Monday, March 28, 2011

Evangelical Idiocy: The Death of America?

I've mentioned before that the question I get the most from family and friends is, "Why do you care so much about religion? Can't we just live and let live?"

Well, here's one of the reasons why I care: almost two thirds of Evangelical Christians are dangerously ignorant. (I want to call them dangerously stupid, but that would be too nice since it would relieve them of blame.)

A new poll about God and natural disasters revealed what I should have known already: Evangelical Christians are ignorant of science and technology. They believe things that can't possibly be true, and they vote. Not only do they vote, but some of them even get elected to positions with considerable power and responsibility.

Here is a sampling of this idiocy:
  • Six in ten white Evangelicals believe that hurricanes, floods and earthquakes are signs from God that the End of Times is almost here. They don't believe in global warming. They don't believe earthquakes are just normal geology.
  • A majority (53%) of white evangelicals believe that God punishes whole nations for the sins of some citizens.
  • Evangelicals believe that God is actively controlling the world, and that everything that happens is because God deliberately made it happen.
What does this really mean? These might seem like harmless beliefs to many Americans because we've heard things like this all our lives. We're desensitized. But these beliefs are dangerous. It means...
If if you're the one who is gay, I still get nailed by God's hurricane.

If you get divorced, I get hit with an earthquake.

If you are a Buddhist instead of a Christian, a tsunami will wash through my town and sweep away my children. I guess it sucks to be me. God is just doing his job.

Pollution and global warming don't matter because there's only a few years left. Dig up that coal! Drill, baby, drill! If we don't use it up, it will be gone. Use it or lose it!
These aren't jokes or exaggerations. This is what these people actually believe.

How can a modern democracy function if its citizens are ignorant about simple scientific facts that affect national policy? How citizens vote responsibly when their votes are based on superstition and myth?

Worse, these evangelicals proselytize a extensively to get converts. They're out to conquer the world. Right now we're still fairly safe from their idiotic ideas because they're a minority. The majority of Americans are still sane. According to the same survey, 58 percent of normal citizens see hurricanes and floods for what they are: a sign of global warming. Normal citizens also see earthquakes for what they are: rare but natural geological events caused by stress that builds up over centuries and is released abruptly.

But if evangelicals keep up their campaign to spread their ignorance, those numbers could erode. We could become a country with no future. We'd be a country whose citizens believe that long-range planning is silly and environmentalism goes against God's plans

We'd be a country in which gays, Jews and atheists were blamed for earthquakes, hurricanes and floods! Seriously.

So that's why I blog. I'm just one voice, but if we all do our part to resist this sort of darkness, together we can make a difference. We have to fight evangelicals and their agenda. Truth, education and science are their enemies. They grow and thrive in the darkness of ignorance, and they wither and die in the light of knowledge and truth. It's our job to shine a light into that darkness.

20 comments:

  1. Hi Craig,

    It’s been awhile since I’ve dropped by but it seems that, for the most part, we’ve been keeping up with the same stories. Interestingly enough, I found that we agreed entirely on the Idiot Newt Gingrich, for I have been saying the same things with all of my friends and family (he is an exceptionally ignorant and dangerous man). However, this particular blog caught my attention, for it really demonstrates our cultural default regarding religion; indeed, that most Americans believe that it’s not a bad thing at all. This is evidenced by the question “’Why do you care so much about religion? Can't we just live and let live?’" For me, the answer to this question is simple: religion places itself at odds with modern scientific findings, and the clergy are therefore forced to keep its members in a state of ignorance. But it’s not that simple because the average American’s provincialism has led to an astonishing level of cultural, scientific, historical, and even a Biblical dearth of knowledge. I say it’s not that simple because even if knowledge or facts which refuted religious beliefs were presented, it is still exceedingly unlikely that a religious person will change their position.

    Tragically, many Americans live a protected and limited reality, and, quite frankly, I see little difference between these religious Americans living in, say, Oklahoma, for example, and villagers somewhere in the Middle East or Africa. The end result is the same: blinkered, ignorant, and often dangerous people willing to do horrible things in the name of their God. What is worst of all? As America’s economic prowess continues to dwindle, the level of fervent and even violent religiosity will, I believe, only continue to increase. We see this beginning to happen even now especially with the rise of the so-called Tea-Party nutcases, and the plethora of ultra right wing governors forcing their free-market fundamentalist beliefs on their state constituents. But I think you’re essentially right, with a mentality of convert, leave, or be killed, America is quickly becoming a place you want to see in your rearview mirror…

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  2. Steve – Thanks for your thoughts, which are well reasoned as always. Our only point of disagreement is the part about the rear-view mirror. I suppose it could come to that, but I'm one of the optimistic bloggers who believes that knowledge will win in the end. The problem is that we live life day by day, but the cultural changes needed to rid America of the scourge of religious-based ignorance can take decades. It seems like we're standing still when in fact things are changing rather dramatically as seen from a historian's perspective.

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  3. You wrote: "According to the same survey, 58 percent of normal citizens see hurricanes and floods for what they are: a sign of global warming."

    I accept the science on climate change. I'd like to point out that this isn't accurate. There were hurricanes and floods even when the earth was cooler. Climate change makes them more severe, but it is not the root cause. Let's not give the wingnuts fodder for criticism.

    Other than that, great article.

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  4. You should reduce your fraction to 3 in 5 people. You don't want people thinking you are ignorant about math.

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  5. It truly freaks me out that these people live in the Dark Ages and they intent on making the rest of us join them there.

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  6. Anon – I use the more common six-in-ten because it's the proper way to do when writing about non-technical topics. When giving fractions of a population, I prefer to use tens or hundreds. "3 in 5" isn't too bad, but what if the closest fractional approximation was "11 of 17"? I'd much rather write "6 of 10", which is pretty close.

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  7. Anon – re: hurricanes and floods, you're right. I should have written "the increasing intensity of hurricanes and floods" and mentioned other signs of warming like the disappearance of glaciers and the Arctic ice pack.

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  8. You people are the ones with the limited minds seriously.
    Find out what the true meaning of knowing God and read the bible first instead of listening to evangelicals quacks and finding ways to tear people down

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    1. THE BIBLE???????yours must have been written by someone different than mine.the bible is stupidity at the very best ,ignorance of the day ,its crap,nonsensical bullshit,1600 hundred years of manipulation regarding events that never occured.thats clear from available info or data from early rome, most serious theologians are aware of the utter garbage of their positions.you know the true meaning of knowing god? youre special,fantasy island is comfortable for u apparently.im just guessing you were born into your religion,so you can play the victim if u need to.child abuse ,slavery,genocide,patricide,infantacide,women shut up,happy be those that daseth their little ones against the stones,,,,,great childrens book.youre an idiot if u revisit the sins of your past(your religion) on your kids.not a fit parent.at least get an education instead of choosing ignorance.if not for you for your country......

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  9. Actually, you are still wrong. There is no evidence that hurricanes and floods are increasing in intensity or, if they are, that this is the result man-made climate change. I wholeheartedly believe that we are changing the climate of the planet by pumping carbon into the atmosphere. I am however entirely skeptical of anyone who conflates correlation with causation, and people who believe that they can predict the future using mathematical models of complex systems.

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  10. The picture you are painting seems to have its history flipped on its head.
    "How can a modern democracy function if its citizens are ignorant about simple scientific facts that affect national policy? How citizens vote responsibly when their votes are based on superstition and myth?"
    I'm not entirely clear what you mean by modern democracy. But, historically, every democracy has existed with these influences. If you mean contemporary democratic society, the answer is, i imagine, we don't know. We are in the process of finding that out.
    I'm also not sure what the simple scientific facts you're referring to are. The post suggests something in the realm of climatology or meteorology. Regarding higher order constructs, built on the bases of rigorous empirical observation, as fact can serve as quite an impediment to scientific progress. It would perhaps be more advisable to describe these as the most empirically viable models that experts in these fields have constructed. Of course, that is much more clumsy and not nearly as rhetorically effective. But, then again, being intellectually responsible sometimes demands that we not deign our arguments to the level of our opponents.
    Cheers

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  11. Anon – regarding "modern democracy", the keyword here is "modern." There has never before in history been such a strong conflict between creationism and scientific progress. Until Darwin, scientific discoveries were interpreted as as confirming God's greatness. Sure, there were episodes of conflict, the most famous being Galileo Galilia's arrest and trial regarding the geocentric theory of the universe. But for the most part, science and religion were compatible.

    Once Darwin came along, the very foundations of religion were threatened. The Theory of Evolution is utterly incompatible with a literal, or even semi-literal, interpretation of the Bible. Because of this, religious fundamentalism has become the enemy of scientific progress. And because so much of our society rests on science and technology, religion has become the enemy of social progress too.

    You're right that religion has accompanied democracy throughout history. But Darwin's publication of Origin of the Species in 1859 changed the rules. Religion is now the enemy of progress.

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  12. I understand fundamentalism, when applied to christianity, as an ideology that adheres to key dogmas, including a rigid interpretation of biblical inspiration, one which engenders a-historical literalism. Given that interpretation, I agree that " . . . fundamentalism has become the enemy of scientific progress."

    I'm not sure I can make the move from this very specific case to the seemingly unbounded claim that "Religion is now the enemy of progress." While I agree there is something appealing about this argument, I cannot regard it as a defensible thesis.

    It gather that our epistemological views on science differ considerably. You regard science as a means of ascertaining the true nature of reality. I agree that this view, a thoroughly materialistic view, is antipodal to religious belief.

    However, this is not the only held view of science. Many consider science to be capable of being little more than a heuristic method, a way to develop simplifying constructs that model observed phenomenon.

    Of course, this view is not very popular among many within the scientific community. It is regarded as an affront . . . contradictions to one's conceptual framework are generally interpreted in this way.

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  13. Mr. James,
    I do not posses a Kindle, however, I am anxious to read your work.

    You refer to Evangelical Christians as ignorant, and thus dangerous... I could not agree more. What is really frightening to me is the most recent, and most obvious, attempt to correlate the dynamics that is the fallible human ability of blind faith to religious dogma espoused in the pulpit and the elevation of stature of this Nations "Forefathers" and the factually incorrect interpretation of their intent and vision for this country. The same set of practices used to keep the faithful tithing is being used to glean votes in the political arena. I believe that this form of manipulation has always been present in one form or the other, with its most recent manifestation being the Tea Party.

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  14. Reading these comments always saddens me to see that nobody has seen the actual root cause of whats wrong with religions and the doctrines/dogmas they support.
    Looking at the bible in depth exposes the glaring manipulation of the human mind.
    In any society throughout history, leaders of nations have laid out social laws that mete out punishment for 'wrongdoings' that range from scoldings to death penalties, genocide and suicide bombings.
    Reading the bible shows that religion is entirely man-made in its laws and metaphorical references, as well as the violence it portrays.
    None of this matches the'picture' of a god who is supposed to be all loving and all forgiving.
    None of that matches up at all.
    To have 'faith' in a religion is the same as pretending and make believe. There is no basis in facts.
    I agree with your stupid vs. ignorant labeling which shows the 'racehorse' view of the world.
    How different our onstitution would be if our forefathers had known about the science we have now or mac-10s and uzis or political correctness. As long as we claim we are a 'god based' nation we are doomed to fail.
    The 'god of the sun,moon and stars' is gone.
    Zeus and thor are no longer.
    Modern religion must also follow, and its the bible itself that will be the deadweight.
    especially when we pretend that there are 'good muslims' and 'bad muslims' which is contradictory to whats in the quoran which shows that all muslims are potential killers just waiting for a reason to lash out.
    And to put ANY religious zealot such as Rick Perry in the white house is just part of the perpetual circle of idiocy. Do we really want someone like him with his hands on the buttons of armageddon? Until we step out of the grasp of 18th century thought processes and let the religiosly blinded fools slide into history, we will always have the 'politically correct' problems we have now.

    Global warming is inevitable whether we exist or not. It happened before humans..and will happen after we are gone. How much we change its velocity is negligable. That does not mean we should give up on making things cleaner and better, but not at the alarm level it is at now.
    At some point we will find an alternative source of energy that is economical enough to replace fossil fuels. but we are not there yet...not even close.
    But we will survive...and the farther out into the universe we look with our primitive minds and means, the more we will learn about ourselves.
    Just wake up...and look around yourself.
    MC

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    1. george the retard tried to remove the wall between church and state. we gave millions to the taliban for religious reasons.are we stupid????

      atheism should be a requirement for public office

      religion must die for humans to live(billl maher)

      it may be to late for the planet,because of religion(republican)

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  15. Evangelicals are the result of drug addiction having destroying brain cells.

    Evangelicals should not be allowed to reproduce.

    Evangelicals should not be allowed to purchase guns.

    We need to lock up evangelicals in large work camps.

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    1. evangelicals should not be allowed to hold public office

      all religion has to be taxed


      the 47 % ,the clergy must be in that group that doesnt pay taxes

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  16. I have a few Evangelical neighbors who want to see the United States bomb just about every country we have a diaagreement with. During the Bush administration, it was actually France. There is something wrong with these people at the core level. Stupidity isn't a strong enough word for them.

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    1. Since the Constitution mandates the separaton of church and state, I would love to know wht there is billions if not trillions of dollars worth of religious property not on the tax rolls. Tax all property the same and a great deal of our deficit goes away.
      Also because of the above, the rest of us pay more in taxes to make up for the taxes not collected on all the property. Some Athiest should sue.

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