Bully Tactics

In a May 31, 2011 article on the Huffington Post, Michael Zimmerman goes on the offensive against Michele Bachmann’s belief in creationism.  It is a familiar tirade against the “primitive notions” that the presumed “uneducated” have about the start of all things.  Whenever I read articles from advocates of evolution about those who believe in creation they sooner or later resort to bullying to make their point.

Zimmerman calls intelligent design the “anti-intellectual offshoot” of creationism.  He considers it a “pseudoscientific” subject and venerates a Baton Rouge, LA high school student who is fighting to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, which Zimmerman calls, an “atrocious stealth-creationism law.”  This student has challenged Bachmann to provide support for her statement “there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact … hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design.”

Bachmann is hardly the first politician to be challenged to verify the facts stated in a speech.  Even if she has such evidence the issue never goes away.  The vitriol from evolution advocates remains condescending, demeaning and pompous.

It has long been a ploy in the pro-evolution rhetoric to posture opponents as uneducated Neanderthals (pun intended).  Consider the comments left by some readers of the Zimmerman article:

“What I find to be the most interesting, is the lack of media attention this story has garnered. This should be a dream topic for most talk show hosts; A high school student, from the ‘hurricane ravaged state of Lousiana (sic),’ speaking out against a notable (in the media anyway) politician.”

Translated: “A mere high school student is much smarter than a creation-believing politician.”

“The dogma of the religious is ‘Never confuse me with the facts!’ Wouldn’t want to have intelligence and common sense interfere with their fairy tales.”

Translated: “Religious people have no common sense, they believe in fairy tales and are unintelligent.”

“There’s a segment of the Republican base that is actually proud of its ignorance. They look at education as a bad thing, something that only liberal elites pursue. If I were an employer, I would never EVER hire anyone who still believes in creationism. That would tell me they’re delusional.”

Translated: “If you believe in creation you are ignorant, you are opposed to education, and you are unemployable.”

OK – I know this stuff has been going on for years.  What strikes me is how brutal and bullying the arguments are.  As I read them I tried to imagine talking this way against homosexuality.

“Even a child knows boy + boy or girl + girl is unnatural, how come those dumb adults can’t figure it out?”

“How can advocates of homosexuality be taken seriously?  It is simply their disillusioned way of thinking.”

“I could never hire a homosexual, because they are out of touch with reality.”

Attacks on the character of people are as old as the hills.  They have no place in any argument.  Arguments against the person (argumentum ad hominem) represent last ditch efforts to make a case when presumed facts have failed to be compelling.  They are out of place when it comes to talking evolution, gay rights or any matter for debate.

I do hope Rep. Bachmann produces some evidence to support what she says.  More importantly, however, I do hope everyone sees that in our society matters of faith are not simply accepted as personal convictions but are placed on trial as a test of intelligence.  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is that first great miracle in any Christian’s life – the ability to believe the unverifiable.  It is the willingness to accept without proof.  It is taking God at His Word.  To suggest it is “anti intellectual” is to mix apples and oranges.  There are many wonderfully brilliant people who believe in God, sin, salvation and creation as there are also many not-so-bright people who believe in evolution.  We must never be intimidated by the bullying tactics of people who want to venerate theories to the level of fact.

About Bob F.

Born in Pleasanton, CA on October 5, 1956 and raised primarily in Lake Geneva, WI. I am the oldest of four sons to my parents, Bob and Helen Fleischmann who presently live next door to me in rural Wisconsin. I am an ordained Lutheran minister and I serve as the national director of Christian Life Resources.
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One Response to Bully Tactics

  1. Paul Rossman, M.D. says:

    Hello Again, Dr. Fleischmann:
    I certainly agree with you that ad hominem arguments are demeaning and poison, rather than facilitate, dialogue about important issues. The individuals who insist that creationism is a more credible theory about the origin of life–as compared to evolution–do not, I propose, display stupidity. But I do think they display an impairing cognitive rigidity, and perhaps in many instances, regrettable ignorance.
    There are mountains of data and natural observation that support Darwin’s Theory. As such, it is not a simple “theory” or possible explanation– as creationists label it. It is a compelling explanatory hypothesis. The gaps in the Theory do not reflect inconsistencies with observable data; rather, difficulty in unearthing information about events which occurred hundreds of millions of years ago. Despite decades and decades of scientific inquiry, the evolution theory has been confirmed over and over again. Like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, it is not an untested idea (what some people regard as the definition for ‘theory’), but a compelling hypothesis supported by all the information currently available.
    If you are waiting for Michelle Bachmann to produce credible evidence to support the Theory of Creationism, well, don’t hold your breath. None, thus far, exists. And, of course, the Creationists, by definition, deny the validity of all the evidence which supports the theory of evolution. Either that, or they are blissfully unaware of its existence.
    And this why I think it fair to view those individuals who insist that creationism is as credible ( and perhaps more so) a theory as evolution display either a fixed mental
    rigidity or regrettable ignorance. And when they wish to include creationism in public education they do real harm. The beliefs of any particular religious group have no place in public education.
    So by all means, decry those who argue with condescension and personal attack. And do remind your parishioners that many intellectually brilliant individuals do hold a variety of religious and spiritual beliefs. But there is an insignificant number of brilliant intellectuals who believe that Evolution is “just a theory,” or that Creationism is an equally valid explanatory hypothesis.
    I would hope you do provide your flock with guidance about these critical distinctions.
    Is the absence of these points in your commentary because you assume your readers already possess this information.

    Please feel free to use any or all of my response in your commentaries to your parishioners.

    Sincerely,

    Paul Rossman

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