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Author Topic:   Why Creationists' Willful Ignorance?
dwise1
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Posts: 2730
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Message 1 of 182 (628579)
08-07-2011 11:03 PM


I am in the process of bringing my site back up after having been taken down a few years ago by my provider suddenly going out of the business. I am now bringing it back up at http://cre-ev.dwise1.net/.

On my index page, I am endeavoring to summarize my position. Part of that is the question of why creationists persist in keeping themselves ignorant of evolution and the associated sciences. I will prsent here what I have posted and open it up to discussion and criticism. I am particularly concerned with my assessment #2, pertaining to the goals of creationist/fundamentalist education.

quote:
In order for a creationist to discuss claims involving science, they need to learn something about the science! Sounds so obvious, and yet it's something that they never seem to do and it's something that they seem to always refuse to do. Or else they back out of the discussion by promising to look into it, which they have absolutely no intention of doing.

Why do they refuse to learn the science when their ignorance works so much to their detriment? Two possible reasons come to mind:

{ABE: Restored portion of Item #1 in order to reduce confusion}
1. I believe it is because they desperately need that ignorance in order to preserve their faith. Because by learning the science, they will also learn that their claims are false, which then would destroy their faith in accordance with "creation science" theology.

To illustrate the delicate dance that a creationist must do to carefully maintain his willful ignorance while trying to learn something about science, I came up with this analogy in a forum:

quote:

{ go to my site to read the full quote, which I'm abbreviating for brevity }
And that is the analogy I see in operation with fundamentalists. They need to understand what's happening in the real world in order to deal with very real problems. But if they do understand what's really happening, then that could destroy their faith -- either they imagine that it will or it actually will, or both. So they avoid the truth instead of having to deal with it. That works for most whose everyday lives never need to deal with science or the truth. But those who must deal with such things need to find other ways to avoid the truth, other ways to understand just enough to get by but not enough to realize the truth and so endanger their faith. This is especially true of active creationists who try to carry on the fight against evolution; they need to know enough to discuss the subject matter, but not enough to actually understand the subject matter.

2. Another possible explanation may lie in their misunderstanding of what learning entails. According to the 1990 Science Framework for California Public Schools Kindergarten through Grade Twelve:

quote:

We repeat here the fundamental conviction of this framework: Education does not compel belief; it seeks to encourage understanding. Nothing in science, or in any other field, should be taught dogmatically. But teaching about something does not constitute advancing it as truth. In science, there is no truth. There is only knowledge that tests itself and build on itself constantly. This is the message that students should take away with them.


However, it appears that education has a different meaning for creationists. It appears that, in their experience, rather than being for the purpose of understanding, it's for the purpose of indoctrination, of telling the students what to believe. This would mean that they believe that studying evolution would require them to accept it, so they refuse to actually study it.


  1. In "creation science's" "balanced treatment" materials labeled for "public schools", we have repeatedly seen them trying to compel belief, repeatedly urging the students to choose what they believe; ie, compelled them to decide to believe in one thing or the other, counter to the goals of public education.

  2. In creationist rhetorics, they repeatedly describe public school education as "indoctrination" and accusing it of teaching their children what to believe. They appear to be projecting onto public education what they themselves do in their own schools.

  3. In my 25-plus years of on-line discussions with creationists, a number of creationists absolutely refused to learn about evolution, telling me explicitly that studying evolution would require them to believe in it. That makes absolutely no sense to a non-creationist, but it obviously does to creationists.

  4. In 1988, when the ICR's graduate school was being inspected for accredidation, the visiting committee found the school deficient in several ways, including "that the school's doctrinal tenets limited academic freedom" (citation). In one class the committee observed that they were using a standard graduate-level textbook also used in public universities, but the instructor was taking the entire class through the book page-by-page, telling them what to cross out because "we don't believe that."


Is my assessment of conservative/evangelical/fundamentalist/extreme-sectarian Christian education accurate?

Edited by dwise1, : clean-up and adding focus

Edited by dwise1, : fourth item

Edited by dwise1, : Restored part of Item #1


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Admin
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Message 2 of 182 (628580)
08-08-2011 7:46 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by dwise1
08-07-2011 11:03 PM


I didn't see any tables in your message. The strange formatting is because you placed blockquotes around your quotes and cites. Remove those blockquotes and I think most of the formatting problems will be fixed.

The remaining problems seem to be sentences that appear intended as part of a single paragraph, but you've included a carriage return at the end of each sentence. And there are a few extraneous carriage returns in the middle of sentences.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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dwise1
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Posts: 2730
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 3 of 182 (628581)
08-08-2011 10:19 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by Admin
08-08-2011 7:46 AM


The table plus shading was for creating a quote box, but here that turned out unreadably ugly so I replaced them with quote tags.

HTML strips out white space, including carriage returns, but this forum does not.

I'll clean that up, plus on second thought I should only post item #2 since that is what I really want to verify. Anyone who wants to see the entire thing can go to my web page.

{ABE}
Done.

Edited by dwise1, : No reason given.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2730
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 4 of 182 (628582)
08-09-2011 11:47 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by Admin
08-08-2011 7:46 AM


I just added a fourth item to the list.

Is there anything else I need to take care of?


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Admin
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Message 5 of 182 (628584)
08-10-2011 7:05 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Why Creationists' Willful Ignorance? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
ProtoTypical
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From: Ontario Canada
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Message 6 of 182 (628589)
08-10-2011 11:17 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by dwise1
08-07-2011 11:03 PM


...conservative/evangelical/fundamentalist/extreme-sectarian Christian...

That is quite a sub group. Are all of those attributes required to apply?

Is my assessment of... education accurate?

I went to a Mennonite high school for 3yrs. They were fairly liberal in that they dressed normally, had zippers and drove cars but no dancing. A sense of community and common faith permeated everything but there was no willful denial of facts on an institutional level. Evolution was taught and any conflict was discussed in religious studies class. This is where the willful denial showed up and it manifested on a personal level.

I think that your assessment is accurate. Perhaps not across the board but more about the way that most individuals of faith approach their own education. As a result it shows up in the way that they run their schools.

So, why the willful ignorance? Fear of the unknown and a reliance on what has worked in the past.


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Coyote
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Message 7 of 182 (628591)
08-10-2011 11:47 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by ProtoTypical
08-10-2011 11:17 PM


Why willful ignorance?
So, why the willful ignorance? Fear of the unknown and a reliance on what has worked in the past.

I think willful ignorance is necessary among many fundamentalists because their beliefs are contradicted by the evidence from the real world.

They either accept that evidence, to the detriment of their beliefs, or agree among themselves, and with themselves, to ignore that evidence. To do otherwise would require that they question, or even discard, some of their beliefs.

We've seen here that some of our fundamentalist posters will cling to the flimsiest of support for their beliefs rather accept than the overwhelming contradiction of that belief.

Ignorance of science is an integral part of that willful ignorance. If one were to study science, one might begin to question one's beliefs. Better to remain ignorant of science and firm in one's beliefs? That often seems to be the case.

But the problem is that the willful ignorance becomes an impervious cloak; no fact or evidence from the real world may be allowed to penetrate that cloak if it may be detrimental to one's beliefs.

Willful ignorance is the worse kind.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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Butterflytyrant
Member (Idle past 1808 days)
Posts: 415
From: Australia
Joined: 06-28-2011


(3)
Message 8 of 182 (628606)
08-11-2011 10:17 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by dwise1
08-07-2011 11:03 PM


Fundamentalist educator
I dont know if this is the kind of information that will help.

I had a friend who converted to Charismatic Evangelical Christianity a few years after high school.

He was a great public speaker and debater in school so I did not find it unusual that he began giving lectures to his Christian group. he evn took some classes on effective teaching methods.

i went to see a few of these events just to see what sort of arguement he was putting forward.

He was not only speaking to adults, but also to children. This was the only exposure that these people had to pretty much any science.

One of the things that really surprised me is that every single person there believed every word he said without question. i think this is an important factor in christian education. For some reason, they will believe without question. In any science class, you will normally hear people ask questions because they may not understand or want more information. Not in this group. They did not question why something did or did not occur, they just believed.

I confronted him after a few visits because he was lying to these people about many fields of science. I was particularly shocked because I knew he was lying and I knew that he was aware he was lying. He knows some of the science but was diliberately misinterpreting or twisting the facts to suit his 'lesson'. We had discussed the science and both of us knew he was lying and that people would believe his lies.

He told me that it did not matter what he told them. He did not see it as lies. He 'knew' that the earth was 6000 years old and that evolution was false. He told me that as his views were the truth, it did not matter how he convinced others of it. I suggested that this was dishonest. He disagreed with me and said that as long as they came to the true faith, regardless of how this was achieved, he was being honest to the only one who mattered. That was god.

I do not doubt that this line of reasoning is common amongst evangelicals.

Our friendship did not last long after that.


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Dirk
Member (Idle past 1410 days)
Posts: 84
Joined: 08-20-2010


Message 9 of 182 (628611)
08-11-2011 10:54 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Butterflytyrant
08-11-2011 10:17 AM


Re: Fundamentalist educator
One of the things that really surprised me is that every single person there believed every word he said without question. i think this is an important factor in christian education. For some reason, they will believe without question. In any science class, you will normally hear people ask questions because they may not understand or want more information. Not in this group. They did not question why something did or did not occur, they just believed.

Is that so surprising? That's what religions are about; belief without questioning. It's how they've been brought up, and as long as no one tells them that you don't have to belief in science because you can go out there and verify it for yourself, they won't change. Creationists often argue that science is just another PoV that also starts from untestable claims, and then go on to say that you may choose as you like, in which case people will likely go for the one that promises eternal life. I have yet to meet a creationist who actually represents science in the way it is. But they won't do that because people will then likely figure out that religion's claims simply don't make sense compared to claims that are actually based on reality.

He told me that it did not matter what he told them. He did not see it as lies. He 'knew' that the earth was 6000 years old and that evolution was false. He told me that as his views were the truth, it did not matter how he convinced others of it. I suggested that this was dishonest. He disagreed with me and said that as long as they came to the true faith, regardless of how this was achieved, he was being honest to the only one who mattered. That was god.

This is interesting. I do not doubt that many of the 'common believers' genuinely believe what they are told, simply because many of them lack the means to check what they are being told (and because they are continuously bombarded with warnings against Wikipedia, as the most obvious source for knowledge, being "secular" and "evil"), but I have always been wondering about those who spread the Creationist Word(TM). My impression was always that they know they are lying but still do it because it sells; it's their way to earn money (I often feel that for many creationists who write books and make documentaries etc., making money off gullible people is more important than the religious aspect). But what you write here suggests that your (former) friend is also trying very hard to deceive himself. Very interesting.

Edited by Dirk, : add wp comment


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Dr Jack
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From: Leicester, England
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Message 10 of 182 (628612)
08-11-2011 11:06 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Dirk
08-11-2011 10:54 AM


Re: Fundamentalist educator
Is that so surprising? That's what religions are about; belief without questioning.

Not a single one of the religious people I know would either agree with that statement or be described by it.


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Taq
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Message 11 of 182 (628614)
08-11-2011 11:18 AM


Barney Frank had one of the best quotes during the run up to the vote on the recent health insurance reform bill. A person that could probably fit many of the criteria in the OP stood up and asked Barney Frank an inane and ignorant question. Frank's reply: "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table." Priceless.
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Butterflytyrant
Member (Idle past 1808 days)
Posts: 415
From: Australia
Joined: 06-28-2011


Message 12 of 182 (628623)
08-11-2011 12:34 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Dirk
08-11-2011 10:54 AM


Re: Fundamentalist educator
Hey Dirk,

Is that so surprising? That's what religions are about; belief without questioning.

I was only talking about these specific groups and this one guy. There would have been about 50 people in each meeting. Mostly the same folks as far as i could remember. I do not attend these events as a habit. I only attended because I was curious. He asked me a fair few questions about science, evolution and biology. I was a first year biological scince major at the time. Not a particularly good source. I was curious to see wht he did with the information. We mostly went through some of my textbooks. The thing that really annoyed me ws that he understood the science and then misrepresented, ommited and lied his way through his 'lessons'. He was not lecturing on god or religion. He was lecturing on science. I was coming out of classes where everyone had questions. His audience never questioned anything. noone asked him to explin anything or ask for some evidence. It was very different to my lessons. I would disagree that all creationists and religiou people follow a belief without questioning approach. The religious people on this forum are often quite good thinkers. Many religious people I meet are thinkers but will follow their faith regardless of evidence. I do agree that people will choose the option that offers eternal life. That is a pretty good bonus prize. They also have the kicker that if you dont believe you burn in hell for eternity. Personally, I am still going for whats in the mystery box.

But what you write here suggests that your (former) friend is also trying very hard to deceive himself. Very interesting.

I dont really know what his personal motivations were. He became a more and more confusing man as time went on. He held down a normal job as a graphic designer and seemed perfectly normal and rational. But the guy I saw at the meetings was a different guy. I think he was well and truly decieved and happy for it. I dont think he saw it that way. I sort of lost contact with him for a few years before moving back to the old neighbourhood and meeting him again. From what I recall he had some pretty serious family and relationship problems during that time. Then he met a girl who went to a local church. It is quite possible that he leapt into their open arms happily and willingly because his life had gone to shit. Perhaps he found his purpose. He was not making any money. I suppose he was gaining a fair bit of statusand appreciation in his group. He received a lot of applause and handshakes, pats on the back etc when he was done.

I dont understand the mentality of feeling happy that you are doing gods work.

I get satisfaction from teaching my little girl different things (she is only 14 months so we have yet to delve into religion, if I can get her to stop using her own poo as a painting medium I will have taught her something good). But I would not get any satisfaction from lying to her.

It was a a smal story from personal experience relating to the teaching style and justification of one man. It could help to understand other teachers like him.


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Taq
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(2)
Message 13 of 182 (628625)
08-11-2011 12:59 PM


Projection
Tied closely to willful ignorance is the need to project. I don't think creationists do this on purpose. In fact, I think it is part and parcel of the thought process that results in willful ignorance.

I think we have all seen the accusations that creationists level at the scientific establishment. They include a lack of academic freedom, a conspiracy to hide falsifying evidence, blackballing dissenting voices, a lack of skepticism with respect to conclusions, adherence to a religious dogma, and a need to engineer society (e.g. eugenics). In each case, creationists are not talking about evolutionists but about themselves. In order to hold on to the illusion that is creationism they need to believe that everyone else is just as deluded. By projecting their flaws onto real scientists they can convince themselves that they are on equal footing.

This tendency to project also mixes well with sloppy post-modernist (PM) thinking. We see it all the time. Creationists will argue that they use the same evidence, but just interpret it differently as if all interpretations are equal (hence, PM). They truly believe that scientists are interpretting data so that it matches their assumed conclusions, just like they do. Therefore, their interpretations are on par with the conclusions that real scientists reach.

I will agree that willful ignorance is a part of the creationist thought process. However, I think the foundation is a lack of self awareness. Willful ignorance, projection, and sloppy PM philosophies are symptoms of this underlying foundation.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2730
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 14 of 182 (628629)
08-11-2011 2:39 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by ProtoTypical
08-10-2011 11:17 PM


DWise1 writes:

...conservative/evangelical/fundamentalist/extreme-sectarian Christian...

That is quite a sub group. Are all of those attributes required to apply?

Rather than treat those as intersection operators that AND the attributes together, they are intended to be union operators that OR them together.

Although many, including myself, will apply the label of "fundamentalist" to a particular type of Christian, it properly only applies to very particular sects. So I was trying to refer to the various types of Christians who would be of the "creation science" persuasion, so to speak, and wondering whether my assessment is accurate enough of what they consider to be the goals of education.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2730
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.0


(2)
Message 15 of 182 (628631)
08-11-2011 2:48 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Taq
08-11-2011 11:18 AM


Reminds me of a NASA channel broadcast of a press conference for the Galileo mission -- our company had made the data recorder which ended up saving the mission by being able to be operated well outside its design requirements in order to compensate for a high-gain antenna that failed to deploy. The company was running NASA coverage on the TV in the break area.

As the spokesman was taking questions from the press, a reporter from a fashion magazine got up and asked "What color is the probe's parachute?" That immediately got the attention of everyone in the break area. The spokesman just stood there for several seconds with a stunned look on his face, trying to figure out whether he had actually heard what he thought he just heard.

Of course, in Dawn's book, that would have meant that the reporter just won the debate.


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