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AdLib On December - 30 - 2013

Pew Research released a poll today which may validate the views of many that the Republican party is becoming more and more medieval in their thinking. The poll asked people a number of questions about evolution, the primary one asking if humans and other living things have existed exactly as they are today from the beginning of their existence or if they have changed over time…in other words, evolved.

The overall numbers were similar to what they were four years ago but the political breakdown is very enlightening…at least to those who believe in the science of polls.

60% of Americans believed that people and other living things had evolved while 33% believe evolution is for the birds…well, not even those dinosaur descendants.

Many religious people expressed a belief in evolution, seeing God’s hand in it. Science and religion can indeed coexist for some but unfortunately, not for the extremists. 64% of White Evangelist Protestants (and 50% of Black Evangelist Protestants) don’t believe in evolution.

The political breakdown…and breakdown may be the right word when one considers the deterioration in Republicans’ belief in science…is most interesting. In 2009, when Pew held a similar poll,  In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats supported evolution. In this week’s poll, those numbers have changed to 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats.

So in just four years, there are almost 20% more Republicans disbelieving evolution, the 10% gap with Democrats in 2009 has ballooned more than double to a 24% gap (meanwhile, there was a gradual increase of 3% more Democrats believing in evolution).

Why is that and does it tell us something important about Republicans and their party? Perhaps so and perhaps not.

There is no question that with the rise of Tea Party, the average IQ of elected Republican officials has appeared to mirror the graph of a stock market crash. As extremists have seemed to multiply in the GOP and take more control, scientists could make an argument for that as evidence confirming the theory of  devolution. However, might one explanation for those numbers also be due to the current content of the GOP? Many moderates have been chased out of the party leaving a greater concentration of those more likely to deny evolution (and the legal citizenship of black men elected to office).

Percentages can be misleading. We don’t know that more people are joining the Know Nothings in a backwards march to the Dark Ages, we just know that a higher percentage of those in the GOP are claiming Fred Flintstone as one of their relatives on Ancestry.com.

One could argue though that there is a movement within the evangelist Protestants to see any advancement of knowledge and social progress as a threat, as they conflict with their long held concepts of laws supporting religious dogma and white superiority elevating them above minorities. Evolution has long been on the “enemies list” of some, it might just be that more Republicans are changing over time…or as they don’t believe in calling it, evolving to a position of  disputing the existence of evolution.

Consider how today’s America looks to the less-educated, very religious white evangelist Protestants. They used to take comfort in their country having laws that enforced “God’s Word”, making homosexuality a criminal act and gay marriage an abomination that would never be legally permitted. White people held a monopoly on the top symbol of power in America, the Presidency, and minorities were easily dismissed as inferior and deserving of unequal treatment. The American Dream they had been waiting to come to them their whole lives never came and instead, those who shouldn’t be entitled to better lives have taken what was meant for them.

And these same people who have been forcing “equality” down the throats of those extremists who have counted on inequality their whole lives to give them an advantage, want them to accept other realities that makes them feel even worse and even more unenlightened.

Well, to quote the old Tareyton Cigarettes catch phrase, sometimes the need to protect one’s ego and insecurities takes priority in human beings and some would rather fight than switch. There’s something gratifying to be in a “noble” battle one’s constructed and it can distract one from the things that aren’t so satisfying…like the things that made them so defensive in the first place that they chose to fight reality. Is the fight by many of these same people against global warming any different? They’ve been manipulated by the corporate polluters who own the GOP (see: The Koch Bros and Friends) into thinking that their religious beliefs are under attack by those who want to address Climate Change. Science is the enemy of polluters because it can quantify and identify the destruction they are doing so it’s a natural for them to whip up the religious extremists in the GOP to fight their battle for them.

The irony is that such people use the fruits of science daily, such as televisions, cell phones and the internet to wage their war against that evil practice of science. As mentioned above, many religious people don’t see religion and science as being in opposition to each other but for these others, it is a zero sum game. Either science is defeated or their religion will be.

Scientific explorations have actually led to discoveries that only add to the mysteries of existence and for some, greater belief in God. Whether it’s evolution, The Big Bang or quantum mechanics,  as some theories are figured out, greater mysteries are uncovered. Science could never present a definitive conclusive theory proving the non-existence of something that transcends existence, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that simple fact.

So having a little flexibility on what people said 2000 years ago, long before the practice of science even began, as to how things really are and work in this universe shouldn’t be seen as a threat to religion or people’s faith but for these folks, they are. For them, to believe in evolution, Climate Change, equality of all races, religions, sexes and sexual orientations is to turn against their church and the people in their religious community…not to mention, accept reality instead of remain in the more affirming and comforting bubble of denial they’re sealed inside.

It is not surprising that so many of these folks are hostile, they have backed themselves into a corner and they see it as a matter of self-preservation now that science must be denied at nearly every turn. What science has to say is beside the point, science is clearly not a true believer so it must be a deceiver…whatever it wants to express must be attacked and disqualified. As they are besieged by more and more truths that don’t conform to their religious extremism, they’ve become just absolutist parrots, squawking the same disputes no matter the issue.

While others are evolving and becoming more enlightened about the world and universe around them…and either building on their religious beliefs or their non-religious beliefs, these people are devolving. They put on narrower blinders to avoid seeing what’s really going on around them, express beliefs that would be more fitting in years gone by and they yearn for times to reverse themselves back to an era when all of their insecurities would be erased.

What they seem to want more than anything is a time machine. It is interesting how those who think that most of what science has to offer is fiction, are so vested in the desire for something that could only happen in science fiction.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

64 Responses so far.

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  1. Assumed Name says:

    Interesting piece, Ad Lib. The Christian far right, however, is in the minority…they’re just obnoxiously loud and brazen:


    That said, they are gaining traction against women’s reproductive freedom…and I’m guessing that has to do with the minority/majority scare…but given the general archaic nature of far right theology, perhaps we’re witnessing the last bang before the whimper.

  2. kesmarn says:

    Another home run, AdLib!

    I’m sure that as the rest of us are celebrating the change from 2013 to 2014, the GOP/TP will be toasting 2013 morphing into 1858 — before women’s suffrage,that pesky Emancipation Proclamation and the publication of “The Origin of the Species.”

    Happy New Year to you and the whole Lib family, and here’s to good things in 2014 — including lots of Dem electoral victories and a hefty raise in the minimum wage!

    And many thanks for a 2013 that was full of many of your best articles ever.

  3. jjgravitas says:

    Adlib, great article. Yesterday while browsing Twitter I followed a link to Washington Post’s report on this issue. I left a comment wishing that the data had been broken down by state so I could get a sense of where the science deniers were gaining strength. Upon posting it I saw that the report was fresh and that a live debate was occurring in the comments section. I spent the next several hours in a very weird conversation with conservatives, moderates and liberals. Its a strange experience to see how conservatives justify their arguments. On evolution they argue that its not a valid concept because our information isn’t complete (IOW we don’t know everything ergo we know nothing and are free to fill that void with the most ridiculous claptrap imaginable). Its a little scary to see that ignorance play out in front of your eyes.


    • AdLib says:

      Thanks jj!

      It is a hackneyed refrain from the Know-Nothings on the RW to say “we don’t know enough” as an excuse for denying everything they want to. One could extrapolate out how “we don’t know enough” about any issue, especially all the things Repubs do support (Supply Side economics, environmental damage from fracking, etc.) but that’s not the point.

      They are like children who have been given an excuse to their teacher in their back pocket and they keep using it on every teacher they ever have. It’s dishonest and they know it.

      The truth is that they will squirm away from any truth they need to deny. Having 95% of all climate scientists say Climate Change is real and man made is meaningless to them, they just grasp for the 5% who don’t agree and say it’s disputed.

      Of course, tell them this truth, that only a third of the world’s population believe in Christianity and two thirds don’t and they’ll immediately declare that those who don’t believe are only ignorant of the truth.

      I say this a bit, you can’t use reason to argue someone out of a position they didn’t use reason to acquire. These people are intellectually dishonest, either intentionally or because of their need to hide behind denial from things that frighten them.

      They are anti-intellectual, they don’t understand or respect reason or truth and have been programmed by the GOP authority figures they follow to blather around actual logic to justify whatever propaganda they ingest and regurgitate.

      I’ve never seen such types as being capable of learning or being convinced of truths they’re ignorant of, just fending off truths that don’t fit into the bubble they need to live in.

      They are impediments to progress, IMO. Nothing can get better until we all accept basic realities despite our agendas.

    • Nirek says:

      JJ, claptrap is just what it is. Deny science and you are showing ignorance. Education is more important now than ever. IMO.

  4. VegasBabe says:

    We’re all the same. I remember when my beloved grandmother, bless her heart, would on occasion stick $2.00 in an envelope and mail it to Rev. Ike, a bible thumping shyster if there ever was one, despite our pleadings to her that it was for naught! Couldn’t change her belief and conviction for all the tea in China!

    Anthropologist Didier Fassin distinguishes between denial, defined as “the empirical observation that reality and truth are being denied”, and denialism, which he defines as “an ideological position whereby one systematically reacts by refusing reality and truth”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism

    That which we fear, we deny. Who among us can ever claim different?

    • VB, my grandmother on my mother’s side was like that too. She was a devout Christian and used to send money to a certain TV evangelist. I don’t know if he was a charlatan, but he very well could have been. She felt it was part of her devotion to send money. I am always a bit suspicious of TV preachers who are always asking for money. Especially when they equate donating to winning god’s favor.

      Denial can be an insidious thing and in many cases, people don’t realize they are in denial until someone may point it out to them. I think denialism occurs when such denial is pointed out to them, yet they continue to remain in denial. They don’t want to acknowledge the truth, as you have pointed out. I’m not sure what is meant by systematically reacting.

      Fear is truly a double edged sword. In many instances, fear is what keeps us alive. For example, if we were suddenly confronted with a grizzly bear while walking in the woods, it is fear that would instinctively tell us to avoid that bear at all costs. It’s a survival mechanism.

      Then there is fear of the future, or a sense of dread, which I think is pretty much the same. I have no doubt that there is fear of certain ideology, as so accurately demonstrated by a majority of GOPTPers.

      I find it very possible to fear something without denying it. The old adage that we must face our fears in order to overcome them, rings very true with me. I do believe that this requires practice and a strong intent to accomplish. It’s the “fight or flight,” instinct within all of us, and there are different ways of fighting and fleeing. Physical and psychological.

    • AdLib says:

      VB -- Great points. I do think there are enlightened people who accept the way things are without resorting to denial, as scary as it may be to them.

      Some people learn to embrace their fear and face it. I would say that it at least seems that it is more common though for people to deal with fears by descending into denial, to one degree or another. For the former, it is more frightening not to know or to blind oneself to what is coming than to at least recognize the truth.

      As for denialism, that is willful ignorance and sometimes dangerous practice. Those so small and weak on the inside that they need to build a bubble around themselves that makes them impervious to change and truth are not deserving of acknowledgement or power (though unfortunately some are in positions of power in our government).

      There needs to be a real awakening of people, humanity can be so much more than it is settling for. One can hope that the more regressive some get, the more they inspire progressivism in those observing their small mindedness.

  5. Beatlex says:

    A great post I found on HP on climate change,sorry if it is a downer,but it is reality

    December 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Saw this on HP,one of the smarter posters there on climate change,sorry if it is a downer to some

    Antony C. (outlandish)


    Political Pundit · 11,770 Fans · In something we trust

    It doesn’t matter what any of us say here, those that can see the writing on the wall and the cataclysm looming will lay out a case for change and those that buy into all well funded conspiracy theories, like the $ 1 billion spent per year to fight cap and trade will toe the corporate paid for line, people who can’t even comprehend that we are leaving a toxic junk pile in our wake as we exploit our way through this age.

    It’s a pity that disaster will unfold equally on the sane and rational as much as on the irrational and non thinkers but we might have to come to a point where much of the world is a desert including the US and over 1/3 of what was dry land sits under water as sea levels rise. Before sanity prevails

    I’ve been fighting this battle on the streets, through the media and face to face for more than 40 years and every year the outlook has become grimmer while denials have become louder, less sane and full of rote learned catchphrases that have even eliminated individual thought on the denial side.

    I’m OK, I’m in my sixties and won’t be around to witness much of the destruction but the same people who hyperventilate over an easily fixable debt problem are in full support of leaving an unviable ecosystem for the grandkids, and I’m sure they’d rather be left with some debt than planetary devastation.

    It takes a special type of ignorance to see a fiscal problem as being far more severe than the end of life as we know it but people are people, some study and learn and through learning grow and change while others are told what to think, how to repeat what they were told, stagnate and then slip into ignorance induced entropy.

    All I am thankful for is when the final tally is taken, I and many of us stood up for the planet and future while too many were bought by shiny, glitzy advertising paid for by big pollution.

    It’s a crying shame that all will be punished by the willfully induced ignorance that has held back any progress in fixing an ever more severe problem.

    Oh and Happy New Year and enjoy them while they last.
    31 Dec 9:18 AM

    Leave a Reply

    • AdLib says:

      Beatlex, on one hand, it is a daunting future we face with us driving right off the environmental cliff and government not putting a hand on the steering wheel (because corporations have handcuffed them).

      On the other hand, the history of America is one of being reactionary. We don’t head off problems as a society unfortunately, we wait until they become critical and then we do something about them.

      There are a variety of scientific theories already on how we might reverse the damage to the ozone layer and no doubt more will be developed.

      It is awful that so many people will suffer and die before an avoidable catastrophe has wreaked so much destruction will be addressed but it is the power of the wealthy and corporations that holds back what’s best for the world in order to squeeze the last drop of profit they can from causing global destruction.

      We discussed a global people’s movement as critical and if it ever was to happen, stripping corporations of the political power they have now would have to be at the top of the list.

  6. PocketWatch says:

    A couple of random thoughts…

    I think that fundamentalism, in all its forms, becomes more prevalent in uncertain times. People seek comfort in the simple, the not-complex. It’s in our nature as humans, I believe. I saw it in my work as a Business Consultant every working day. To have some guy parachute in screams CHANGE!!!! and everybody in the workplace reverts instantly to drawing back, relying on routine, looking to managers to take the heat, all sorts of protective behavior. They had no idea what was going on, and scared. Perfect frame of mind to be able to make changes, if you know how to use it properly.

    Our politics and the ‘disintegration’ (in the strict definition of the word) of our society in general causes fear. We all fear change, all of us. Politicians, from time immemorial, have known how to channel that fear in all sorts of ways, and, more importantly, how to create it.

    Thirty years or so ago, the Republican Party made -- literally -- a Devil’s bargain, in my opinion. They always had the support of the religious fundamentalist leaders, and the tacit support of the TV Evangelist crowd. In return for the TV preachers to become more political, and use their powers of “persuasion” to get out the vote, especially in the South, the guys in the back rooms promised to get more of their agenda into the mainstream and into law where possible.

    In addition, larger corporate interests (and some private ones)started doing the math. They realized that by tweaking the tax code here and there, loosening regulations, and paying politicians to do PR on things like the horrible EPA and OSHA, the ginning up of the hatred of all those hippie tree-huggers that laughed at them in high school, disdain for science and science research (can’t have actual scientists refuting your tame corporate ones that have been lying to the public and press for decades, now can we?), tame economists ‘proving’ that trickle down works, and on and on… those business guys can actually plan at that level, and they did. They even bought themselves a TV Network!

    So, the conservative, 3-piece suit, tight-fisted, bankers and lawyers and car dealers and pharmacists and farmers and business guys all over the country, the guys that actually WERE good with money in that way, the WASPS we all know and love, those guys began to lose their political party.

    Why? Because the 3-way had been consummated.

    Religious fundamentalism, big… REALLY-can’t-turn-it-down, BIG… money, and the Republican Party. The UnHoly Trinity we are dealing with today, both in society and, therefore, in our politics.

    Who better to politicize the fundamentalist portion of the populace than their very own preachers, who now had the power to set a real agenda from their point of view? And the interests of big business overlapped into this portion of the citizenry as well. Megabusiness hates government because governments cost them money, in many ways. Most people don’t like government. It costs them, too, money. They disagree with what’s being done, potholes, local idiot school boards, that damned governor, the President… People know what they hear, and even if they are not all that interested in politics, GOVERNMENT is always there, and at some point, at some level, has been a royal pain in the ass. We’ve all been there. Most of us shake it off and move on. Many do not. Many are poor, and they deal with GOVERNMENT more than anybody. And… they also tend to be more fundamentalist religiously than the more educated and wealthier among us.

    And there you have it! Thirty years (one generation) of “government is bad (but please don’t notice that I want you to elect me INTO government!),”get rid of EPA and OSHA and… hell… ALL government! Thirty years of who’s-right-and-who’s-wrong debating on an entertainment network that was WELL funded by those big business guys, thirty years of corporate propaganda and politics to match. Thirty years of fundamentalism’s rejection of any kind of science, spurred on by corporate interests.

    Thirty years of corporate-backed laws that loosened the financial system in ways those 3-piece suit banker Republicans would have a stroke over, They even want the Post Office, the ONLY administrative branch of the government mentioned in the Constitution.

    Anyway, that’s the picture of it from my POV. We know the story from here, I think. The radicals are trying to live the dream… eliminate government. Megabusiness is backing them 100%. No mystery as to why.

    The question is, who wins? My answer is, nobody. That would be a disaster of the highest proportions. Would I love to see 100 Bernie Sanders’ sitting in the Senate? Hell yeah! Ain’t never gonna happen. We are in a political pendulum, and, as far as I can tell, takes about 50-year swings.

    The Republican Party wants to extend that swing and break it off. The Democrats and others want it to come back towards the true middle and more, as they should. The Libertarians just want to get laid and smoke weed, oh, and not pay taxes. If one side wins, the US is done as a country. They just don’t see it that way. If the other side gets its way, we might be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century where good things await.

    “May you live in interesting times!” -- ancient Chinese curse

    • AdLib says:

      PocketWatch, excellent analysis! You really covered all the angles!

      So true, in times of stress there is a retreat of some people to those things in the past that they see as comforting. For some, the simpler binary thinking of the past, is more reassuring. Confronting the complexities of reality can be too upsetting, some would rather to regress into behaviors and beliefs from their past or past history and that can be very destructive (as it was in Nazi Germany).

      As for the literal “dis-integration” of society, that is both a corporate and political goal of the GOP. A house divided cannot stand and all that. As long as the people are polarized against each other, democracy is weakened and the wealthy minority is freer to exert their domination. The only thing that can stop them is a unified majority voting in their own interests.

      So, the re-energizing of the evangelical fundamentalists also serves the interests of the top 1%. You asked who wins and you’re right, in the end no one wins when Climate Change, pollution, the destruction of resources and the spread of poverty amongst the 99% and oppression by the wealthy spreads its misery across the world.

      The 99% are heading towards a future of great difficulty and the wealthy are heading towards their own Marie Antoinette moment.

      Only by rejecting the campaign and lure of dis-integration and working towards re-integration can we turn things around.

      Which is a great resolution to make for the new year!

    • Nirek says:

      PW, we definitely live in interesting times.
      I agree that we need more Bernie’s, too. I like to take credit for him since I have voted for him every time he has run!

      You seem to grasp the situation well. You and Ad make a lot of sense to me.

  7. Nirek says:

    Ad, great post as usual.
    I find no problem with “religion” and science working together. Why?
    Well, the people who wrote the Bible were not scientific so they had no idea about the rest of the universe. As the Bible said some of the people lived several hundred years, their years may have been a month in today time.
    “God created the Earth in seven days” ? How long was one of their days?

    The “Bible thumpers” are taking everything written by people and interpreted by people (all of whom are fallible) literally. That in my estimation is ignorance. Too many conflicts between science and the Bible. All of them should be accepted to be erroneous on the part of the Bible.

    • AdLib says:

      Nirek, I don’t believe it’s disrespectful to see The Bible as a primary book about spirituality but not as a reference book on matters of science, whether it concerns astronomy, physics, geology, etc.

      In the same vein, an astronomy book isn’t what one would regard as the go-to book for philosophy.

      That’s at the core of conflict IMO, those who have an absolutist belief that everything in The Bible, even though it reflects perceptions about the universe that are 2,000 years old and deprived of the benefit of scientific progress since then, have an all-or-nothing mindset.

      Either one believes that every word and concept of the Bible is from God and unarguably true or one doesn’t believe in The Bible and God.

      There is a kind of absurdity to the concept that it is more important to revere the exact text of a book, most of which was written hundreds of years after the events it describes, than the spiritual truths and journey it seeks to impart. It is ironic that Jesus is revered for eschewing the bounds of the religion he was born into and yet the same Evangelical Fundamentalists, had they been around before Jesus, would have attacked him for not adhering to the word of God.

      Jesus might agree with the modern cliche, “Haters gonna hate”.

      • Nirek says:

        Ad, I wish I could express myself as well as you do. However , I believe in God but I don’t believe everything that the Bible says verbatim. I sure do believe in science. I like to think I’m scientific in my thinking. I am willing to change my thinking if there is scientific proof that the opposite is true.

        • AdLib says:

          Nirek, many people can possess reason and faith. The argument is well made to say, “if one believes God made us, then He gave us the ability to reason and intended us to use it.”

          Would a wise God create human beings merely to challenge them to be lemmings? Wy not just make human sized lemmings instead?

          Of course the human mind is meant to question and explore. I see it as more of a sin to waste one’s natural abilities.

  8. Aquarius 1027 says:

    Great article, AdLib! Especially liked that last sentence! -- Religious extremism is a true enigma that has no place in politics. As so aptly demonstrated by the Senate election campaigns of Akin and Mourdock, We the People ultimately will not tolerate or vote for those who try to promote antiquated agendas.

    Agendas that contradict the realities of science will also not be tolerated. It has been astounding to listen to the GOP/TP as they try to defend their anti-science proclamations in the media. Their absurd statements that a so-called majority of Americans agree with them is indeed, pure fantasy.

    There will be a significant backlash against the GOP/TP at the voting polls in both 2014 and 2016. We the People have lived with not only their scientific and social devolution but with the results of their legislative devolution as well for over three years. -- Nice to connect and wishing you a Happy New Year!

    • Nirek says:

      Aquarius, I hope you are correct about 2014 and 2016.

      • Aquarius 1027 says:

        Hi there, Nirek! -- Nice to meet you! -- Too many legislative actions at the state levels have directly affected too many people for far too long. And federal legislative actions that could have helped many people have been obstructed by the GOP/TP.

        The GOP/TP has enacted legislation against: workers and women, the poor, the elderly, LGBT, students, the middle class, veterans and voters.

        Will be keeping my fingers crossed at midterm election time that the backlash gets the GOP/TP out of office. -- Nice to connect and Happy New Year! 🙂

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks so much, Aquarius 1027!

      Glad you brought that up, it is affirming to see that Akin, Mourdock and the occasional Tea Partier who isn’t a witch are repeatedly rejected by an electorate that is not comfortable with religious extremists.

      The anti-science crusade is joined by the pro-corporate/anti-regulation Repubs and the Know-Nothings who view science as poison for religion. Yet, they fortunately represent a minority of Americans and in the end, they won’t and can’t prevail.

      Same here, nice to see you at The Planet and a very Happy New Year to you!

  9. pinkpantheroz says:

    I really hope that I’m not the only one looking at the GOP/TP as becoming as fundamentalist zealots as those who have bastardised the Q’oran. If we’re not careful, we’ll see, if we’re not already doing so, the imposition of a form of Sharia Law by the Evangelical loonies. The saddest fact is that the Tea Party factions have suborned the mainstream, center-right GOP. If this is the American Dream, I’m glad I now live in Australia, even with its own warts and all. I don’t know any solutions, but I don’t think that the GOP can be fixed by anyone outside the Party. The problem seems to be that the Loony right have terrified the lawmakers so much that they fear their re-election prospects. That makes cowards of them, so they kowtow and crawl towards reelection. Someone in the GOP needs to put a bit of iron in their spines and stand up to the McCarthy-like bullying and intimidation of these nongs. I won’t hold my breath, because I haven’t yet seen anyone there that could even take a first step. And we Democrats can’t rely on the dissatisfaction of the masses, because the gerrymandered districts and huge advertising revenue will still give the GOP/TP huge advantages. We need to get better candidates, better funding and better Get Out The Vote activity if we have any chance at all.

    • jjgravitas says:

      PPO, I think the only way to “fix” the GOP is to vote them so far out of power that they no longer have a voice in national politics. I know that’s rather pie-in-the-sky considering their very large gerrymandered base. But the base will eventually change. This is why the GOP has fought tooth and nail against immigration reform. A large influx of newly legal Latino citizens will probably not result in that group voting for the GOP in its current form. I also wonder about the youth in the Midwest, how they will affect the demographic.

    • AdLib says:

      PPO -- The good thing about all zealotry is that it is a pendulum that always swings too far to the right before swinging back the other way.

      I think we have seen the high point of the know-nothing Tea Bagger mentality as a national thing. The majority has turned against them. They will continue to wreak havoc in the communities and states where they number in the majority but there too, as scientific theory has proven time and again, actions eventually produce equal and opposite reactions. As things get more miserable in the areas Baggers drag down, the people who look around and see the rest of the nation doing well will push back to change their leadership.

      And as for the less-irrational GOP pushing back against the radicals, I think we’ve seen that gaining steam and after losing so many winnable races due to unelectable Bagger loons, I think the Establishment GOP has had enough.

      Not that I want Repubs to become more palatable but I think the shut-down-government and let-the-US-default trolls have their best days behind them.

      • pinkpantheroz says:

        From Your lips……..

        • AdLib says:

          Let’s see what happens this upcoming year. I think the prevalence of Establishment Repubs getting punished by Tea Partiers and being “primaried” when they don’t toe their outrageous lines have solidified the opposition to continued Tea Party power.

          Lots in the works behind the scenes with the GOP to take back power from the Tea Party. We’ll see more in 2014 and especially in 2016…but that doesn’t mean the Tea Party will take it sitting down on their tricorner hats…

    • Dbos says:

      Let us not forget that these people are subsidiaries of the monied class they are pawns of the oligarchical kochs and adelson ; in other words its all about the money and they are making stupidity popular and profitable.

      • AdLib says:

        Dbos, yep, these are indeed the oblivious pawns of the wealthy who have gotten a bit out of their control but nonetheless are victims of the America they have aggressively supported.

        Repubs have been working to undermine education and dumb down more people to build their ranks because anyone who isn’t wealthy would have to be very poorly educated to support them.

    • Hey PPO! Fortunately, we have the wisest constitution of any other country I know. It is a constitution written by men who saw, firsthand the dangers and tyranny of theocratic countries. They were products of the Enlightenment and read their books well.

      Our 1st amendment is very well protected. I don’t really see any chance of America actually becoming a theocracy. No doubt there are a few million Americans that would like nothing better, but it’s just not going to happen.

      Of course we must always be vigilant against those who would try to undermine one of the most intelligent documents ever written. If America is truly exceptional in any way at all, it is because of our constitution and it’s amendments.

    • Beatlex says:

      I am in Canada Pink.We have conservatives,but they bear little resemblance to American Conservatives.The right has gone off the rails there.Truly an ugly spectacle

  10. Beatlex says:

    My question about what is widely regarded as what happened at the beginning,the big bang, is where did it happen?It must have been somewhere,but we are told that there was nothing before the big bang

    • AdLib says:

      That is one of the huge mysteries that The Big Bang Theory opens up and that I doubt can ever be answered. To those who are religious, the Big Bang doesn’t contradict the existence of God at all(though it doesn’t affirm the Bible’s version of creation).

      Whatever instigated the Big Bang or brought about the atomic material that was at the heart of it, can’t be known.

      I’ve also found the concept of an expanding universe mind-bending. If the universe represents all matter and existence, what is it expanding into, what was there before the universe expanded to encompass it?

      BTW, I had a friend many years ago who tried to illustrate his concept of the expanding universe, he drew a circle that was intended to represent the universe. I asked him what was on the outside of that circle and he said “nothing”. So I tried to get him to define nothing and it made him question his belief. Credit to him though, being able to question a long held belief he had previously needed to give himself a concept of the universe that he could imagine.

      • Ad, such questions and my interactions with the world around me led me to being a Taoist. The Tao doesn’t attempt to explain the existence of the universe or our own existence and the whole of Nature. The Tao Te Ching simply says the Tao, the creator of everything, simply can’t be known. It can be seen, all around us, or should I say that which the Tao created can be seen.

        The rest of the Tao Te Ching deals with living in harmony with Nature. It’s actually very secular, with no supreme beings or beings. It’s just a wonderful guide to living and longevity. Ancient Chinese wisdom! 😉

        • AdLib says:

          Wisdom indeed, KT. That which transcends our human understanding and existence can never be understood or proven to or not to exist.

          It is a question which will never have a particular and correct answer and allows us to either believe what we choose to believe or simply accept that we can never know what can’t be known.

          The one absolute I do feel comfortable expressing is that no absolute about God’s existence can ever be proven. It is a matter of personal belief and no one can ever prove another’s belief wrong.

          Therefore, respecting others’ beliefs seems to be the only logical choice, especially for those who respect the scientific process.

          • Because I call myself a Taoist, and seeing that there is no supreme “being,” in Taoism, that technically makes me an atheist. But, the Tao is very spiritual in nature. It has many parallels with Christianity and the Hebrew religion.

            What I am not, is an anti-theist. I see that as the opposite side of the same coin that is evangelism. There are some great arguments against theism, but there are also some great arguments FOR theism. The is the duality of our nature.

            I sometimes get into debates with religious people, but I try not to question their faith, although I may ask why they believe as they do. It’s more a matter of personal curiosity than derision. This can, unfortunately, be construed by some as scorning one’s religious beliefs.

            • AdLib says:

              Agreed, KT, an honest and fair-minded fan of logic, reason and science would have no choice but to accept the possibility that they don’t have all the answers…since none can ultimately be proven. Thus, who knows if others may be more correct in the long run about their beliefs.

              One thing I don’t believe in though are the negative, human-emotion-charged concepts of a vengeful God, Hell and damnation for those who don’t believe in God the “right” way. Those types of beliefs seem so transparently human, not spiritual at all but more about supporting and enforcing the religion itself.

              But as for what happens after we die or when the universe finally stops expanding, anyone’s belief is as fair as mine.

    • pinkpantheroz says:

      Well, Beatlex, my theory is that the Big Bang was a sneeze from God! A little more seriously, I think that the Universe is and always has been in constant states of expansion and contraction. At this point in time, it is expanding. Eventually, it may run out of oomph and start contracting, so in a few trillion years it will all come together in another Big Bang and start all over again. It may seem silly, but so do so many other theories, especially the one that this all started less than 10,000 years ago.

      • AdLib says:

        ppo -- I’m with you in that belief, the universe is doing what it does. It expands until its mass attracts it back in then contracts and compresses into another in a series of Big bangs and the cycle of expansion and contraction begins once again.

        What does tickle the imagination are propositions such as, each cycle re-creates everything that previously existed and we keep being recreated too and experiencing either the same lifetime or alternate lifetimes.

        Maybe there is something to Hinduism too, the concept of coming back in other forms could be echoed through such an eternal unmaking and remaking of the universe.

        I love this stuff, it’s invigorating to widen one’s mind beyond the trivial day to day and imagine about the whole of time and existence and what’s really going on all around us on this planet and in time and space.

        • pinkpantheroz says:

          Thank you for your support, Ad. It makes me smile to imagine this conversation occurring on another site -- whose name can never be mentioned -- and to hear the anguished howls of condemnation and ridicule from the blinkered evangelical ignorami who now have spread their odious tentacles all round. Imagine even broaching the subject!

          • AdLib says:

            ppo -- Yep, it would be rather amusing to try and have a philosophical/theological discussion in the middle of a food fight.

            Whether they believe what they say or not, the goal of such people is to disrupt others from raising the level of conversation and thought above simple binary thinking and conflict (right vs. wrong, us vs. them, etc.) because as people become accustomed to connecting with others they come together…the last thing these people want to happen.

            It is why we think of this site as the home of a unique community where any concept or issue can be brought up for discussion and lead to a substantive and rewarding conversation.

            And not a single mention of “libtard” in sight. Well, maybe just that one.

        • Eternal recurrence was a big part of Nietzsche’s beliefs.

          • AdLib says:

            Thanks for the Paul Simon song, KT! Really appreciate it.

          • AdLib says:

            Celestial hard drive? Wonder if the NSA will get pissed off if God put spyware on it!

            Or maybe we’re just part of a galactic video game and eventually after losing enough lives, God just pushes the reset button?

            • LOL! How would we ever know? We would be just be a series of ones and zeros.

              Just for the halibut, this discussion reminded me of one of Paul Simon’s latest songs;

          • AdLib says:

            KT -- And then we could get into alternate dimensions and universes, where every variation of what could happen, does/has happened…and where multiple universes can be expanding and contracting and having their Big Bangs at this very moment.

            Fascinating to imagine…

            • Yes, it truly is. I have even heard some people propose that we and the universe we know are simply super advanced programs on some “celestial,” hard drive. 😉 Now that’s a strange theory, but not without consideration. It’s not really any more bizzare than multiverses. Crazy stuff, but fun to think about.

      • Beatlex says:

        If ignorance is bliss,American evangelicals must be truly orgasmic

  11. Beatlex says:

    Very thought provoking AdLib.Any thoughts as to why this seems to be mostly a Right wing American thing?I admit I don’t really know about conservative movements elsewhere,other than Canada,where I am from.Our conservatives focus mainly on the fiscal and social issues,We have religious conservatives,but they are in a small minority.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks Beatlex. I think that since Nixon, the Republicans crafted their party to appeal to the South and the evangelists. We all remember the Christian Coalition during the Reagan period. Reagan really set the benchmark for pandering to the extremist religious crowd and enforcing RW religious dogma through government.

      And very conservative sensibilities are more in tune with evangelicals. There is a rigid belief in authority and simple dualities. You’re with us or against us, you’re good or bad, The Bible is the only truth or the truths of science undermine The Bible’s legitimacy and God.

      The U.S. has a very unique marriage between religion and politics that you don’t see in much of the rest of Western democracies. You wouldn’t hear politicians in Canada, Australia or Europe go on at length about their belief in religion when they campaign but it is expected and a necessity in U.S. politics.

      It is hard to imagine an atheist ever being elected President even though most Americans don’t want the President to make decisions based upon his religious beliefs.

      BTW, I’ve seen very hostile, narrow minded atheists too, the RW religious types don’t have a monopoly on that. Some atheists seem to be on as much as a hateful crusade as RW Evangelists, to attack religion and those who belong to religions and IMO, it displays the same kind of insecurity. They need to denigrate religion and the religious because they aren’t confident enough in their own beliefs to live and let live.

      It is for the best for those politicians who are supposed to represent all of their constituents, including those of different beliefs, to not mingle their religious beliefs with their duties to those they represent. But in the U.S., that often isn’t the case.

      • Beatlex says:

        Good stuff as usual Adlib,I like how you think!

      • Fergie1 says:

        Great article Ad as are the points in your above post.
        As you probably know Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard is an athiest and it had no effect on the voters or on policy. Religion should have no relevance in politics. Remember how JFK had to defend questions regarding his Catholicism with so many believing that he would be controlled by Rome. Kennedy’s gave a brilliant speech, part of which was :“I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office. . . .”

        It seems that America has become even more evangelical since the 60’s. Biblical films are making a comeback in Hollywood. It has realised that there are 91  million evangelical Christians in America and there is money to be made in ‘them thar hills’. Ah box office receipts! These are going to be the new blockbusters according to the movie pundits. And pastors of the mega churches are being asked to help. To which I say HELP!!

        On the other side of the coin, I agree with you that there are narrow-minded atheists as well, who one is expected to ‘tippy toe’ around and agree with their philosophy no matter what. I agree with your opinion that this shows a certain insecurity. I’m for live and let live myself respecting whatever belief system works for you as long as it does no harm to others.

        I think this whole religion thing and politics has gotten totally out of hand.

        • AdLib says:

          Fergie1, yes, that would be an even bigger landmark if the U.S. elected an atheist as President, as Australia has with your PM.

          Of course it has no effect on policy, in fact just the opposite, when one is not driven by religious dogma as a politician, one can truly make decisions on behalf of all who they represent, not just those of the same religion.

          JFK had to defend his Catholicism because of how Christian voters saw it as outside of their religious beliefs so it was actually evidence of how religious voters were even back then and why JFK had to affirm that he would not set policy according to his religious beliefs.

          Whatever religious films may be coming out, they won’t outgross the big superhero movies. In fact, Rick Santorum’s Christian movie company released their first film this Christmas…and it bombed. This is indeed more of a pursuit of exploiting that demographic more than anything else.

          There is nothing more obnoxious than that atheist who ridicules or talks down to those who have religious beliefs he sees as illegitimate. Such people make the best argument against their own beliefs, appearing to only be an atheist to be able to feel superior to others.

          Religious or atheist, those who are comfortable with their beliefs have no need to attack others for believing differently or showing them disrespect. They know what feels most true to them and show the same respect to others that they expect.

          I completely agree, the marriage of religion and politics in this country has gotten way out of hand and does need to be reigned in. Obama has had way too many controversies on his shoulders, especially being the first African American President but maybe in the not too distant future, when we have our first atheist President, some words of reason on keeping religion and politics apart could be had.

          • Fergie1 says:

            AdLib, once again you have written with such clarity and insight. I concur with each and every point you have made brilliantly. Just one thing, I’m not Australian, I just live here at present!
            About 3 1/2 hours to go to the Midnight New Year Countdown. So must away but wish you a Very Happy 2014 -- may it be a good one!

  12. Hey Ad, spot on. I think some of the RWers do believe in evolution, but they won’t admit it, for fear of being ostracized by their “peers.” And Climate Change, for heaven’s sake, they will never admit that humans are causing it to change at a much faster pace than nature has been doing for thousands of years. This denunciation of man made global warming hits them, hard, in two main areas, like you already mentioned, that god would never allow such a thing and the political side that favors the huge corporations and CEOs…etc.

    You should check out my recent post..”In Defense of Intelligent Design (sort of).” Neil De Grasse Tyson gives an excellent presentation regarding the creation of the universe, and evolution as well. I think you’ll really enjoy Dr. Tyson’s presentation.

    • AdLib says:

      KT -- As I was writing this I was thinking of your post and saw it as an extension of the conversation you began.

      I did watch the video and found it very enlightening. I do think Tyson’s point is well taken on Intelligent Design as being filler for those who can’t conceive of the scientific reasons for natural occurrences. But he didn’t address the psychological motivations behind the intensity of those who express such hostility towards science revealing truths.

      That’s what fascinates me. Why is it you can’t just lay out simple logic to evangelists on scientific matters to convince them of a truth but you could lay out simple logic on other issues to convince them of something else.

      It’s a conditional thing, only where there is a challenge to their belief in an absolutist validation of every word in the Bible as literal fact and every religious belief they have, will they be petrified and invulnerable to logic. But they can be reasonable on other issues.

      Of course, the logic is inescapable that if you fill any finite thing with something deadly, no matter how massive it is, eventually, when enough time passes, it would become contaminated. They know that if they parked a massive dumpster in their backyard and tossed just a little garbage in it each week, it would eventually will up. Yet since they’ve been brainwashed by the corporate GOP to exhibit a simple knee jerk reaction, whenever Climate Change is discussed, they need to deny it and ridicule it because it is an attempt to disprove God and their religious beliefs.

      It doesn’t even concern consideration of the proposition, it doesn’t get that far. For that type, it is simply a threat that must be immediately and fully blocked.

      Meanwhile, they may personally suffer from having their air, land and water polluted by the very people brainwashing them against believing that pollution is damaging the air, land and water.

      They are being victimized too.

      And Tyson’s point about the decline of civilizations coming when they fight against and demonize science is well made. Though that sentiment is prevalent in the GOP and some parts of the country, it could never prevail nationally so I don’t worry that the U.S. would ever see such a smothering of reason and progress as happened with Islam.

      • Thanks for your reply Ad, and I am glad you watched the presentation.

        Dr. Tyson is an astro-physicist, as you well know and I don’t think he ventures into fields of science, like psychology, unless he knows a great about it. For this I give him credit. I think it is a representation of his integrity.

        The psychological question you raise is an excellent question. There are some remarkably intelligent scientists that still hold religious beliefs in great regard. As Dr. Tyson so eloquently explained, when there are questions that science fails to answer, most people try to explain anything beyond as mystical, or God oriented.

        I think one of the more powerful motivations for clinging to religion, or just the belief in a benevolent supreme being is the fear of death. It is the fear of the unknown, which also permeates many other aspects of our lives. The renunciation of man made global warming is yet another example of this fear. Fear is a very powerful motivator, as I’m sure you know already. Just look how the fear of “terrorists,” after 9/11 was used so effectively by Bush and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and all the other neo-con scoundrels. That fear bought Bush a second term.

        Our saving grace is our non-religious constitution. A brilliant work by brilliant men who saw firsthand the dangers inherent in any theocracy. Scientists, if they have a shred of integrity must be brave. They must have the courage to say, this is true and this is rubbish. Yet they will never say that without proof of their theories. This is what religion can never do.

        I think the uninformed and deliberately misinformed will always be with us, but fortunately, I think (or hope) they will remain a small percentage of our population. The same percentage that supported Bush and Cheney, no matter what evils they committed. I believe also in social and cultural evolution. Unfortunately, the wheels of change turn painfully slow.

        • AdLib says:

          KT -- I don’t think there’s a question that fear has historically lead to superstition as part of the quest to answer what isn’t known. That’s not to say religion is superstition, for many enlightened people it isn’t but most religions are infused with a degree of superstition because that is a natural trait of human beings.

          When people lived before astronomy could explain the lights in the night sky, it was scary not to know what they were. So stories were created to put people’s minds at rest. Yet one can’t help but find it fascinating that the concept of God is so universal in societies and religions, with some but few exceptions. Many religious stories are echoed even in the religions of people isolated from those of religions with similar stories.

          As Joseph Campbell mused, is there just an innate component in the human mind that seeks and desires God and is bound to create the same kinds of primal stories about God or is there something more to it that we just can’t identify?

          I enjoy the questions like this and embrace the truth that no one can know what is or isn’t the case with absolute certainty. The only thing I don’t enjoy is when someone believes they have the absolute answers when none can truly be had.

          Life, the universe, existence and God are all mysteries we each get to explore and seek answers for ourselves. That’s an important freedom we have as human beings and with the abilities to imagine and reason as built in apps, we’re pretty lucky to be able to do so.

          • Ad, I’m glad you mentioned Campbell. His wonderful book, “The Power of Myth,” deals explicitly with the origins of religion that grew out of Mythology. Well, it deals with Mythology and how those myths grew to be religions.

            Yes, he stated that all the creation myths among societies far far away from each other, separated by oceans, mountains, vast stretches of land…etc, were very similar in nature. Remarkably similar.

            I think modern day religions are sophisticated revisions of those original myths. In ancient times, people prayed to the sun, to various animals, serpents, even the winds. They did so to help insure successful hunting, fishing, good crops…etc. Even life itself.

            I know some people get upset when you say religion came from Mythology, but it is true. Campbell even went on to say we need myths. It’s in our nature to need them. He gave some wonderful examples as to why he believed this. He generally ended up saying that we need new myths. More updated myths, because the older ones are no longer working. He was a big fan of George Lucas’s Star Wars, because of the hero myth that those films so wonderfully portrayed.

            • AdLib says:

              KT, what are mythologies but ancient religious beliefs? But there are universal truths in myths and religions and that is what Campbell really helped highlight. And how important such beliefs are to society and the character of people.

              Whether kids grow up believing in religion or connecting with stories and myths, they bind themselves to society and can be inspired by the better traits of human beings.

              We do need that and as a society, we are lacking in shared beliefs of what is good and worthy. When self-described Christians go on rants against feeding the poor or the unemployed getting UI payments, something has really gone haywire.

              As a society, we should at least be able to agree on the very core and shared religious and humanist value that we should take care of those who need help.

              When we cant agree on that, those who disagree need to be given a societal time out and only be allowed back at the adult’s table when they understand the error of their ways.

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