Another Confused Creationist Greeted with Amusement


 

To the enduring saga of faith-filled folks who mistake ancient creation myths for science, we can now add this. Pastor Gene Kim of San Jose Bible Baptist Church has thought it necessary to bring his remarkably low brow mockery of evolution to a wider audience. In a 6-minute long argument from incredulity, Pastor Kim juxtaposes a selection of fairy tales alongside caricatures of the science he — and his narrow Christian worldview — need to be wrong.

 

 

Yikes. Hard though it may be for this pastor to wrap his head around evolutionary biology, it is surely harder to imagine that fellow Christians would find him a serviceable spokesman for the cause. Leaving his reverse eloquence completely to one side, it’s obvious he has no interest in understanding that which he must reject, and engages the opposition only long enough to quote-mine from them. Pairing silly fables with overwrought distortions of established science is then used as a ruse to sow doubt among unsuspecting believers. Poking fun at major evolutionary transitions is meant to create the impression that the underlying science is nonsense on its face — no further inquiry necessary.

Never mind that the transition from land back to the sea by our mammalian ancestors involves a series of some of the most brilliant discoveries in all of science. Or that bodyplans subjected to environmental changes can shift over time and diverge from earlier lineages in accordance with natural selection is as well documented a theory as any other in the literature. That barriers to gene flow encourage population splitting and divergence, and so forth.

One could proceed endlessly with evidence-based rebuttals, but anyone who’s been roped into this rodeo long enough knows that it’s never ultimately the scientific evidence that compels creationists to reject evolution so much as their rigid attachment to doctrinaire Christianity. It’s about faith, not evidence. And evangelical faith, particularly among Americans, is tied to specific and narrow interpretations of the biblical texts. Information, no matter how neutrally presented, is only given a fair hearing if it is not perceived as in conflict with the set of Christian doctrines they consider non-negotiable. The unfortunate corollary is that delving into the science can only prove effective for someone who cares more about what the science says than what (they think) their Bible says.

It cannot be emphasized enough how damaging this can be to one’s intellectual development. When seeking out new and different ideas, vetting your beliefs, and adjusting the strength of your beliefs on the basis of new evidence are systematically discouraged, growth becomes impossible. And the longer one is locked into an echo chamber of like voices and ideological conformity, the more difficult it becomes to break free and adopt new ways of thinking — and the more extreme the response once that freedom comes. As the canny Jane Smiley wrote, “A child who is protected from all controversial ideas is as vulnerable as a child who is protected from every germ. The infection, when it comes — and it will come — may overwhelm the system, be it the immune system or the belief system.”

In one sense this young man is absolutely right: of course it is easier to dodge the difficult questions than to expend effort in answering them — especially when so much is at stake. A worldview reorientation can seem too high a cost to bear. Faced with these anxieties, and the complexities of science and philosophy, why not embrace the soothing balm of the supernatural? Why not opt for the comparatively simpler explanations offered by creationism? Why rock the boat when it’s easier to go on believing what your pastor and parents say is true? The thought of acquiring the resources to approach these questions differently can be intimidating, and many choose to avoid them altogether.

Fear of the unknown can be a powerful demotivator, but it can also come at great cost. How many lifelong fundamentalists could have spent their years not attacking science but doing something truly worthwhile? How many of them could have been placed in professions for which they were better suited and contributed meaningful discoveries to the human condition? How many could have spent their careers fostering a generation of open-minded, tolerant men and women instead of misleading innocent youth?

This is why I tend not to share in the chorus of laughter that often accompanies creationist diatribes like these. What others find “hilarious” I find profoundly sad. I see lost potential in those formative years of carefully cultivated intellectual deprivation that have inevitably culminated in an army of mindless drones who shy away from questioning authority and examining their inherited tradition. Fundamentalists like Kim have been lied to about science and about evolution from an early age, and now take it upon themselves to share those lies with others on the earnest belief they are doing ‘the Lord’s work’. The next time we’re given cause to wince and chuckle, we might take a moment to imagine what a refocused zeal, as opposed to an unkindled curiosity, could look like.

This generation-spanning problem of intergenerational, trickle-down ignorance — not unique to America but thoroughly typified here — won’t end until we cultivate a world where the concern for what is true supersedes the felt need to be right, even if it means we abandon those beliefs we dearly wish to be true, no matter how long we’ve held them or how cognitively comfortable we find them.


 

External link: Pastor offers hilariously bad takedown of evolution: ‘It’s more easier to believe in something supernatural’

This post was featured on HuffPost’s Contributor platform.

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