There’s a wave of anti-science spreading over the internet, and it reveals a quirky aspect of human behavior I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around.
Take the animosity towards Dr. Fauci and other scientific professionals trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Or the attempts to discredit the data originating from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDD).
There is also a lot of anti-intellectualism being posted on social media. Such as the conspiracy theories swirling around Bill Gates, the Clintons, and other successful individuals.
Anti-intellectualism is actually quite common throughout history. It is typically found in authoritarian regimes when conservative hardliners ostracize the “liberal elites.” Americans have largely been spared from this kind of bigotry, but lately it’s been creeping into the mainstream in the form of hatred towards successful entrepreneurs, the Hollywood crowd, artists, educators, and writers to include journalists of the free press.
To put all this in sophisticated street lingo: Why do some people want to denigrate the advancement of their own species?
This got me to thinking … Are there other animal species in which certain members hate other members of their groups, or who otherwise exhibit destructive behavior towards members who might actually be helping their own species to survive?
Take chimpanzees. Our DNA is almost 99% similar to chimpanzees.
These primates are so remarkably similar to humans that according to the African Wildlife Foundation chimpanzees:
- may kiss when they meet
- hold hands with each other
- use medicinal plants
- share babysitting chores
- plan for anticipated events
And according to Treehugger.com they even create sex toys.
So, what happens if we apply a scene from the movie series Planet of the Apes to our closest cousins the chimpanzees? Do you suppose that lurking within chimpanzee groups there are actually elite chimpanzees? Perhaps those we might consider to be the educators or inventors of new tools? Or, chimps that spend a lot of time trying to make life better for their community? And might we even call these liberal chimpanzees, champanzeeists; the equivalent of today’s humanists?
What is a chimpanzeeist? Well, it is …
“A chimpanzee who believes in the inherent goodness of his fellow chimpanzees. It comprises those chimps which exude a profound sense of optimism in the advancement of their species without supernatural intervention. Chimpanzeeists, also exhibit a keen interest in the welfare, values, and inherent rights of all members of their species regardless of fur tint, forest of origin, or tree genus from which they hang.”
Yes, this is a ludicrous analogy – but not nearly as appalling as the fact that there are many “humans” now living among us who despise liberals, and who are also actively engaged in sabotaging the efforts of those working to advance the human race.
What is to blame for all the contempt unleashed towards humanists, scientists, journalists and entrepreneurs who have the audacity to believe that humans possess the power to build a better world?
Religious beliefs certainly have a lot to do with it.
Specifically, the deeply rooted, pessimistic notions about the nature and role of humans on this planet.
I can’t speak for all religions, only the Abrahamic traditions, but I can easily condense the biblical worldview of life down to three cynical components:
- that individuals are born evil
- that humanity itself is corrupt and can do nothing to build a better world
- that the earth is cursed, and the point in life is to escape our earthly existence
Given this worldview, it is easy to understand how those who hold to these ideals might be distrustful towards their own fellow citizens who are engaged in building a better world without a belief in God.
The second reason I would highlight are the political influences driving the contempt for science we are now experiencing, especially in regard to eradicating the coronavirus. And here as well, we need only acknowledge the role that religion is playing in conservative politics.
In the most simplistic of terms, the Republican party is taking the hand’s off approach in solving COVID-19. I’m thinking … the conservatives are thinking … the coronavirus is surely an act of God. As such, we are not responsible for it and there is little we can do to make the situation better. So, we best not mess with science too much, lest we be guilty of interfering with God’s best laid plans.
The dynamics are much more complex, of course, but you get the gist of what I’m concluding.
The views of human nature consistent with the biblical beliefs I describe above, play a key role in causing people to distrust science, to express contempt for humanists and other liberals, (and when utilized by a political party to influence policy), can do much harm to the wellbeing and longevity of the human race.