The Rejection of Science

Please allow me to indulge myself with a rant.  I follow a blog called “The Way of Improvement Leads Home”.  It is written by a history professor.  I love history and it is full of book reviews.  My reading list is quite full now!  However I noticed a comment on this post

http://www.philipvickersfithian.com/2011/11/are-giberson-and-stephens-preaching-to.html

The post was dealing with a recent article in the New York Times called  “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason.  The point was that there seems to be a movement in evangelical circles to reject reason (and science) if it conflicts with their theology.  This is all over the place – just read anything on David Barton or try rightwingwatch.org.  This goes along with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

I understand that – I grew up in the evangelical church.  It is frustrating, but given my upbringing I can understand the reasoning behind this position.  It may be difficult for those not exposed to evagelical thought (sermons, books, conferences ect.), but it is consistent with the religious belief of evangelical christians.

However the interesting thing wasn’t the post, but the comment by Unknown.  Here’s the thing, over and over again in any debate about evolution many who believe in creationism will call evolutionists, for lack of a better word, stupid.  Ignorant.  Even liars.  There seems to be this world view that being a scientist and believing evolution because of science is not possible.  That people secretly know the truth that creationism is true, but because they want grant money or influence in political circles or to gain power for their “movement” that they are liars and thieves.

Unknown said…

While I have not read Giberson and Stephens’ book (though I have read numerous blog entries on it) I like your and Thomas Kidd’s discussion of it. I think it would be helpful to point out that most liberals, and especially academics in the humanities, are at least as opposed to scientific truth as evangelicals. Evangelicals (not all) may oppose evolution, but I suspect they have different attitudes to physics, which continues to be the basis of the natural sciences. It has been my own experience that the commitment to cultural relativity, however, produces a much more robust opposition to scientific truth. This wholesale rejection of scientific truth (which from my own reading forms much of the basis of cultural theory and cultural history) is likely much more harmful than the evangelical rejection of evolution and deserves more attention in the media.

November 9, 2011 12:20 PM

There is so much wrong with this I don’t even know where to begin.  Lets start with that first.  Number one is this person really implying that people who self identify as Liberals don’t believe in science?    He uses the words “wholesale rejection of scientific truth”.  How does he know that?  Why does he believe that?  Who is he talking about?  I have met scientists personally.  They all would probably call themselves “liberal”.  None of them reject science.  My uncle worked for NASA to launch some of the first satellites.  Liberal,  believed wholeheartedly in science.  My great grandfather worked for Thomas Edison.  Liberal (and a mason oooo:o) who believed in science.  From history – John F. Kennedy – liberal and a whole hearted believer and supporter of science.   Who are these liberals who reject scientific truth?    Does anybody but me see the problem with this?  I thought this was only the yammerings of a few right wingers.

I posted a comment asking him what he was reading and also asking him for some examples.  He listed a book by Richard Dawkins.  Really?  I would feel safe calling Richard Dawkins a liberal.  His website http://richarddawkins.net/ lists this as its mission:  The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.

I understand that people object to that last part, but nowhere in there do I see a wholescale rejection of scientific truth.   Here are some examples of this on the web.

From Conservapedia.com (which doesn’t seem very concerned with facts) Evolution is clearly pseudoscience that cannot be rationally be defended.

On a website for Creation Ministries International

http://creation.com/national-academy-of-science-is-godless-to-the-core-survey

a recent survey published in the leading science journal Nature conclusively showed that the National Academy of Science is anti-God to the core. A survey of all 517 NAS members in biological and physical sciences resulted in just over half responding. 72.2% were overtly atheistic, 20.8 % agnostic, and only 7.0% believed in a personal God. Belief in God and immortality was lowest among biologists. It is likely that those who didn’t respond were unbelievers as well, so the study probably underestimates the level of anti-God belief in the NAS. The unbelief is far higher than the percentage among scientists in general, or in the whole population.

So if most scientists are not religious (or in this context evangelical christian) how can they be said to have a wholesale rejection of scientific truth?  Don’t scientist believe in science – why waste their time on something they reject?

There are many many examples.  I said earlier that I understand the reasoning behind this.  Here it is:  the theology of original sin.  Stay with me on this – according to this theology sin seperates man from God.  Sin came from the first man Adam.  Because of him we are ALL sinners.  Its like kidneys – we all have one whether we want it or not.  The solution of course is believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  Accept this, and repent (that last part may or may not be optional depending on who you ask).  God then takes care of the pesky sin problem.  UNTIL you sin again.  Then you must ask for forgiveness and “sin no more”.    You are again contaminated with sin.  How does this tie in to a rejection of science?  Believing in Evolution is  a sin.  Evolution isn’t in the Bible, believing in something that isn’t in the Bible is a sin.  All we need is the Bible.  Even my 5 year old nephew knows this.  As I reported before he told me that scientists couldn’t be trusted because they believe in evolution.  That is at the heart of the problem.

This is at the core of evangelical theology.  How can you have a rational discussion about this?  Many evangelicals believe that if you reject this – you reject Christ, Christianity, and not so incidentally the church.  That is why children are being taught to not trust scientists or science, because you can’t trust a sinner.  Strangely the commentor Unknown doesn’t acknowledge this, or even reference this.  This is the issue though, not the ” discussion of the physiological origins of human behavior”.

The irony is that we live in a culture made possible by science. I am waiting for the day when people start to want their faith to be congruent with how they live.  Will they quit driving cars (can’t believe in that engineering science that makes cars possible), stop going to doctors (who are also scientists),  throw out all their appliances and rip the wires out of their houses?  Will this religious philosophy (theology?) evolve to allow belief in some science because it was inspired by God perhaps?  Some science, but not all science.  Will there be an exception if science saves your life?  What about an exception for cell phones?  Maybe if you pray on the cell that makes it acceptable.

Ok – I am being ridiculous, but this Unknown character is throwing out a bunch of educated BS, cloaked in high talk about physialogical this, and ”  conception of the relationship between truth claims and power”.  That is absurd, and has nothing to do with rejecting or accepting scientific truth.  It has nothing to do with calling scientists names, or doubting their morality, or belittling people’s life work.

Forgive my rant – I feel a migraine coming on.

 

 

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One thought on “The Rejection of Science

  1. Unfortunately, people who have turned themselves (their heart, soul, and mind) over to God have a very difficult time breaking free of their religion’s dogma and doctrine. For Christian fundamentalists (evangelicals), it is just about impossible, for if they take back their commitment to Christ, they fear they will go to Hell and burn and suffer for eternity. Some see it as the “unforgivable sin”. Therefore, they must grab at any straw, however nonsensical and at odds with reality, to hold fast to their faith. My advice for them is “don’t fight it”, just continue on in your blissful ignorance (I say that with respect). Being a “born again believer” can produce great feelings of awe and wonder, and the feeling that you are in the club – you are on your way to heaven, “Going up to the spirit in the sky.” Glory! But, please just keep it all to yourself and to those in the same prison, and don’t try to proselytize, and please allow your children to find their own truth without imposing your cult-thinking on them. Thank you.

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