Christine O’Donnell, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved and Glenn Beck don’t believe in major parts of the mainstream theory of biological evolution. Since Crazy Chrissie opened up the subject in a recent senatorial debate, I’ve heard all three of the radio hosts defend her and deny cross-species evolution. Now, that’s a pretty central denial–they’re not just nit-picking around the edges.
I don’t think any of these three guys is stupid, but I have noticed that all of them seem to voluntarily give away IQ points when they start defending their religious beliefs. Especially Limbaugh–he’s truly a dunce on the subject, flailing away with the kind of equivocations and rhetorical strawman that you’d expect from a not-very-bright layman who’s really not all that interested in the subject of his own religion. I don’t know, but I suspect that Limbaugh’s piety is mostly lip service. It’s obvious Beck and Medved are sincere in their beliefs. Beck, especially, grapples pretty seriously with the issues. I think Medved is the brainest and certainly the most scholarly of the three, but not when he’s talking about religion.
Religious belief is psychodynamically similar to having loyalty to a sports team or, more gruesomely, to believing that there’s a holistic medicine out there that’s going to cure your cancer. Or maybe it’s like staying in denial about the clues that your spouse is cheating on you.
Religion appeals strongly to both hope and fear, salvation and damnation. The faithful are perpetually threatened with the consequences of being an unbeliever. For orthodox Christians, doubts about the truth of the Bible scare them like doubts about your spouse’s fidelity threaten your marriage.
It really is a horrible mind-fuck to tell people that if they “lose their faith” they’ll go to hell. So no wonder that religious people get a little clueless and obtuse whenever they wander near any of the evidence that their faith is wrong.
It’s dawned on me lately that this is why orthodox Christians get so nuts about evolution that they start making up patently absurd counter-thories like intelligent design. There’s nothing in the theory of evolution that fundamentally disproves their faith…but it sure does remove most of the necessity for their faith in explaining the world they live in.
Christians have gotten over similar assaults by science before, but never without lasting damage. It’s hard for us today to comprehend the psychological impact of the Copernican revolution. The church just seems nuts to have wigged out over Galileo’s defense of Copernicus. But try to empathize: You’ve believed all your life that it’s a scientific fact that the universe revolves around the earth. Ponder the implications for a moment. If the earth really is the center of the universe, isn’t it hard to doubt that there is something hugely important about human life? And don’t the teaching of the church do a pretty decent job of explaining that? If you’re still having a hard time picturing the emotional impact of the heliocentric theory on 17th century believers, think about the impact the theory of evolution had on 19th and 20th century believers. Once more the metaphysical rug has been pulled out from under them. Another feature of reality that they thought was mysterious has evaporated. It’s disorienting and who would give up such an important psychological comfort without a fight?
Another thing that’s just dawned on me lately is how rude it is for the orthodox unbeliever establishment to shove evolution down the throats of the children of believers. Seriously, who cares if elementary and high school students get detailed exposure to evolutionary theories? There are plenty of other scientific subjects that get glossed over. And what practical difference does it make whether a 9th grader believes in evolution or not? The only 9th graders competent to judge the subject are those researching it on their own anyway. Fine, if the Christians don’t want evolution taught to their kids, or want to have it kept short and have a rebuttal to it included, why not let them have their way? After all, THEY ARE THE FUCKING MAJORITY OF PARENTS, YOU ELITIST ASSHOLES, AND IT’S THEIR KIDS! There’s no sacred necessity here. Lots of other science gets left out of school curricula.
The liberal passion for making sure that every kid is taught evolution is as intellectually suspect as the Christian rejection of the theory. The truth is that advocating evolution as if it were critical for basic education is a cover for wanting to chip away at the Christian faith of children.
Now, don’t get me wrong–destroying people’s faith in the Bible and in Jesus is doing the Lord’s work. But not when you do it coercively, not when you use the First Amendment and the fact that schools are mostly government-run as a happy pretext to brainwash other people’s kids. Because that’s what it is–let me make the point again: hardly any kid exposed to evolutionary theory understands it as presented, much less is competent to evaluate it.
If you think I’m wrong, think about this: Christine O’Donnell is being hounded and hooted at for not believing in evolution. It’s one of the main points being made to support the notion that she’s a complete idiot. Without doubt, the mainstream meme about evolution is that if you believe in the orthodox Christian account of creation, you’re a dolt. Every kid over the age of 10 has been exposed to this meme. If evolution-mongering isn’t just a convenient excuse to attack the religious, then why are the religious perennially attacked with it?
And while we’re talking about irrational beliefs that people emotionally cling to regardless of common sense and the evidence….
How about all the morons who thought that Cash for Clunkers was a good idea? Even if you now admit it wasn’t, if you thought it was at first, you have nothing but superstition and stupidity where your ability to reason about economics should be.
How many liberals, despite the fact that Obama’s stimulus hasn’t worked, and the falsification of all their predictions, just keep moving the goalposts: “it wasn’t enough,” “it just hasn’t worked yet,” “it did work, you just can’t tell how much worse it would have been without it.”
How many liberals believe that social security isn’t bankrupt (several running for office this year do, including that D-Douchebag Conway running for Congress in Tennessee)? How many believe that the government will really figure a way out of this without letting it collapse or cutting social security benefits? Most liberals won’t say it outright, but they act stupid and in denial.
Which is worse, to elect liberal cowards and economic morons who believe in economic ideas so stupid and discredited that they make “intelligent design” sound compelling by comparison? Or to elect people with economic horse sense about what’s happening today, even if they’re in denial about what happened 4 billion years ago?
Which is dumber, to be skeptical about a complex biological theory that is still evolving itself and is continually being revised, or to fail to grasp that you can’t spend more than you earn indefinitely?