Science and Religion

July 10, 2009

There are two main views concerning the reason why Americans are so pathetically fucking delusional at the population level concerning the nature of objective reality, especially in relation to the history of the planet Earth.

One view is that the problem is that scientists and science teachers are no good at explaining science to laypeople and students, respectively. The other view is that the problem is that American society is grotesquely polluted with patently absurd wackaloon religious bullshit from top to bottom, stem to stern, and port to starboard.

If you buy in to the former, then you concern troll scientists and science educators and tell them that they are DOING IT WRONG. If you buy in to the latter, then you implacably debunk patently absurd wackaloon religious bullshit everywhere you see it.

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25 Responses to “Science and Religion”

  1. bikemonkey Says:

    You must be one of those AngRy New AthEistz who are offending the good burghers of middle America. You should stop inflaming them and try to bring them along by using the proper framing of your wackaloon theocratic neofuedal douchescrote critique.

  2. LostMarbles Says:

    If you just politely told them teh faktz of SCIENCE don’t make their beliefs sound that absurd then we’d all be able to sit around having tea with cakes and everyone would love scientists. It’s not like I want people understand science or be skeptical, as long as they just accepted that evolution/global warming/”vaccines are good” is true I’ll be happy.


  3. Hm, I always understood the problem to be that America has total freedom of religion, encouraging anyone dissatisfied with their current worship setup to find, or create, another. So anyone who rejects, say, the Church of England in England is (historically speaking) stuck with atheism or second-class religions, but anyone who rejects, say, Methodists in America is free to start up the Church of the LDS….and win.

    I suppose this isn’t at odds with Option 2.

  4. Nat Says:

    DrJMrsH – You just LOST THE ENTIRE STATE OF UTAH for the cause!

    UR DOIN IN WRONGZ!!!!!!!!

  5. KWombles Says:

    Third potential view and perhaps explains some of the wackaloon religious beliefs some people hold: there are people who are neither interested in objective reality nor able to comprehend it and so choose wackaloons because the wackaloons offer certainty.

    Not sure what you do with those folks, unless you go by the Catholic priest Bill Maher interviewed in Religulous: let ’em live and die witht their stupid ideas.

    Personally, I’m gonna fight the woo. Gently where gentleness is warranted and full out woo fighting warrior princess style where that’s warranted. But regardless, I’m gonna stand and say my piece against the woo.


  6. Anyone who subscribes to organized religion is of a mindset that will accept an unproven premise as fact and then try to fit all facts to conform to his or her worldview based on the accepted unproven premise.
    It has got to be incredibly hard, if not impossible, to teach such minds about objective evaluation of reality—a concept that is antithetical to the mindset.
    Most human beings have trouble resolving conflict, intellectual and philosophical. Throw in a frantic pace of life and lack of objective contemplation, the ego-driven resistance to accept that one may have been terribly mistaken about one’s fundamental beliefs, and some fear of hellfire and brimstone or other such wackadoodle yet intimidating notion, and you have a populace that goes “Fuck it. So the priest raped my child, but it was because God intended it that way when he created the earth 6000 years ago. Now where’s my Coors light and TV remote control?”

  7. becca Says:

    If you buy into both do you get to concern troll and debunk to your hearts content?

    Anoymoustache- the notion that there *is* an objective nature of reality is an umproven premise. See: Plato’s Cave. But that way lies utter agnosticism (i.e., madness, at least for most scientific OR religous types).

  8. Pennsylvaniac Says:

    Oh, please! Why can’t I buy in to both, and perform neither response?

    The same man who wrote “Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain” wrote Ode to Joy.

    I’ll bother educators and politicians, and placably debunk believers, when it amuses me to. Meanwhile, there’s a nice cold tumbler of vodka calling my name, and a grand show to watch. And if the ending’s tragic, well, like my mama used to say, tough shit.


  9. Lost Marbles: I’d prefer the other way, that people at least acknowledge the value of science and of inquiry and the valuelessness of just straight-up appeal to authority.

    Of course, evolution, global warming, and provax would generally follow.


  10. […] Science and Religion: There are two main views concerning the reason why Americans are so pathetically fucking delusional at the population level concerning the nature of objective reality, especially in relation to the history of the planet Earth. […]

  11. 'Tis Himself Says:

    Good fuckin’ explanation of the bullshit that is accommodationism. Trouble is, Chris Mooney won’t accept it because he’ll swoon after reading the second “fuck” and Matthew Nesbit won’t accept it because it’s not framed to his satisfaction.

  12. BeyondBelief Says:

    The people you describe in your first sentence I call “Stuffers.”

    http://seeingthinkingknowing.blogspot.com/2008/08/stuffers-and-stackers.html

  13. Oldcola Says:

    Look Comrad,
    If you think that you americans have the monopoly of fucking delusional population about the nature of objective reality you are dead wrong.

    We have a fair amount of that religious/superstitious crap in Europe. OK, less than you do maybe, but too much anyway.

    So, please, avoid those territorial restrictions, stupidity is universal.

  14. Kitty'sBitch Says:

    Uh…wow, I mean…How’d you do that?
    I think that’s the clearest, and most accurate distinction I’ve seen on the subject. That’s bloody brilliantly put. Why the hell didn’t I think of it?!!
    Perhaps because I’m not powered by Motherfucking Jameson?
    Yeah, that must be it.


  15. […] has offered a rant regarding the whole “New Atheist” versus “Accomodationist” debate that has […]

  16. Visitor Pass No. 667 Says:

    …wackaloons offer certainty.

    And superiority. Where else can you get certainty and superiority nearly instantaneously by merely saying “I believe.”

    –visiting from the Pharyngula headquarters

  17. John Says:

    According to the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,

    The central belief is that there is an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster, who created the entire universe “after drinking heavily.” The Monster’s intoxication was supposedly the cause for a flawed Earth. All “evidence” for evolution was planted by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, in an effort to test Pastafarians’ faith — a form of the Omphalos hypothesis. When scientific measurements, such as radiocarbon dating, are made, the Flying Spaghetti Monster “is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage.”

    The Pastafarian belief of heaven stresses that it contains a beer volcano and a stripper factory. Hell is similar, except that the beer is stale, and the strippers have STDs.

    “I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.”

  18. noodles Says:

    Dear John,

    I am offended by your parody of my religion. If you want to be a stoopid atheist and make fun of my religion that’s your bisness but parodying the Invisible Pink Unicorn (blessed be her pinkness) with a joke “invisible spaghetti monster” is just plain rude and very offensive.

    I want you to apologize.
    Apologize!

    By the way, the religion of the IPU (blessed be) is the most rational religion of all religions because it combines both science and faith. We know by science that the IPU is invisible because we cannot see her; we have faith that she is indeed pink. If you opened your heart to faith and used your rational mind to understand the science you wouldn’t be a stoopid atheist.


  19. You’re partly correct but a) there are indeed systemic flaws in science education and b) you don’t go deep enough.

    As Orwell noted 60+ years ago, science education has to be more than just teaching scientific facts such as the size of electrons and operation of lasers. It has to be about teach a way of thinking; a positive, scientific way of thinking, not just the absence of the supernatural. I went to a really fucking good grade school/middle school (Brooklyn Friends), and while we were taught good science facts, I was not taught carefully how to think scientifically. I had to learn that on my own.

    Working with a lot of scientists in my previous job, I’ve seen a lot of evidence that working scientists (not academics) are not really conscious of why they do a lot of things they do. They know, for example, they need a control group, but they don’t know why they need a control group. This lack of conscious understanding leads them to make obvious methodological errors, such as distributing animals to study groups (control group first) in the order they were inoculated with tumor-producing cells, thus failing to control for correlation with inoculation order, which is a proven effect.

    Orwell also asserts that the number of (non-Jewish) scientists who fled or resisted the Nazi regime was far lower than those in the humanist intelligentsia. Of course, that was more than 60 years ago, and he doesn’t cite any specific facts, but Orwell was fairly perspicacious and intellectually honest.

    It is quite possible that this particular flaw in science education is caused by the pervasiveness of religious superstition, but I suspect that an examination of science education in places where religion per se is weak would show the same flaw.

    You are, of course, correct that magical religious thinking permeates our culture, and is itself an enormous impediment to rational thought. But why? Is it simply a way of thinking that survives on inertia from our unenlightened past, a way of thinking that, if cleared out, will allow people to begin thinking rationally (or at least more rationally) about the problems of the world?

    I just don’t think it’s true: religion is not surviving only of its own inertia. Religion is being intentionally promoted with truly vast amounts of resources by completely rational people who understand that their own material interests are well-served by a poorly-educated and superstitious population.

    We’ve had skeptical challenges to religion for centuries, since the beginning of the Enlightenment, and in places such as Western Europe where the ruling class has been weak or not seen the value of religion, religion has rather quickly diminished. Where religion is entrenched and growing, it is doing so precisely because it is well-funded and well-supported, and (although every little bit helps) not just by the pennies of the deluded, exploited masses.

    (Remember, too, that in a bourgeois democracy such as our own, elected officials are not the ruling class: they are generally the representatives of the ruling capitalist class; almost as deluded as the masses, but loyal to their true masters.)


  20. sorry, s/b humanities intelligentsia


  21. What is Science?, 26 October 1945

    Notes on Nationalism, October 1945

    The Prevention of Literature, March, 1946 or 1947

    Orwell makes a strong case these irrational, unscientific modes of thought are not confined exclusively to the religious. The religious, of course, do deserve a lot of blame for creating and popularizing these modes of thought, but giving up God does not appear to entail giving up irrationality.

    I cannot lay too great stress upon this high ethical righteousness of the whole Oligarch class. This has been the strength of the Iron Heel, and too many of the comrades have been slow or loath to realize it. Many of them have ascribed the strength of the Iron Heel to its system of reward and punishment. This is a mistake. Heaven and hell may be the prime factors of zeal in the religion of a fanatic; but for the great majority of the religious, heaven and hell are incidental to right and wrong. Love of the right, desire for the right, unhappiness with anything less than the right — in short, right conduct, is the prime factor of religion. And so with the Oligarchy… The great driving force of the Oligarchs is the belief that they are doing right.

    — Jack London, The Iron Heel
    Quoted by George Orwell in his introduction to London’s Love of Life and Other Stories

  22. Isabel Says:

    “science education has to be more than just teaching scientific facts such as the size of electrons and operation of lasers. It has to be about teach a way of thinking; a positive, scientific way of thinking, not just the absence of the supernatural. ”

    I could not agree more with this statement.

    Also this education should start early, not waiting until high school. Kids should not just do experiments, they should design them, and critique them right from the beginning.

    You and Orwell really hit the nail on the head BB.


  23. Stephen Law has written about (participated in?) an effort to teach philosophy and critical thinking in primary schools in Great Britain. A notable effort.

    He’s also written a book, The War for Children’s Minds.

  24. Isabel Says:

    Interesting links, though philosophy may be even more of a challenge than science and evolution in primary grades. Anything that touches religion…

    I’m currently involved in an experimental curriculum aimed at very young children who come up with their own questions and decide how to test them (with gentle assistance of course) and collect and evaluate their own data, using the correct scientific terms at all times – and the results so far are mind-blowing.

    Of course the memorization of facts can not and should not be avoided in science. In many ways the most difficult part is going to be training the teachers – the kids are easy. My understanding is that there used to be a lot of NSF grants aimed at teaching science to K-12 teachers and that this funding has mostly dried up.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Y’all are so freakin’ stupid!!!


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