Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Why Pushing Creationism Is So Important To Wingnuts…

In Please Lord, Save Us From Your Followers on January 24, 2013 at 6:04 am

wingnut

From AMANDA MARCOTTE
Pandagon

One thing I kind of love, as a lover of dramatic irony going down in real life, is contrasting the inevitable elders squawking “kids these days” with the actual realities of how irritatingly great kids these days often are. Like 19-year-old Zack Kopplin, who is making news going on the rampage against voucher schools that are basically being established with an eye towards using public funding for religious instruction. He has an editorial up at Melissa Harris-Perry’s blog about how serious the problem is of voucher schools replacing science education with creationist religious beliefs.

Here are a few highlights from creationist voucher schools I have identified:

  • The Beverly Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, teaches “Evidence of a Flood,” and “Evidence against Evolution,” and ”The Evolution of Man: A Mistaken Belief.”
  • Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough, Georgia says,“The universe, a direct creation of God, refutes the man-made idea of evolution. Students will be called upon to see the divine order of creation and its implications on other subject areas.
  • Life Christian Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma says their life science class will “lead the student to recognize that God created all living things and that these living things are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Evolution is taught only in history class, where students “evaluate the theory of evolution and its flaws.”  The school uses the creationist Bob Jones and CSI curriculums.
  • The principal of the Claiborne Christian School, in West Monroe, Louisiana, says in a school newsletter, “Our position at CCS on the age of the Earth and other issues is that any theory that goes against God’s Word is in error.” She also claims that scientists are “sinful men” trying to explain the world “without God” so they don’t have to be “morally accountable to Him.”
  • Trinity Academy, in Gary, uses the creationist ABeka curriculum and says it “presents the universe as the direct creation of God and refutes the man-made idea of evolution.”
  • Rocky Bayou Christian School, in Niceville, Florida, says in its section on educational philosophy, “God mandates that children be discipled for Christ. They must be trained in the biblical world view which honors Jehovah, the sovereign Creator of the universe. It recognizes that man was created in the image of God” and says “Man is presumed to be an evolutionary being shaped by matter, energy, and chance… God commands His people not to teach their children the way of the heathen.”
  • Wisconsin Lutheran High School, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says in its biology syllabus that it teaches, “evolutionists are ‘stuck’ because they have no god, therefore they must believe in evolution” and “young earth evidence a disaster to evolutionists.”

What always interests me about defenders of creationism is how they clearly don’t think of children as people in their own right, but instead property that you use to enact your ideological obsessions. Teaching kids creationism is bad for them. In fact, Kopplin’s campaign is primarily built around the argument that if all children have a right to a publicly funded education, we are failing to honor their rights by giving them a bunch of Christian nonsense instead of a proper science education. Replacing biology with creationism is likely to cut off many otherwise bright students from a career in science, and can limit the colleges they go to.

On this blog, a lot of time is spent investigating patriarchal attitudes about women’s roles, and how in a patriarchy women are expected to be a servant class to cater to men and not people in their own right. In this system, children face a similar kind of oppression. As women are believed to be the servants of men, children are believed to be extensions of the father, and to display utter fealty to his way of thinking so he can demonstrate his power to other men. That’s why conservatives are so hostile to public education. The children are to believe what Daddy believes, no matter how silly Daddy’s beliefs, and if that requires censoring the truth and going out of your way to hide it from children, so be it. The rights of children to have an education will always bend in this worldview to the rights of the conservative Christian father to control the brain space of his kids.

That’s why conservatives are so dogged in trying to find ways to get into the schools and replace biology with creationism. It’s a symbolic battle for them. Winning it is achieving a symbolic demonstration of their belief that the father’s right to brainwash his child trumps the child’s right to an education.

Yes, I know that a lot of fathers don’t want their kids to learn biology, and that should, in theory, conflict with the Father Owns Your Ass mentality that drives this. But it’s not like we’re dealing with logical people here, first of all. And second of all, because of this, anyone who prefers biology is quietly set aside as undeserving of the role of the patriarch, and thus someone whose desires for his children doesn’t count. Thus is the way of wingnuts.
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  1. Of course it is no more true that ALL conservatives are wing nuts, than that all liberals are delusional nut cases, but dominant groups identifying themselves as either conservative or liberal have made a deliberate mess of these definitions and rendered them useless for analysis and discussion. As a pediatrician I have experience and training that allows me to make emotional development assessments and place those assessments in the context of the individuals chronological age. Seeing emotional and behavioral delays in children is a routine experience, and given favorable circumstances, and perhaps restorative measures, these delays resolve themselves into congruent emotional and developmental development in the adult. However, a whole lot of folks end up stranded along the way, stuck perpetually in the role of an acting out grownup with immature thinking and feeling. This assessment is something I do reflexively after decades of doing it in the office and I find it helps a lot as I try deal compassionately with neighbors, family, friends and acquaintances.

    In general, developmental delay is an individual thing, but if a person belongs to a tight group that is dominated by immature individuals everyone in the group, of necessity, must adopt a convincing set of immature behaviors and detailed magical thinking in order to be included in the group. My wife’s family, for instance, is wall to wall wing nuts. Fundamentalist, aggressive conservatives who look to organized violence to solve problems. The whole Seventh Day Adventist Church operates this way. There turn out to be a lot of grown ups in the crowd of Adventist but it is hard to tell. They hide themselves in the wing nut crowd and you would not know they are there unless you have opportunities to have deep one on one discussions and, importantly, are NOT included in the cult. It is possible to indulge in a little reality as long as the witness has no credibility with your group.

    Generally, found these fundamentalist individuals to harbor ambivalent feelings about the fundamentalist idiocy that passes for religious belief and experience relief being able to show that ambivalence with a friendly out person like me. It is really about the oppression imposed by a small group of individuals that are aggressive in policing expressions of belief. This suppression of expression is helped enormously by the emotional wounds that adults carry with them from strict and abusive child rearing, especially emotional abuse but the other kinds too (fundamentalist groups have a statistically higher rate of child abuse both physical and sexual), that make them fearful and easily dominated by the true believers who use their wing nut ideas as a required badge of inclusion. This is the logic of authoritarian personalities and the authoritarian governments and religions they flock to (see Adorno). Everyone who has never gone along to get along can throw the first stone.

    The history of any religion, society, nation is prewritten in the lives of its children. Happy, nourishing, honest, caring and compassionate environments that promote optimal child development tend to not produce the sorts of individuals needed by these domineering groups. Whole regions (the American South?) become dominated by these impaired people who compensate for a hole in their souls by self rightness and cruelty. Adult individuals in such dominator cultures who are actually fully developed must ape immature behavior in order to not stand out and inspire rejection and potential aggression. How about those Niners? Happy children rarely grow up to want to hurt others. They make rotten soldiers of conquest and therefore emotionally healthy societies are conquered and subjugated, a process that is nearly complete across the world, as the lives of children become ever more terrifying and emotionally destructive.

    ybera

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