Dangers of creationism: Synapse shutdown


One of the ultimate defenses of creationism, once you’ve demonstrated that there is no science and no good theology in it, is the creationist claim “it doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Well, yes, it does. Over the years I’ve noticed that creationism appears to suck the intelligence right out of otherwise smart or educated people. I also note that it tends to make otherwise good and honest people defend academic debauchery and dishonesty.

It’s as if claiming to be creationist hogs all the available RAM in their brains and forces a near-total synapse shutdown.

Cases in point: Creationists are scrambling to the defense of the mockumentary movie “Expelled!” in which Ben Stein trots out almost every creationist canard known to Hollywood in defending some of the greater misdeeds of the intelligent design hoaxers. Otherwise sane, good people, claiming to be Christian, make atrocious defenses of the movie.

I cannot make this up: Go see Mere Orthodoxy and Thinking Christian. Bad enough they defend the movie — but to defend it because, they claim, Darwin and Hitler were brothers in thought? Because evolution urges immoral behavior? I stepped in something over at Thinking Christian, and when I called it to the attention of Tom Gilson in the comments, he deleted the comment. (I’ve reposted, but I wager he’ll delete that one, too, while letting other comments of mine stand; he’s got no answer to any of my complaints.)

The stupid goes past 11, proudly, defiantly. The Constitution specifically protects the right of people to believe any fool claptrap they choose. These defenses of a silly movie come awfully close to abuse of the privilege.

Other useful things:

Update: Holy mother of ostriches! Tom Gilson at “Thinking Christian” has a nifty device that bans people from viewing his blog. Paranoia sticks its head into a whole new depth of sand!  Here’s a truism:  Creationists who like to claim Darwin was the cause of Stalin and Hitler, which is by itself an extremely insulting and repugnant claim, almost never fail to resort to Stalinist and Hitlerian tactics when their claims are questioned.  Call it Darrell’s Law of Evolution History Revisionism.

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11 Responses to Dangers of creationism: Synapse shutdown

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Not only that, but that exceptionalism that Gilson defends is exactly the reasoning Hitler used: Jews were not human as were those Hitler deemed “Aryan,” nor were Gypsies nor homosexuals, nor English, nor Americans, nor Africans — and, therefore, since the Bible said all other species were for the use of humans, the Aryan humans could do what they liked with all the others.

    This is why I’m so astounded at the incompetent historical work done on the movie, which Tom just gives a pass to. One cannot read the literature of the Third Reich without encountering the dehumanizing of all other groups — opposite what the movie and Gilson argue Darwin’s theory does.

    Conflation, confabulation, confusion — but not fact, not truth, not history, not science. “Expelled!” is a mockumentary like “Best in Show,” or “Spinal Tap,” only lacking the humor, good grace, wit and intelligence those movies have.

    Thanks for the pointer.

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  2. RBH says:

    In the comments over there Gilson wrote

    Even if Hitler did not draw his dehumanizing ways from evolutionary theory (which I’ll leave as moot for now) there remains a very concerning parallel, between evolution’s dehumanizing of all homo sapiens and Hitler’s dehumanizing of the Jews; and we see similar kinds of thought patterns erupting in Peter Singer and PETA (not to mention the really radical animal rights activists). I stand by that also, and furthermore I believe the current form of this dehumanizing (if not Hitler’s) is highly dependent on evolutionary theory as a philosophical backdrop. Not divorced from reality; just observing what comes out of ideas as their consequences.

    There’s a subtle but very telling (and wholly illegitimate) transition in the first sentence of that quotation. In it Gibson falsely conflates the fact that according to common descent, humans are cousins to all living things, with “dehumanizing” all homo sapiens, and then equates that conflation with Hitler’s “dehumanizing of the Jews.” That latter equation depends on the false conflation of our cousinship with other animals and “dehumanization.” Basing an argument on false equations and conflations of terms that mean very different things is simply incompetent.

    What Gilson is defending (poorly) is human exceptionalism, and he apparently thinks that any biological relationship Homo sapiens has with other living things corrodes that exceptionalism.

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    If your position is to support the themes of the mockumentary (this is an odd discussion — why would anyone support a mockumentary? Did anyone take “Spinal Tap” seriously?), then you’re making the comparison.

    It’s a naive, and mostly wrong, claim that there is a link from Darwin to Hitler. Seriously, Tom, have you never heard of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles? You’ve never heard of Herbert Spencer and “Social Darwinism?” You are completely unaware of the Industrial Revolution? You don’t know that Calvin turned Servetus over to be burned at the stake? Good grief! The claims of connections are contrived at best. There are good histories of the rise and fall of the Third Reich — none of which shows up in the movie, and none of which any supporter of the movie seems to be aware.

    There is so much in error there — as history, your view is not even wrong. As science, it’s worse than that.

    Few minutes? You ignore the entirety of the 18th and 19th centuries, and you want to fix it with tags in a few minutes?

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  4. Ediacaran says:

    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), Houghton Mifflin, New York: Hutchinson Publ. Ltd., London, 1969, p. 60.

    It wasn’t Darwin that Hitler was basing his genocidal agenda upon. In fact, Darwin’s book was on a list of books banned by the Nazis: http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/10/from-darwin-to-2.html

    One of the mottos of the Nazis was “Gott Mit Uns” (“God With Us”). It wasn’t Darwin or his writings that was Hitler’s motivation. Maybe the genocide of the Midianites lauded in the bible was one of Hitler’s inspirations, but On the Origin of Species sure wasn’t one of them.
    http://libertesinternets.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/hitlergottmituns.gif
    http://www.bowness.demon.co.uk/buckle.jpg

    Moreover, Hitler was a Christian, specifically a Roman Catholic. Protestants need not feel smug, though, since the founder of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther, advocated a similar agenda against Jews as Hitler did. See http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/Luther_on_Jews.html . At the link, scroll down to Luther’s version of the “Final Solution”; here’s the first item in his list:

    “First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.” — Martin Luther

    It gets worse from there.

    And be sure to read the Anti-Defamation League’s press release: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/5277_52.htm

    Those trying to fabricate a link between Darwin and Hitler have some serious explaining to do and some apologies to issue.

    Apparently, Ed called the creationist claptrap “an absolute crock of bovine excrement”. Granted, Ed should have been more respectful of bovine excrement, since it has more inherent value than what the creationists are spreading.

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  5. Tom Gilson says:

    Ed,

    If you can defend the comparison of Darwin to Hitler, defend it. If you can’t, don’t stand behind a screen of accusations that I was being offensive, when you post and defend that stuff.

    “The comparison of Darwin to Hitler” is your terminology, not mine. I don’t see any reason to “compare” them. I wrote of a historical link between them, and by now you’ve probably seen my outline, a brief recap that is, of how I’ve treated that in a responsible and nuanced fashion, with all due respect for errors that were made in the course of that history.

    The objections you have raised have been to things you think I’ve said, and not to things I’ve actually said.

    You’ve asked me to support a position, and even though my position is not what you’ve said it is, I have supported the position that I have taken. You may read it here. In fact if you give me a few minutes here I’ll put on some series tags that will organize it front-to-back chronologically and make it easier to follow in the intended sequence.

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  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Tom, you defend the comparisons of Darwin to Hitler, and then you accuse me of “misrepresenting?” Astounding.

    I read your message. It says I’m blocked from viewing the blog. How else am I supposed to take that, other than I am blocked from viewing the blog, when I can’t view the blog?

    If you can defend the comparison of Darwin to Hitler, defend it. If you can’t, don’t stand behind a screen of accusations that I was being offensive, when you post and defend that stuff.

    Darwin was a kind a gentle man, a fellow who argued against slavery and racism, who put his own money to end slavery in Britain. He defended Christian morality at every turn despite nasty attacks on him and his family by people in the church. He discovered one of the greatest chunks of science in history, one of the great ideas of western civilization. Evolution theory today keeps diabetics alive, cures cancer, offers hope for cures of many other diseases, feeds billions, and explains nature.

    Nothing in Darwin’s life or theory deserves the insults heaped up by Ben Stein’s mockumentary.

    Darwin personally was the epitome of Christian morality. In his writings, he defended Christian morality as essential to the species. You claim the logical extension of Darwin’s work is the Holocaust? Seriously? Yes, I know others make the charge. I expect you to be more on top of history, science, and theology. You know better.

    And when you make such incendiary claims, you shouldn’t be surprised to be met with strong opposition.

    You defend the more scurrilous and less accurate charges against Darwin . . . nuts.

    Stereotyping? I’m merely reciting the facts. If you don’t like that description, change the facts.

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  7. Tom Gilson says:

    Oops–I meant,

    “You saw that message, and yet you represented me as intentionally trying to prevent you from viewing the blog.”

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  8. Tom Gilson says:

    Paranoia? This is the message that was shown when you ran into a temporary hold there, which has now been removed. Let me explain that first: I had reached a point where I was weary of the misrepresentations. Another frequent commenter on my blog, though, encouraged me to leave the door open for your commenting. So I lifted the ban. And then I saw your post here. I’m sure you’ll be convinced this is a lie, but that was actually the sequence of events.

    Anyway, this is what you have represented as “Tom Gilson at “Thinking Christian” has a nifty device that bans people from viewing his blog. Paranoia sticks its head into a whole new depth of sand!”

    Your computer has been prevented from viewing this blog. This may be either because you have been identified as a spammer, or because you have been banned from commenting. If the second of these is true, my intent was to find a way to enforce the ban on comments, not to prevent you from reading; but I have not found another way to do this.

    You saw that message, and yet you represented me as intentionally trying to prevent me from viewing the blog. I acknowledge that for a period this afternoon I was blocking you from commenting. But you missed the point of the message you saw.

    Ed, would you please stop stereotyping? Do you realize that this is what you’re doing? (See also here, for my comments on similar things you’ve done in comments on my blog). Do you realize how it comes across?

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  9. Ed Darrell says:

    You’re welcome here any time, Tom. Evolution theory, and Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, welcome robust discussion. However, if you posit an argument that resembles what George Bush used to call “deep yogurt,” your argument will be called deep yogurt.

    I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal opposition to every form of tyranny over the mind of man, Tom, including the cowardly, dastardly and incorrect claim that Darwin was a precursor of Hitler, a fan of Hitler, a necessary condition of Hitler, or in any other way, related to Hitler in a fashion that is not supported by history or any other evidence.

    You’re safe to make such bizarre claims at your blog. And, it appears, you’re safe to protect yourself against criticism no matter how valid.

    I’d love to hear you defend your claim sometime. What you said, that you have so far refused to defend is this:

    There is an ethical consequence to Darwinism. It is not, as was supposed at the time, that it leads to a moral requirement that we “advance the species.” The connection is this: naturalistic Darwinism, if taken to be the sole explanation for all of life,* erases all ethical requirements.

    Completely false. Cannot be supported by any writing of Darwin. Not demonstrated by anything you’ve said. Not supported by any serious study of ethics. If you resent the label, don’t make the argument.

    Like

  10. Tom Gilson says:

    The Thinking Christian blog has a discussion policy that calls for mutual respect. The comment I deleted was not what Ed represented it to be here. It included

    That statement of yours is an absolute crock of bovine excrement. I assume you’ve never studied biology at all, and it appears you’ve not studied ethics, either. Wherever did you get such a bizarre idea?

    Scatology does not indicate or communicate respect. That’s what got your comment deleted.

    Now, do you have a comments policy that I’ve violated? Will this answer stand?

    Like

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