December 20, 2009

Religious belief inspires impudent hubris based on ignorant certainty

Jon Skillman, a deacon at Grace Baptist Church in Oroville, California, decides to spout off in the media venue of the local paper about his creationist beliefs ("The evolution of evolution", Oroville Mercury-Register, 12/19/2009). As is so typical of these "Joe Blow" creationists in various communities around the country, they love to make bold proclamations about science, and it is their remarks by which they show everyone the dismal ignorance about science that seems to run rampant in our society. Of course, it's not merely the poor science education that's the problem, but the antagonistic attitude toward learning that a lot of churches directly promote in what they teach and preach to their congregations.

You always have to laugh when religious believers challenge aspects of science they despise because those particular areas of science happen to contradict some religious beliefs they cherish and in doing so demonstrate not only their lack of comprehension of the areas of science they attack, but also demonstrate a lack of comprehension of the meaning of words in the English language.

Skillman refers to the theory of evolution like this,

Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution... you know, theory, as in unproven. Intellects like to drop that pesky "theory" word from the conversation because it could, you know, cause doubt or even questioning. They prefer to accept evolution on faith.

Oh, geeze. Nothing like a creationist following the time-honored creationist tradition of repeating statements that have been refuted for decades. "Theory." Look it up in the dictionary. The colloquial meaning of "theory" is a guess or speculation ("an assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture") The scientific meaning of "theory", as in "scientific theory of evolution" or "scientific theory of gravity" is quite the opposite ("a set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena."). But creationists can't even get the meaning of the word right, because they don't know how it's used in science (as they demonstrate), and don't want to know, and inspired by their devotion to empirically false religious dogma and the attitude of glorifying ignorance that it induces are just having too much fun using the wrong meaning of the word for the purpose of misrepresenting evolution to actually pause for one moment and bother to correct themselves about so little an error as getting the contextual meaning of a word wrong.

Skillman again,

Science has found no evidence to support evolution as the origin of any species.

The Baptist deacon obviously doesn't have a clue that there are all sorts of scientific research papers published in the professional science literature that present the data and discuss the evidence. Just for example, there are many studies of the evolution of the numerous species of stickleback fish. (An awful lot of creationists also seem to be oblivious to the fact that you can find such articles almost literally at the click of a button by using the "Google Scholar" search, which is what the previous link is, by the way.) How is it that a Baptist deacon who apparently doesn't even know that these research articles exist thinks that he is so much more knowledgeable about the subject than the professional scientists who actually do the scientific work? What is it about belief in religious dogma that inspires such impudent hubris based on ignorant certainty?

Skillman again,

Not one transitional fossil has ever been found. But hey, let's not bother intellectuals with the facts... they innately know better.

This statement is a mantra of falsehood that creationists love to repeat over and over and over again. Of course, there are literally thousands of examples, large and small, of transitional fossils. Here I'll just mention a few: Acanthostega gunnari. Tiktaalik roseae. Thrinaxodon liorhinus. Trirachodon. Liaoceratops yanzigouensis. Velociraptor mongoliensis. Microraptor gui. Ambulocetus. Rodhocetus. Gomphotherium. Orohippus. Duchesnehippus intermedius. Not only is the statement "Not one transitional fossil has ever been found" an unadulterated falsehood, it demonstrates a horrible ignorance of paleontology.

Of course, creationists cannot be bothered to actually learn about the scientific facts (which the Baptist deacon unwittingly admits with his offhand remark that he refuses to be "dragged off to academia") and tell the truth about them. They have their belief in their religious dogma, and to them that's all that matters.