This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Monday, 26 November 2012
The Creationist Mindset
Several years ago I was watching a Christian fringe sect prayer meeting in action. One of the speakers was a young man in an impeccable grey suit, white shirt and red tie who was holding forth at the top of his voice: “How can we be descended from monkeys? I don’t believe this. It’s not possible!”
Yesterday, while researching chain mail armour for a piece of fiction I’m writing, I came across a web page that argued that Neanderthals were modern humans who lived within the last five hundred years (“since the flood” was also written along with the last five hundred years, implying that the Biblical flood is just a few centuries old, something the Bible never claimed). This was a creationist site, of course, and the authors also accused “evolutionists” of racism and wilful ignoring of evidence. They (the authors) themselves seem never to have heard of radiocarbon dating or DNA analysis. So much for their arguments.
However, the two episodes I mentioned seem to me to encompass within themselves the essential mindset of the creationist fringe. I call it a fringe because, obviously, it is not necessary to be a creationist to be religious. The Catholic Church for instance now accepts evolution as a reality and has dismissed creationism. However, it’s a powerful fringe, mainly because it wields power out of all proportion to its size in the US, and the US wields power out of all proportion to its size in the world at present.
Creationism is a very real danger for a simple reason. Creationists – theists in general, true, but creationists in particular – must by the very nature of their belief put a hypothetical supreme being over everything. Since this supreme being created all of us and everything around us, it stands to reason that It will step in and rescue us from whatever fuck-up we create. Or else if we destroy something utterly and totally, it stands to reason that the supreme being allowed it to be destroyed because such was Its will. Either way, we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions. You see where that will lead us? War, genocide, environmental destruction.
It is, therefore, important to try and understand the creationist mindset.
It’s not my purpose in this blog post to argue creationism versus science. So, I’m not going to spend time shooting down creationist arguments, which in any case is akin to potting sitting ducks. The point I’m trying to make is that the average creationist argument is so primitive, so all-round dumb, that one wonders why they would try and put up such stupid reasoning anyway.
Is it because they are stupid? The rank and file, like the moron at the prayer meeting, undoubtedly are. But they aren’t significant. They will think what they are told to think. It’s the other lot, the sort of person who wrote the web articles, who are the interesting ones. And they arenot stupid.
It may be true that they are mercenary predators on the gullibility of common people, and of course no religion can survive without the constant inflow of massive amounts of money. But this alone can’t explain it. If money were all that was necessary, then we might have expected at least a more organised and less paltry line of thinking and reasoning, one that wouldn’t blow away like smoke in the light of day.
What I think exemplifies the creationist mindset is preconception. Unlike science, which takes nothing for granted unless it’s been experimentally verified, creationists come in with an utterly shuttered world view. Everything – everything – must be made to concur with that world view. If someone begins with the idea that things fall not because of gravity but because invisible demons are dragging them down, he, I submit, will explain everything – planetary motions, black holes, everything that has anything to do with gravity – in terms of demons. Or if he can’t do that, he will ignore the existence of such facts. He literally won’t see them. It’s like being selectively blind.
And this is why creationism has to be fought right at the primary school level. As I said a couple of posts earlier, theism alreadytargets children for brainwashing. A child who’s brainwashed to believe in creationism as well is an automaton forever and ever, amen.
Of course there are the semi-creationists as well. There is my ex-classmate Simon, who proudly declared that “as a scientist he believes in evolution, but as a Christian he believes in Genesis.”