Originally Posted by viscousmemories
Funny, I was just thinking about dinosaurs yesterday. Specifically, I was wondering how various believers reason about the existence of dinosaur fossils when the scientific consensus conflicts with their religious beliefs. Like Young Earth Creationists -- do they think God created the fossils as they are, that they aren't really very old, or what?
Many possibilities exist depending upon the foundation a person has for their beliefs. There are intellectual Christians, such as the author of the biology textbook which was part of the Dover Decision--he is a devout Catholic but firmly believes in evolution, obviously. He, like many, compartmentalizes his critical thinking. He can look at fossils critically but then go and pray and not wonder why prayers are never answered. As a scientist, he can wonder about what the fossil evidence demonstrates, but not what the evidence of reality--such as children with cancer, country western music--indicates about the Pure Love Deity he wishes exists.
Stephen J. Gould was another example. His "solution" was to wave his hands and pretend you cannot critically examine religions--make sure you conjure up a sofistikated Latin term--Non-Overlapping Magesteria
--it evens has an acronym: "NOMA"
--to scare everyone away!
I am reminded of a discussion from a former member of the "Jesus Seminar" when the subject of the resurrection arose. He reasoned that that was a pretty easy decision--it never happened! The dead stay dead! On the contrary, he described how the brows furrowed on many and they strained mightily to justify the conclusion that the dead do not stay dead! Every attempt to put Junior in a coma suffers from that same backwards thinking. I remain unaware that 1st century CE medicine understood the concept of airway protection, let alone assisted ventilation.
Now we can move to the obvious extreme: those who need firm
evidence and see it in a book. This is why we have books now: that belief that "if it is written, so let it be done!" Point to a page and be correct. In the rain.
Tie beliefs so firmly and you have a problem. Similar to Stephen J. Gould's ipse dixit
, "fundamentalism" comes from a declaration of "fundamentals" of which biblical inerrancy was one: "the Bible is inerrant because it is the perfect word of Big Daddy and we know it is the perfect word of Big Daddy because it is in the Bible." This remains an appeal to ignorance that can only be sustained by willful ignorance: "it's in the Bible, I believe it, end of discussion!" bumper sticker thinking. However, My Droogs and Only Friends, I hope ye have come to ken that few know what actually is
in the texts. If one appeals to literal truth, they are stuck with matters like a flat Earth.
The actual, bona fide
Flat Earth Societies of England and America came from that: the Bible describes the Earth as flat so it must be flat. Her Liviness
posted a few months ago a model of such a flat Earth from the Smithsonian that tried to have a flat Earth while satisfying astronomical and terrestrial reality. It failed of course. Part of the "we did not land on the Moon" conspiracy derives from that event since it rather established the Earth is NOT flat. The Late Head of the American version of the Flat Earth Society was a big proponent of the fake Moon landing for this reason.
I affirm that one has to remain ignorant to sustain the belief; if one cites the Bible piecemeal, quotes passages, but never looks at individual texts as whole and, critically, never without trying to read in what you expect, one is not confronted by such challenges. If I had a Luxemboringian Quatloo for every time a Fundamentalist Christian declared "the Bible does NOT say ____" I could afford the toilet paper.
Moving from that extreme you are left with the sort of amorphous level of compartmentalized critical thinking: just use it selectively. So you see evolution, the time scales involved, and then celebrate the belief Big Daddy made it all happen . . . even that part about babies being eaten . . . no wait!
We do this all of the time. I use sports as a constant analogy--I even used it recently in a discussion on the very topic. A minister-in-training asked, publicly, what does he do when he has his faith in one hand--his metaphor--and "all of this evidence in the other." I reminded him that reality really does not care about belief. We have evidence, and we have to deal with it. I
would like to firmly believe Bucky @#$% Dent did not hit that home run, that Grady Little did not leave in Pedro . . . that the Red Sox had a bullpen against the Mets . . . Bobby Valentine?!
--but no one cares. Like any myth maker, I can make up my own myth to change all of that--I will confess a lot of laughter when I declared, in my myth, the Red Sox always win and the Yankees always lose. Bit of a New York contingent there.
But it is not reality.
So, then, we are like sports fans. We create rituals: "if I wear this
underwear, Tom Brady never throws a pick and Peyton Manning breaks his neck--IT WORKS!!!!" We try desperately to control events we cannot. Faced with facts, we will recast them. Regarding Bobby Valentine as a new Red Sox manager, "Sawx Fans"--and the reporters--guffawed over the concept weeks ago. The few who suggested him were relegated with the drunks who suggested Tony LaRousa, Jerry Remy--
--and Bill Belichick--"he likes baseball! He's friends with LaRousa!!"
Weeks pass . . . now "Bobby Me" is the new manager and EVERYONE is saying how he is the "logical choice."
As a religion, sports fans seemed
to completely changed their views, but they really did not. They simply pretended that the reality is different. Now they support the aspects of "Bobby Me" they condemned a few weeks ago.
So a creationist sees Big Daddy's Hand in evolution . . . but not in Little Sally's cancer. They see it in the mountain ranges, but not in earthquakes . . . unless it happens to Brown People, of course. They are heathens!
You see this with the Global Warming debates--in fact, the attempts to make what is happening something else is
a religion. Seriously. If there were evidence otherwise, the Mildred
's of the world would not have to make up data, fudge horribly, and outright lie.
Hence Creationists who give us these lies and fallacies:
- 1. More and more scientists are rejecting evolution.
2. Evolution creates more questions than it can answer.
3. After over 100 years, there STILL is no evidence for evolution.
4. Where are the transitional fossils?
5. Evolution cannot explain how life arose!
6. The more it is studied, the more it resembles the Bible!
Now, what is important is NOT that one convinces the world, but one convinces oneself
. Frankly, those who wish to believe in fairy tales, do not require much convincing.