Obviously I wouldn’t write a blog on such a topic if I didn’t come across this thing so often. But I run into people nearly every week who jump down my throat because I offer a simple recommendation. Almost every week I hear comments like, “You don’t think I’ve looked into it?” or “Obviously you think you’re smarter than me” or “Are you assuming I don’t know what I’m talking about?” and my answer is… maybe you have and maybe you haven’t, but the point is, something doesn’t seem right with what I’m hearing from you–mostly religious believers (rarely ever do I run into an atheist intellectual who refuses to read something interesting–but I run into sophist religionists who just automatically assume that any challenge to their knowledge, and their beliefs, is a direct assault on their person).
I have Christian friends and family members that don’t believe in the theory of evolution. Some claim they believe in natural selection but not evolution.
Now often times we New Atheists will blame their religion for making them ignorant. I’m sure it’s not helping any by filling their head with incorrect information, but is it really Christianity’s fault when a Christian claims evolution is false?
It depends on a couple of things. Are they denying evolution because of their religious beliefs (e.g., Young Earth Creationists) or are they denying evolution because they just don’t know any better (e.g., 40% of the American population).
I would have to say it is mainly the latter.
Which gives me hope, in a strange sort of way. Why? Because only a small percentage is deliberately, and willfully, choosing to be ignorant. The rest are just plain ignorant.
It only becomes a problem when a person refuses to learn because they are afraid of having to change their beliefs–beliefs they know to be wrong. Which is often why they choose ignorance. It’s safer to remain ignorant than have to face the possibility of your most cherished beliefs being falsified.
Even so, the question becomes, what do we do about those who are generally in the dark as to scientific matters?
I’m afraid the only way to remedy the situation is to point out their ignorance as politely and tactfully as possible. I know this may cause friction, but it seems unavoidable. If everyone was just educated enough to understand basic scientific concepts, it wouldn’t even be an issue. Yet it is, sadly enough. I see no way around it. To say and do nothing is just to allow the ignorance to spread–and that would be bad.
Usually I like to suggest interesting science books which I’ve found fascinating and which have helped me to be, well, less ignorant (a never ending battle–I can assure you). Many people take offense at even the mere suggestion that they may not know as much as I do, or as much as the scientists who wrote the book, and so on and so forth. Needless to say, I’ve often been called a “snooty know it all atheist who thinks he’s better than everyone else” because I asked them to read a book. In which case, I usually just offer some more reading suggestions.
You can get mad at me all you want for offering a few good reading recommendations, but it still won’t change your overall intelligence. Refusing to read the books doesn’t make you look all that interested in learning anyway, so when a person reacts negatively to a book recommendation they are merely reinforcing their own handicap.
If you’ve ever blown your top just because someone asked you to read a book, stop doing so. Just say thanks for the book recommendation and put it on your reading list if you think it is something you’re interested in. If not, then you’re just deliberately, and willfully, choosing to join the ranks of the ignorant for no other reason than you’re to lazy to read a book.
Don’t be that guy.
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