Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Insidious Creep of Idiocy

Well, it's official. At least 25% of New Zealand are certified brain dead...

Twenty Five Percent of New Zealanders believe that the earth was created in six days. That's right. 1 in 4 New Zealanders have officially disengaged their neocortex, and are simply running on bible/qu'ran fuelled autopilot. I just want to pull my hair out. The creep of stupidity, commonly known as "Christianity", "Spirituality" or "Religion" is in full force. Ian Wishart and his deluded ilk will no doubt be pleased.

We have assumed too long that the religious idiocy (there's a two word tautology, if I've ever seen one) of the States would never make it here. "Oh! That couldn't happen here", we've smugly asserted. "We're far too liberal and progressive! We have the Civil Union Act and secular education!" But we've seen the warning signs. We've already seen a war started against progress, reason and science. We are not immune to mass stupidity. What makes it even worse is that modern liberals themselves have been part of the problem; we've created the perfect culture for a new Dark Age by developing a world dependent on pluralism, relativism and equal validity of truths.

I went to a seminar a while back by Associate Professor Allan Rodgrigo on the Intelligent Design movement. Afterwards we had a chat about the movement in New Zealand and he expressed a belief that it is something that we should be worried about here. Firstly because we have this culture of equal truth, which intelligent design hacks and charlatans cynically exploit to push their 'teach the controversy' mantra. It is the grossest of ironies that this very group who rally against the relativism of secular liberalism are using that very paradigm in an attempt to destroy it.

Secondly, we should be worried because scientists have spent far too long hiding in the bunkers of academia, and specifically academic language; not through arrogance, but simply through tradition. It is time for scientists to reclaim the language of design. Life is designed - not through any supernatural intelligent force, but through the synergy of chemistry, physics and biology to be the exquisitly adapted world we see around us. It is time that scientists started engaging in a public sphere to show what they do, why they do it and why science is the best thing we have to describe, explain and explore our world. Science is not only for scientists: it is for everyone. It is not difficult, you don't have to be smart to do it. Most scientists are normal people of normal abilities doing what they do.

There is no controversy. We would only need to look to other "explanations" (or should I say, look towards a frontal lobotomy) such as creationism, if evolutionary science was losing its explanatory, predictive and innovative powers. It is not. It has never been a more exciting time for evolutionary science, or any scientific field for that matter, than now. We continue to push the boundaries of our understanding, of our innovation, of our technological abilities; it has never been a better time to be a scientist.

I am angry, incredibly angry. It is time for people with some neurons firing to actually get out and stop it. We've rested on our laurels for too long, smug in a knowledge that the secular world is secure. During that complacency, we've indulged ourselves with the intellectually lazy half-baked idea of the relativity of truth, that two ideas can be equally valid at the same time for their explanations of the world. In the end, it is this that will be our achilles heel. It is this idea that is being exploited by Islamic groups to try and implement Sharia law in otherwise secular democracies such as Canada. It is this idea that has resulted in increasingly vocal calls from hardline religious idiots, both Christian and Muslim, to try and justify homophobia, misogyny, self-righteous hypocrisy about abortion and euthanasia, and of course biblical creationism. It is this idea that is exploited by mysticist Maori to try and justify attitudes towards women, used by some religious Pacific Island leaders to justify beating their children. All the while, the generally tolerant public are lulled into a sense of compliance: those views are ok. They are valid, because all ideas are valid. How fucking postmodern. How fucking wrong. Here's an idea: religion and supernaturalism got it wrong. Not only about how the world works. Not only about how we're supposed to live our lives. Religion got it wrong on everything. You'd think at the height of our 'advancement' as a species, we'd stop acting so primitively. It appears not. No matter how many things we are able to do, know and create because of Science, people still need their witchdoctors and sky fairies.

It would be funny if it wasn't so damn worrying. We've only got ourselves to blame. I don't know how we're supposed to stop it, but we need to start doing it now.