Monday, April 16, 2007

Doggerel #74: "The Devil's Fooled You!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

One argument a lot of fundies out there like to use is that skeptics like me have been magically fooled by some malevolent being and that all the evidence for evolution, or lack of evidence for a deity is due to his evil genjutsu.

Thankfully, everyone probably knows what the problem with this argument is, since everyone's got at least some familiarity with The Matrix. If we can't trust the physical world around us to behave in a consistent manner, what can we trust? We've got a heck of a lot of people offering piles of contradictory, and usually self-contradictory books claiming to have the unwavering truth, but if this devil has such amazing powers, how do we even know if those books are real?

I prefer to cut past all that sophistry and solipsism by tentatively assuming that what goes into my various senses is at least an approximation of reality, and what's verified by other people and instrumentation is a better approximation. I still have to keep flawed perceptions and so forth into account, but it's a lot better than false certainty. It certainly doesn't entail ignoring the world outside my head, either.

One other annoyance that most fundies don't seem to realize is that all of science is tightly wound together. If one bit of science (such as evolution) is so completely wrong, it would mean that the science we use in a lot of everyday applications is also wrong. If radioisotope dating is wrong, that would mean that much of what we know about nuclear physics is wrong. Somehow, I don't think all the nuclear power plants are about to suddenly stop working.

The situation isn't much different than an extreme case of conspiracy theories that involve shadow governments with unlimited funds and uncrackable cover-ups.


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1 comment:

TheBrummell said... extreme case of conspiracy theories...

Indeed. I've seen certain brands of Fundamentalist Christianity described as "the ultimate conspiracy theory" since everything bad must be Satan's fault, and any person who argues aginst this point of view, on anything, ever, is obviously a member of Satan's conspiracy. The most interesting such description I saw, long ago, was by a person who recovered from a fundie childhood, and talked about being paranoid delusional all the time - Satan's minions are hiding behind every tree, and can even read your thoughts, so it's not really suprising that paranoia is the outcome.