Today’s post is by a guest author, Con-Tester, who has been exposing irrationality and dishonesty, whenever and wherever encountered, for many years. It was initially submitted as a comment on this post.

Best,

Hendrik

 

It seems to me that cretinists’ clamouring for respect is fundamentally, profoundly and irreparably depraved, and that this wanton immorality provides more than sufficient warrant to ridicule and to deride it wherever it is found. There are several reasons why I think cretinism is essentially iniquitous, and why it is a moral necessity to oppose it through ridicule and scorn wherever it sticks up its duplicitous head. While there is little doubt that this is a polarising tactic, I think it’s a necessary one.

 

First, there is the searing arrogance, the blistering conceit, of those semiliterate and woefully innumerate imbeciles, usually just barely capable of operating an Internet connection, who think that their malformed, outmoded, juvenile, retarded and intellectually bankrupt distortions actually present some kind of serious challenge to the extensive body of established science they view as a threat to their delusions. Their vulgar vanity is compounded further by a mulish refusal to educate themselves properly first. Catchphrases and fantasies are their currency which they trade on a market of deceptions.

 

Second, they would poison and hobble children’s minds with their festering dung. More particularly, it is no less than lying by omission to ignore facts and evidence when they dispute your worldview. These ludicrous and incessant attacks on biological evolution by the godiots are motivated by one simple factor: Evolution denies humans their specialness as the unique creation of an imaginary skydaddy, a humbling reality that godiots can’t stomach, and so they’ll dodge it any way they can. They disguise their obtuseness with meaningless jabber and infect children with the idea that it’s a virtue to lie in order to preserve a pacifying absurdity.

 

Third, their magical thinking is incompatible with a technological society. You can’t invent, design, operate or produce anything just by praying for it. You have to face the hard reality that reality is hard and impervious to how you wish things were. That is, you have to align your thinking and behaviour with reality because reality will soon fuck you up if you don’t. To promote the idea that comforting fables not only can replace reality, but must do so, is the pinnacle of smug, egomaniacal narcissism.

 

Fourth and closely related to the previous point, there’s the inherent idea that reality must bow to their wishes. It’s a badly warped mentality that believes that simply by disbelieving it, an uncomfortable reality will just go away and become something more agreeable.

 

Fifth, there’s the cretinists’ incessant subversion of facts, evidence and reason towards some purportedly “nobler” cause. But there’s no nobility in lying, even unconscious lying, and so they act in self-contradictory ways. There’s no nobility in intellectual cowardice either, and so it is repugnant that they continue to cling to irrational and unsustainable bunkum well after it has overwhelmingly been shown to be irrational and unsustainable bunkum. How is such obnoxious pig-headedness worthy of anything other than disparagement and mockery?

 

Sixth, an examination of the more radical proponents of this self-serving baloney soon reveals that what they’re really after is the control of others. They want a theocracy, most especially one with themselves at the helm. They would eagerly strip you of all manner of rights and freedoms in pursuit of this fevered dream because, after all, the voice echoing in their vacuous skulls must be obeyed at all costs.

 

Finally, their sheer number is an outrage in this day and age of readily accessible information. If they were few, they could safely be ignored as largely irrelevant Luddites. But there are drooling hordes of them, all armed to the gills with buckets of blusterous indignation, craniums brimming with defective cognition, carrying Dunning-Kruger shields, and intent on slaughtering our hard-won Enlightenment values for the sake of a Bronze Age superstition.

 

These people aren’t just stupid, closed-minded and ignorant. They are dangerously, selectively, dishonestly and recklessly so, constituting a significant obstacle to humanity’s progress and future, quite possibly a ruinous one. And simply disregarding an obvious crime-in-progress is itself a crime.

 

When, as usual, a more amiable approach fails, we have a moral duty to heckle and scoff at these antiquated idiots — as per the following video, which echoes several of the above points a bit more, er, viscerally.

 

Con-Tester

 

 

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Prof George Claassen makes a number of important points in his September 18, 2009 blog post “State schools contravene law on religious instruction“: (http://web.archive.org/web/20090926081603/http://prometheusongebonde.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/state-schools-contravene-law-on-religious-instruction/#comments ).  South Africa has yet to publicly debate the proper line to be drawn between religious freedom on the one hand, and abuse of state institutions to promote religion, on the other hand.  In mature democracies like the USA and France, this delicate issue was settled shortly after the founding of these democracies some centuries ago.  So perhaps the time is now ripe to put this subject on the agenda of South African public discourse, as George has done.

The subject of my post is however not the (illegal) promotion of religion in state schools, but rather the teaching of Creationism in Natural Science classes in South African schools – a very clear case of the abuse of institutions of state to promote the personal religion of the teacher.

Creationism can be defined as the doctrine that the universe, (presumably including the Milky Way galaxy and our solar system – items strangely enough omitted from the prosaic descriptions in holy books), the earth and all life were created in their present forms by a personal, omnipotent, deity.  All as described in a specific holy book, the title and date of compilation depending on which flavour of Middle Eastern monotheism the believer happens to subscribe to.

The Christian “Young Earth Creationists” believe this Creation event occurred approximately 6000 years ago.  Historically, many attempts at calculating the date of Creation were made, amongst others by Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler and Joseph Scaliger.  In one of the best known of these calculations, Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) figured out that Creation must have occurred in the third week of October 4004 BCE.  Ussher’s specific choice of starting year may have been influenced by the then-widely-held belief that the earth’s design life was 6,000 years, 4,000 before the birth of Christ and 2,000 after, corresponding to the six days of Creation, on the grounds that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).  Needless to say, Archbishop Ussher’s implied prediction that Planet Earth would expire in 1997 CE did not come true.

The latest South African “Revised National Curriculum Statement for Grades R-9 (Schools) Natural Sciences” was published in Gazette No. 23406, Vol 443, in May 2002.  The Curriculum Statement provides a definition of “Science” on p4 from which the following extract forms part: “To be accepted as science, certain methods of inquiry are generally used. They promote reproducibility, attempts at objectivity, and a systematic approach to scientific inquiry. These methods include formulating hypotheses, and designing and carrying out experiments to test the hypotheses. Repeated investigations are undertaken, and the resulting methods and results are carefully examined and debated before they are accepted as valid.”  The Curriculum Statement proposes four core knowledge areas in Natural Sciences, to wit (1) Life and Living, (2) Energy and Change, (3) Planet Earth and Beyond and (4) Matter and Materials.  I have not studied the whole Curriculum Statement in detail, but have no objections to what I read there.

My youngest child attends a state primary school in an established middle class neighbourhood in Pretoria, Gauteng Province.  Natural Sciences is an obligatory subject.  Earlier this year (2009) the origin and evolution of life was the subject in class for a couple of weeks.  The teacher (let’s call her Mrs D) distributed class notes containing the following:

“How did the universe originate?

  • There are many beliefs and scientific theories regarding this.  The one that is generally accepted is the “Big Bang” theory.
  • Cosmologists believe that between 15 and 20 billion years ago a huge explosion known as the Big Bang took place.  Everything shot out of nothing and formed solar systems.  Our own sun and its planets were also born in this manner.”

(My translation.  The original reads: “Hoe het die heelal ontstaan?  Daar is baie gelowe en wetenskaplike teorieë hieroor.  Die een wat algemeen aanvaar word is die “Oerknalteorie”.  Sterrekundiges glo dat daar sowat 15 tot 20 biljoen jaar gelede ‘n baie groot ontploffing bekend as die Oerknal plaasgevind het.  Alles het uit niks uitgeskiet en sterrestelsels gevorm.  Ons eie son en sy planete is ook op hierdie manier gebore.”)

The objection against the above is of course that it is expressed in the typical creationist vocabulary usually applied to conjure up the straw man version of the Big Bang.  “There are many beliefs…”   “Cosmologists believe…”   “…a huge explosion…”   “..everything shot out of nothing…”   “…born…”   and of course the wide window of uncertainty implied by the “…15 to 20 billion years…”, as opposed to the current scientific estimate of 13,7 billion years.

The central theme of the lesson was however not contained in these printed class notes.  Mrs D proceeded to read from Genesis 1, explaining to the children that the biblical version is what actually happened, as opposed to what those ignorant cosmologists “believe”.  So light and darkness were created on the first day, the firmament separating waters above from waters below on the second day, dry land and sea on the third day, and eventually the lights in the firmament, the sun and moon on the fourth day.  It was not mentioned at all to the class that the bizarre sequence of events described in Genesis stands diametrically opposed to the scientifically well-understood and actual sequence of star and planet formation.

Needless to say, my child was mortified.

In a next Natural Sciences class, still on the origin and evolution of life, Mrs D once again had the Bible open at Genesis 1.  This time the different life forms were being discussed.  No class notes were used, for reasons that will immediately become obvious.  Mrs D proceeded to draw a huge table with six blocks on the black board – respectively titled “Day 1” to “Day 6”.  The species as “created by God” on the appropriate days were written into the blocks – grass and trees on the third day, fish and birds on the fifth day, and reptiles, mammals and humans on the sixth day.  The evolution of life and speciation by means of natural selection was never mentioned, except by oblique reference to the effect that “…many people believe different things about the way life on earth developed.”

A pupil asked Mrs D where dinosaurs fitted into the table with the six blocks, only to be told that they were merely one of the “walking / crawling” animals created on the sixth day.  The scientific fact that the descendants of dinosaurs are still alive today in the form of birds, was never mentioned.  Mrs D did however make a rather big fuss about the “huge difference” between humans and animals.  According to her, the latter were called into existence by God’s divine command, whereas homo sapiens was apparently sculpted “in the image” of the Creator.  The fossil record, the DNA evidence for common descent, the factors that promote speciation and the process of evolution by natural selection were not mentioned.  Not a word on the overwhelming evidence for the descent of homo sapiens from earlier hominid species and his relatedness to other big apes alive today.  Nothing.  Only Genesis.

When my child reported these strange events from the Natural Sciences class to me I was furious.  A person like Mrs D is clearly guilty of gross dereliction of duty and wilful misrepresentation.  In my opinion, she ought to be summarily dismissed.  But how does one address this while one’s child is still in the school?  If the parents were to object to this type of “scientific” instruction, the child will almost certainly be subject to ostracism and possibly even stronger forms of censure.  The power of an old myth book is alive and well in 2009, in at least one South African state school.  I suspect the same holds true for most.

God’s Voice

February 10, 2009

As an ex Christian, allow me to explain the concept of hearing “The voice of God”.

We often hear people say “God warned me and I did not listen” or “God told me she was a good person” or even “God told me to stay away from that place”. There are countless examples of people claiming to “hear” God speak. However, upon investigation one might ask them the simple question: “What does God’s voice sound like?” resulting in a puzzled look from the person claiming to hear God speak. For all the non-believers out there, allow me to try and provide some more insight. Christians do not “hear” the voice of God, they feel it. Sure, some may claim to hear an audible voice, but, as any good pastor will tell you, this is a bonus and not the expectation. Of course, there are many people in mental institutions who claim to hear audible voices and so the fact remains that hearing an audible voice does not mean it came from any god. For most Christians though, God speaks with a “feeling”. There is a saying: “The soft still voice of the Holy Spirit that screams at you”. You most often hear Christians say things like “I feel God is saying…”

As a former Christian, I still “hear” the “Voice of God”. I have however discovered its real name. It is called gut feel. There is no difference. Sure, some people would claim there is a difference, but one needs to consider their motives, their beliefs and their investment in the belief that they are privileged enough to hear God speak. My gut feel and my previous experience of “The Voice Of God (TM)” is the same thing, just different names. People sometimes experience a gut feel, about a person, a place, a situation, an idea and many other things. In the same way Christians live with the belief that God speaks to them by a “feeling”, about persons, places, situations ideas and many other things. This “voice in the back of your head” is also often called the subconscious.

Considering this situation one needs to look at the implications of this. Atheists experience “gut feel”, but they are not ruled by it. It may act as an initial assumption until the situation can be assessed in greater detail. Do not judge a book by its cover, but if the cover is horrendous, the gut feel might just tell you that a horrendous book may be expected. Yet, this is not always so. Many times we judge an initial situation, realise our error and change our perceptions about it. This is a good thing. The problem arises when a gut feel is idolised as the Voice of the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth (TM). Disobeying the Voice of God is a sin. It is therefore a sin to question a gut feel. In all fairness, Christians will tell you that you need to judge the “Voice of God” that you hear against the Bible, just to make sure. The claim is that the “Voice of God” will never violate Biblical principles. Should the voice you hear/feel violate some part of the Bible, it is automatically assumed that it is an evil spirit tempting the person or just the person making stuff up. In plain words, if you hear “God’s Voice”, and it sounds in line with the teachings of the Bible, then it is the Voice of God (TM). If the voice is not in accordance with the Bible, it is an evil, lying spirit and should be rebuked, then ignored.

Major mayhem sometimes breaks out when Christians hear the Voice of God differently. “God told me he will live” vs. “God told me his time is up”. On a large scale new denominations can form because of the conflict regarding God’s plan and what people hear/feel it is. This is an even bigger problem with fuzzy areas in Biblical doctrine, because some people “hear” God say A, and another bunch is convinced God says B. It is an unfortunate fact that the Side A people will often tell the Side B people that they are deceived by a lying spirit, and vice versa. Take baptism for instance. Millions of Christians are sure God says they should baptise children while millions more feel God is saying it should only be adults. When God told George Bush to invade Iraq, one no longer has to wonder about the source. Let’s face it. Millions of other Christians were convinced he was wrong and heard God in a different way, altogether.

Is this perhaps one of religion’s most dangerous sides? In a world where people worship their gut feel as God, a God that commands all obedience, the danger of enforcing one’s gut feel on other people is enormous. Christians often walk up to people because “God told me to minister to that person”. This is annoying and not dangerous, but when people think God commanded them to invade other countries, it really does become a major problem. Why? Because people die. Soldiers die, woman die, children die and many that does not die suffers in horrible ways. The crusades were full of people that “heard” God tell them to go on a crusade and kill unbelievers. In fact, obeying the gut feel, or, the Voice of God, is encouraged as part of the “personal” relationship with God. This is ironic, because it might just be a “personal” relationship with your gut feel, coupled with your desires and some indoctrination. Reasoning with emotion is a futile enterprise and a gut feel may very well be an emotional response. Thus, what some people think they “hear” God say can be a very real threat to other people and as history has taught us, it has been the cause of much suffering and carnage.

If you think you “feel” or hear god speak to you then I would encourage you not to blindly follow the “voice”. For one, you do not possess magical powers that allow you special communication with god that other people do not have. Please don’t ever forget this.

I should also point out that many preachers exploit the gut feel concept. Preaching on how God wants you to give money to the church or ministry and then asking you to listen to the voice of god, listen if it tells you to make a contribution. Now, people generally want to do good things and if they are convinced that giving god some of their money is a good thing and a desire of god, then they will act on it. The gut feel to give is an emotional response to the pleas/threats of the pastor/priest. If people can be convinced that the emotional response, the “gut feel” is the voice of God then they will act the way the sermon preacher manipulated them.