believes that how we love others in this life is far more important than any reward that we may garner in an unknown afterlife.)

  • Jenny Islander

    I think that part of it is that the only argument that the fundamentalist mindset will accept is an appeal to or an assertion of authority. After all, their preachers declare any old thing and (because they are the Men of God) their authority must not be questioned. If that is how the world works, then an announcement of a new scientific finding, an article in a popular science magazine, and a textbook explanation of a long-standing theory must all be attempts by somebody to assert authority comparable to that of the Man of God (sic!). Debate is reduced to a contest of bullhorns; shouting stuff that can be tied to a clobber verse is the usual response to scientific argument. Since science-y sounding phrases are just attempts to assert authority, however, the same person who argues that science is a bunch of Godless nonsense may feel free to toss them around or claim scientific training that he or she does not have.

  • The_Girl_aka_Duke_Fleed

    “Why is Established Science Ignored?”

    Because it’s a system based on principles of faith. It’s about belief, not about evidence.

  • Ursula L

    Part of it may just be poor education. JimBob and Michelle only have high school educations, and their kids are being homeschooled by parents with that limited background. Plus, with so many kids, I doubt that either parent has had the time to educate themselves on anything much on their own.

    During the stress and sorrow of loosing a wanted pregnancy, it’s easy to misinterpret what the doctors are saying to you – that’s easy to do, even in ordinary illness, when you’re feeling unwell and may have your mind fogged by painkillers. And then the Duggars didn’t have the educational skills to learn better.