A Rant Against Idiocy

Ken AshfordRight Wing Punditry/IdiocyLeave a Comment

PZ Myers has had it up to here with the morons on the religious right who continue to — well, lie — about evolution out of either (a) intentional ignorance or (b) cognitive dissonence:

I know what some people are thinking: just don’t call them "stupid" or a "moron", it distracts from the scientific argument. Of course it does; but one thing I’ve learned over the years is that this is not a scientific debate. The scientific part was settled a century ago, and evolution won, hands down. There is absolutely no legitimate, intelligent argument against evolutionary theory right now. This is not to say that we know everything or that the theory is complete or that we expect no major revisions; it means that evolution in a broad sense is an inarguable fact, and what we need to know now are details and mechanisms. The earth is billions of years old, species are all related to one another, and there has been a complex and ongoing pattern of change over the course of all of that time. All of that has been supported by multiple interlocking lines of evidence uncovered by the work of thousands of people, rechecked and verified by thousands more. That’s just not going to be seriously challenged by anyone sensible, let alone some ranting guy who took a general science course in high school.

The big picture is done. The ships have sailed, they’ve discovered the coastline of the New World, they’ve established a few thriving colonies—and there’s a huge, exciting continent to explore. Meanwhile, we have a few lunatics in the Old World who have clamped their eyelids shut and are screaming that they can’t see it.

So what’s the argument about? Not science, that’s for sure. The opponents of evolution don’t know any. They are effective political agents who are attacking the enterprise of science without addressing the scientific issues seriously. They have been relying on their opponent’s hesitation or aloofness to escape criticism of their competence or ignorance. They shout with authority when they possess none.

You know what? It’s time to stop that.

When someone lies, and tells you that increasing numbers of scientists are opposing the evolutionary ‘paradigm’, shoot them down, but also be blunt: call ’em a liar. Don’t let them get away with pretending this is an honest debate between sincere opponents. It’s an argument with a shameless liar.

When they parade their ignorance and try to claim that scientists have never discovered any transitional fossils, hand them a list, and make it clear to everyone that they are stupid. They are ignorant. Don’t let them skip over it and move on to yet another issue that they will misrepresent: stop everything cold at that point and hammer on the fact that this person is not competent, is not informed, is unaware of the basic facts that he is railing against.

Seriously. If you went to a doctor, and he didn’t know which end of the stethoscope to stick in his ears, would you let him go on to do open-heart surgery on you? Would you continue to call him "doctor", or should you leave the quack’s office and look for someone who knows what they are doing? Why do we allow pseudoscientists and creationists to babble on, moving on from one lie to one distortion to one outright crazy assertion to another?

Slap ’em down. Anyone who tries to tell you that the world is 6000 years old or that evolutionary biology is a failure is an idiot. They don’t deserve your patience.

He’s right. 

Look, there is nothing wrong, and many things right, with the Bible or religion or faith.  But to place EVERY religious tenet — no matter how silly — higher than the mantle of repeatedly verified scientific fact (which some would argue is God-given ability of man) is simply backwater bullshit.  One can believe in God and religion and have faith AND be intelligent.  And that’s what people should strive for.  But stupidity and ignorance should not be allowed to flourish behind the skirts of piety.