My aim isn’t to denigrate any particular view of thinking. Given the right circumstances, any person can be made to believe anything, no matter how silly it might seem to other people. There is one trend, though, that is particularly interesting given how vociferously it’s backed by the handful or so of people who ascribe to it: creationism.
To me, it’s not totally unreasonable to want to think that we’re more special than just a bunch of cells that came together by chance: an accident of cosmic masses that resulted in semi-sentient beings roaming pieces of cooling rocks floating in a vacuum somewhere. When I first learned about evolution like that, it was a very lonely feeling. It felt like I didn’t matter, that there wasn’t a plan for me, and that everything I’d been through up until then was just part of that accident; there was no purpose behind it. Part of that is related to a very different issue, but I think some of that sentiment is a large reason for the push-back against scientific investigation into evolution. This isn’t a novel idea by any means and I claim no ounce of wisdom for sharing it.
Bill Nye made a video not too long ago that charged those who forcibly push creationism onto children as some sort of viable explanation for anything and, of course, this offended some people, most notably, the founder of the famous Creationist “Museum”, Ken Ham. He was offended by The Science Guy’s charges and issued a challenge. All of this is explained in a much more interesting manner here. That link contains both Nye’s video and Ham’s sort-of rebuttal. The show of a scientist debating a creationist isn’t new and there are several well-known examples of this happening.
Richard Dawkins has made a name for himself for many things, including debating any creationist who is looking to cast his heathenish beliefs as nothing more than Atheist propaganda. My favorite such debate though is probably this one, where Dawkins isn’t so much debating as he is explaining evolution to a creationist who starts the program off with how poorly Dawkins had been treated in the past and how he wanted the discussion to be a civil one. The host repeatedly mentions that he is not a scientist nor a savvy debater by any means, but that he does want to bring out questions that his viewers had possibly expressed to him prior to the show airing. At a point, Dawkins does appear to become visibly annoyed by the host’s questions, which do become redundant. I think though that a video like that shows that the problem, as so many have said, lay in proper and thorough education on the subject.
Just for fairness, what is easily the most painful thing I have ever watched was when Dawkins “debated” Wendy Wright, a person who apparently thinks being a mother is some sort of qualification as far as science is concerned. You can try to watch it here, but you will likely want to tear your eyes out to take your mind off of the pain that your brain is experiencing. Wright spends the entire hour denying everything Dawkins says while simultaneously providing the most damning evidence in his favor. At a point, she chastises Dawkins for being so quick to believe in evolution because if we had artifacts of such an event like evolution, we would be putting them into a museum for the world to see. DUH. Dawkins kindly points out that these items are called “fossils” and yes, these fossil things are in places we dub “museums”.
Still, people are quick to jump on these creationists to call them “idiots”, but I think that is a bit harsh. I am assuming, based on their ability to speak in full sentences and dress appropriately for at least one occasion, that they are not idiots. People are hard-wired to not think based on logic, but rather in power struggles. If a person who believes that clouds are made from marshmallows farted out by invisible alicorns and can hold their own in a debate with a meteorologist who believes that clouds are created by the evaporation and condensation of water, they have essentially maintained some of their power through whatever credibility they had or ended up with.
Think about yourself – if I were to tell you that something you’ve always believed is fundamentally wrong and that you’re either just uneducated or gullible to believe it, you’d probably become defensive. Telling someone that they’re an idiot, uneducated, gullible, foolish, or the victim of a smooth-talking soothsayer is only going to result in them not listening to one single word you say after that. While people may not think logically (not even Atheists, pantheists, agnostics, or ignostics), they are driven by social cues. Just as it’s really freaking hard to get your flabby, jiggly body on the treadmill at the gym when you’re surrounded by muscle-bound athletes who are complaining to gym staff that the machines aren’t difficult enough for their workout requirements, it’s damned near-impossible to begin to want to ask questions about evolution when you’re surrounded by a bunch of know-it-alls who look down their noses at anyone who admits that they aren’t grasping things like how the human eye could have been an accident of nature.
In truth, this whole goofy debate of creationism vs. evolution is really just two sides bumping chests because neither wants to admit that they don’t know everything and that the other side might have something to offer. If either side were actually interested in truth, there wouldn’t be these silly debates where each side takes turns dodging the other’s questions or points. Creationists dodge basically every scientific discovery that contradicts the basis of their argument and some scientists (and most amateur evolution debaters on the internet) dodge the very valid point that, right now, science can’t explain everything. It’s fundamentally a power struggle between those who have no tolerance for people who disagree with them, thus… a child’s game of dodgeball, but with science.