The more educated I become, the more obvious my ignorance becomes. The uneducated do not hold that view. The uneducated, in what I’ve observed over the past 50 years, hold their own truth to be clear, and anyone in opposition to be an idiot. It’s that plain and simple to them. It has been a source of frustration over the past few years, but the more I learn, the more I understand why the uneducated believe that way.
Most uneducated people have one thing in common, they adhere to a religion. This is the beginning of their belief that their own opinion is truth. Religion teaches that it is unquestionably true. It teaches that those who disbelieve it are fools. If a child has a question about his or her religion, those questions will be answered in a cursory manner and further substantive questions will be dissuaded.
A few weeks ago, I was at Target with my 10yo future astronomer when I overheard a disturbing conversation between a woman and a young child.
Child: “Where does the light come from?”
Woman: “It comes from God, he made everything.”
When I talk about the lack of scientific understanding I grew up with, Christians are forever telling me that it’s different now. It’s not. When religious people come to the end of their personal knowledge, they insert god and that is good enough. Don’t understand how the sun works? God makes it work. Don’t understand electricity? God makes it work. Don’t understand how thermohaline circulation works? OK, I admit, that has little or nothing to do with light, I just like the term since it’s my current interest. So far, I haven’t found it to be god that makes it work.
I know religious people who refuse to read anything but the bible, lest they lose their faith. I know even more religious people who refuse to have a conversation with an Atheist who asks questions for the same reason. Or, maybe I should say that I knew them. Not much interest in conversations with me anymore, because they don’t have answers.
I suppose I can’t blame them. They are taught from childhood that faith is the only thing that will keep them out of hell. Then they are taught that questioning makes god angry. With this repetition given to them on a daily basis, fearing questions becomes a knee-jerk reaction.
Alongside being taught that religion is the only truth, they are also taught that religion has all the answers, and that all the answers are always the same. God and their religion are unchanging. Change is bad, change will take us away from god and away from salvation.
In the family I grew up in, it was common to mock scientists as stupid because they were always changing things. One week eggs are good for you, the next they are bad, the next this part of the egg is good for you, etc. To a group of people who are taught that truth is unchanging, science seems the epitome of foolishness.
I was watching an old interview with Neil Degrasse Tyson recently (not the one linked to below) and he explained, essentially, why this is the case. In school, children are taught science facts but not the scientific method. Science is a method, it is a series of questions and experiments that seeks out an answer, but doesn’t always find one. To religious people, this is abhorrent.
I am not a complete pessimist, but considering the situation in our country, the level of ignorance about science among the common people who vote and run for office is something that has sent us down a path I’m not sure we can come back from. I believe this way because this problem is not one those who are ignorant want solved.
We live in a country and in a time when knowledge is available to the masses. The ignorant in our country today have chosen ignorance. They have to, otherwise, they might begin to question their beliefs and then where would they be.
In the video below, I’d like you to note Mike Pence’s statement. It is not his diatribe against evolution that makes him sound ignorant, it is the exact words he uses. If you don’t understand why, you might need to learn more about science.