Whence it comes, prithee?

I’m skipping a lot of backstory here, because after a lot of typing I realized it doesn’t add anything useful. So, short version: at a recent science-versus-religion debate, some triumphant creationists were invited to pose questions to all those who believe in evolution. I have long ago blocked the site that posted them for a puerile editorial that demonstrated pretty much no standards at all, and have found the questions reprinted on another site that consists solely of reposted content without attribution – they’re not getting any links either. If you like, however, Jerry Coyne (or is it Professor Ceiling Cat? I’m never quite sure) at Why Evolution Is True has featured a few of the images and a link to the originator. I say images because, somehow, it has become internet vogue to take photos of someone holding their handwritten message on a pad, perhaps the most inefficient use of bandwidth ever conceived.

I’m just going to re-type a few of the questions, sparing you the experience of seeing the self-assured visages of the people repeating them. And I say “repeat” because they’re the same damn questions issued ad nauseum from religious folk [spelling and punctuation as in the original, as far as I can reproduce by typing]:

Does not the Second law of thermodynamics disprove Evolution?

If the Big Bang Theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?

There is no inbetween… the only one found has been Lucy and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds neccessary for an “official proof”

If evolution is a Theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as fact.

Because science by definition is a “theory” – not testable, obsevvable, nor repeatable’ Why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?

What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?

Why have we found only 1 “Lucy”, when we have found more than 1 of everything else?

Relating to the big bang theory…. Where did the exploding Star come from?

And of course:

If we come from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?

I’m not going to bother answering these – there is such a thing as an exercise in futility. That’s part of my point, really – these have been answered millions of times over the years. What I want to know is, where, exactly, do religious folk keep getting them?

The same vapid ‘zingers,’ over and over again. Do preachers stand up on Sundays and send these out to their flock? Is it some facet of homeschooling? Do they come from religious tracts? Are they from little word-of-mouth discussions going around during church picnics? Seriously, how do these keep getting hammered into the minds of creationists?

I’m not asking how they stay there – creationists have to cherish and nurture their self-indulgent belief systems, and a sound bite, however inaccurate or nonsensical, is clearly enough. But there’s a concerted effort to introduce these sound bites, and I’ve never seen it happening, I only see the results.

It’s an interesting thing, you must admit. With the internet these days, a lot of total nonsense gets quashed quickly – make a Facebook post about Mars being the size of a full moon in the sky and see what happens. How long does it take to find out a celebrity death rumor is false? No, this isn’t the normal kind of disinformation that goes around.

Which of course raises the question of whether those promoting it know it’s horseshit. I can’t believe that the same questions could keep going around for decades, never being corrected, always avoiding an intelligent response. So, is it a matter of abject denial, the purposeful ignoring of the corrections to coddle ideas that creationists like better? This seems bizarre, because these aren’t just ideas, but consistently used as debate points – they’re intended to wield against others. Wouldn’t you think that getting trounced in an argument would make someone at least a bit hesitant to keep forwarding that particular point to anyone else?

The other option is even more interesting, because it means that whoever keeps promoting this shit to creationists knows that it’s ignorant, and yet keeps repeating it – playing religious folk for utter fools. Speculation as to why they might do this is left as an exercise, but I think it’s safe to say that it has little to do with being “good,” or at least any functional definition of such.

Now, a couple of observations. First, so many religious folk think these are powerful arguments – as if, in the decades that the laws of thermodynamics and natural selection have existed, no one working in the fields has ever heard such arguments, much less thought of them on their own. To them, it seems plausible that we could actually have departments in universities, research labs, biological firms – I mean, seriously, vast areas of education and study – that operate despite these flaws, knowingly or unknowingly… but some little local church has tumbled to the Truth™. Of course, anyone that knows what the Second Law actually says, that has even a cursory education in evolution, easily sees where the flaws actually lie, and knows that whoever is using these arguments has no idea what they really mean (especially since the First Law trashes all gods.) This means that they’re just a fantastic way of making religion look stupid.

And that’s observation two. Regardless of whether any religious person actually uses these arguments personally or not, the bare fact that they’re still out there, still being perpetuated, makes all members of that religion look ignorant. Sure, this sounds like I’m being unfair, painting everyone with the same brush and all that, but let’s back up a second. First off, we’re not talking about just me, but anyone who might hear these arguments – expecting perfect objectivity from everyone is too na├»ve to even bother with (not to mention rather two-faced when the subject is religion.) More to the point, though, is that in most fields, great pains are taken to distance the reputable areas from the fringe elements, or even between fundamental disagreements. New classifications come up routinely to distinguish differences in approach or schools of thought.

Not so with religious folk, who like big umbrellas to make their numbers sound impressive. You will rarely hear any religious person openly denigrating such idiotic arguments, or even making the effort to correct them politely, since this implies a lack of solidarity – all religious people must be right (you think I’m overstating the case, but such arguments are used constantly.) While any atheistic or even secular article will provoke a shitstorm of religious responses (always including at least one of the arguments quoted above,) not even a tiny fraction of such effort is expended to correct a “fellow christian.” Obviously, the important point is that no one criticizes religion – but it’s quite all right to make it look ignorant.

So, for all the religious folk out there who wonder why they’re not getting respect, well, look to your spokespeople – the dividing lines are where you decide to place them.

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