Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hey, Indiana - REALLY?

David's already made his anger quite clear, but I wanted a word too, and it wouldn't fit in a comment I'm afraid...

This is a sad day, and I really hope this rapidly evolving religious fundamentalist contagion doesn't spread to other states (see what I did there?), and doesn't pass in the state senate. Perhaps the worst thing about creationism is that, when compared with reality, it's just so bloody boring. Apart from the fact that the notion of a 'divine creator' raises more questions than it answers (and renders invalid pretty much all science ever), the real truth about the history of life on Earth - its constant struggles, the ever-spiralling complexity from simple forms, the beauty of evolution through deep time - is far more glorious than some ancient myth.

Emu skeleton. By Sklmsta, via Wikipedia.

In case you haven't noticed, this blog is about dinosaurs, and they are the perfect ambassadors for the teaching of the truth of evolution - through their pop culture popularity and their living descendants. Avian dinosaurs, with their huge suite of inherited theropod features, and a whole other load of glorious derived adaptations, are one of the most fantastic and evocative examples of evolution over millions of years. Next to that, 'God did it' just doesn't cut it, I'm afraid.

Of course, as a Britisher, I could have a good snooty chuckle and point out how our education secretary recently outlawed the teaching of creationism in science classes in the new-fangled 'free schools'. However, I won't for various reasons - not only because I would sound like a dick, but because we have an established church and a bleedin' monarchy ferchrissakes, so we don't really have a leg to stand on when it comes to rationality and enlightenment and all that noise.

In fact, I've always admired the United States for lacking those things, and for its separation of church and state, enshrined in the constitution. Remember this, and don't let them get away with it. For as David says, "creationism is bullshit".


  1. My undergrad years were spent in Indiana, and this just makes me sad. And don't even get me started on the Creation Museum in Kentucky. I love Kentucky (strange, I know) and when the museum was first built I really hoped it was going to be in Ohio...but no. Some states just keep getting the crazy dumped on them.

    1. Hey, don't stick us with the Creation Museum!
      Although I'll admit that part of me does want to take a road trip down there. I'm a sucker for crazy things like that, plus they have dinosaur topiary. Dinosaur topiary!

      But there's also a big difference between crazy people building a muesum and the state government allowing creationism in science classes.

      Even if it doesn't pass, or spread to neighboring states (and if it does, let's push it west, not east), stuff like this still hampers science classes. I learned more about evolution in elementary school in the mid-to-late 1980s than I did in high school in the mid-to-late 1990s. Even when a teacher wants to talk about evolution, I think it's seen as too much of a can of worms to bother bringing up.

      Well, that and the fact that it's not on any standardized tests (but that's a rant for another day).

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  3. I wish that my chagrins about anything could find expression as swiftly and eloquently as both of you make it.

    Last post deleted for spelling error!

  4. when I was in Elementary School I knew a girl who didn't believe in dinosaus. It was the saddest thing I'd ever heard...
    of course, nowadays Creationists have learned to get children brainwashed is easier if you include dinosaurs in your belief system.

  5. It's frustrates me that people turn to religion for the how questions, when science clearly gets the job done in that arena. Let science answer the hows, and leave religion to the whys.

  6. "So bloody boring." Exactly. Exactly.

  7. I wouldn't mind too much if people wanted to believe in a (or several) sky-wizard except that they usually want to force everybody else to adopt their beliefs. They (religious people) are not able to agree on any aspect of this magical being, the place he/she/it inhabits, or what the rules are. The fact that these differences often lead to violence is another reason to want to banish them (or live in a country where they have little effect).

    Mark alluded to it in his post but you know that the rest if us are prob going to snicker behind your back Indiana, if not right in your face.

    1. I know this was written back in 2012, but I just stumbled across it and felt I had to respond to this particular comment.

      The statement that religious people "usually want to force everybody else to adopt their beliefs" rather implies that most of us (otherwise it wouldn't be "usual") attempt to forcibly convert everyone in earshot. This seems extremely unfair given that I'm a Christian and I don't attempt to force my beliefs on anyone else. As long as they're genuinely trying to do what they believe to be right, I don't really care whether they believe in God (my version or otherwise) or not.

      I suppose it's possible that I, along with my family and several of the people I know from church, are the only religious folks who act like this, but I can't help but feel that's statistically unlikely. At a guess, the reason you don't know about people like us is that we don't bring up our religious beliefs in conversation unless it becomes relevant. I, at least, do this so as to avoid making people uncomfortable.

      Unfortunately, this means that the only religious people who talk to you about their faith are those trying to convert you, leading to the impression that they represent the majority of people of faith, which is not necessarily the case.

      Furthermore, your statement that "The fact that these differences often lead to violence is another reason to want to banish them (or live in a country where they have little effect)" is again tarring religious people with a very broad brush. People have indeed done terrible things in the name of their god(s). However, considering the number of people who subscribe to some form of religion, and measuring it against the number who commit some form of religiously motivated violence, the violent ones are definitely in the minority. In addition, plenty of people do GOOD things in the name of religion. Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi and plenty of people who aren't internationally famous have done and still do good for their fellow humans because of of their faith. You don't have to be religious to do selfless things, of course, but the fact remains that religion is the motivator for a lot of people who perform altruistic acts.

      Given all this, wanting to "banish" all religious people for the actions of a violent minority is rather unfair. Most religious people are not terrorists or ethnic cleansers. We are also not automatically going to try to force our beliefs on you.

      I am truly sorry if you've had annoying personal experiences with overzealous, rude would-be evangelists, but please be careful when making assumptions about how religious people "usually" act.

      P.S. Since the blog entry was on creationism, I'm not one of those either, and I know plenty of other religious people who aren't.

    2. @Timothy -- OK, I thought it's funny that I'm reading this in 2016 and going yes, yes, yes, and yes, but I wanted to say that I agree with what you said, as a Muslim. LOL. As with you, myself, and my family, and the few other family friends I know, don't go on forcing our beliefs on those around us. As for myself and my immediate family of siblings and parents, we definitely have our view of how our religion tells us the world/universe was created, and then we have our acceptance of scientific theories about how the universe works (including evolution). I've always loved dinosaurs and prehistoric animals and learning about them, and religion never was an issue in my case. If anything, I suppose I always do wonder how one in my position reconciles having these 2 different approaches to explaining the hows and whys of life, but here I am. Somewhat religious, very open to scientific chicken feathered T. rex's!

    3. Ugh, I wish there was a way to edit my posts (maybe I'm blind and can't see it..)

      I wanted to add, I believe political actions such as the one in Indiana being discussed here, i.e. Creationism being pushed to be taught as official school curriculum in public schools, is rather... I don't know how to put this nicely, ass backward moronic to the fullest extent, in all senses and aspects of such an effort.

      Not only are these people brushing aside or rather, skewing logical sciences of ALL disciplines in order to explain their myopic (I used a big word there, excuse any contextual errors!) view of how things 'plopped' into existence, but it further encourages the viewpoint that religious folks are dumb bible thumping ignorant hillbillies (or in my 'peoples' case, filthy goat humping sand/cave dwellers!) who want to stomp out science and indoctrinate our next generation with mindless mythology in its place.

      But like with most debates and controversies, Creationism vs. Evolution is not going to go away soon no matter how much evidence science can provide as long as there are those who stand to profit from the spread of ignorance (I'm not exactly sure what that is but I'm sure there's $$$ to be made somewhere, possibly).

      /End rant.


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