Many folks who know me have accused me of being a smug know it all. The accusation is not entirely without merit however it is drastically overstated. They decide they do not like what I have to say, and rather than try to go after my argument and find what it is lacking, attack me and call me arrogant. I am not the only person who receives this treatment of course. Conservatives in our culture like to bemoan the liberal, educated elites. This bit of chicanery trickles down over their fan-base (given the nature of American politics I have decided to stop calling it their demographic) who eat it up, actually believing these snake oil salesmen have their best interests at heart.
The truly heartbreaking part of this is the fact that, while, yes, I do think I am smarter than the average bear I do not believe that being smarter than any individual I meet is a given. Also, I know even those who have shown me, through their behavior or by their arguments (or lack thereof) that yeah, for the time being, I am smarter than they are, are not completely lacking in intelligence. They just refuse to use it. It is as if subjecting their ideas to inquiry is the greatest insult you could hurl at them.
This is all well and good when it comes to decisions that do not affect anyone else. Too often though they want their willful ignorance enshrined in pubic policy. They want us to teach that “intelligent design” theories that refute evolution are equal to the theory of evolution, despite the fact that the latter has been tested all to heck and found to be the best explanation for life taking the shape it has on our planet. They deny the overwhelming evidence of climate change and humanity’s effect on it, simply because they do not want to believe it. They willfully ignore and distort our nation’s history, both good and bad, to suit their wants. Most, but not all, the time, this is done in the name of religion.
Which, when you really think on it, is the truly sad part. By accident or by design all 7 billion or so of us on this planet possess the most amazing tool in the universe: our ability to reason. No other tool can exceed this one in importance. Without it we would never even know of our need of other tools. Without it, and imagination, we would never be able to make those tools. Without it we would not know the right way to use them. It is the first, and most important, gift we have.
Now I am inclined to believe we have this tool on accident, but there is no way of knowing. If it has been given to us by a creator, something bothers me about the way so many of his “faithful” act. You have been given this amazing tool and yet you refuse to use it. I do not just mean all those times we have disagreed, I mean all those times you have cheered when a politician has insulted “those stuck up smarty pants.” I mean all those times you have been shown hard evidence of something and refused to acknowledge it. It seems to me that being given such a gift, and then balking, is a horrible insult. Imagine buying your mom a diamond ring set in platinum and her using it to clean the grout in her bathroom. Imagine how upset you would be. Well by not using your “God-given” gift of reason, you are, to my way of thinking, committing an act 10 to the billionth power times more insulting than that.
Why would you do that? If you believe in a creator and you believe he/she/they gave you this amazing blessing, why would you not use it? At the very least you are cheating yourself. Quite frankly, in the most extreme cases, those that we argue about publicly, you are putting yourself and everyone else in harm’s way. For that reason I cannot let this go. For your sake though, you really need to look into your beliefs and ask yourself, considering you believe in them, how you might be hurting your God. Just some food for thought.
- Evolution: universally accepted (monicksunleashed.wordpress.com)
- What does it mean to be a skeptic? (everythingparker.wordpress.com)
- The Rule of Logic and Debating (logicramblings.wordpress.com)
- Weather warning: Climate change a national security issue (scienceblog.com)