Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Reinforced Ignorance

I grew up in a very small factory town in southwest Virginia. It is a very poor area, and for the first half of the 20th century most of the population worked for one of the several large furniture factories in town. In the way that some towns revolve around mining, this town revolved around the factories. As such, the factories had a great deal of local political power.

Add to this the fact that this town is an independent city -- not part of a larger county -- and you can imagine how small and poor the school system was. The story I heard growing up is that the factory owners, who were also the city politicians, intentionally maintained low standards and poor funds to the school system. The idea was that if a student was not educated, they would be more likely to work for the factory themselves after finishing school -- if not even earlier, after dropping out.

They were breeding ignorance for their own advantage.

This was every bit as cruel as it sounds, but many religious powers in the world continue to do the exact same thing. The Creationism / Creation Science / Intelligent Design / Whatever-it-will-be-called-next movement has been trying to paint evolution as a controversial "just-a-theory" for decades. They want warning stickers placed on textbooks, creationist malarky to be given equal treatment, and have even gone so far as to glue textbook pages together to hide offending material.

But these religious zombie masters go even further than just stripping people of their educational potential. They are actively pumping their sheep full of misinformation. I discussed the Creation Museum disaster yesterday, but it certainly doesn't end there. We've all heard about Conservapedia, too. We've also heard about the child abuse recorded in the documentary Jesus Camp, whose own website proudly makes it sound like a bile-inducing horror film:


Jesus Camp follows a group of young children to Pastor Becky Fisher's "Kids on Fire Summer Camp," where kids are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God's army and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ. The film is a first-ever look into an intense training ground that recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America's political future.


"army" ... "training ground" ... "recruits" ... In other words, it's the Christian version of a radical Madrasah school!

There are a couple of YouTube videos that were referenced on Dawkins' site earlier today that really horrified me. The level of ignorance these videos are trying to spread makes my head spin.




The first one really drives home an opinion I've long had -- Creationists just don't understand long periods of time. This guy thinks that a jar of peanut butter will -- according to his straw-man version of evolution -- occassionally spawn new life? Let's ignore the fact that the chemical composition of peanut butter is far different than the chemical environment of early earth. He is saying the equivalent of, just because none of the lottery tickets I've bought ever won anything, winning lottery tickets must not exist. How many times do you buy peanut butter in your lifetime? 100 times? 200 times? How does that possibly compare to a billion billion billion molecules interacting with each other every second for a billion years?




The second one is labelled "The atheist's nightmare" and that's true. Except the banana isn't the nightmare, it's the guy holding it that scares me. I'd like to hear what this guy has to say about brazil nuts. Or coconuts. Or pineapples.

7 comments:

alex said...

“Jesus Camp follows a group of young children to Pastor Becky Fisher's "Kids on Fire Summer Camp," where kids are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God's army and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ. The film is a first-ever look into an intense training ground that recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America's political future.”

You know, some days I feel optimistic about the future of this country and then I read something like this and get very nervous and scared for my kids. How are these nut jobs different from the training camps in the Middle East? The only thing that separates them is that over there they teach their kids to willingly and happily sacrifice their lives for their god and I’m afraid our local American fanatics are only a small step away from teaching their kids to do the same.

And the videos are unbelievable! This is their best argument against the brightest minds on this planet and against evolution?! The fact that there is no new life in the peanut butter jar he got at the grocery store and that bananas have 3 ridges and are curved?! Come on! I don’t know if there is anything we can do against moronic beliefs like that. I think these people cannot be helped.
Very sad.

new.atheist said...

Actually, just recently, didn't peanut butter spawn life? Botulism or e-coli or something? Hehe.

I've also commented on the damn banana video: http://new-atheist.blogspot.com/2006/11/its-bananas.html
To sum up: bananas don't grow in nature, they're "genetically modified" by man to be the fun edible form we know & love, and cannot exist in the wild! *sigh*

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

Holy shit! Sounds like you're from the same Southern VA town I'm from!

Godless Geek said...

The whole Way of the Master series is amusing in a really sad way. Iron Chariots has posted counter arguments of three of them, including the one the banana argument came from.

Naomi said...

I was born in Waynesboro VA, small but lightyears from SW Va. One of the few towns I do know of (kinda) is Big Stone Gap, from the books by Adrianna Triggiana. I think her "Big Cherry Holler" is fictional but BSG isn't!

The closest I physically got to there was Kingsport TN. Beautiful to look at, I know. Easy living? Probably not.

Mix in some gaud-iness and you're lost forever.

David W. said...

I have a friend whose family moved to Waynesboro after we graduated high school. And I have family in Kingsport. Big Stone Gap is further west than we were. I grew up in Galax, directly opposite of Roanoke from Waynesboro, about the same distance.

Big universe. Small world!

The Alpha said...

Honestly, I don't even think he believes this stuff himself. I think he knows, however, that there are some uneducated people that will believe it. Aside from the fact that evolution and abiogenesis are two different things, I don't seriously think he is that ignorant to assume that the current inability to make life from non-life out of SOME chemical mixtures means that you CAN'T make life from non-life out of ANY chemical mixtures. Additionally, even if we ignored the experiments that created organic material out of inorganic material, it doesn't prove the existence of God. This is what I call "Lies told for God."