Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Creating deniers

Invent a religion and you instantly beget believers and deniers. From day one for example Seventh Day Adventists begat seventh day deniers, the Salvation Army begat salvation pacifists, the orthodox begat the heterodox and so on. Arguments pro and con are well rehearsed and believed by countless sets of the faithful the world over, rather like left-wing political groups. (This despite theology being, in the words of the great historian A J P Taylor, one of the two most useless studies known to man.)

Long established religions have spent at least a couple of thousand years sharpening their case against deniers and confirming that when the big day comes those same deniers will be denied and then they’ll see who’s sorry, just you wait. To believe is to be saved as the new pope, worried about Mary-deniers, confirmed when reportedly doing a deal with one or two lesser denominations to square up this particular denial circle. (Talking of Mary, I’ve been reading about a mediaeval cult that worshipped her mother, Anne, and venerated her grandmothers. Even back then there were grandparent deniers and that’s before we even get to great aunt Fanny.) And a guy called Manes once invented an all-encompassing religion that did away with all the middlemen and cut straight to the chase. He reckoned things were either OK or not OK, dark or light, black or white. In his Manichaean world where life’s a binary condition there’s no need for deniers because everyone’s a denier.

So why am I blathering on about begetting deniers? Well, the religious loonies – intelligent design creationists they call themselves - who run America have turned me into one, that’s why. (Of course I was already a fully paid up denier to begin with but they’ve given me some whole new denial-dimensions.)

Deep in the Ozark Mountains, where Wal-Mart was born, these guys have opened a Museum of Earth History. Creationist history, that is. It begins only a few short millenniums back with Adam and Eve, Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex living peacefully side by side in the idyll that was the Garden of Eden…it goes on with Noah being able only to take small, immature dinosaurs onto the ark, leaving the rest to perish and for the flood waters to disperse their fossil remains across the earth while carving out the Grand Canyon…it continues with the remaining dinosaurs being hunted to extinction by hungry people or else dying in the great ice age…and it concludes that all this is the work of ‘intelligent design’. Nobody can accuse these guys of being dinosaur deniers or fossil deniers.

So far so lobotomized. But consider this: school kids visit this place on day trips, for crying out loud, and go back and write about it, their teachers believe it hook, line and sinker (they have to to get the job in the first place) and ask them questions on it in exams and present them with certificates and diplomas in it. Far too loony, one would think even for loonies. But, tearfully for a Garden of Eden dinosaur denier, not the case: the loonies are looking to franchise this particular loony bin across the world and there'll be no hope on the ark.

Far better let the kids read about another Wonderland:

“There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had much practise,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

The POSIWID of intelligent design creationism is to keep deniers out of power. Check out the full story at http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1489520,00.html

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