Tangled Bank #41




All hail Stephen J. Libby, Steve #666!


for all those that might doubt the power of websites like the ‘thumb:


the future of media influence is now.

“It seems crystal clear that but for the citizen journalists, Sony never would have done anything about this”

yup, most definetely blogs have impact on the decisionmaking process, even at major multinational corporations.

Blogs may have an effect on the decision making process of firms and maybe governments, but belief in creationism/ID is embedded in fundamentalist communities. Sony’s misanthropy is profit driven and therefore substantially different from the rigid adherence to mythological narrative from whose adherents gain a sense of identity, community and ownership of knowledge of who they are and where they came from that motivates creationists.

Behe and Dempski et al not withstanding, most creationists aren’t interested in scientific correctness or any set of values or ideas arising from outside their own community.

While ‘thumb, the ACLU blog and other anti creationist blogs probably have helped knock over a few ‘equal time’ type laws in the past, the real driver of creationism are the ‘true believers’ in the ‘burbs and the bible belt, and they aren’t getting any fewer. While they may not be ‘the decision makers’ they are getting more numerous and therefore are having a bigger effect on the real decision makers. And they aren’t known to readers of or susceptible to posts on these blogs.

I know I’m sounding a bit pessimistic but I guess that what I am say is that the views expressed on this blog don’t offer those susceptible to religious fundamentalism and creationist belief the thing that they are looking for. And that, in part at least, is a sense of ownership over the story of who they are and where they came from and what christian fundamentalism offers is the chance to be a part of ‘The Biggest Story of Them All’, a complete and (for them) uplifting narrative with a beginning (The Creation), a middle (The Redemption of Man) and an end (The Apocalypse). Who would want to be a part of the story of the universe? I know that this isn’t the purpose of this list or TO to provide such an alternative but until someone does, you may be fighting a losing battle.

I’ve been a long time visitor to ‘thumb’ and talkorigins, am a keen America watcher and have also been watching the slow but steady rise of christian fundamentalism here, down under, where I always assumed a laid back and ‘she’ll be right’ attitude = secularism and irreverence.

I think the growth in fundamentalism is due to a backlash against both socially progressive social values and comercialist materialism which to me seems unfair (if understandable when seen from their point of view) as both these things are usually against each other. It can therefore seem unfair as well that environmental theory is one of the fundies biggest targets as it seems to have nothing to do with progressive or commercial ideals, though, of course, they view ‘progressivism’, ‘commercialism’ and ‘scientism’ as all contributing to ‘atheistic materialism’. But you all already knew that. So this is why I find my self sympathizing with a poster on a previous list whose main gist was ‘why bother?’.

Your fighting for peoples minds in a war over peoples hearts, and while I think you should hang in there, you should really start contemplating what it is that those most vulnerable to fundamentalism, and therefore to taking up arms against scientific progress, really want, and I think its to do with a sense of belonging and empowerment.

You could say that it isn’t the duty of the scientific/ pro-evolution community to do this but as those who care about science and its role as the best way to create knowledge, you may be interested in helping to create a society that fosters genuine spiritual fulfillment that doesn’t rely on dogma and virtues conditional on belief in the supernatural, but that welcomes creativity and new ideas as a way of being spiritually fulfilled. I know plenty of devoutly religious people who are like this. Its an impossible seeming task but arguing for scientific integrity will only get you so far if the bulk of those you are apposing aren’t interested in scientific integrity, no matter how often they say they are.

That ownership thing I brought up is, I think, important to this whole debate. Very few people feel ownership for a story whose founding truths require large amounts of study and lab or field work to understand let alone relate to in any way, and whose narrative is written in impenetrable jargon and is dispersed among countless professional journals buried in university libraries across the planet. How can any one know the whole story? Different experts in various disciplines and sub disciplines may know whole threads of the tapestry of environmental theory and those of a closely related discipline, but no scientist knows every factoid and, ultimately, trusts in the rigorous integrity of the peer review system. Compare this to the bible, in every bookshop, neatly contained between to covers and can be read all the way through by anyone, tells you you are loved and how to live well to boot. Science, as a belief system (and it IS a belief system, yes I know I’m going to cop it for saying it is) doesn’t try to provide all these things nor does it require that those who use it believe in the knowledge it creates. Instead it requires a belief in how it works, rather than what it finds or what it does. It is a belief system you put on like a coat in order to invoke a completely dispassionate and objective view point when making observations of the physical world so that it can be understood in the most useful and enlightening manner. It is also at its best when contained and not used as a guide to life or as an justification for any kind of behavior, which it almost never is, as if you really understand what is meant by the term ‘scientific’ you will know that any attempt to use science this way will automatically nullify the scientific value of what you are doing. To use computer terminology, it is more like an application than an operating system. Science is completely unique in being the only belief system like this.

Science is ‘owned’ by PhD’s and graduates working in institutes and Universities and businesses who produce and review research. Its already been noted that jealousy of the power of this Illuminati to produce so much knowledge and benefits for humanity is a major motivation for christian fundamentalists, frustrated at their relative lack of influence over material matters, to attack environmental theory. Scientist aren’t motivated to perform the research they do for power and influence, at least not most of the time and not as much as they are motivated by genuine curiosity, so creationist attacks, as we know, are wrong headed.

And Blogging about science to support evolution can, is the face of what is really a social or, dear I say it (or have I already?) spiritual problem, be a bit like f**king for chastity.

Sorry about the length of the post and the long sentences and going way off post. I was going to write just a paragraph but all I’ve just dumped on you guys has been swirling around in my head for quite some time now. I hope this isn’t too airy fairy, anthropological, social scientific for you regular hard science type PTers and you’ve probably heard it all before but i had to get it out of my Head so i can get on with my assignment (only 17,000 words to write by tomorrow night.….…AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!).

We’ll, that’s all I want to say. Keep up the good fight,



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on November 16, 2005 7:39 AM.

Evolution of the cichlid mandible was the previous entry in this blog.

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