August 22, 2007

Belief Does Not Equal Truth!

Bill Nye the Science Guy at The UP Experience ...
Bill Nye the Science Guy at The UP Experience 2010. Photo by Ed Schipul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While catching up on what is happening around the atheist blogosphere, I ran across a post at Religion *is* a Problem that absolutely requires a rant. In fact, I think I may have just identified my #1 pet peeve (at least for today) about some religious believers. Of course, I recognize that many religious believers will find this every bit as upsetting as I do, but I still want to make sure they are taking the correct lesson away from it.

The story concerns scientist and entertainer Bill Nye being booed by Christians for highlighting an incompatibility between reality and their bible. Yes, as farfetched as it seems, it appears that there may be some Christians who have managed to remain so ignorant of reality that they are unaware that modern science conflicts with some of what is in their bibles.

Here is how the incident was described by Tim Woods in the Waco Tribune-Herald:
The Emmy-winning scientist angered a few audience members when he criticized literal interpretation of the biblical verse Genesis 1:16, which reads: “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”

He pointed out that the sun, the “greater light,” is but one of countless stars and that the “lesser light” is the moon, which really is not a light at all, rather a reflector of light.

A number of audience members left the room at that point, visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence.

“We believe in a God!” exclaimed one woman as she left the room with three young children.
What? So science should not be discussed when it conflicts with your irrational beliefs? Really? Which bothers you more - that you were the last to learn that your bible is filled with claims which have been dispelled by science or that some uppity scientist had the nerve to say so?

Science has advanced considerably since your bible was written. If you've had even minimal education, I'd expect that you'd realize that none of the modern conveniences which you enjoy were around in biblical times. None of these things were possible with the level of ignorance that ruled that time. Does this mean you should give up your car, your refrigerator, and modern medical care for your children because these things are based on the same science that dispels much of your old book?

Would it disappoint you if one of your children grew up and discovered the cure for cancer? No? You realize that this would be accomplished by medical science and that medical science is built on the same foundational sciences which contradict much of your bible?

When you protest "We believe in a god" and then leave the room with your children, what are you hoping to accomplish? Do you want to make sure your children are deprived of a modern education so they'll grow up in ignorance like you? This sounds an awful lot like child abuse (or at least willful neglect) to me. Don't you want your children to be better off than you are? Don't you want them to know more about how the world works than you do or than the authors of your bible did?

As Religion *is* a Problem noted, this would be somewhat funny if it wasn't so terribly sad.
That people can still deny this easily understood and intuitive scientific fact by relying on their holy text should give us pause considering some of the other, less benign, things that are written in it. For instance, things about the roles of women, the value of certain races, and the end of the world.
Agreed, but I think the real kick in the nuts is the idea that the woman who said "We believe in a god" before leaving with her kids probably thinks that her theistic belief is equally valid as the scientific findings which apparently upset her. This is my main pet peeve - the confusion of personal belief with truth and the unfortunately common tendency to elevate personal beliefs to the level of reality.

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