I suppose, in a roundabout way, pretty much any human behavior could be due to evolution for one reason or another. Can’t fire guns without hands and fingers for example. But when Tom DeLay tried to blame the Columbine shooting on teaching evolution he was roundly ridiculed. It’s not clear what was going through Pastor Rick Warren’s mind when he posted a similar sounding tweet, but the coverup that followed suggests he might have something to hide:
Staks Rosch/Examiner — On Friday, July 20th 2012 at exactly 2:09 P.M. Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church tweeted:
“When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.”
This was obviously in reference to the recent mass-shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. This Examiner reported on the story with a screen capture of Pastor Warren’s Tweet. Just two days after the Tweet was made it was deleted presumably by Warren. In Warren’s haste, he failed to delete the Tweet from his Facebook page.
The reason Warren’s statement looks awful? In the aftermath of Columbine, Tom DeLay reportedly said “our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud, by teaching evolution as fact,” (And just in case anyone had any doubt what DeLay meant, he clarified by adding, “guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills”). The similarity and timing compared to Warren’s reported Friday tweet are striking.
On the statement itself, the term animals is a slippery one. Clearly Warren didn’t mean Metazoa, vertebrate, mammalia …, he meant uncivilized, primal, savage. That usage always seemed fatally flawed to me. We’re obviously a species of animal and we’re clearly capable of creating more misery and bloodshed than any other creature larger than a microbe. Add to this, odds are Warren does not run his own twitter feed by hand. He probably has a service doing that for him, or at least an assistant pitching in from time to time. Maybe they’d make a good scapegoat, or if it really was their call, at least a brief reminder of the importance of critical terms and usage in social media might be in order — trust me, on the latter, as a blogger, I fucking sympathize.
It’s certainly possible that Warren — or his hired twitman — was referring to something else entirely, it’s a common reference and context is key (Not everyone is buying Warren’s claim though). Timing aside, if he did not have a history of making controversial statements parroting fundamentalist-conservative dogma, and in some cases trying to cover them up afterward, we might even dismiss this incident without a second thought. As is Warren could put this to rest by simply apologizing to scientists and science teachers for any remarks that were poorly delivered. Hell, I’d be satisfied if he just affirmed the evidence for biological evolution and left it at that.
Update: I was giving Warren the benefit of the doubt above. , then someone — you can guess who — posted this as his, umm, explanation yesterday:
“TWITTER’S limit on words allows no context for statements. A lack of contxt causes misinterpretation. So when you tweet what’s on your mind, people preassume (incorrectly) that you are talking about what’s on THEIR mind. This is a clear example. My tweet was a brief response to a question to me about SEXUAL PROMISCUITY. It had NOTHING to do with the tragedy in Colorado.! I had received this email from a dad… ”
Dude. You’re seriously trying to tell us that you answered a private email from a worried dad asking about his young daughter’s private sexual promiscuity with a random public tweet sent out with no title or handle or context to your tens of thousands of followers? DUDE. Are You Fucking Kidding Me? That’s your story? Do you really think anyone is going to buy that bullshit outside of the usual fawning braindead losers terrified of being left behind?
I mean …. D-U-D-E!? Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.
Ed Brayton has his special Bryan Fischer award for liars and idiots named after an especially egregious lying moron, others have their own version. I hereby proclaim the Pastor Rick Warren “Sacker” Award for most transparently hilarious lying sack of shit to be given out as warranted on future posts here the Zingularity. And Rick Warren earns the very first Sacker.
“act like animals” Just where else in nature do we find pointless slaughter of one’s own kind. Seems to be only the behavior of godly humans. Someone seems to have missed more than just evolution in biology class.
Warren now claims that his tweet was about something else entirely. Sounds fishy to me. Jerry Coyne writes about it: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/rick-warren-denies-blaming-colorado-shootings-on-evolution/#comments
Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew says
Added the link from Ray, and a short comment at the bottom on the term animals from David. Thank you gentlemen.
OK, on the behaving like animals, when was the last time a puppy bought an awful lot of ammunition to kill other puppies. If only kids were behaving like animals, maybe they would not shoot each other.
Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew says
Your point is well taken Ally. But to play Devils advocate, let’s stipulate the alpha male chimp or a pack of wolves were given high powered automatic rifles and trained or otherwise made able to use them. Do you think they would show universal mercy, or maybe blast a few deer or annoying rivals from time to time?
FWIW, I always thought one of the deepest scenes in Clarke’s 2001 was when Moonwatcher walked arcoss the pond and smacked the other ape upside the head with his new-found boney club.
I understand the point though: we know better, we know the full consequences, and we know we can control those impulses, thus we do not have the excuse of ignorance or irrepresible instinct other animals might have.
No no no see what he meant was the girl is a slut and should be shamed publically, which is totes better than suggesting that without his god’s morals we’d all be shooting each other in the head.
This is completely untrue. A LOT of animals engage in cannibalism and/or kill weaker opponents that they are not related to. Meanwhile, chimpanzees have lethal wars and are also known to commit genocide. The reason that humans have morals at all is because it benefitted us evolutionarily; we really lucked out on that one.
Ecclesiastes 3: 18-21
18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.
19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless.
20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant) says
When students are taught they are no better than barely-redeemable sinners, they will act like it.
'Tis Himself says
Warren was responding to a private email with a tweet. Does Warren also have a bridge in Brooklyn that’s for sale?
Gvlgeologist, FCD says
should become an internet meme. Just full of win.
Acting like animals? Which animals?
Bonobos that live peaceful promiscous lives in a matriachal society?
Aye-ayes that run up trees and eat insects with their superlong middle fingers? (No kidding -Stephen Fry’s ‘Last Cahnce to See’ doco.
Geckos? (Do we spend a lot of time climbing walls with our feet?)
No, really, Pastor Rick Warren which animals? There’s kind of a lot of real diversity in that area!