Mooney and Kirshenbaum are at it again. I heard about it earlier today when PZ posted “The Mooney/Kirshenbaum crusade flops again“. It seems that Chris and Sheril have written a nice little op-ed piece for the LA Times, called “Must science declare a holy war on religion?“. I find it very telling that their piece is published in the “Religion” section. That’s a great section for most of their stuff lately, as I think Chris is having daily epiphanies when God™ speaks to him to tell him what to write next.
Update: Still more fallout from Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s editorial. Check out Jerry Coyne’s “Mooney and Kirshenbaum self-destruct at last“, Jason Rosenhouse’s “One More Round With M and K“, and Greg Fish’s “Mooney and Co. vs. the new atheists“.
What was in today’s opinion piece? Let’s take a look.
“This fall, evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins — most recently famous for his public exhortation to atheism, ‘The God Delusion’ — returns to writing about science. Dawkins’ new book, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ will inform and regale us with the stunning ‘evidence for evolution,’ as the subtitle says. It will surely be an impressive display, as Dawkins excels at making the case for evolution. But it’s also fair to ask: Who in the United States will read Dawkins’ new book (or ones like it) and have any sort of epiphany, or change his or her mind?
Surely not those who need it most: America’s anti-evolutionists. These religious adherents often view science itself as an assault on their faith and doggedly refuse to accept evolution because they fear it so utterly denies God that it will lead them, and their children, straight into a world of moral depravity and meaninglessness. An in-your-face atheist touting evolution, like Dawkins, is probably the last messenger they’ll heed.”
Let me get this straight. They’re putting down Dawkins’ new book (not yet published) because they don’t think anti-evolutionists (creotards, god-bots, what-have-you) are going to be swayed by it!??!1!!11!
How fucking stupid are you, Chris and Sheril? (That’s just a rhetorical question, thanks.) Notice the full title of the book: “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution“. Keeping that in mind (I know that’s probably not easy for the two of you, but bear with me, please), I want to ask you a question: How many creationists are even going to touch a book with “the evidence for evolution” in the title? Those people, quite clearly are not the intended audience for any book by Dawkins.
I think I know part of the problem. I don’t think Chris and Sheril really know how many different types of people they’re talking about when they mention “America’s anti-evolutionists”. It seems to me that they’re always talking about a single subgroup. Maybe I’m reading more into what they’re writing than I should, but that’s how life goes.
Here’s what I think of when I hear Chris and Sheril mention “America’s anti-evolutionists”:
Nicely manicured lawns in suburbia. Mom and Dad taking the two-and-a-half kids to church (a nice Methodist or Presbyterian church down the road) every Sunday morning. Dad reads Time and Newsweek (And the NYT on Sunday), mom reads Better Homes & Gardens (and People, but that isn’t out where the kids see it). Shopping for a book entails going on-line and browsing at Amazon™ or driving down to Barnes & Noble or to Borders. The family knows about science and about the advantages scientific development provides for their lives. Dad plays golf with their minister the third Thursday of every month. They also happen to believe that Jesus is their personal savior, that he died for their sins, etc.
That’s a nice little picture, isn’t it? But that’s not what I think of when I read some of what “America’s anti-evolutionists” themselves have to say on blogs, in newspapers, in television interviews, etc.
Here’s what I think of when I read what the anti-evolutionists have to say on their own:
Not much of a yard because the dog tied up out front has pretty much run it down to dirt. Mom and Dad taking the five-and-a-half kids to church (an Evangelical or Fundamentalist or Charismatic church down the road) every Sunday morning, Saturday evening, Friday evening, Wednesday evening, and Sunday evening. Dad reads Field & Stream. Mom reads the “Left Behind” books, but has to have their oldest daughter help her with some of the words (Mom never got past the 8th grade, unfortunately). Shopping for a book entails glancing at the shelves while they’re in Wal-Mart™. The family knows nothing about science and about the advantages scientific development provides for their lives. If their pastor/preacher/minister told them the world was flat, they would believe him. They also happen to believe that Jesus is their personal savior, that he died for their sins, etc.
I ask you, Chris and Sheril, what the fuck makes you think a book from Dawkins could ever reach a member of that second family that I described? What makes you think there’s even a point in Dawkins trying to reach those people? They will not listen. They are not reasonable. They wholeheartedly believe that the Bible™ is the literal truth. They think of it as the only “science book” they’ll ever need. And yes, I have heard these people talk about the Bible using those exact words. They are delusional, and they will do everything they can to stay delusional.
Mooney and Kirshenbaum continue:
“It often appears as though Dawkins and his followers — often dubbed the New Atheists, though some object to the term — want to change the country’s science community in a lasting way.”
Don’t you just love that? They’re using the term “followers” for any loud-mouthed atheists, trying (in my opinion) to give it some sort of religious connotation. They’re trying to paint the so-called “New Atheists” as some sort of cult. I call bullshit! We’re not “followers”, and there’s no such thing as “New Atheists”. The word you’re looking for is simply “Atheists”. Do you know what else I call bullshit on? the idea that the atheists “want to change the country’s science community in a lasting way“. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Do you want to know what the truth is? I’ll let you in on the secret: We want to change the fucking world!
I love this statement from the piece:
“More moderate scientists, however — let us call them the accommodationists — still dominate the hallowed institutions of American science.”
Prove it. Where’s your fucking data?
Then they talk about the NCSE:
“In this endeavor, it has, of necessity, made frequent alliances with religious believers who also support the teaching of evolution, seeking to forge a broad coalition capable of beating back the advances of fundamentalists who want to weaken textbooks or science standards.”
They mention Jerry Coyne’s criticism of the NCSE’s “Faith Project”. I applaud Jerry. “Faith” has nothing to do with science. I support the NCSE, but I don’t always agree with their tactics. According to Chris and Sheril that makes me a very bad person.
“In this, Coyne is once again following the lead of Dawkins, who in ‘The God Delusion’ denounces the NCSE as part of the ‘Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists,’ those equivocators who defend the science but refuse to engage with what the New Atheists perceive as the real root of the problem — namely, religious belief.”
Hey, they might finally be getting the point that this whole thing isn’t all about evolution! Did Chris and Sheril finally pony up the dough to buy a fucking clue? The “New Atheists” thing is still meaningless.
“It all might sound like a petty internecine squabble, but the stakes are very high. The United States does not boast a very healthy relationship between its scientific community and its citizenry. The statistics on public scientific illiteracy are notorious — and they’re at their worst on contentious, politicized issues such as climate change and the teaching of evolution. About 46% of Americans in polls agree with this stunning statement: ‘God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.'”
Here’s what really boggles my mind. It seems as though Mooney and Kirshenbaum actually believe that the problem of scientific literacy in this country is the fault of the relationship between the scientific community and the citizens.
What is the cause of the seriously appalling scientific literacy problem in the United States? You probably see it every single day, but don’t realize it. You see it whenever you pass one of those countless buildings across the country that espouse delusional sheep-like thinking. You know the ones I’m talking about. They often have a cross on top of the building. Sometimes they have a bell tower. Sometimes, though, they don’t have any of those things. What they do frequently have is the word “Church” or “Christian” in their name. They are monuments to enforced ignorance and delusion, and they’re pretty easy to avoid if you know how.
So go ahead, Chris and Sheril: Fight your battle about accommodating evolution and creationism in the relationship between the scientific community and the masses. Go ahead and make your “What Would Darwin Do?” pleas to us uncivil, loud-mouthed atheists. We’re going to politely (sometimes) ignore your pleas so that we can continue to fight the war against ignorance and delusion. Evolution is truly a very tiny part of the whole thing. Like I said before; We want to change the fucking world!