The long term consequences of religious misology

For those of you who haven’t kept up with the comments to the previous post, we have a new Christian troll (this one anonymous) who’s boldly carrying on the tradition of lunatic unreason championed by the great Dan Marvin. His argument basically boils down to, “God exists because I say he does, and I have don’t have any burden of proof to meet. If you don’t believe me, it’s your problem.” Tracie and I have been taking him on, she with her usual firm but diplomatic calmness, and me with my usual two-fisted combination of ridicule and icy rebuttal. Another commenter, Lui, has been prompted, after wading through anon’s absurdities, to cry out in despair: “What is this, an episode of Transformers? Do you have ANY idea how stupid [one of anon's moronic arguments] sounds?”

He really and truly doesn’t, Lui. He has not been properly trained in critical thinking, and doesn’t understand the difference between knowledge and belief. Like most fundamentalists (and here and on the TV show I’ve seen this pattern over and over), all of his opinions are shaped by faulty assumptions.

Because he has been raised to believe in the truth of the Bible unquestioningly, he thinks everyone else is obligated to do so in the same way. He cannot comprehend that anyone could legitimately be skeptical of claims made in a holy book compiled nearly 2000 years ago, and which is the product of a primitive, pre-scientific, unenlightened and extremely cruel culture. This is why his only response to skeptics asking for proof is, “I don’t have to show you proof, you just have to believe what I say.” He considers evidence — something any educated person understands is all just a normal part of the process of how we learn about the world we live in — to be an improper and inappropriate demand when it pertains to his religious faith. This is the special pleading fallacy in a nutshell.

Sure, it’s fun to pound on guys like anon, but I’ve found it’s also sadly true that it is profoundly difficult, if not impossible, to get them to understand how powerfully deluded they are, and to accept the educational challenge to overcome it. If anything, that this kind of deeply irrational religious thought is so widespread in our world today is a grim testimony to the failure of our educational system.

Only in a society where anti-intellectualism and ignorance has taken such a firm hold could clowns like Ray Comfort and Ken Ham be taken the least bit seriously by anyone capable of thought. Where but in a society that has openly rejected reality in favor of fantasy could $27 million be raised for a folly as stupefying as the Creation “Museum”? Fundamentalism, and its militant misology (a favorite word of mine — look it up), is likely to have a profoundly damaging impact on our culture in the coming years. I’ve been convinced for a long time America is on the decline towards turning into an intellectual third world country, with Christianity boldly leading the race to the bottom. Guys like Dan Marvin and anonymous merely cement that worry. Unless something is done to improve education and minimize the damage done by faith-based ignorance and institutionalized irrationalism, then very soon we will be as dependent upon other nations for our science, our medicine, everything to do with having a decent quality of life, as we currently are on the Middle East for our oil.