One downside to my new job and my new city is that I’ve got a workmate that has dragged me into a couple of conversations where I’ve felt obligated to defend science. You’d think that someone that makes their living as a computer programmer, whose every day tools are the results of thousands of repetitions of the scientific method, would get that science works and that the considered output of a preponderance of scientific specialists, in the area of their specialty should be given high regard and heavy credence. But alas.
You’re probably thinking that I’ve come to work with someone “skeptical” of Global Climate Change, or even simply of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change, and I admit that I would find that sad and that it would lower my opinion of their intellect, the truth is it’s much worse than that. I’m working alongside a Creationist. Well, he hasn’t actually said he’s a Creationist. What he has said is that he doesn’t believe in evolution. I’m going to play fair witness here for a moment, so sorry to those of you that hate it when I split hairs (and I do split hairs a lot). He hasn’t said that he believes in Intelligent Design, but he has said things in support of Intelligent Design. He hasn’t said that he doesn’t believe in speciation but it seems like that’s because he doesn’t know the word speciation, or at least not well enough to be comfortable using it. What he has said is that animals adapt, but don’t necessarily evolve and certainly don’t evolve into new species. He hasn’t said that he believes in a young Earth or the Biblical flood, but he did say that the geologic theory of the creation of the Grand Canyon over millions of years and the theory that the Grand Canyon was created in a massive flood that brought in huge amounts of debris that settled out in layers were both plausible. I don’t think he actually said “equally” plausible, but I sure think that was his implication.
So I sat here and tried to reconcile the notion that you can’t be stupid and still program computers, with the notion that you can’t not be stupid and actually, literally believe in Creationism. And I kept going around in circles. So I turned to God. I asked him how can somebody be both stupid and not stupid at the same time.
The first thing he told me was that I could find the answer to the question in the question itself, but I didn’t let him get off that easy. I mean just telling me that I’m being stupid while obviously not stupid doesn’t really get me any closer to an answer. So we continued talking. Finally what it came down to is a question of brainwashing. There are many millions of people that have been brainwashed, from before they’ve even given up breastfeeding, to believe in Religion and to believe in what religion teaches them. So the question then becomes, if they’re not stupid why don’t they move beyond their brainwashing when confronted with the sheer irrationality of what they have been taught?
It seems to circle around the point of blind spots. Brainwashing inherently creates a blind spot in our minds. Here’s the conundrum… If I point out to you that you’ve been brainwashed and that this thing you believe does not in actuality pass the simple muster of being consistent with itself, let alone with observable reality, why would you take my word for it? Just as I wouldn’t take their word for it that the Grand Canyon supports the notion of the Biblical flood, they will not just accept that it doesn’t. So to overcome their brainwashing they have to not just be given the word of experts but they would need to, at the least, study the field enough to themselves become experts. Anything less would not be enough to overcome their brainwashing.
And that’s way too much to expect most people to do. Especially when they know up front that doing so may well deprive them of notions that are actually quite comforting and pleasant. So I get it now, I do, but that doesn’t mean I like it. And I like even less that I now have to wonder what in my own worldview might be merely the residue of brainwashing, and is any of it worth the effort involved to clear away, is any of it worth the effort of rinsing away the soapy ring around my own little mental bath tub?