Creationists: Ignorant, Stupid, Insane, or Wicked

IF YOU do a Google search on the phrase “ignorant, stupid or insane” you’ll get over 2,500 hits [update: now almost 200,000 hits]. That’s because Richard Dawkins famously wrote, with bold added by us:

To claim equal time for creation science in biology classes is about as sensible as to claim equal time for the flat-earth theory in astronomy classes. Or, as someone has pointed out, you might as well claim equal time in sex education classes for the stork theory. It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

If that gives you offense, I’m sorry. You are probably not stupid, insane or wicked; and ignorance is no crime …

Source: Richard Dawkins Review of “Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution” — The “Ignorant, Stupid, Insane, Wicked” Comment in Context

Seven years after writing that celebrated description, Dawkins expanded upon it at his own website: Ignorance is No Crime. Excerpts, with bold added by us:

“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” I first wrote that in a book review in the New York Times in 1989, and it has been much quoted against me ever since, as evidence of my arrogance and intolerance. Of course it sounds arrogant, but undisguised clarity is easily mistaken for arrogance. Examine the statement carefully and it turns out to be moderate, almost self-evidently true.

Many adjectives have been associated with Dawkins, but “modest” isn’t one of them. He continues:

I originally listed ‘wicked’ as one of my possibilities, only for completeness. I have never been sure whether there truly are intelligent, knowledgeable and sane people who feign disbelief in evolution for ulterior motives. Perhaps a political candidate needs some such dissimulation in order to get elected in certain States. If so, it is sad but possibly not much more reprehensible than the proverbial kissing of babies. Not deeply wicked.

Dawkins then gives a few examples of obviously disingenuous conduct by creationists, which he tactfully declines to label as wickedness; and then he says this:

I don’t withdraw a word of my initial statement. But I do now think it may have been incomplete. There is perhaps a fifth category, which may belong under ‘insane’ but which can be more sympathetically characterised by a word like tormented, bullied or brainwashed. Sincere people who are not ignorant, not stupid and not wicked, can be cruelly torn, almost in two, between the massive evidence of science on the one hand, and their understanding (or misunderstanding) of what their holy book tells them on the other. I think this is one of the truly bad things religion can do to a human mind. There is wickedness here, but it is the wickedness of the institution and what it does to a believing victim, not wickedness on the part of the victim himself.

That’s Dawkins’ thinking on the subject, which has permanently entered into the dialogue about creationism. It’s foolish to think that we can improve upon the terminology of an Oxford professor, but everyone else seems to give it a try. Perhaps it’s because creationists are subjects of gruesome fascination, like flat-earthers and moon-landing deniers. We can’t avoid it — we find ourselves strangely intrigued by such intellectual train-wrecks. Therefore, we won’t resist the impulse to offer our own thoughts, but where we differ from Dawkins is mostly in our choice of words.

But first, bear in mind that there’s a big difference between someone: (a) who believes in a creator; and (b) who also believes in creationism. The former doesn’t concern us; the latter is a “creationist,” who insists on beliefs that are contradicted by readily observable evidence, and who also denies tested, well-supported scientific conclusions. A creationist will put himself through the most amazing mental contortions in order to maintain his belief system.

Your Curmudgeon attributes belief in creationism — including creation “science” and intelligent design “theory” — to the fact that a creationist is either one or a combination of the following:

1. an ignoramus, possibly due to home schooling, no schooling, etc. This is Dawkins’ first category — “ignorant” (in which we include the misinformed), but we find Dawkins’ word insufficient. Ignorance does not imply militant rejectionism, only a lack of information. Like Dawkins, we believe that ignorance is a curable condition. Indeed, we all began our lives in ignorance, and regardless of our intelligence and education, there are many subjects of which we know little, if anything, and about which we rightly say “I don’t know.” But if an uneducated or misinformed person insists — notwithstanding his ignorance — that he knows what he’s talking about, and he goes around babbling that all the experts are wrong, then he’s an ignoramus.

2. a simpleton, perhaps a retardate or some other type of mental defective. This is Dawkins’ second category — “stupid.” Our word is less pejorative than his, because we see no need to do more than describe their condition. There’s not much that can be done about this group.

3. a fanatic, a term which includes those who are demented, deranged, or possessed, such conditions being likely due to an authoritarian political ideology, intensely brutal religious indoctrination, or some other tenacious meme infection. This is Dawkins’ third category — “insane,” and we think it also includes his later fifth category — “tormented.” Within this group are those who disrupt internet forums, insist on teaching creationism in schools, and — if given the opportunity — would burn books, torture heretics, kill witches, and fly planes into buildings.

4. a charlatan, a self-explanatory term which includes Dawkins’ fourth category — “wicked,” but it’s slightly less moralistic, thus easier to apply without the hesitation Dawkins exhibits with “wicked.” Many of those who make a living writing and lecturing about creationism fall into this category — at least that’s our suspicion. They’re relatively harmless, except for their influence on the other categories.

So there it is — the Curmudgeon’s manifesto: A creationist is either an ignoramus, a simpleton, a fanatic, a charlatan, or some combination thereof.

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37 responses to “Creationists: Ignorant, Stupid, Insane, or Wicked

  1. Diana Christenson

    About wicked Atheists?

    Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Sartre (advocate of terrorism) and thousands of their minions who used violence against believers BECAUSE of their atheistic hatred of all religion…you know, the root of all evil type of bigotry we hear from Dawkins, Harris, et al.?

    Oh, I know your exuses for them…but perhaps you are being ignorant, stupid, insane or … you get the drift, sport?

  2. “Oh, I know your exuses for them…”

    Sweet thing, if you’ve been reading this blog and you somehow imagine that I make excuses for those people, then I’m worried about you.

  3. Diana Christenson

    I appreciate your concern, dear! I am glad that you are making no excuses and recognize that their actions were, as I said, BECAUSE of their atheistic hatred of religion!

  4. Well, darlin’ — we have a limit here on silly posts. I’m the only one with unlimited privileges. You, my love, are bumping up against the limit. I suggest that you spend more time reading here before you leap to your unwarranted conclusions.

  5. Wow, if you could understand how ironically intolerant you and Mr Dawkins are, you’d realize that creationists and religions alike have every reason in the world to feel like you’re totally bogus because of your immaturity and stupid suppressions upon people daring to ask questions. Its kind of ridiculous, isn’t it, that evolutionists and atheists think people who have religion are close-minded, but its actually the total opposite. Too bad they are too pig headed to realize it.

  6. All I’m saying is, its not the evolutionary “fact”. It never will be. The only existing mutant is Toxie, and maybe the atheistic brain…

  7. Linnea and Diana,

    In defending the creationist rejection of evolution, you are advocating that humankind substitute religious mythology for science.

    You say that mainstream science should have an “open mind” with regard to creationism or “creation science”. The proper response is: why should science consider concepts that can only lead to untestable hypotheses?

    The claim by “creation science” that the hypothesis of “six day creation by magic” can withstand scientific inquiry is simply silly. Creation science is absolutely incompatible with the entire body of knowledge gained, not only from biology, but from geology, astronomy and most other scientific disciplines as well. It leads us to concepts such as saddles on dinosaurs and formation of the grand canyon by the great flood in the time of Noah.

    Evolution is a scientific fact that has been repeatedly and successfully tested through experimentation and observation in the laboratory and in the field and proven valid since its inception.

    As a scientist, my message to creationists who reject evolution would go something like this: If you want to believe in your mythology, that’s fine. However, do not try to impose your unscientific, irrational and unsubstantiated views on the rest of us, and especially our children in school. This world is in a lot of trouble, much of it due to religious fanaticism, and we don’t have time for such unproductive nonsense.

    In my fantasies, I often wish there were some way to selectively deprive the anti-science crowd, especially those who believe in creationism, of the benefits of science and technology that have been developed by those of us who reject such nonsense. Imagine if those of us who can think rationally could leave those of you who don’t and take our science technology with us. We would have modern housing, transportation, communications, medicine, etc. You would live in caves, ride horses, light signal fires, and pray when you were ill.

    Remember, advances in science were possible because of courageous people who could think rationally (starting as Galileo if you need an example), and were willing to reject religious dogma to think for themselves.

  8. We’re getting some strange comments here. My article said nothing about atheism. If I encountered someone who said he rejected gravity I would apply the same labels: ignoramus, simpleton, fanatic, or charlatan.

  9. In regards to Dr.Wilson “do not try to impose your unscientific, irrational and unsubstantiated views on the rest of us.”Evolutionists are always saying that creationists are ignorant. Now this may be true for a select few i dont know. However i do know that at the discovery institute which so many here seem to frown upon, they are making some claims about the creation of our world with very scientific and logical backing. I personally take a key interest in learning about evolution. I find it truly remarkable, however i still think it never happend. Im not sure why we are all calling each other basically idiots in this blog because we arent. Science is the search for the truth of our world. What we have are alot of facts that are out there, however many people have different views on those facts. Darwin looked at those facts and made a theory. I look at the same facts he had and i have a different theory about those facts. Does that make me ignorant? I dont think it does. Evolution is not a proven fact. At the moment the biggest problem it has is connecting the species in the tree of life. They have all the bones from the creatures that were supposedly there at different times, but nothing that connects them. Thanks!

  10. Why are people stupid

    To Dj Boschmann. Evolution has been observed and shown repeatedly in microorganisms. Something even you would recognize, antibiotic resistance, is indeed evolution. Which can occur simply over the course of an infection in one individual.

    As to your ignorant statement regarding the lack of a connection between species, you obviously have no knowledge of the field of genetics. Genetics is what connects species and allows us to classify them. There is one molecule in particular, 16s rRNA (you should look it up), that is highly conserved across all species (its required for protein to be made), that allows for the classification of species.

    Thank you mr curmudeon for your observations. The rampant ignorance regarding basic science in America is terrible.

  11. “Thank you mr curmudeon for your observations.”

    You’re welcome, Why are people stupid. We do our humble best.

  12. Just a couple of points from a random reader who happen to Google this website when researching the whole evolution vs. creationist argument.
    First, a lot of creationists believe that the world was made in 6 “days”. But those days are not the days of a modern man, they could be thousands of years, millions, whatever. This would mean that saddles never graced the backs of dinasours because they were created a few days earlier.
    And second, but also lastly. There are two kinds of evolution. The kind that says all the species in the world stemmed from one common ancestor. And the one that creationists also believe in. This evolution does not cause species to become completely new species, but similar creatures with slightly different parts. Im just trying to broaden your horizons a little bit…

  13. Drew says: “There are two kinds of evolution.”

    Thanks for trying to broaden our horizons, but we’re well aware of the “micro-macro” issue. We’re also aware of the various types of creationists.

    There’s more material on the types of creationism here: Varieties of Creationism. It’s rarely important for our purposes here to distinguish between a day-age creationist or a six-literal-days creationist. If they want to legislate their “theory” into our classrooms or our labs, it doesn’t matter where their train left the tracks.

  14. Nice way of labeling those that don’t believe in evolution (beyond the species). You’re doing a fantastic job defending your religion.

  15. Wow, I did not think I would get a response this quickly. I have a quick question, and no I am not making a point at all, I am really just curious and someone might know. How many complete skeletons, or somewhat complete because that is rather impossible, have been found that are believed to be an ancestor of Homo sapien?

  16. Drew asks: “How many complete skeletons, or somewhat complete …”

    Not sure. Neanderthal isn’t currently believed to be an ancestor — a bit of a cousin — but they’ve found over 200 Neanderthal skeletons. I don’t know about Habilus, Robustus, etc. The populations of these species were few, and conveniently dying in a bog or something isn’t common, so fossils are rare, of course. Lucky to have found any. For that matter, I don’t know how many gorilla fossils have been found, and no one doubts their existence.

  17. I’ve looked into the whole evolution and creation issue and I must say that I’m astounded by the ignorance, blindfolds and twisted logic that evolutionists use to defend their theory. In the 150 years of dedicated study that has gone into evolution, the evidence for the theory has hardly changed.

    [Deleted the rest.]

  18. Why did you delete his comment? He seemed like he was about to make some sort of intelligent argument. At least allow your readers to make up their own minds instead of deleting posts that might make logical sense…

  19. You want to help with making his intelligent argument, Doug?

  20. The Curmudgeon is part of the Global Darwinist Conspriacy™. Michael had compelling evidence that would disprove evolution and show that the universe was literally created in six days. Clearly, he had to be silenced.

    But seriously…

    Look at this:

    In the 150 years of dedicated study that has gone into evolution, the evidence for the theory has hardly changed.

    Now think about it: Darwin presented his theory before we knew about genes or the structure of DNA, and long before genomics and large-scale comparative DNA sequence analysis. Not to mention the constantly growing number of transitional fossils that have been discovered. To stay that evidence has hardly changed is just a mind-bogglingly ignorant statement. I don’t blame the Curmudgeon one bit for deciding not to entertain such nonsense.

  21. Well said, James. I left just enough of Michael’s long comment to indicate why I took the action I did. The readers of this blog are sophisticated enough that the deleted material (which went steadily downhill after the part I retained) would have been a waste of everyone’s time. This blog doesn’t exist to display such comments.

  22. I have a quick question for the Curmudgeon, and its not one to bash evolution or make a statement. I am really just curious, what do you or evolutionists believe about the origins of life on earth? All I ever hear and read about is how humans and apes evolved from one common ancestor, but what evolved into that ancestor? And what into that ancestor? And so on…

  23. Doug says: “I have a quick question for the Curmudgeon …”

    We have links to resources to get you started. Check this out: Understanding Evolution. There’s much more here: List-O-Links.

  24. Hey Curmudgeon! Great blog with many informative articles! You are very fair in publishing critical comments, and in snipping the one that claimed there hasn’t been any new evidence since Darwin’s time…

    If I may, I would like to share a song I wrote in 1991 about the evolution/creation controversy called “Evolution” (guess which side I’m on!)
    It is at Note the 8.3 filename from DOS days… Peace TBG

  25. TBG says: “You are very fair in publishing critical comments …”

    If only you knew what’s been deleted. Strange world out there.


    That should be of interest to this article as it is an almost scientific take on the issue. It was overall quite enlightening.

  27. Valor Phoenix, I used to link to that site, but I thought the author had taken it down and disapproves of all the mirror sites.

  28. When I was in second grade I realized that Bible stories are just that – stories. Some stories are meant to explain things the writers don’t understand or to teach lessons. Bible stories have their place when we’re trying to teach small children but were certainly not meant to be taken literally.

    Rather than wasting valuable time arguing creation vs evolution, let’s overcome the “snake” of human greed and work to save what is left of the “Eden” that was the world.

  29. deputy says:

    Rather than wasting valuable time arguing creation vs evolution, let’s overcome the “snake” of human greed and work to save what is left of the “Eden” that was the world.

    That’s a fine project for you to work on at your own blog. Good luck with your endeavors.

  30. I’m seeing some really uninformed comments here. First of all, most atheists are such not out of hatred for religion, but hatred for dogma. That includes dogma such as nazism, stalinism, etc…

    Pretty much any political system that believes itself to be absolutely truthful fits into that category.

    Secondly, the idea that the Discovery Institute has some valid scientific data to back up its claims is ludicrous, and could only come from someone who has absolutely no knowledge of how science works.

    Their ideas are quite simply made up. They merely sit around, and think up a way that fossils, and geological data could somehow match the bible. This is not science. Science starts with the data, analyzes it, and then comes up with an explanation that meets the facts. They do not start with a conclusion.

    Despite what creationist groups will tell you, there is not a large group of scientists who strongly question evolution. There are a very, very tiny minority of people with scientific training, who are also religious fanatics, and refuse to accept the facts due to their dogma.

  31. As far as schooling goes, I think it’s only fair that all theories of creation, evolution, Hinduism, Bhuddism, etc. be taught in public ed. in a totally non-biased, comparitive history sort of way.

    As has been pointed out, at best all of them qualify more as hypothesis, hoping to make the “theory” qualifications, than anything else.

    Personally, I’m a fan of the “punctuated equilibrium” version of evolution. I like the research of Mayers, Eldridge, and Gould.

    I think they gave a much needed Gestalt shift to the Darwinian model, presented arguements that answered a lot of questions that had been ignored, and they rattled a lot of stodgy cages.

    But, even so, Darwin was a brilliant guy… but generally speaking, it takes more than one genius to create brilliance. (Lennon and McCartney; Rogers and Hammerstein, etc.)

  32. Clutch says: “I think it’s only fair that all theories of creation, evolution, Hinduism, Bhuddism, etc. be taught in public ed. in a totally non-biased, comparitive history sort of way.”

    That’s fine for a course in comparative religion, but not science.

  33. One day we will look back on creationists the same way we look at people who declared the earth flat… either their ignorance or fanatical fear in a world without the perverted christian god keeps their heads in the sand.

    creationists and bible fanatics are a disease to mankind… i have no problems of a faith that acknowledges what science discovers or a belief in god…. but [editorial deletion].

  34. Clutch Evolution is hard science with mounds of data and evidence. Its more a law than a thoery in that its about as proven as gravity… atomic theory allows us to build nuclear weapons but you guys dont spew how ITS ONLY A THEORY ZOMG!

    The science of medicine for instance requires the theory of evolution to operate… its at the core of medical science.

    creationism isnt a theory….,. its faith and has not a blip of hard science behind it…. its not even logical… how can a creationists basically say animals came from the sky with a flash and a puff of smoke? THATS INSANE!

    PLEASE answer this PLEASE

    how can a creationists basically say animals came from the sky with a flash and a puff of smoke? THATS INSANE!

  35. Drew says: “PLEASE answer this PLEASE”

    No, don’t. Debating creationists is a waste of time. It isn’t what we do here.

  36. I am a little late in this fight, but I’d like to contribute.

    Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Sartre are irrelevant.

    If you would like to compare Atheist criminals to Theist criminals, atheism is squared up to win in a landslide for fewer criminals and fewer violent crimes. Roughly 95% of inmates are theists.