Creationism and Conspiracism

Katha Pollit has an interesting piece in The Nation about why it matters that so many Americans are creationists.

It isn’t that 46 percent of respondents are creationists (“God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last ten thousand years or so”). Or that 32 percent believe in “theistic evolution” (“Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process”). Or that only 15 percent said humans evolved and “God had no part in this process.” It isn’t even that the percentage of Americans with creationist views has barely budged since 1982, when it was 44 percent, with a small rise in the no-God vote (up from 9 percent) coming at the expense of the divine-help position (down from 38 percent). Or that 58 percent of Republicans are creationists, although that does explain a lot.

Beyond the failure in education, anti-intellectualism, and downright ignorance–the troika that allows the organized right to make such good use of climate change denial and Agenda 21 paranoia–it speaks to the default paranoia that lies behind so many Americans’ thinking:

Think what the world would have to be like for evolution to be false. Almost every scientist on earth would have to be engaged in a fraud so complex and extensive it involved every field from archaeology, paleontology, geology and genetics to biology, chemistry and physics. And yet this massive concatenation of lies and delusion is so full of obvious holes that a pastor with a Bible-college degree or a homeschooling parent with no degree at all can see right through it. A flute discovered in southern Germany is 43,000 years old? Not bloody likely. It’s probably some old bone left over from an ancient barbecue.

This is also what allows the right to use American Exceptionalism as a wedge issue–the fact that so many ignorant Americans have such unjustifiably high opinions of their own ability to know the truth and such contempt for everybody else’s. It’s where Evangelicalist absolutism and the populist strain in politics come together to do their worst.

But as annoying and dangerous as all this is, it’s not something that more stringent educational standards will cure. Evangelicalists don’t want to be Evolutionists–they want to be saved. And twist it as you might, you can’t reconcile a belief in Darwinian evolution with a personal God who reserves the gift of eternal life only for those who put their faith in His son. People whose patriotism is premised on Exceptionalism are going to be very protective of American Sovereignty–why shouldn’t they, if every other country is wrong? America’s Founders knew about this kind of thinking, which is why they had an abiding distrust of both direct democracy and established churches.

The one thing I think we should do is cut the 32 percent who believe that God “guides” evolution some slack. No, they can’t really have their cake and eat it too, but why rub their faces in it? At least they’re willing to acknowledge that God works in mysterious ways. Plus, if you look at the questions that Gallup actually asked their sample, you’ll see that there’s a lot of wiggle room. The critical phrase is “in their present form.” That leaves open the possibility that apes evolved into hominids and so on, but that they weren’t strictly human until they had an “aha” moment some 10,000 years ago (like the apes in 2001, except it was God that caused it, not an alien, or maybe aliens working through God).

And we 15 percenters should have a healthy respect for Kierkegaardian mystery too. We don’t know everything, after all.

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9 thoughts on “Creationism and Conspiracism

  1. Wasn’t it the end of the last ice age that allowed our ancestors to move up and out of their caves, build stick houses, plant broccoli and basically start living the dream?

    1. Human civilization is the result of the climate reaching a kind of Goldilocks scenario for us about 15000 years ago – not to hot, not to cold. (See Brian Fagan’s The Long Summer). We are currently heading towards conditions that have not existed during human history (i.e. CO2 levels well beyond the range that allowed civilization to flourish.)

      Virtually the entire planetary scientific community finds this, to say the least, troubling; yet American conservatives largely consider their concerns to be a hoax.

  2. After all, the “guided” evolution idea isn’t really so far from the Maharishi’s term: “the Divine Creative Intelligence of the Universe”… the idea that the universe seems to have an innate tendency toward improbable (pardon the scientific terminology) “grooviness.” It seems to WANT to produce life, and in ever-more complex and/or beautiful forms. Who are we to say it’s not possible, given how much we don’t even understand why the very observation of a quantum phenomenon has the power to change it?

  3. “Afarensis boisei, isn’t it about time?”
    I have to disagree with Thomas, the only thing we are sure of is life developed on Earth, that means we are a statistical outlier. Also, given Deep-time and epochs of life, humans are an outlier among mammals, among sauropods and theropods, among reptiles, among amphibians. Occam’s Razor reveals a universe derived from “most likely” rather than improbable in view of close reading of phylogeny. This includes a universe of mostly helium through iron. In response to Hume and Citezenfitz, Humans have been “modern” for 200,000 years. Yes, civilization arose after the last ice age 15,000-ish years ago. That means for 15,000/200,000 years human weren’t ‘civilized’ but they were intelligent (same brain) for 92.5% of species lifespan so far. This makes civilization a mystery I hear people are trying to understand.

    That means a god or divine intelligence ‘made people’ and then nothing happened for 185,000 years. Of course, that wasn’t the only “people”. There were erectusi (plural spelling?) and neanderthals too. Oh, let’s not forget the hobbits of Java.

    So anyway, if there was a “guiding light,” why wait for 185,000 years? Seriously…why? Neanderthals should be our slave labor force or on a rez in Russia. Or you can use “survival or the survivors.”

    Without war or killing, without meeting each other, you can take 2 groups. One plants edible food after picking it, the other eats it all and does nothing but waits for it to return naturally. After, say, 2,000 years, which group is “more likely” to survive? What about 100 years? We know there are 100 year drought and flood cycles. Within a mere 5 generations one group can go extinct and the other move in without ever seeing the original group.

    So after 185,000 years only the humans most likely to practice social behaviors we call “basic” survived, not to mention humans nearly went extinct 70,000 years ago to a population group of about 15,000. So the modern human today is really modern-modern human and not OEM.

    I guess you could call it “improbable” but, for me, to take 15,000 of the hardiest, most apt, specimens of a species and destroying the rest, then “acting amazed” that they are successful, simply makes me grunt. Because even then, 55,000 years passed before “civilization.” As for “evolving into the perfect form” I’ll be thinking that as I get my useless wisdom teeth drilled out of my skull next Summer.

  4. My theory

    http://holygenes.weebly.com/

    says CONVEYED lesson and test in history (event streams,)
    morality, and science (particularly math, which, as did Nostradamus
    and Blaise Pascal, we will forever now understand as being the
    same as morality and history, I’m thinking.)

    In a living universe, every creature a product of infinite variability,
    evolution of course simply part of emergence, with our test
    reflecting how idential East – West moralities but with a gradient
    proving transference, pacification and ego defense (arrogance,)
    which all add up simply to judging to control, and inducing everyone
    else to do the same in every imaginable direction, are no-no’s, and
    free-equal-love are not simply the alternate path prior civilization failed
    to take but may, particularly in a point in space such as we’re in now,
    reflect particular stages of information.

    This lesson informs of original information, I theorize.
    There is not nothing without something. The latter has to have
    some sort of character or it simply blinks out.

    That was math, history and morality from the start.

    It’s also how to travel to the stars. After all, it’s how our
    very related teachers got here, I theorize.

    1. ??Is that you Deepak? Kidding. No, you lost me on some of what you are trying to convey. I would say that morality is a strictly human trait. It does have to have roots in original information. How much, I guess, is up to the individual. I asked a computer programmer, on the topic of ‘inspiration’ and ‘instinct,’ that if our brains are compounded adaptations if it wasn’t possible that the last 2-4% of brain development provided the largest cognitive growth. It is possible if intelligence is selected for and intelligence is exponential.

      example: 2% of 10 billion is 200 million; whereas 2% of 1 million is 20 thousand. You can see the factors of scale. Animal with 1 million brain cells: Bee. Humans have around 10 billion. It is “easier” for a bee to become noticeably “smarter.”

      But…and this is a big butt…within that 10 billion cell brain are old matrices, like DOS, because that 10 billion cell brain evolved from a 1 million cell brain. My question for the programmer was, if the Operating System “Human 3.0” stalled on a function, could not old operating systems in the background provide a solution?

      In theory, at a loss of computational power, “Reptile 3.8” or “Tetrapod 95, for Windows!” can indeed float a solution. Jung and Freud could be said as thinking these ‘subconscious’ systems were constantly active and having affects on our decisions. That would mean that “purely logical, and purely moral” is impossible.

      This is where I have problems with Eastern thought and most meditative gurus. With organized Western religions they also fall apart.

      Both proclaim an altruism, a Truth, a “natural law” or universality. Both say it is from a source beyond “mere human behavior” rife with failings. But we know the inner-self is feral. The deeper you go, all the way to “Sea Cucumber 2.0,” the more visceral and less logical you get. Read, lowest Shakras. So, one is supposed to project “up.” But the purely logical God-being, then, can be nothing more than worship of intelligence…and hence a human form. It is then that we are not beholding to “law or social agencies” but the worship of our reflections, the being that is all-knowing, as opposed to a dog’s all hearing or smelling. The Ultimate Being each mind perceives is then the projection of what that mind wants to become, the ultimate narcissist trapped at the mirror. Because this is a shared desire, and to truly know truth, a person most share this obsession with many. Here is artifact. Buddha is shared, Christ is shared via text, but Christ and Buddha are slightly different for everyone.

      This is how Jesus loves gay people, Jesus hates gay people, thou shalt not kill except with justifiable homicide or during a social ceremony called a “trial” followed with the group-designated third-party murderer called an “Executioner,” or lock them in a cell and make sure they live as long as they can so that their psychological torture of a loss of freedom and hope is maximized to its fullest as they waste away with life held just beyond the window.

      This is the same “logic sinkhole” that foodists fail to face. If killing a defenseless animal is unethical, how is slaughtering an even more defenseless plant more ethical? Especially if it is still alive? I guess you could say, “They don’t feel pain like we do, though I’m sure a tree knows when it is burning in a wildfire because it tries real hard to exude moisture to keep from scorching.”

      The ultimate twist is in thinking of how life and unlife behaves. If a cell divides, it is two but is of the same stuff. Or think of it as the same organism, but divided. Neither has died. Humans still reproduce by cell division. If you think about it…really think about it…all life is still that first cell that is continuing to divide billions of years later. Totally Gaia, I know.

    1. “Beware my daughter of resisting grace; before eight days pass God will punish you.” I am so going to use this on my daughter X -{} “My daughter of resisting grace…you need to take a bath.”

      I got to watch James Bryant http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2121577/Montana-children-sailboat-Florida-abducted-father.html get sentenced to 4 years in prison today for being a scofflaw.

      His ex was really disappointed he didn’t get 10 years X 3 kids. The Judge took into account that the kids wanted to go. They were fed and schooled…and not like this parent:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dena_Schlosser

      “Coincidentally, she was a roommate of Andrea Yates, the Houston, Texas woman who had drowned her five children in a bathtub, which she says was done to protect them from Satan.”

      Lol.

      Yes, liberals are on the fast bus to hell going straight down with all the fat people up front! Too-toot!

      So here is another logic sink for you. Few are saved. Most are damned. Thus, when you look around church you can say…what…10%…30%…are true believers? So then you have to ask, “Why keep inviting them? Why?” On one level, it is the Christian thing to do, yes? But then, too many and the church gets liberal and overrun. So…why are they aloud? You watch that collection plate go around and think about it. :-} Yup, that’s why. So you can collect cash from a large group of “lost” to give to “saved.” But if you ask them, they think they are saved. So who tells them that? You? or the person passing out that collection plate. And finally, what side of that plate are you on? The giving end or the receiving end? Hmm. Who is lying to who? “Am I going to heaven?” “Yes.” *plink*

      Or the preemptive, “You’re going to Heaven!” *plink*

      I think it’s time to throw those moneychangers out! Write your own truth, the truth you divine from the Holy Word! Amen!

      I see ya Lord! I see ya! I write down your words! I’ll lead them to the promised land! Mmm-hm. It ain’t Utah! Law’no! It ain’t Pennsylvania! Law’no! It’s…it’s Emblem Wyoming! *whistles and screams* Lord, yes, here we go ‘gain!

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