I’m still tuned in to the basal level of creationism in this country, and still keep an eye on the fools who are still making noise. But yesterday I was alerted to this new video by “Dr” Grady McMurtry titled
25 proofs the Earth is young, and I couldn’t believe it. The guy is a buffoon, he was pompously declaring the same old crap creationists have been squirting out since George Mcready Price, and I just didn’t care. Flood geology, from a guy who knows less geology than I do, are you fucking kidding me? In 2018?
The world has moved on. Those ideas are so dead that they rely entirely on surprising the media with how stupid they are to get any attention — the flat-earthers are the same way. What anti-science fantasy can we come up with that is so knuckle-draggingly idiotic, so irrelevant to the way the world works, that television crews will flock to us to put us on cable, that we’ll get mentioned in the New York Times, that will get us a big feature in an online magazine?
Sure, there are people who deeply believe — the piety of yokels is still inflating the gas-bag of creationism, and a few frauds are making bank off all kinds of absurd claims. Yeah, you can rake in the bucks and the media attention if you build a big building with a boat-like facade and claim to have the evidence for Noah’s Ark, and we should continue fighting against that (it is necessary that the religious con artists not think they can get a free pass despite lying to the public), but at the same time we should be aware that these are just the flamboyant excrescences of a rot that has a deeper and more dangerous core.
Holly Dunsworth cuts to the chase (I’ve been noticing that a lot of anthropologists are coming to the forefront in the battle against evolutionary ignorance):
Evolution educators—even if sticking to E. coli, fruit flies, or sticklebacks—must confront the ways that evolutionary science has implicitly undergirded and explicitly promoted or has naively inspired so many racist, sexist, and otherwise harmful beliefs and actions. We can no longer arm students with the ideas that have had harmful sociocultural consequences without addressing them explicitly because our failure to do so effectively is the primary reason these horrible consequences exist. The worst of all being a human origins that refuses humanity.
So many of us are still thinking and teaching from the charged tradition of demonstrating that evolution is true. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, it is undeniably true. Now we must go beyond this habit of reacting to creationism and instead react to a problem that is just as old but is far more urgent because it actually affects human well-being.
Bad evolutionary thinking and its siblings, genetic determinism and genetic essentialism, are used to justify civil rights restrictions, human rights violations, white supremacy, and the patriarchy. As a result, evolution is avoided and unclaimed by scholars, students, and their communities who know this all too well.
I still think religion is a major driver of bad science in this country, but it’s also become obvious that non-religious people — some of the atheists I used to hang out with — have found a way to become assnuggets who are just as deplorable as Christian fanatics, and the path they’ve taken to turn into corrupters of culture and science is exactly what Dunsworth describes: genetic determinism and genetic essentialism. They’ve gone from using the Bible to justify misunderstanding evolution, to using their misconceptions about genetics to justify misunderstanding evolution, and along the way, they’re revitalizing bigotry and nationalism and revisionist history. In some ways, they’re worse than creationists. Creationism is a joke, its religious underpinnings are simply too obvious. When you promote a more subtle (usually) racism and misogyny while donning the mantle of Science™, you’re more effective at fooling the moderately well-educated.
YouTube is the most obvious example of the decay in full flower. You can find plenty of delusional know-nothings like Grady McMurtry babbling away, but far more influential are the swarms of alt-right/classical liberal/centrist/whatever-the-fuck-they-call-themselves atheists and so-called skeptics who preach a purely secular version of contempt for races and sexes, while claiming they have the imprimatur of evolution. They don’t. They’re little more than 19th century bigots pretending to be scientists, busily tainting good science with fascism and Victorian nonsense.
That looks to be the next big fight, not against the dopey inheritors of Seventh Day Adventist mythology, but against the unthinking champions of 200+ year old pseudo-scientific racialist ideas.