Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bumper Sticker Faith

Bumper Sticker Faith

It’s the winter holiday season, and with it comes trees, lights, wreaths, and holly.

We even get billboards and marquees that answer each other’s controversial statements. The American Atheists have a billboard that says, “You know it’s a myth. This season celebrate REASON!” And some religious folk have countered it. And I’m sure that there’s another campaign here or there that will be having similar competitions.

Not that I’m against these campaigns. I think it’s great that we as atheists are getting the word out that it is okay to be an atheist, especially at this time of year. I think it’s great that the billboards are causing controversy. They ought to do so. I hope they make people think.

The other day at work I was talking with a couple of ladies who turned out to be evolution-deniers. I was taken off guard. These are intelligent people and the last people I would have suspected to have such bat-shit crazy ideas. I tried to explain evolution to them, but I kept getting swept away at the sheer craziness of their ideas. I was dumbfounded when one suggested that Adam and Eve had been dinosaurs. I’ve never heard that before. I could only say with utter bewilderment, “Do you think Adam and Eve were dinosaurs?!” She seemed to think that if they were, that would not contradict Genesis at all, but the idea that all living things share common ancestry would. Actually, I never got to say “common ancestry” to these ladies. Their nonsense left me speechless more than once. If you happen to know me in real life, you know the idiocy has to be at dinosaur level to stump me.

Looking back, I should have known better. One of these ladies has tried to get me to believe that homeopathy was good medicine. She was aghast when I said acupuncture was bullshit. And I think the whole “Adam and Eve were dinosaurs” conversation began with me calling PETA the “People for Extortion and Terrorist Activity”. In other words, I already knew these ladies were into “woo”, but didn’t realize the woo was part of a much deeper pool of crazy guano.

In any event, I tried to explain what evolution was and why creation was nothing more than a fairy tale. I could not. As I tried to give the explanation, they would shut down and tell me they didn’t understand. If I couldn’t condense my answer to less than five words, it was too complicated. I said that was disingenuous, and they couldn’t understand the word. I told them they were not being intellectually honest, and they didn’t care. She told me it was easier to believe Adam and Eve were dinosaurs than to believe evolution happens. I doubt they understand what evolution is, but I asked why she felt it was easier. It fit on a bumper sticker.

It was true; intellectual honesty was not her concern. Nor was winning a debate. Her objective was to keep from having to learn something. Her objective was to be able to keep her head up her ass and try not to look foolish in the process. She hid behind the bumper sticker and ran, because it was quickly evident that once the dumb-stun wore off, I was going to be able to dissect and destroy her position. I only wish I could have shaken the stun off more quickly.

I want to end with the fact these ladies are not idiots. I mean, they may be IDiots, but they are not stupid people. They are quite intelligent and because of this, they illustrate very well how smart people have been trained to do mental gymnastics to keep religious beliefs separate from the rest of their lives. I just worry when it seems to leak in the form of woo.