Creationism vs. Reason

Dear readers,

I found this doing the rounds on facebook the other day.

And it really is that simple. You see, we often hear creationists or other Christians/people of various religious backgrounds snidely remark that evolution is “just a theory.” Oh, no. No, it’s a fact. A fact is something that you can see all around you, that has the same result every time you test it, that anyone can test and arrive at the same conclusion if they have the same instruments and means. That is why no-one has disproved the theory of evolution since Darwin came along and made it famous. It’s not like we haven’t had some time to disprove it by now. It’s not like people wouldn’t want to disprove it. Can you imagine – considering how big Darwin is, how when someone says “mention a famous scientist” he’s probably one of the top 5 that people think of – can you imagine how enormously huge anyone would be that came along  with a better theory? That person could be like “yeah, I proved Darwin wrong. Me. Take that, biathces.” Just like when David Tennant… I mean, Arthur Eddington showed that Newton had been wrong about something. Darwin and Eddington were both believers in God, but they simply could not deny what their eyes, their senses, and most of all, their rationality, clearly demonstrated to them. They were people who didn’t want to be right, but who could not deny simple reason and logic.

Unlike the gentlemen in the video below. They demonstrate the one creationist argument that always makes me grit my teeth. Please try to watch it all the way through; it is short, even though the presenters are so horrendously stupid it feels like everything is happening in slow motion.

Behold, the atheist’s worst nightmare: unbelievably dense arguments for the existence of God, and the people who make them.

Take the banana. It’s so perfect it must have intelligent design behind it. And you know what? It does! It has been cultivated for thousands of years by humans, and domesticated so as to develop its specific shape, its enjoyable level of sweetness, and its tiny seeds, so small that I’m sure many people don’t realise bananas actually have seeds in them.

 

Now behold the banana as it is in the wild.

 

 

See how perfect God made it? All hand-shaped and delicious looking, with those itty bitty seeds and the sweet flavour?

So that argument didn’t take much more than a few seconds of Googling. I think the sad and insulting thing is that these people have never taken those seconds of Googling out of their lives to find out that bananas are indeed a counterargument for God, and certainly an argument for actual intelligent design: humans manipulating nature to yield products more suitable for humans. We do it a lot, but we’ve done it for so long with the banana that Creationists, some of whom really don’t think we’ve been here all that long anyway, seem to think the banana has always been like this. Oops.

(Also, check this video where Richard Dawkins attempts to explain the evolution behind the eye to yet another creationist who has misquoted Darwin regarding the eye. Oh, there goes another creationist argument.)

The most baffling thing to me about creationism is that there is a simple logic behind the “intelligent design” of evolution: that everything became the way it is over hundreds of thousands of years, that everything is adapted to its environment because it had to be or it died, that there are thousands of similar yet unique species because animals move around, plants spread, climates change, and time passes. There is nothing confusing or daunting about it. The many imperfections in any species, the leftovers from previous stages of evolution, they are all there precisely because there was no chirpy God dude going “Hmm, this would probably be better that way.”

(Also, if God was such a fan of Adam, why would he have made his balls so squishy? Why would he go “here’s your most valuable asset, your only way to procreate and keep your species from dying out” and then add with a snicker “but Imma make sure that if someone kicks you real hard that won’t happen.” I thought women were the ones that were supposed to suffer for Eve’s sin? Oops.)

It is of course even more depressing that some schools teach creationism instead of real science. These children will grow up even more ignorant of how the world works than most children, and then turn into the kind of adults who vote for Donald Trump*. I mean, I’m sure it makes Trump happy – he does love the poorly educated – but it doesn’t make the rest of us very happy. I’d prefer a world where everyone was given a good education so they have a chance to make good decisions in life.

Either way, there are so many arguments for evolution and against creationism that this post could continue in eternity. In the end, it is simple: if you actually look at the world around you as it is, and use your mental faculties to the best of your abilities, and stop all that self-denial, you will see that evolution, my friends, is a fact, not “just a theory.”

 

 

*I think it’s because Donald Trump reminds Creationists of someone: he enjoys blind obedience and confused followers, he speaks in vague sentences that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways, he says everything with complete conviction even when he contradicts himself, he’s racist and bigoted, he’s into violence, he’s an older male figure with a strong personality… Yeah, seems quite a bit like that God dude.

 

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To Vaccinate? Yes!

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is, to many, the question. For several years a successively more well-educated Western world has become successively less educated when it comes to vaccines and their risks and benefits. This is a Western world which is happily governed by media, where phrases like “Big Pharma,” “corporate giants,” and “autism” are often enough to keep children far out of reach of anything vaccines.  I am such a child. Born in 1988, I have as of today still not had a single vaccine. Not one, ever. I will naturally immunise myself now as an adult, since I do not want to be responsible for spreading serious diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella. And they are serious diseases. I quote from the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control):

Myth

It is a common misperception that measles is a harmless disease. Some people also believe that the healthcare system in developed countries has sufficient resources for good care when someone is infected with measles.

Correction of the myth

This misperception probably occurs due to the vaccination’s success: many people have never seen a person with measles infection and consider measles a relatively harmless disease. In fact, measles can be a very severe infection, which cannot be directly treated with antivirals.”

This is just one of many diseases we have the opportunity to immunise ourselves and our children against, which also helps our community and those children who are unable to vaccinate because they are allergic to some component of the vaccine. These allergies do in no way mean that vaccines are generally dangerous; humans can die from ingesting nuts or being stung by a bee, things which occur naturally and have in no way been modified by humans. It seems as if this anti-vaccination wave that has been spreading for years has several different sources. The greatest is perhaps our fear of the unknown. The many different components of a vaccine, and how it works, is complicated and therefore difficult to understand. If something is difficult to understand it also becomes scary to adults and children.  Instead of reading the long texts with medical terminology – or even the publications which have been specifically designed for parents – which explain why vaccines are vital, and are not a threat to your child, it’s easier to read the 30-word fear-mongering texts being shared on social media.

Beyond the difficulty in understanding and ignorance creating fear, media has created an almost insurmountable myth regarding serious side-effects that vaccines supposedly have. To this day I have not seen a single vaccination-negative study which didn’t turn out to be paid for by anti-vaccination groups, or unscientifically and unprofessionally carried out on a small group of subjects. There is no link between vaccinations and autism. None.
And yet there I was a year ago, about to move to England. “Mum, could you scan and email anything you’ve got on my health as a child? I want to be able to tell the doctors in England what I’ve had or not.” “Well, you’ve had chickenpox it says here, but you haven’t had rubella, I’d be glad if you could contract that before you try to get pregnant.” Thanks mum, that’s so sweet. I translate information about Rubella from folkhälsomyndigheten.se:  “if the disease is contracted within the first 14-16 weeks of pregnancy, there is a risk for so-called congenital rubella syndrome. During this early embryonic stage the cellular division is rapid, and if a rubella infection was to disturb the foundation of various organs the risks for stillbirth, spontaneous abortion or long-term means for the child are great.” But what if any of those unfounded studies were true; better to risk the death of your unborn grandchild, or severely impairing it for life, rather than immunising your child.

When it’s time for my husband and I, we are going to vaccinate. For our sake, for the child’s sake, for the sake of the world. If we all vaccinate against these diseases we have the power to eradicate them. If we all spread information we can eradicate ignorance and fear. If we all just read a little and decide that perhaps it isn’t that hard to understand, then perhaps we can step into the 21st century a little bit wiser, a little bit better equipped, and with safer, healthier children.

New Year, New Ways

So it’s been a little over two years since I last wrote. Since then I’ve gotten a BA in English and moved from Sweden to England. The only thing familiar about the place I’m now writing, as compared to the place I used to write my blog, is my trusty old laptop Collin. He’s a massive HP “Dragon” from 2008, and he’s now lived with me in 3 countries, and throughout the life-time of this blog. He’s seen me write about random things, attempt to find some sort of topic, and eventually quit writing for two years. He’s used to me changing things around by now. He doesn’t care. He’s got his quirks, and I’ve got mine. He doesn’t care about the new things in my life, as long as he gets to develop wholly new and interesting issues that I have to work my way around if I want to use him. What do I want? He’s getting on a bit, after all.

The newest thing in my life is Twitter. My husband has been quite a bit more active on Twitter for quite a bit longer than me, but I have this tendency to obsess about something when I’ve just found out about it, only to completely neglect it and forget about it a few months later. (This does not apply to my husband, or salt-liquorice). The problem with Twitter, and the wonderful thing about it, is how very little you get to say in response to people. I find myself constantly itching to say enough, to say what I really want to say, to explain, but there is just no way, and I’m not going to write 6 tweets in succession, I’m just not!  So instead I thought; let’s breathe some life into the old blog, and then I can just link people to what I want to say.

Another thing my husband has introduced me to is speaking my mind when I disagree with people. I used to be that one person in the room who’d just stay silent and hope no-one looked my way if I didn’t completely agree with what was being said. I hate confrontation. I have stressful dreams where people refuse to talk to me because we have fallen out. I have stressful waking moments when people refuse to talk to me because we have fallen out. When two people I love are fighting I want to throw myself on top of pointy things. But my husband can also tell just how much it’s killing me to hold those opinions and thoughts in. And over time, this has cultivated a tiny warrior in me, about as scary as a chihuahua with a limp, but just as ferocious. She comes out when people are sexist. When people are racist. When people are trying to be religious at me. When people explain how this pseudo-scientific cr*p they believe in actually works. When people are being hypocritical, and using religion, feminism, or anti-racism as an excuse for being sexist and racist themselves. She barks and hops about on her three legs until I just have to say something, in the politest way possible, but still something.

So thanks to my husband, and Twitter, I now finally have a topic (or three). Collin, sorry if I don’t stick to these in the future. Not that you care.

 

Feminism

To me, feminism is a very exciting minefield. I get outraged by chauvinist a**holes, that according to me create exactly the kind of radical, regressive feminism there is so much of on social media forums nowadays. And in turn, these radical, regressive feminists create more chauvinist a**holes. Somewhere in the middle we have people like David Rubin and Christina Hoff Sommers, who just want everybody to be treated equally, and to have a good time while we’re at it. Problem is, when you hold that middle-ground, you end up being fired at from both sides. So I’ll be fired at from both sides. I’m an equity feminist: it means I believe that all people, men, women, transgender, anything else that I can’t think of, should be treated equally. It means I think we’re all different, and we should celebrate those differences rather than try to erase them. It means that I think radical, regressive feminists are feminism’s own worst enemy. It means that I will write about what I do, and what I think, in the struggle for equality.

 

Religion

It was only a few years ago that I gave up that last shred of superstition, the Chinese Horoscope, and became what I generally label as “atheist.” Thanks to a well-put question from my (then-to-be)husband: “Why do you believe in the Eastern Horoscope, when you think the Western Horoscope is ridiculous?”, and later watching Derren Brown’s “Trick of the Mind” in which he demonstrates how generalised horoscopes really are, I finally let that go. (If you still believe in horoscopes or tarot-cards or things like that, here’s the first half of that demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDlkl78Yf-8). I still tell myself off when I catch myself going “So what would that make them, a Tiger…” but I am getting better at catching myself out whenever I’m about to submit to a superstitious belief again. I think religion is never a good thing. Ever. I think anything that can cause people to kill other people, or specifically, parents to let their own children die because they believe in “the power of prayer” is an awful, destructive thing. Which leads me to my third topic.

 

Pseudoscience

I grew up with parents who subscribe to various pseudo-scientific, alternative, “medical” theories. I’ve been subjected to acupuncture, kinesiology, homeopathy, chiropractors, something weird to do with brain-scans and past lives, I was never vaccinated against anything, I’ve had to eat müsli with tea made from bark, take 10 pills a day, have a gluten-free diet… The list goes on and on. I think what still weirds me out the most is how my parents took me to a homeopathic clinic when I had double-sided pneumonia at 9, and then took me back home and put wraps full of yoghurt on my chest for a month. Instead of antibiotics, which would actually have done something. I remember watching the very thin, frail version of myself in the mirror, and being afraid I would die. I don’t understand why anyone would make the 9-year-old daughter suffer through a month of coughing and fevers and fear when there are alternatives. But to people who believe in pseudoscience, they were doing the right thing. Conventional medicine is evil. Well, here are two – of the many – things I’d like to say to you: it wouldn’t be called “alternative” medicine if it worked, it would be called medicine. Also, read Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science.” Before you say how he’s being paid off by the evil, mythological “Big Pharma”, he has also written “Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients,” so brrrrlllffft.

Radical, regressive feminism, religion, and pseudoscience are things I’m constantly bombarded with on my Facebook feed. I’m also confronted with a lot of narrow-mindedness in the opposite direction, at work, or at various social gatherings. But I want to finally talk about it, and talk about the issues I see, and what happens when I dare to confront them. Join me for the ride in my next blog-post.