Why do people laugh at creationists

Why Scientists Laugh at Creationists | Why Atheists Should Mock Religion

A while back, I was staying in the home of a Muslim friend in Texas. He’s a doctor in the Dallas area and his wife was a PHD student at the time. We had a delightful conversation sharing our mutual frustrations about anti-vaxxers, homeopathy, young earth creationists, and alternative medicine. The one area where we differed on was the value of religion. They saw beauty in religion, and found peace in it, but they didn’t take every aspect of the Quran literally. I showcase this conversation, simply to illustrate my recognition that, in spite of the Bible belt’s affinity to radical literalism and in spite of the plethora of Islamic locales where the multitudes froth at the mouth in salutatory anticipation of Shariah’s implementation & enforcement, most of the 4 billion Christians and Muslims are moderates. The vast majority of them don’t take their holy books literally – even if they claim to.

If every one of them viewed their holy book the way most view Greek mythology or Aesop’s fables, as allegorical moral lessons couched in an absurd but memorable story format, then I probably wouldn’t have a problem with it.

So what’s the catch?

Well, the instant an otherwise mentally-stable adult starts lecturing about a talking donkey, a bear summoning bald wizard, a planet saving wooden boat, or a water-walking wine transformer, and actually believes this nonsense, I’m not going to just nod my head and act like everything they’re saying is normal or that their insane babblings deserve my respect. This is not normal!

We can and should respect the individual, without having to lend credence to folly. Literal interpretations of pseudoscientific texts are not without harm - especially when they ripen into the basis for rotten policy. And turning a blind eye to a festering infection, only perpetuates the problem. We’re told to respect people’s beliefs and that’s the start of the problem, because truth still matters. Religious misinformation should be treated with the same level of face-palmery we reserve for conspiracy theories and other whack job delusions.

“But this to me is the true horror of religion: It allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own. Okay. If you wake up tomorrow morning thinking that saying a few Latin words over your pancakes is gonna turn them into the body of Elvis Presley, you have lost your mind. But if you think more or less the same thing about a cracker and the body of Jesus, you’re just a Catholic.” - Sam Harris

But is religion really as crazy as conspiracy theories?

Oh no. It’s far worse. Grab your tin foil and let’s explore the absurdity together:

The Loch-ness monster is just a legend about a large underwater creature living in modern times. We have fossils of plesiosaurs. Sure, there’s not sufficient evidence for a contemporary Nessy, but it’s still within the realm of scientific plausibility. We wouldn’t have to throw out gene theory of the theory of evolution to make sense of it.

Bigfoot is just a large (usually blurry) bipedal ape with slightly more hair than Sacha Baron Cohen. Nothing here violates the laws of chemistry - however bizarre.

Aliens? Well, we know there are other habitable planets with similar conditions to earth. We know there are hundreds of billions of galaxies with an equally mind-numbing multitude of stars  and planets. We know life is possible because we’re alive. And we know that space travel is possible, ‘cause we’ve traveled into space. And everything that we know about abiogenesis and the origin of life screams that we’re not the only life in this universe. Watch my series on the Story of Life for a more in-depth reasoning on that.

It’s not physically impossible that Elvis could have faked his own death, and if he did, he’d be less than a century old right now.

So what am I getting at?

None of these conspiracy theories violate the natural order of things and are far more plausible than the miraculous claims of religion:

The virgin birth is a baseless anti-scientific assertion that spits in the face of biology and anatomy.

A Jew who shrivels fig trees with incantations violates everything we know about botany.

And a divinely-chosen, horse-flying Arab tramples Newton’s laws of motion and everything we know about gravity.

These beliefs are far more ludicrous than the conspiracies we treat with culture-wide disdain. Religion is conspiracy theory with a double-dose of poppycock. And yet there’s a double standard. We hold conspiracy theories with contempt because they represent belief without evidence, endowing their proponents with an unspoken badge of credulity. But religion too cherishes belief without evidence under the revered moniker, “faith.”

Why does religion get a pass?

How come our collective disdain doesn’t scale with the absurdity? Religion should carry double the cost in social capital and be accompanied with proportionally more mockery than the doses we reserve for conspiracy theorists.

Most of the people touting these beliefs have had them hammered into them so many times from a young age by people they trust, and they've never been taught to think critically. They're otherwise intelligent, but have been repeatedly told that doubt is evil. Doubt isn't evil. Doubt is essential to knowing truth and is quintessential in every other area of life.

When we laugh at odd, irrational beliefs, we’re not insulting the poor sheep who bought into it. We’re merely humorously baffled by the absurdity of the proposition. But just as every joke ages with repetition, religion has lost its novelty and subsequently its humor. Religion is the normalization of insanity. Ingrain it in a child before they’ve developed a sense of humor, and they’ll never learn to laugh. But encounter any sufficiently divergent new religion for the first time as an adult and you’ll laugh your dumbfounded butt off!

So what's the point?

If you're religious and you feel personally offended, I want you to know that when I poke fun at your religion, I'm not mocking you. I’m simply resurfacing the humor that I missed as a child - seeing the insanity for the first time. I'm mocking what you've been indoctrinated into believing so that you can see just how ridiculous it is and hopefully re-evaluate your position - because you care about the pursuit truth. So you can open your life up to the wonders of reality!

When I was a freshman in college. I believed that the government was hiding aliens at Area 51, and my roommates thoroughly mocked me for it, showing me just how ridiculous the idea was. And in retrospect, I’m grateful that they did.

In summary:

In order to find truth, your beliefs should be constantly re-examined and held to scrutiny. And if any belief is held too sacred to scrutinize, that's exactly when it needs to be satirized. People deserve respect. Beliefs don't. So until you can demonstrably prove that a talking snake convinced dirt man and rib woman to eat a knowledge apple and that everything we know about physics, chemistry, and biology is wrong, I'm going to give you the you're crazy look and poke fun at your beliefs till the cows come home. And if the rest of planet earth grew up enough to understand the joke and start laughing in unison, maybe just maybe, we could build a more rational world where the foundations of public policy aren’t baloney!

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Why Scientists Laugh at Creationists | Why Atheists Should Mock Religion
Why Scientists Laugh at Creationists | Why Atheists Should Mock Religion

Why do people mock creationists? Why do atheists laugh at Christians and Muslims? Here's why people laugh at creationists and why mockery of ideas is justified. People deserve respect; ideas don't. And in the free marketplace of ideas, the truth can't be held back. Superstition and religion have less evidence than conspiracy theories and should be treated like mythology or ridiculed as absurdity.

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