Thursday, January 30, 2014

Evolution, scientific ignorance, and biblical cherry-picking

This is from episode #838 of The Atheist Experience TV show, hosted by Matt Dillahunty and John Iacoletti on November 3, 2013.

The caller is just remarkably ignorant - not just about evolution, but about the very concept of race (which is a social concept far more than a scientific one). Did whites and blacks come from the same ape? What kind of question is that? It's so stupid, you can see it even took Matt Dillahunty by surprise.

Incidentally, that stuff about Charles Darwin and the 'skull-hunters' of Australia can easily be found on the Internet, but it seems to be just Creationist crap. Europeans - Christians - were killing aborigines in Australia long before Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and racism certainly existed before that.

By modern standards, Darwin was a racist, sure,... just like everyone else in the 19th Century. But he opposed slavery, and he was actually progressive for his time. Not that that has anything to do with his theory of natural selection, of course. He could have been a serial killer or a cannibal, and that wouldn't mean that his ideas about evolution were necessarily wrong.

Creationists, though, continually try to smear Darwin with such stuff, though it's hard to imagine why they think that will accomplish anything. Modern biology owes a lot to Charles Darwin, but we've moved far beyond what Darwin ever dreamed of. After all, it's been more than 150 years. Science, unlike religion, progresses. Heck, Darwin didn't even know about DNA!

But 150 years after The Origin of Species, Americans are still this ignorant about the very foundation of modern biology. Indeed, Republicans are going backwards in their scientific illiteracy, with fewer believing in evolution all the time (despite zero controversy in science about the basic fact of evolution). It's just incredible, isn't it?

BTW, this is from Exodus 21, which Matt mentions (I picked the 'New Revised Standard Version' of the Bible this time, pretty much at random):
When a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

And here's Leviticus 25:
As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

Of course, the Old Testament doesn't count, right? Gee, I wonder why it's included in the Bible at all, then. Um,... isn't that supposed to be the same 'God'?

And if the Old Testament doesn't count, what's with all the effort of erecting Ten Commandments monuments on public property (not to mention citing it when opposing gay rights)? Or is it only the parts of the Old Testament which have become embarrassing these days, as human beings have finally advanced beyond such thinking, which don't count?

Well, you know, some of us have advanced beyond the need to believe in magic at all.

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