By Joey Ayoub
Today we celebrate Darwin’s 203rd birthday and in his honor I will try and explain why I do not tolerate creationism.
I received quite a few attacks – and even threats – in recent times by creationists who ask me to be more ‘open’ to the idea that their view might have some truth in it – funny how you could threaten someone and ask him to be open-minded at the same time. This new movement of primitive ignorance is gaining grounds in numerous countries – notably in the United States and the Arab World, including Lebanon. They wish to portray the Theory of Evolution as being merely one of several possibilities that would explain the present diversity of plant and animal life – Note: they usually don’t use big words so I’m translating.
Here’s the thing: There never was a controversy. There never was a “creationist” vs “evolutionist” debate – you could say that it was settled in 1860 with Thomas Henry Huxley vs Samuel Wilbeforce. All there ever was was a battle between fiction and reality.
I don’t mind if you believe that the planet is less than 10,000 years old. Seriously, I don’t. It’s your right to believe whatever you wish to believe. But given that the planet is actually about 4.54 billion years old, you can’t expect me to take anything you say seriously anymore. This would be equivalent to you telling me that you were engaged to a Swahili-speaking Invisible Pink Unicorn. I mean, I’d love to convince you that Invisible Unicorns don’t usually speak Swahili but hey, you’re free to believe that.
The real problem comes when you decide to express your opinion as being anything more than just an opinion. When you try and present that opinion as a fact that supposedly challenges “other facts” or other “versions of the truth”. And, especially, when you start forcing your delusions on helpless children.
No-one should tolerate a creationist anymore than one should tolerate a gravity-denier or a flat-earther. Why? because superstitions, I claim, can be extremely dangerous.
Why does it even matter? why can’t we all have our own beliefs?
How would you feel if someone was convinced that cancer doesn’t exist and that no matter how overwhelming the evidence for the presence of cancer is, he refuses to accept it? You wouldn’t really care if he was a senile old man in his room rambling nonsense but what if he was in power? What if we were told to respect his opinion as being equally likely to the ‘opinion’ of scientists who claim that cancer does in fact exist? Would we do that? No, we sure as hell would not.
We must all be outraged over the fact that superstition is making its way into our science classes. Today, an increasing number of creationists are given biology posts. I even met a microbiology teacher at the American University of Beirut – with a PhD – who doesn’t acknowledge the fact of evolution. These are people who are asked to teach science to our children and who don’t even acknowledge scientific evidence. Imagine an Oncology professor not believing in Cancer, wouldn’t you find it odd that he or she teaches Oncology? Wouldn’t you feel that you might have problems with future patients if you followed his or her advice?
This is what’s happening today. Creationists’ manifestation of their scientific illiteracy is now threatening the very notion of a science class. They are willing to force their delusions into the minds of young children and deprive them of the right to have an education.
I visited CERN yesterday – the international organization whose purpose is to operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory – and I find it disgraceful that such a thing as a ‘creation museum‘ even exists. The fact that we have CERN and a Creation Museum on the same planet really shows how advanced we’ve got in the pursuit of truth and, at the same time, in the nurture of our delusions. That men and women are actually capable of wasting such a massive amount of their time on financing the denial of reality is mind-baffling in our 21st century.
It is by definition impossible to have an educated discussion with creationists because their positions are inherently dependent upon ignorance and intellectual dishonesty. So what I usually do is talk facts and facts only. This is sufficient to convince any man or woman who really wants to understand and know the truth. After all, some people – maybe most – might simply be unaware of the vast amount of evidence supporting the Theory of Evolution. They might confuse the scientific term “theory” with the one we non-scientists use. They might be unaware of the techniques used to date things and phenomenons, or the difference between descendants and common ancestors etc. But for those with advanced university degrees, they have no excuses.
We must stop tolerating ignorance.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.– Charles Darwin