"If somewhere in the Bible I were to find a passage that says two plus two equals five, I wouldn’t question what I’m reading in the Bible. I would believe it—accept it as true and then do my best to work it out and to understand it."
-- The words of a creationist pastor, from the HBO documentary Questioning Darwin, which airs tonight
I'm not sure I've ever seen two sentences that better sum up the intellectually destructive nature of fundamentalist Christianity. It's all there: the unwillingness to accept new information; the determination to perform any feat of mental gymnastics to arrive at the conclusion that will satisfy tightly held biases; the gleeful reveling in rank stupidity and adherence to bronze age fairy tales, as if it's somehow a noble pursuit and not logically unimaginable in the year 2014.
Tonight HBO will air Questioning Darwin and if the trailer is any indication it's going to feature scenes that are guaranteed to offend almost as much as the scenes of children being ferociously indoctrinated in the ways of fundamentalist Christian dogma in the 2006 film Jesus Camp. What you're going to witness will be a breathtaking display of not simply passive ignorance but active intellectual violence, as people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old and was created in six days -- with Adam and Eve sharing the Garden of Eden with dinosaurs -- teaching the children they hope will carry that message into the future that they'll burn in hell if they don't believe such nonsense. It will be infuriating to watch. Infuriating, but necessary.
Last week, Bill Nye made the ill-advised decision to step onto a stage with the Rosetta Stone of creationist crap, Ken Ham, and argue the proven work of Darwin against the unproven and ridiculous at face value scribblings of a 2,000 year old book. Ham won before the debate had even begun, simply by virtue of religious ghost stories being given equal footing alongside actual science and the implication that there was any debate to be had. He didn't need to worry about being knocked off his pulpit because he knew the reality: when you believe anything, disregarding facts and evidence that logical people are expected to adhere to, you're automatically bulletproof. If you believe, as the pastor above does, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it," -- to appropriately quote a bumper sticker -- then your arguments are impenetrable simply because there's no way to reason with you.
People who accept logic as the foundation of their reasoning, as everyone does in almost every facet of their lives except when it comes to matters of faith, are hamstrung by the dictates of, you know, reality. If you make the decision to burn those dictates to the ground and just believe anything, no matter how insane, you in some ways become untouchable. But in the end it still doesn't make your insane beliefs true. It just means you can't be talked out of them. And make no mistake: perpetuating those beliefs through beating them into the minds of children, encouraging them to abandon science and reality and telling them they'll burn for all eternity if they don't -- that's the real evil here.
(via Christian Nightmares)