Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tuesday Morning Comics #5

Today's comic was clearly inspired by the teaching of Creationism in the school system.  Unfortunately, it is more insulting than inspired.  The school board in question is represented by a large-bodied cartoonish imbecile who is apparently not as 'evolved' as modern humans.  This comic would lead you to believe that the school board has less intelligence than a Neanderthal!  I am somewhat torn by this comic - I understand why people would find it funny, but this sort of name-calling is less than helpful, and is a real mischaracterization of the people who make up the Creationist movement.  Contrary to the public perception, Creationists are not idiots.  Philip Johnson, for example, is a leading Creationist and Intelligent Design proponent, yet teaches law at the University of California - Berkeley.  Last I checked, UCB does not hire slobbering morons.  The people that I have met who are strong Creationists may be stubborn to the point of annoyance, but they are intelligent people with, often, intelligent critiques.  It is just that their body of knowledge tends to be in a different direction than the body of knowledge that evolutionists have.  

It is definitely easier to classify your opponent as an idiot, which is probably why comics like this get made.  Perhaps it is the only way for some intellectuals to justify the existence of the Creationist movement - they cannot fathom how another intellectual could also be a Creationist.  But such a characterization is not true, and serves to only derail the dialogue.  Ideas should be met with ideas, not with name-calling.  

Some may even feel justified in calling Creationists 'unintelligent'.  There is a paper I have somewhere on my computer, I will post it if I find it, that argues that children naturally see the world in terms of design rather than chance.  The obvious inference and abuse of this paper is that Creationists have not progressed from this child-like state; they are somehow intellectually delayed, and only the truly mature grasp evolution.  This argument might seem powerful to the 'mature', but only because it enhances their own status.  From my interactions with Creationists, I can firmly say that the majority of them are normal everyday people like you and me.  And now the fire alarm is going in the school, so that will have to be my final thought.


Beachscriber said...

I think you're over-analysing here. The cartoonist is just making fun of them. People don't have to be real idiots for you to make fun of them. Making fun of real idiots isn't funny. Ideally, to be made fun of implies that you are smart enough to defend yourself.

Matthew said...

Its possible! However, I've sat in enough science lectures where Creationists are openly mocked as less-than-intelligent, to know that this is a very real assumption held by many. When a person found out that I had a Creationist background, they immediately assumed I was a Hutterite. I'm sure they would never call a Hutterite 'idiotic', but there was the assumption that Creationists must be somehow 'backwards' from a modern perspective.

Beachscriber said...

Face it, to be a young earth creationist nowadays you have to be stubborn, ignorant, foolish and even dishonest. The scorn is not helpful but it is also not inappropriate.

It takes a subtle and open mind to begin to balance creation and evolution. The young earth creationists are often no worse than the sceptics. I find Dawkins awfully unsubtle. He's clearly very clever, but stupid in another way - like completely incapable of conceiving of God in any way that doesn't leave his arguments against God vulnerable to the straw man counter.

Beachscriber said...


Matthew said...

Hello again! I think I would have to disagree with you here. Having spent my formative years surrounded by young earth creationists, I must say that they are wonderful, loving, intelligent people. YEC presents a coherent and satisfying worldview, so long as certain facts are brushed aside. And really, no one is innocent of this academic crime, not me, not scientists, not philosphers, no one. Our brains crave consistent worldviews, and will willingly overlook those facts that are not in accord, or can justify the disbelief (such as 'the scientists are simply being dishonest about such and such).' Now, I'm not quite sure how academics can spend their lives in research and still accept YEC, but I can definitely see how a layman could accept it, without being lazy or foolish or dishonest or any other negative word you want to tack on. And really, my defence here is more for the layman. Evolution is obvious to me now, but only because I really invested my time studying it and learning the lingo. Most people just don't have that time or drive, and I can understand the appeal of the YEC position for those people, without having to resort to name-calling. That said, a leader in the church who feeds misinformation to their flock is, I think, committing serious harm, and I have considerably less compassion for them.