A Profound and Willful Ignorance

An American football field is 6,400 square yards. That’s 8,294,400 square inches. But a Creationist who subscribes to Bishop Ussher‘s calculation of the age of the earth would focus exclusively on about 11 square inches in one corner of the football field – about 3.3 inches on a side – and absolutely deny that the rest of the football field exists

At least they would if the football field represented the age of our planet Earth.

Of course, it’s much worse than that. If you take the age of the universe – currently thought to be about about 13.8 billion years – then our Creationist, our Biblical literalist, would focus on just 3.6 square inches, about 1.9 inches on a side, and absolutely deny the rest of the football field existed. Ignoring 99.99996% of the football field; worse, denying it was there.

Creationism involves that kind of absolute extremism. That order of willful blindness and denial.

It’s bad enough that supposedly rational adults inflict those kind of blindfolds on themselves. It’s even worse that the Christianists inflict that profoundly limiting world view on their children. But they refuse to stop there. They want to try to “teach” it to everyone. They want to force public education to teach that grotesque distortion of reality to everyone. As “science.”

WC does truly try to understand other folks’ points of view, but this one is baffling. It’s an approach to the world that denies intellectual curiosity. It’s a world view that locked us in the Dark Ages for hundreds of years. It’s the belief that what is written in a badly translated, poorly edited book trumps reality.

Back when WC still attempted to argue with Biblical literalists, WC would point out that they used GPS units to find their way around cities. That GPS units depend upon radioactive particle decay rates to work. That a Biblical literalist necessarily believes that the same radioactive decay rate makes it impossible for the Bible and Bishop Ussher to be right.

And the response? That the a Biblical literalist doesn’t need to know anything about how a GPS works to use it. Once again, ignoring the other 99.99996% of the football field.

Of course, the Bible also says the earth is flat and sitting on pillars and cannot move (Ps 93:1, Ps 96:101 Sam 2:8Job 9:6). It says that great sea monsters are set to guard the edge of the sea (Job 41, Ps 104:26). And that another famous fundamentalist, The Quitter, should have stoned to death her daughter, Bristol; Deut. 22:13-21. But that’s a whole different subject.

But here’s the truly frightening part:

Gallup Poll, 2011

Gallup Poll, 2011

Three in ten Americans claim to believe in the literal truth of the Bible. 30% of Americans look at the 3.6 square inches of the football field and deny the rest exists. If you look at the Gallup data selected for political inclinations, it’s even worse:

Biblical views by political views

Biblical views by political views

Almost half of self-identified conservatives believe the Bible is literally true. The sciences of biology, geology, paleontology, astronomy and physics are lost to them, because the core principles in each of those fields are contradicted by the Bible.

It’s a depressing business, isn’t it? Your vote counts the same as theirs. Sigh. WC will console himself by re-reading the late H.L. Mencken’s essays for American Mercury on the trial, in Dayton, Tennessee, of John Scopes.

One thought on “A Profound and Willful Ignorance

  1. You are so right. When a friend of mine, an otherwise intelligent person, who has a master’s degree, who works as a psychologist, and is a staunch Catholic, tell me he isn’t sure “he believes” in the Theory of Evolution – then this country has a serious problem.

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