Creationist Wisdom #668: A Plea for Tolerance

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in appears in the Knoxville News Sentinel of Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s titled Tolerate articles against evolution. The newspaper has a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Jim. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Recent articles citing the University of Tennessee’s celebration of Charles Darwin’s birthday are a measure of secular society’s imposition of propaganda without regard for the opposite viewpoint. Those who do not hold to the theory of evolution, in the words of Richard Dawkins, are “ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked … .)”

We didn’t know about that university’s celebration of Darwin Day, but surely it’s their business. Nevertheless, Jim is offended by what he sees as “secular society’s imposition of propaganda.” He’s further offended by Dawkins’ well-known statement, about which we once wrote Creationists: Ignorant, Stupid, Insane, or Wicked.

What does Jim say about society’s brutal assault on his delicate sensibilities? First, he informs us:

I do not believe in macroevolution and don’t believe I am stupid.

Stupid people rarely recognize that they are. However, your non-judgmental Curmudgeon realizes that Jim may be merely uneducated. Let’s read on:

I think it would be interesting to read articles from scientists who do not believe in evolution to level the playing field. After all, probably 50 percent of your readers do not believe in Darwinian evolution despite several generations of teaching it in our public schools and universities.

Jim will have to confine his search to creationist websites, because aside from what’s found at such places, there are very few actual scientists who reject evolution — see the National Center for Science Education’s list of Statements from Scientific and Scholarly Organizations. Jim continues, and here comes the good stuff:

Several of the problems with evolution include:

• How did the first life begin?

• How did the first amino acids form?

• How did proteins form?

• How did DNA and RNA originate?

• How do we explain several chicken-and-egg problems within supposedly evolved species?

• How did molecular machines evolve?

• How do we explain the Cambrian explosion?

Some of Jim’s questions are silly, but for the rest, there are many proposed solutions, and none require the intervention of miracles. Besides, a list of questions isn’t evidence for creationism. We want data, Jim. His letter continues:

The possible answers to most of these questions being arrived at by chance is impossible, yet I have not heard any explanations that are rational.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Jim hasn’t been looking. Then he says:

We readers who do not believe in evolution tolerate articles promoting it, so shouldn’t the other side tolerate articles promoting different explanations?

We appreciate Jim’s tolerance. If he has an understandable, testable explanation for any of his questions, he’s free to provide it. However, Oogity Boogity is not such an explanation. Moving along:

I also think it is interesting to consider the subtitle of Darwin’s book — “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin was clearly in error here and would be considered a racist in today’s world.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Jim knows nothing more than the title of Darwin’s book — which didn’t even discuss human races. We addressed Jim’s groundless concerns in Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin.

Jim saved his best arguments for last:

I also believe that the theory of evolution has at least partly led to the amoral attitude that pervades society. It has led to fulfilled atheism, which has contributed to the idea that without God, all things are permissible.

Whatever else one might say about Jim, there’s little doubt that he’s sincere. His letter is not only amusing, it’s also depressing.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #668: A Plea for Tolerance

  1. michaelfugate

    Sigh….

    So if evolution were to be refuted because Darwin is supposed to be racist, then what does that say about the US and its founders? Should we throw out democracy? the Constitution?

    Doesn’t that Jim believes his god will forgive him if Jim asks – no matter what Jim does – mean that all things are permissible to Jim?

  2. I agree with Dawkins about those who do not accept the theory of evolution. I would say that Jim fits nicely into the category of the ignorant. Whether or not he is also stupid depends on whether or not he recognizes his ignorance and decides to learn about evolution from reputable science resources.

    My guess is that he lacks the ability to recognize legitimate science, or he would have already, as an adult seemingly interested in the subject, done a bit of reading of legitimate scientific literature.

  3. we want data
    More importantly, we want an alternative. Data for what?
    Creationists often say that they have data, “evidences”. The world.
    What they are lacking, conspicuously, is an accounting for what happens in the world of life so that things turn out as they do, rather some other possibility, given that their “designer” is up to doing anything. Some account which doesn’t mention evolution.

  4. Jim, like the writers of most letters in SC’s collection (what a hobby!) probably hasn’t had a good course on evolution. Most high school biology classes don’t adequately cover it, and, unfortunately, neither do most college GenEd biology courses. For students who don’t major in biology, their single biology course likely doesn’t cover evolution at all, focusing instead on aspect of human anatomy and physiology. As the central, organizing concept in biology, evolution should be the focal point of the non-major’s courses. Imagine teaching chemistry without electrons, or physics without energy. Unfortunately, I could never convince my colleagues of this, and when an evolution-centered course was offered opposite the human biology course, students voted with their feet by saturating the human biology course. Enrollment brings in more $$. So much for principles. Sigh. Biology faculty and GenEd committees must accept blame for student ignorance of evolution.

    Instead of a good course, Jim could Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True, and if he’s not convinced, he is as Dawkins says.

  5. scientist, excuse the delay, but I have no idea why your comment was delayed by the spam filter.

  6. michaelfugate

    I asked creationist chemist, dissent against Darwin signer, and NAS member Phil Skell if he would teach chemistry without atomic theory. He wouldn’t answer. Yet he was convinced that evolution was unneeded in teaching biology. I wish I still had that passive-egressive email exchange.

  7. From the last quote I can say without fear of contradiction that Jim didn’t come by his ideas on his own. Fundamentalist Christian teachers invite speakers that spew such nonsense, tying the teaching of evolution to godlessness to atheism to permissiveness. This is a very old trope leading back to the days of our founding fathers, who while many of whom were closet atheists felt that the common people needed religion to keep them from running amok.

    This is all founded in the idea that humans are naturally wicker, sinful and untrustworthy. Now, who would promote that idea? And the only force capable of countering such sinfulness is God. Maybe God wouldn’t be so needed if they would stop telling their parishioners that people were wicked (present company is excluded, of course, those “other people” are wicked and sinful, not you good people in the pews).

  8. “Those who do not hold to the theory of evolution, in the words of Richard Dawkins, are “ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked … .)””
    Usually this is a false tetrachotomy, but for the time being I’m willing to assume that Jim only qualifies for the first two.

  9. “shouldn’t the other side tolerate articles promoting different explanations?”

    “The Other” side in Jim’s controversy appears to be quite tolerant of ideas that can satisfy rational criteria. Jim displays little tolerance for those who won’t accept his claims.

    Is Jim actually upset with one of the building blocks of his self identity being challenged?

  10. Notice how when they’re unable to counter evolution scientifically, creationists start huffing about how it degrades morality. If you can’t win the argument, change the subject.