Why Do They Have to Misrepresent Us? A Response to Valerie Tarico’s “9 Sinister Things the Christian Right Does…”

Forward with our review of Valerie Tarico’s piece from salon.com, which began here. Today, we look at an accusation about science:

5. Undermining science is evil.Science has been called what we know about how not to fool ourselves.The discovery of empiricism and falsification—a method of inquiry that forces scholars to ask the questions that could show them wrong—is what has differentiated modernity from the Middle Ages. It’s the reason most of our children don’t die before hitting the age of five. It’s the reason broken legs heal straight, sky scrapers don’t collapse, and our houses are warm in the winter. It is what alerted us to the fact that our carbon consumption has become an existential threat.

But the scientific method has also become an existential threat to Bible belief. We know now that the Genesis creation story is myth, neurotransmitters rather than demons cause mental illness, mandrake roots and dove blood don’t improve female fertility or cure skin diseases, and the cognitive structures of the human mind predispose us to certain kinds of religious belief.

It may boggle moral credibility that believers intent on propping up the Bible would sacrifice humanity’s best hope of beating the enormous threats we face, threats like resource depletion, food and water shortages, climate change, and rapidly evolving superbugs. But if there’s any overarching theme to Christian history it is this: the end justifies the means.

Let’s start with the first question that needs to be asked, why is it evil to undermine science? And, what does she mean by science?

What does the word science mean? There are several definitions that can be used, the most basic is, a branch of knowledge or study dealing with body of facts or truths systematically arranged and   showing the operation of general laws.” But by mentioning “empiricism and falsification”, she more than likely means this definition: systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. Okay, so?

Notice her statement,“… the scientific method has also become an existential threat to Bible belief.” Really? It has? How does she substantiate this assertion? With another assertion: “We know now that the Genesis creation story is myth…” Um, which part? That the universe came into existence? Arno Penzias answered that question with his scientific discovery of the cosmic background radiation. What’s interesting is that the Bible, namely the 1st book of the Bible, canonically, had that fact right for thousands of years. More than likely she is referring to the story of Adam and Eve, but how does she “know” that this is a myth? She just has to assert it.

“…neurotransmitters rather than demons cause mental illness…”, people made this assertion, never the Bible. But, here’s the thing, and I say this as a Christian observing the research in psychology, no matter how much we learn about the brain and the chemistry that drives it, spend enough time with some people, in certain situations, and you will begin to believe in demon possession or the effects of demonic forces on them, because of how they react. But that’s just my personal opinion as an outside observer.

“…mandrake roots and dove blood don’t improve female fertility or cure skin diseases…” the Bible never says they do. The link goes to a blog post that demonstrates considerable ignorance of the biblical texts. The biggest faux-pa of her linked post is when she compares the use of mandrakes in the fictional Harry Potter series to the use of mandrakes as incense and perfume in biblical times, as well as confusing the ceremonial rites that welcomed a person who might have been afflicted with leprosy, a dangerous and destructive disease of the ancient world. This is one of those instances where actually reading a text as to what it is saying, as opposed to what one thinks it says, is helpful.

“… and the cognitive structures of the human mind predispose us to certain kinds of religious belief…” Even her own? Sounds like someone is confusing correlation with causation.

Her final statement though is one that we have to examine carefully,

It may boggle moral credibility that believers intent on propping up the Bible would sacrifice humanity’s best hope of beating the enormous threats we face, threats like resource depletion, food and water shortages, climate change, and rapidly evolving superbugs. But if there’s any overarching theme to Christian history it is this: the end justifies the means.

I would argue that it is only a biblical worldview that gives us a positive framework to deal with each of those issues. Genesis 1:28 is clear,

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (ESV, emphasis added)

No worldview, apart from one based in the Christian conception of the world, can even begin to answer the challenges we face. The truly evil act that is being done here is to steal from the worldview of Christians.

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2 comments

  1. Fun read. While he Bible tell us to ignore such people, it can be satisfying at times to point out just how wrong they are. But with some “Christians” claiming the earth to be created in 6 literal days it’s not hard to imagine why they roll their eyes at the Bible at certain topics. But I guess she took it to far when she mixed Harry Potter into it.

    I have a breakdown on the Creation here if you care to read. Too big to fit in this comment.
    https://lastminutetalent.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/science-and-the-genesis-account-creation/

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