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Erasmus, FCD

Posts: 6349
Joined: June 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 20 2012,16:50   


Dave Luckett | October 19, 2012 8:18 PM | Reply
It’s as I have remarked before about YECs in general. Byers isn’t exactly handwaving evidence away. Rather, he can’t comprehend it or perceive it. To him, it doesn’t actually exist, as such.

To an pre-modern mindset - and Byers has one - evidence simply doesn’t matter. What matters is strength of personal conviction, authority and repeated assertion. There is also argument, but of specific kinds - argument from (possible) consequence, argument ad populi. We’ve seen Byers and his cohort use both, but the most important thing is personal conviction. Byers believes what he believes because he believes it. Evidence, on the other hand, doesn’t register.

The cornerstone of Byers ideas on the history of the Earth is that the Bible can’t be wrong (authority), because it’s the word of God. He simply assumes this, and repeatedly asserts it. A second foundational idea is that the only way the past can be known is by eyewitness statement - which in the case of Genesis, is God Himself. (Byers knows this, despite the fact that it is never actually claimed.) The evidence from fossils simply doesn’t exist. These are nothing more than the remains of creatures that once existed. There’s nothing to say that they are related to modern life.

The similarities in morphology and the biochemical evidence of precisely similar insertions, deletions, broken genes, etcetera, is also irrelevant. But not only irrelevant. It’s also meaningless. Byers ensures that it will forever remain meaningless to him by never attempting to inform himself about it. He simply ignores it. Its very meaninglessness is then an argument against it.

Which comes back to the same thing. Byers believes what he believes because he believes it. The values he has had deeply instilled into him is that this set of beliefs cannot be compromised. He will therefore do nothing whatsoever that might compromise them.

So it’s useless putting evidence before him. He doesn’t recognise it, and can’t comprehend its very existence. It’s useless asking him to consider evidence. He won’t. He can’t. That would be to imply that evidence is sovereign, when he knows that internal certainty, authority and repeated assertion is sovereign. He simply ignores evidence, because evidence does not and cannot matter.

You’d think that the cognitive dissonance would eventually become unbearable, for Byers does use evidence in places where his belief system doesn’t dictate otherwise. If he heard a breaking window in the next room, came in and saw shards of glass and a baseball on the floor, looked out of the broken window and saw a bunch of kids with a bat looking towards the house, he’d come to the obvious conclusion, and hence reconstruct a past event from evidence with no trouble at all. But his rigid mental compartmentalisation and cognitive dissassociation allows him to eschew this process where his convictions require.

It’s a sad case.

harold | October 20, 2012 10:04 AM | Reply
Dave Luckett -

I agree with every word you said, very strongly, since I also constantly point out that the commonality shared by creationists (and most other science deniers) is authoritarian thinking.

I will offer one modification -

The cornerstone of Byers ideas on the history of the Earth is that the Bible can’t be wrong (authority), because it’s the word of God.
Since a number of great humanitarian resisters of injustice over the years have given faith in religious principle as a motivation, stating creationist fundamentals this way runs the risk of creating confusion between self-sacrificing figures like Martin Luther King or Gandhi, and creationists.

This would be a mistake, as creationists tend to be authority-worshipers who seek privilege. Indeed, they often complain that society’s refusal to allow them to persecute others as much as they wish is “persecution” directed toward them.

Therefore I would state it a bit differently -

“The cornerstone of Byers’ (or any other typical creationist’s) ideas on anything is that they must submit to certain ritual declarations to be accepted as members of the group they wish to identify with.”

Granted, they aren’t all flexible opportunists (many of the elite probably are, and would probably “convert” to science tomorrow if creationism didn’t pay the bills, but the rank and file aren’t). Many of them would plausibly suffer a dissociative breakdown if someone managed to break through their denial, and doing that would probably require unethical techniques that would bring the movie “A Clockwork Orange” to mind.

Having said that, we shouldn’t confuse them with people who hold strong abstract principles. They’re concrete authoritarians. The “literal” interpretation of the Bible is preferred because, while not coherent, such an interpretation is concrete. Attempting to interpret the Bible at any other level leads to the uncomfortable sensation that, no matter how inhumane parts of the Bible may be, some other parts condemn typical exploitive authoritarian behavior.

Their “beliefs” are self-serving and conformist, and should not be confused with the type of beliefs that less authoritarian figures have struggled with over the years.

I’m not suggesting that they consciously adopt self-serving beliefs. It’s an unconscious process.

But creationism is virtually always self-serving.

You simply don’t see creationists deciding that they need to humble themselves, intentionally self-sacrifice, abandon material comforts, show love to their enemies, etc. It’s a self-serving authoritarian movement that seeks dominance over others.

You're obviously illiterate as hell. Peach, bro.-FtK

Finding something hard to believe based on the evidence, is science.-JoeG

the odds of getting some loathsome taint are low-- Gordon E Mullings Manjack Heights Montserrat

I work on molecular systems with pathway charts and such.-Giggles

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