David Barton’s Reality Vaccine

One of the ways that Christian fundamentalists inoculate their followers and make them immune to facts is by telling them not to listen to anyone who disagrees with them or says they might be wrong. Those are bad people, on the side of the devil instead of God. Here’s David Barton’s version to his followers:

What’s been interesting is that in the last twenty to thirty years, you’ve also had lots of Christians join in and say ‘hey, you can’t teach this kind of stuff.’ Now why in the world would Christians join with all these other groups to say you shouldn’t be teaching providential history? Why would Christians join in to say you gotta keep history secular?

And the answer is probably found a great passage that Jesus gave us in Luke 6:40 where he says ‘every student, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.’ What happens is you’ve got a whole lot of [professors] at Christian schools that were trained by really secular guys and every student when he’s fully trained will be like his teacher.

And so what happens is all these guys go through and get their PhDs but they’ve been trained by really secular-minded, higher criticism type guys and when they get there, they just communicate on to these Christian kids, or whatever kind of kids they’ve got, whatever they’ve been taught.

That’s why today if you do something like try to put God in history, you’re going to get nailed. A book that we did, “The Jefferson Lies,” made all sorts of national news because all these professors came out [and said] Jefferson didn’t believe in God, he wasn’t religious, he was a great atheist. I mean, they just went bonkers when we went back through and showed all the things Jefferson did … but man if you try to get God back into the position that we ha him in history for three hundred years, it just drives these PhDs nuts.

Now there are some good PhDs, there are some good professors out there, great guys, but by and large that profession as a whole is now the most hostile to God things as any profession in the nation.

It’s a mental vaccine, as is the whole litany of Christian right misology. They constantly denigrate intellect and learning and those who have them and elevate “common sense” and folk wisdom. Anecdotes are offered instead of evidence. It gives their followers a cognitive shortcut to get around any dissonance between their beliefs and the real world.

Comments

  1. says

    “A book that we did, ‘The Jefferson Lies,’ made all sorts of national news because all these professors came out [and said] Jefferson didn’t believe in God, he wasn’t religious, he was a great atheist.”

    He even lies about his critics.

  2. Ellie says

    That’s a very interesting commentary on Luke 6:40. Not one that I’ve ever heard before and pretty much at odds with what I have heard. However, considering that Barton’s knowledge of Biblical exegesis is on a par with his knowledge of history, I’m not surprised. Nice dance, tho’.

  3. says

    PhDs are a profession now?

    I also love the implication that those who are the most educated among us are going to be the least likely to be godly. Does he realize that he’s telling his listeners that the smarter you are, the less religious you are (I’m not saying that’s true, I’m saying it’s an implication of his own speech)? Does he think all his parishioners self-identify as “not very smart”?

  4. says

    @3: I take it you’ve forgotten Pastor Ray “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture” Mummert? ( PZ used to give out an award in his name). Ignorance and general dumbitude are *virtues* to this crowd.

  5. says

    “Now why in the world would Christians join with all these other groups to say you shouldn’t be teaching providential history? Why would Christians join in to say you gotta keep history secular?”

    I think I see the problem here. Barton is confusing “accurate” with “secular.”

  6. Chiroptera says

    Why would Christians join in to say you gotta keep history secular?

    ‘Cause those are the ones who are smart?

    Hey, I’m just trying to brain storm here!

  7. raven says

    Proverbs 15:14

    The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.

    Barton knows his bible like he knows everything else i.e. just makes stuff up as he goes along.

  8. zero6ix says

    History clearly isn’t secular. It’s a conspiracy from the ivory tower type folks that say, for example, Hitler shot himself in the head, rather than what really happened. The true history? God challenged him to good ol’ fisticuffs.

  9. says

    An only tangentially related observation: I teach a course in world civilizations, and three of the times I’ve taught it and was lecturing about the origins of Islam, one of the Muslim students has walked out, only to return when the lecture was over. It’s gotten me wondering whether some young Muslims are being advised by some of their Muslim elders to do just this–and if that’s so, I’m also wondering whether this is a common occurrence.

  10. says

    …all these professors came out [and said] Jefferson didn’t believe in God, he wasn’t religious, he was a great atheist.

    Even his lies are full of lies.

  11. eric says

    Now why in the world would Christians join with all these other groups to say you shouldn’t be teaching providential history?

    Because there is no such thing as ‘providential history’ – it’s just history. If you have to add that sort of adjective to the front of it, chances are you aren’t actually doing history any more. Unless you are referring to the history of Providence, RI.

  12. Scott Hanley says

    Yet another piece of evidence that evangelicals don’t distinguish between education and brainwashing.

  13. exdrone says

    This is called the “you just got to shake your head” defence. As in, if smart people tell you X, you just got to shake your head. There, that was easy. For true believers, it is very comforting. Not only are they reassured that they are on the correct side of the issue, but they are also comforted that they don’t have to do any thinking about it.

  14. Michael Heath says

    The liar David Barton:

    …all these professors came out [and said] Jefferson didn’t believe in God, he wasn’t religious, he was a great atheist.

    Area Man writes:

    Even his lies are full of lies.

    It’s an attribute of conservative Christianity to lie about the facts and explanations which conservative Christians childishly imagine aren’t true. So here Mr. Barton is doing nothing out of the ordinary for a conservative Christian; instead he’s acting true to form.

    As someone raised to be fundie, which didn’t take, I was most infuriated when I arrived at the public university I attended to observe how dishonest conservative Christians were about what professors understood and argued. I didn’t realize until I escaped the cult the level of hatred, bigotry, and dishonesty being practiced. But of course pointing these facts out is bigotry on the observer’s part.

  15. vmanis1 says

    A Biblical perspective on Barton: `For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.’ (Mark 13:22)

  16. rhebel says

    Aaronbaker @10:
    Good luck getting individual feedback that will help you with your teaching in a classroom here, I have given up on that. The regulars only seem to reply to each other. Wish I could help you, but I teach science.

  17. raven says

    Good luck getting individual feedback that will help you with your teaching in a classroom here, I have given up on that. The regulars only seem to reply to each other. Wish I could help you, but I teach science.

    Nonsense.

    I taught upper level biology type courses at a few unversities.

    Oddly enough, I never had any blatant trouble in the classroom even though evolution is the underlying principle of modern biology. Of course, by that stage, most of the creationists had been weeded out.

    I said nothing to Aaronbaker, because I had nothing relevant to say, even though his experience was interesting in a cuckoo sort of way. Islam seems to be brittle, tap it lightly and it falls apart and they know it.*. A few of my students were Moslem and many were Asian but none of them seemed upset over the course material. But you can’t compare biomedicine with World Civilizations.

    *I always say, “If xianity was true, they wouldn’t have to lie all the time.” ” If Islam was true, they wouldn’t have to kill each other and outsiders all of the time”. While the large majority of Moslems aren’t killers, enough are that we read about on the news, every day, day in, day out.

  18. raven says

    Why would Christians join in to say you gotta keep history secular?

    Because they aren’t liars and they value the truth.

    People leave xianity often and for many reasons. One common one is that they value honesty and the truth. That is, in fact, why I left.

  19. says

    I appreciate the responses. I wasn’t really looking for pointers, just wondering if this were a common experience. It’s unlikely to have an effect on my teaching: I talk (and will continue to talk) about ancient Israel and the beginnings of Christianity in ways that are not going to please the very pious. And then I give a similar take on Islam (though, as I know much less about it, it’s a lot less detailed). I tell students in advance that what I say is not going to agree with fundamentalism–but there will be no exam question that penalizes someone for being a fundamentalist. For the most part, I haven’t gotten a hostile reaction, which is heartening.

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