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Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Does religious faith among politically ultraconservative religious Christians place a high value on denying all scientific evidence and scientific knowledge?

Asked by Dr_Lawrence (19727points) June 6th, 2012

The religious extreme conservatives seem to have a strong investment in promoting and maintaining ignorance about science in particular. Over the past few years, someone perceived to be an “intellectual” seems to have come to mean being someone out to deceive the public and destroy the family and the one true faith, as professed by those who support the Tea Party and have pushed the GOP towards their own extreme political views.

Is it because they deeply fear that knowledge not derived from literal interpretations of carefully selected Biblical verses will undermine the faith among those who profess to believe as they do?

Is that why they express such disdain for those with advanced education in the sciences and why they condemn science as a secular religion bent on denying their Lord and Saviour and destroying the family?

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15 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

This is how I see it, and you did ask, didn’t you? I think there is a particular reason for “evolution denial” among certain religious conservatives, and this is just my opinion. In cretins “strains” of “evangelical” or fundamentalist Christianity there is a deeply held, core, fundamental belief in original sin and the fall of man. That the because of original sin, human beings are born into sin and that the only possible means of salvation and obtaining grace is through the atonement of Jesus Christ, his suffering, crucifixion and resurrection. No Adam and Eve, no original sin or fall of mankind, no need for Jesus to suffer and die to atone for our being born into sin and so to embrace evolution would mean the the whole thing would crumble completely, at it’s very core. The center cannot hold. Climate science denial, that I think, may be more political, than religious.

And there is plenty of science denial to go around, in my opinion. And I think you might, well, maybe might agree, with me on this one … while some religious conservatives may see psychiatric disorders and mental illness a spiritual deficiencies, there are plenty of non-religious conservatives who dismiss the science of psychiatric disorders and mental illness in a more secular way. In spite of the mountains, and mounds and tons of very good science that shows that psychiatric disorders, mood disorders like clinical depression and thought disorders, ADD/ADHD, compulsive hoarding, all sorts of things, are biologically based “diseases of the brain,” either due to chemical imbalances or differences in brain function, as biologically based as any disease of the body is, many people continue to view many mental illnesses as defects of character rather than biological disorders. That is a denial of science. U.S. drug policies are a denial of science. Alcoholism, drug abuse and addiction are public health issues. So many people seem to think that there is some great difference between abusing being addicted to prescription opiates and other prescription drugs and begging addicted to street opiates and street drugs. The chemistry and biology of those addictions are pretty much the same. The only difference, really, is that certain drugs are legal and certain drugs aren’t. People addicted to legal opiates go to rehab; people addicted to illegal opiates go to jail. That’s not rational. That’s not what the science supports. That is a denial of science, IMHO.

Nullo's avatar

Can we pause briefly and define “ultraconservative”?

We’re somewhat anti-idol. A lot of people see an intense focus on science and technology – particularly at the expense of a focus on God (‘God-replacer’ is sort of a working definition of an idol) as a sort of abstracted idolatry, worshiping Man and his glory.
And there’s the fact that a lot of ‘intellectuals’ will often try to kill God with Science – something that science isn’t really made for, and not a good way to make friends.

This does not translate automatically into a dislike of science, mind you. I’m quite Christian, and aced high school bio without even trying. I taught myself basic atomics in third grade. I have an ongoing interest in space exploration.

Disdain for education is a separate issue, a cultural artifact carried over by the peasants, mostly of the British Isles. The “You think you’re better than me” reaction. It doesn’t help that another one of our cultural artifacts would have us ridicule the less-educated and indeed, everyone whose opinion differs from our own. Including you, Dr. Lawrence, as indicated in the subtext of your post. I suspect, in fact, that the two are techniques developed to enforce conformity or dominance, and that they feed off of each other.

@lillycoyote Your Freudian slipped: In cretins “strains” of “evangelical” or fundamentalist Christianity.

lillycoyote's avatar

LOL!!!! DAMN F’ING AUTOCORRECT! In my answer above, where it says “cretins.” That was supposed to be “certain”!!!! It was not at all my intention to describe religious conservatives as “cretins!”

lillycoyote's avatar

@Nullo LOL! You were answering, simultaneously, as I was desperately trying to fix that one. Autocorrect is the work of the devil! I meant “certain!” not “cretins!”

jerv's avatar

Ask Galileo ;)

@Nullo The reason many intellectuals try to “kill God with Science” is the same reason that religion tries to kill science often enough that intellectuals can be a little… touchy. True, there are many people who are both devout and scientifically minded that manage to reconcile Science and Religion, but those people tend not to be noticed.

Nullo's avatar

@jerv So you think that we fight because we’ve always fought. I see.
But what do the intellectuals gain by trying to kill God? When a person is saved, that’s one more for the Kingdom – the cause advances. But when you crush some poor guy’s faith, what do you get? Not more intellectuals – there are lots of intellectual Christians. What cause is furthered?

ragingloli's avatar

The cause of propagating a populace that does not hold unfounded beliefs.

JLeslie's avatar

An ironic side note, my dad who buys amd sells used books says, “the “Christian” books sell like crazy. Seem the Christians like to read a lot.” It’s said with humor, he didn’t have any weird assumptions Christians don’t read, but it is comparing how almost every Jew we know very rarely reads about our religion. But, it does indicate the Christians fill their heads with religion.

I don’t think most Christians reject science, I do think there is a movement to reject science that is intertwined with political issues or what they perceive to be a moral issue.

Some Christian sects have no problem marrying science and religion. (oops there is that word marry not used for a man and woman).

josie's avatar

Frequently true it seems. Atheists like myself find it bewildering, but nothing to be done about it.
And I would add that a similar phenomenon occurs on the other end of the political spectrum. Ultra Leftists reject religious faith to be sure, but they simply substitute undying faith in the authoritarian political state for it. With equal denial of scientific evidence and scientific knowledge.

Since I have been called a cretin by one of our friendly jellies, I figured you typo was simply business as usual. Thanks for clarifying.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think it’s just about denying scientific evidence that goes against their interests, like driving gas-guzzling hummers. They like the science that made cars possible in the first place.

Paradox25's avatar

Well this is why it is usually detrimental to the well being of most people, to use faith over investigation to make decisions. There is a strong confirmation bias that exists in many forms of the creationist science agenda, to prove the Bible right, rather than actually looking at the enormous evidence against young earth creationism.

The scumbag politicians who play the religion card know full well that they already have their followers in their pockets. The merging of religion, political ideology and corporate interests was a very immoral, unholy alliance indeed. Of course a confirmation bias exists on many fronts when it comes to reductionist materialists as well. I’ll avoid the left/right paradigm here however, since there are both left and right leaning obscurants, as well as left/right leaning authoritarians.

jerv's avatar

@Nullo They get the same thing that the Vatican got by accusing Galileo of heresy and that Christianity got spending a few centuries killing indigenous pagans/heathens who refused to accept Jesus as their savior. Of course, any rational person on either side can see how stupid the fighting is, but the truth is that it does take two to tango, so neither side is innocent.

Thing is, I don’t recall physicists ever declaring war against biologists claiming that they are the only true scientist, nor have either side sought to conquer/exterminate those who are more artistic than scientific. Fortunately, there are many religious people who are sincerely sorry for the past, but the fact remains that history that history has given plenty of reasons for religion to be eyed with at least cautious suspicion. In fact, I think that may be why science seems to seek to destroy God; it’s basically a non-violent way to return the favor.

Still, I’d like to see the two sides stop the fighting, and there are enough pious scientists out there to prove that Science and Religion can coexist peaceably.

@Paradox25 It never ceases to amaze me that more Christians believe that Creation was completed in 168 hours instead of acknowledging that, if God is even close to how the Bible claims, God could make “seven days” as long as He wants. If He wanted the first day of Creation to be a period that us humans would consider to be 2.7 billion years, who is going to stop Him? But the “Young Earth” crowd would rather fight science and logic than reconcile the two views by admitting that their God can redefine “day” however He pleases, which I find worthy of at least an eyeroll.

lillycoyote's avatar


My theory is the the creation stories in Genesis are actually outlines/schedules for God’s 8th grade science fair project: Creating a World.

When God confessed to his mom that his project was due in a week and he hadn’t done any work on it at all and he just didn’t see how he could possibly get it all done in time, kind of like Annie Lamott’s description of her brother’s dilemma in her book Bird by Bird

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.

God’s mom was pissed, but she was determined to help Him get his science fair project done on time so she sat down with Him and outlined a very tight schedule of exactly what he was going to accomplish on each day. She left the seventh day as kind of a buffer, in case He didn’t quite get it all done in six days’ but if he did, he could chill out on the seventh day. And He did get it all done in six days, so on the seventh day, He rested.


Actually, I’ve been writing a fictional “Interview With God” over the years, that I occasionally work on when I get frustrated with certain types of Christians and certain fundamentalist Christian thinking. That is what the above little bit is from.

And the Vatican and Galileo and all that business happened a very, very long time ago. I don’t know too many religious people who spend much time or energy being actively sorry about and worrying about something that happened 400 years ago. People are concerned about what is happening now and it isn’t the Vatican or the Catholic Church that is lobbying to have Creationism taught alongside evolution in America’s public schools. The Catholic Church’s position on evolution is pretty solidly with the science, evolution is taught in Catholic Schools and there is no movement afoot for them to do otherwise. Whatever problems I might have with the Catholic Church, bringing up things that happened 1700 or 400 years ago isn’t, I don’t think, relevant or useful when it comes to discussing or combating the assaults against science happening in the U.S., today, right now.

ETpro's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence I would guess your speculation is pretty close to accurate. You have to be an enemy of science to assert that the entire Universe is about 6,000 years old.

Paradox25's avatar

@jerv Despite the differences between the Catholic and Fundamentalist camps, religion needs to stay out of science completely. I don’t feel that religion and science can truly co-exist without some type of confirmation bias occuring. You don’t have to be religious to have a confirmation bias though. Special interests, like they have done to politics, has corrupted science to a great deal as well.

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