In a Newsweek opinion peice from September 27th, writer Lisa Miller, “argues against the atheists”. The column is called “Belief Watch”, and Miller’s apologetic scribblings do the vacuous nature of religious belief complete justice. She begins by arguing that atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are unfamiliar with real believers.
First, if 90-odd percent of Americans say they believe in God, it’s unhelpful to dismiss them as silly. Second, when they check that “believe in God” box, a great many people are not talking about the God the atheists rail against—a supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs, who lays down inexplicable laws about sex and diet, punishes violators with the stinking fires of hell and raises the fleshly bodies of the dead.
When over fifty percent of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, what are we atheists supposed to think? If we include all Christians worldwide, particularly the ones in poorer Catholic and Eastern Orthodox nations, the percentage is probably much higher. This doesn’t take into account the non-democratic Islamic nations, where Western ideas are spat upon, and where basic education is limited to males, and where people are threatened into believing in the all-powerful Allah. So, the actual number of believers in an angry, vengeful, and intervening god is probably much much higher than even Lisa Miller cares to imagine.
Apologetics is a form of faith; it’s faith in faith. Miller finishes her paper-thin argument by hauling in the invisible sacred cow.
Submitting faith to proof is absurd. Reason defines one kind of reality (what we know); faith defines another (what we don’t know). Reasonable believers can live with both at once.
Reasonable believers? Can reason and faith coexist? And how can faith define the unknown? Isn’t the unknown, by its very definition, indefinable? Here, Miller’s mental gymnastics are Olympic quality. And most believers would likely take great offense to her reducing their unshakable faith to an algebraic X. Personally, I prefer to think of all faith simply as a Y.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rejected the Institute for Creation Research’s bid ” to offer an online master’s degree in science education”. Basically, the ICR’s credit is no good, and teachers who only have an ICR degree are not qualified to teach in public schools.
The Dallas Morning News
Citing the group’s teaching of creationism rather than evolution in its science curriculum, Dr. Paredes said it was clear the school [ICR] would not adequately prepare its graduates to teach the scientific principles now required in Texas public schools.
“Evolution is such a fundamental principle of contemporary science it is hard to imagine how you could cover the various fields of science without giving it [evolution] the proper attention it deserves as a foundation of science,” he said.
“Religious belief is not science. Science and religious belief are surely reconcilable, but they are not the same thing.”
How beautifully honest is that language? Raymund A. Paredes is the commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Most often government officials tap dance around evolution and creationism with soft appeasing words, so as not to offend anyone. An example is John McCain and his stupid fence sitting answer at last year’s Republican Debate. So I have to applaud Raymund for getting to the crux of the matter.
Credit also has to go to the Texas Citizens for Science.
Before the vote, the board heard comment from several persons, most of whom urged rejection of the proposal. Among them was Steven Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science, who said the ICR was a Christian ministry rather than a science organization that was primarily interested in promoting pseudoscience.
Pseudoscience doesn’t spread when good people do something.
Teacher: “OK class, who doesn’t know the difference between science and cheap emotional propaganda?”
Little Benjamin Stein: “I do, I do.”
Teacher: “Well, that ashame, Benjamin, because this is a science class, not Washington politics 101. Now go wait in the hall, you little loser.”
Little Benjamin Stein: “When my father hears about this, he’ll have Senator McCarthy put your Darwinist liberal commi ass in prison.”
Teacher: “Give it a rest, four-eyes. When it comes to Darwinian Evolution you’re confusing scientific knowledge with the misapplication or misunderstanding of that knowledge. Are you so stupid that you can’t see the difference? Or is nuclear science false because of its many possible, evil applications? Now stop telling lies about Charles Darwin and evolution, you little freak.”
Little Benjamin Stein: “Yes, teacher. I’m very sorry for wasting everyone’s time.”
Teacher: “Why don’t I believe you?”
Now, before your outrage at our title reaches apoplectic levels, please consider for a moment what we have to say. We chose a deliberately provocative title for two reasons, to grab your attention, and to make a serious point. Our point is that emotion has no place in determining scientific truth. A scientific theory is valid regardless of human emotions.
Some of the same bible thumping people who object to evolution also object to sex education in the public schools. The morning after pill is one major point of dispute. The pill (actually a series of pills) is a post-sex option for women who don’t want to get pregnant, but were irresponsible in not using contraception during the sex act. It is affective up to 36 hours after. The problem is that many anti-abortion groups call the morning after pill an abortion pill. It is not.
Just like when creationists make up lies about evolution, anti-abortionists have made up this whopping lie about the morning after pill. The fact is that sperm take up to 3 days to reach to the egg. Conception is not instantaneous. Sex is not like sinking a putt on a golf course. The morning after pill prevents conception. It doe not abort a fertilized egg. The pill is useless after 36 hours.
The real issue in both cases, anti-evolution and anti-abortion, is an atmosphere of anti-intellectualism spurred on by adherence to irrational religious beliefs. People are welcome to have their own opinions, to have their own religious beliefs, but not to make up their own facts. That is where the conflict occurs. When parents prevent their children from receiving sex education or biology education our whole society suffers. Those ignorant children grow up to be ignorant adults and uniformed voters. Reality is not evil, it just is. It’s what we do with reality which is evil.
Filed under Politics, sex