Dave’s Strange and Unusual World

April 29, 2008

It’s About Consensus…If You Could Sense It

Filed under: Knee-Slappingly Funny — dangrdave @ 1:34 pm

After reading the comments regarding my review of Expelled, it is quite easy to see a glimpse of the polarization of ideas that exists in our society today. And, to be sure, I know that each time I write something that is conservative in nature, I had better wear my sweatbands and drink plenty of Gatorade because I am inviting a very heated debate. So, this post may generate more debate, which is, in my opinion a good thing because it means that people are thinking and reasoning.

Anyway, having recently read Bill O’Reilly’s book, Culture Warrior (which really is a great book, even though O’Reilly can sometimes come off as pompous), I truly believe that the cultural battle that is raging is not about liberals versus conservatives, but about secular progressives versus traditionalists. There is no doubt in my mind but that there is a very deliberate and strategic ongoing agenda by certain secular progressives to fundamentally change our society; I believe, and history shows, that it is possible, with enough intention, to radically change an entire nation in two or three generations (cue the eerie music and the wolf howl).

Now, so that I am not misinterpreted, I don’t believe that we, as a nation, are perfect, and we will never really be so; sometimes the good ole days were not so good. I don’t think that we should throw science out the window and, likewise, we should not throw religion out the window. We may not need to have Bible studies in the public classrooms, as some of you are fond of reminding me, but our nation’s schools and our leaders certainly need things like morals, ethics and discipline, like that which comes from traditional, authentic religious belief .

So, in my review of Expelled, I tried to focus my text more on the issue of the suppression of free ideas than on the actual issue of intelligent design versus evolution. I intentionally did this because I see the divide over this specific issue as being indicative of a larger divide that permeates our society. I am not able, nor do I have the learning, to champion the cause of intelligent design; and, more importantly, this is not really something that keeps me awake at night (like thinking about what I’ll eat for breakfast) or which causes me much anxiety (like thinking about what I’ll eat for lunch or dinner). Neither evolution nor creationism is able to be empirically proved; the most likely explanation is that they both have merit to varying degrees.

What concerns me is precisely the suppression of free thinking in many avenues of our society and the distortion of truth for political and, sadly enough, sometimes religious gain. Sometimes, I would wager that, as a nation we can engage in groupthink and find ourselves brought down erroneous paths.

A prime example of this is the global warming myth that is being taught as a fact. The deniers of global warming in America are sometimes derided with the same level of hate as the deniers of evolution, even though global warming and evolution are not, in the literal sense of the word, “facts.” Here is an interesting article that came up recently on American Thinker concerning global warming and free thinking. The article deals with a “friendly” debate between two friends, one a believer in and the other a skeptic of global warming.

Additionally, Fox News and the Houston Chronicle, this very morning, posted articles about Dr. William Gray, a “pioneering expert” on hurricanes, whose annual hurricane forecasts may no longer be carried (without some restrictions) because of his controversial views on global warming. Dr. Gray mentions that “pro global warming scientists are ‘brainwashing our children’” and now it appears as though the good doctor has to defend himself from a form of censorship.

Now, I don’t specifically know the circumstances surrounding everything that has gone on in this debate, but I wonder if there is not some effort underway to suppress dissention in the ranks of academia. Are we, as a country, allowing a fair hearing of dissenting ideas in the public forum and in the classroom? Are we, as a country, throwing out too many long-accepted ideas too quickly in favor of the latest scientific or moral flavor of the month?

It should make you think…

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7 Comments »

  1. Well you asked for it 🙂 I won’t even start on O’Reilly as you probably have a character limit on your comments that my ripping of that idiot would far exceed. What I find so ironic is when a religious person complains of the suppression of free thinking. The whole idea of religion is that there is only one right way to think, and everything else is wrong which is the opposite of free thinking. Religion doesn’t work if there are multiple answers to the same questions because then certain things become gray instead of black and white (i.e. the Bible would no longer be 100% correct). The only time I hear the claim of suppression of free thinking from a religious person is when their “right” way is not being accepted.

    “We may not need to have Bible studies in the public classrooms, as some of you are fond of reminding me, but our nation’s schools and our leaders certainly need things like morals, ethics and discipline, like that which comes from traditional, authentic religious belief.”

    Contrary to what your religion tells you, it IS possible to have morals, ethics and discipline without being religious. As much as you would like to believe that religion is the only way to achieve those things, it is most certainly not. Just as there are plenty of religious people who have no morals, ethics or discipline (see every televangelist, TBN, idiots who bomb abortion clinics, Westboro Baptist Nutcases, etc) there are also plenty of non-religious people (Steve Wozniak, Lance Armstrong, Alan Turing, Katharine Hepburn) who do have morals, ethics and discipline.

    The problem with religion is that regardless of which brand you prefer, they all teach their followers that their way is the only way and that anything good has to come from their religion. Further they would have you believe anyone without religion is a horrible person who cannot possibly be good in any way or contribute anything to society.

    As for global warming, you claim as fact that the issue with Dr. Gray is “because of his controversial views on global warming” which even Faux News did not report. He claims that’s why, but the university has denied it saying “…that they are cutting back on media support for his forecasts due to the strain it places on the school’s lone media staffer.”. That’s a quote directly from the Faux article you linked to by the way. Further reading shows evidence that he’s basically become a crazy old man mixing demeaning statements and personal attacks in with his anti-global warming views. Not the kind of guy I’d want representing my university either. I know you desperately want a reason to attack global warming and those who trust science over religion, but making things up and claiming Dr. Gray’s unfounded belief as fact is not the answer.

    Comment by Thomas — April 29, 2008 @ 8:01 pm

  2. I’m at work presently, so I can only give you the short answers.

    Consensus does not belong in science, first of all. It is erroneous to state that science deals in fact; it does not. It deals in verifiable observation and testable hypothesis. When “free thought” does not jive with evidence ppresented to the contrary, it should be discarded. This is not to say the idea presented is false; it’s to say the idea cannot be verified.

    Second, FOX news is to reporting what consensus is to science. I think that’s pretty plain.

    Third, I resent the stance that moral fiber can only come from religious belief. It is erroneous and smacks of elitism. Were that true, all religious people would be moral; we know this is not the case.

    Comment by Ghosty — April 29, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

  3. @ Thomas: I knew you’d come through with a response…I hadn’t heard from you in a while.

    Where to begin? To answer your question concerning religion, your assumption that Christians believe that there is just one way to think is wrong; there are many ways to think, but only one way that leads to truth. I have Christian friends that think totally different from how I do. This is good as it keeps us accountable and prevents us from becoming close-minded, though you might argue differently. The important thing, of which I spoke, is that the outcome of our varied thinking leads to truth. There are indeed some questions that only have one answer (i.e., sin is sin, no matter how much we want to paint it as something else); others can have many, which leads to different interpretations of scripture. Denominations exist because different Christians interpret different things in different ways; and this is okay, as long as their focus remains on Christ.

    The ability to think for ourselves is one of the greatest things that a Christian can do, Thomas; God gave us a free will and every day we choose for ourselves what to believe and what to do. In the garden, God planted a tree in the midst of man and gave him a choice in life. Christians should not just accept what is preached from the pulpit without checking the scriptures to see if it is correct and without praying for inspiration concerning the point. And, of course, there is the issue of using the reason that God imparted into each one of us.

    I grew up in a church that encouraged groupthink, Thomas, and I must say that it is not a pretty thing. Many of my friends from that church have given up on religion as a result of the failures of a few men and from messed up theology. I thank God that I was pursued by truth and that I came to the realization that I had a choice and that God wanted me to choose Him over whatever my past hurts and my past experiences dictated to me. Thomas, I found out a key thing that many people never find: Christianity is a relationship and not a religion. Once I realized that I was involved in a personal relationship with a caring God, as opposed to an activity that takes up an hour-and-a-half of a Sunday morning, things became much clearer to me.

    And, Thomas, I believe you that it is possible to have morals, ethics and discipline without having a relationship with Christ, which is why I stated, “like that which comes from…” I applaud anyone who possesses these things, and I’ll be the first to admit that I mess up everyday in my morals, ethics and discipline. I don’t claim to be perfect and I know that there are many out there who could take me to task for my failures. I’ve met some great “unchurched” folks out there who live very upright lives.

    And, since you mentioned them, I will tell you that I don’t claim any of the folks that you mentioned; and, of course, I don’t know their hearts. All I can say is that many televangelists do more harm than good when they lose sight of the call that Jesus really made to give it all away and to be lowly. Those who would bomb abortion clinics never understood where Jesus told the crowd to drop their stones because they all had sin. They never understood why Jesus healed the ear of the guard that came to arrest him. The Westboro Baptist folks, whom I believe to be an abomination, have never understood anything concerning Christ’s life.

    But, Thomas, as I’ve said, the truth doesn’t depend on what some fringe elements do in the name of Christianity; it depends on a relationship with the God of the universe. Concerning your statement that “[our] way is the only way and that anything good has to come from [our] religion,” I would once again state that there is only one truth. If this makes me close-minded, then I will have to accept that. If something is the truth, then it can only be the truth, it cannot be false; likewise, if something is false, then it can never be the truth, no matter how hard one might try to make it appear as though it is. If the truth were not the only way, then by default it would not be true. Christ says that he is the way, the truth and the light, that no man comes to the father (God) except through him and that there is one mediator between man and God. It might have been nice if He would have left some wiggle room, but He didn’t; so I accept that.

    Now, you are correct that not all good things have to come from my “religion.” God created the whole world and said that it was “good.” The scriptures say that all of creation testifies to His existence. Therefore, there is a lot of good out there and it doesn’t all have to come from my church or my denomination. Thomas, you may be generalizing somewhat with such assumptions. Simple observations would tell you that the sun shines on the righteous and the wicked equally; God blesses us all here on earth, regardless of the pew that you do or don’t sit in.

    And, as I mentioned, people who don’t believe in Jesus are not horrible people; they contribute many great things to our society. Likewise, some Christians contribute nothing to our society. All of this, too, is easy to see and I would never take anyone’s assertion otherwise, even if it came from a pulpit. I believe, however, that there is a lot of deception in the world that can lead to bad choices. Even Christians get caught making bad choices; without the truth, some choices have a greater chance of ensnaring a person. Without the truth to help us discern, we may even make choices that seem to us to be wise choices, but which end in failure. Does this mean that everything goes smoothly in a Christian’s life? Hardly. We fight temptations and desires just like everyone else, and many times we fall.

    Maybe I’ll have more time later to discuss global warming, which was the actual point that I was trying to make with my post and which was the last thing that you mentioned in your comment. Stay tuned.

    Comment by dangrdave — April 29, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

  4. @Ghosty: Please see my comment to Thomas concerning morality. I agree that not all religious people are moral; there’s sometimes more moral fiber in a box of Wheeties than in some religious folks.

    Concerning “consensus,” the global warming pundits are trying to create a consensus for warming that does not really exist. Their brand of science is not necessarily to present “evidence” that global warming is actually occuring, but to build a campaign/philosophy on a few events that may or may not indicate true global warming. Anyone who disagrees has to prove that global warming “ain’t so,” while the pundits never have to prove that it is so. Where is the science in that?

    Comment by dangrdave — April 30, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

  5. I agree, you are correct about the global warming issue. The fervor isn’t based on evidence (and there is plenty, pro and con), it’s based on politicking and promotion. While the study of global warming is (or should be) scientific, the fervor is not.

    Comment by Ghosty — May 1, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

  6. I would agree that the *fervor* of global warming is not based on science, but I would suggest that in the effort to discount that fervor, actual science is being dismissed. In a weird way it’s similar to how some people (myself included) see the “cool factor” and fervor behind Apple products and in the attempt to avoid buying into that, end up not accepting the things they actually have done that are good. Yes, I suck at analogies!

    Comment by Thomas — May 1, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

  7. […] schools, where the Government’s brainwashing agenda of children is taking place.  Click here (ideas) and here (indoctrination) to see some of my previous thoughts on the public brainwashing of […]

    Pingback by Family Values: The New Lessons « Dave’s Strange and Unusual World — January 31, 2009 @ 2:19 pm


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