Feb 9, 2014

The Infinite Stupidity

Bill Nye and Ken Ham on Creation Museum Debate postcard

This past week, Bill Nye and Ken Ham took part in a Creationism vs. Evolution "debate," which was pretty obviously a silly thing for both parties to do. Neither man proved capable of presenting in terms communicative to the other. Bill Nye entirely discards the theory of Intelligent Design, since Life/God/Evolution/Nature would get it right the first time if it was so smart. Ken Ham admitted, in clearly stated terms, that no amount of evidence would change his presupposed acceptance of the Bible as a historical document. You can still watch the debate.

But this article isn't really about the debate. This article is about stupidity.

We've got to take a side journey into my past for a minute. I was sent to private, Christian schools for the majority of my educational career, which wasn't lengthy. Every sentence of the syllabus prescribed to my little sponge-mind was informed by the Creationists' Young Earth model of existence, to which Ken Ham subscribes. Now, I'd love to be able to say I called bullshit from the start but that wouldn't be true. I mean, I had questions, of course... You try telling the Noah's Ark story to a child over the age of, say, ten or twelve. See how many questions you can answer logically before resorting to, "Look, God did it. God can do anything. It doesn't have to make sense." So, one day the revelation struck that I was sitting amongst a roomful of people whom all held an earnest belief in the Easter Bunny in the Sky. Such are the moments capable of creating a person like myself.

Tyler Coe holding sign on sidewalk
Photo: Mark Auvil

There's myself, live-trolling the people of Springfield, MO during the Halloween Pubcrawl of 2012. The sign says, "WHAT IF JESUS WAS ABORTED," and, yeah, the idea came directly from an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.


There is a group of Fundamentalist Christians who protest on that downtown intersection every weekend, with signs saying, "THE PARTY ENDS IN HELL," and other such non-sense. My bemused annoyance with these folks became a pointed antagony upon learning what initiated the protests: The leader of their group physically abused his wife and she left him for another man. His reaction: stand on a busy sidewalk with a sign quoting Scripture in saying unto thee who lay with an unwed woman, ye shall both be considered unclean and stoned to death and shame and Hell. Or, like, whatever. This backwards cracker needed to justify his terrible behavior by making his wife the evil one. And so I needed to go down there with my own sign, made with glitter, and stand amongst them to illustrate their ridiculous behavior. What I didn't expect was how many passerby would treat me like my motives were totally sincere.

Turns out, before I arrived on the scene, a group of (awesome) people had scared the Fundamentalists away by holding hands in a circle around them and singing John Lennon's "Love Is My Religion." So when I showed up, I was standing on the sidewalk by myself, holding a huge sign that might as well have said, "PLEASE HATE ME!" The first thing that happened was a police officer walked up and asked me if I was drunk. Did I fully comprehend the possible ramifications of my present course of action? I told him I wasn't drunk, just stupid. Then came the heckling, from atheists and Christians alike. Maybe three out of every ten people who walked by had an abusive comment of one sort or another to yell in passing. Every person eating in the bistro behind me was watching to see if a fistfight would take place. I don't really know why I kept standing there. The longer I did, though, the more disgust I felt at the certainty of those heckling me, regardless of their moral stance on the issue of Jesus or abortion. I realized my sign was really nothing more than a big question mark in a crowd full of exclamation points.

Tyler Coe holding sign from article in front of bistro windows
Photo: Mark Auvil

So, I may've had less-than-sincere motives for tuning in to the live stream of the Creation debate. Yeah, it's funny that people believe the Bible is a special book in any way, but hardcore, Science-toting skepticism is no less entertaining for its complete inability to explain... Well, everything. Watching people cling to whatever they think they have a grip on while hanging over the abyss is hilarious. I came for the LOLz, I admit it. I wanted to see a guy wearing a bowtie play the voice of reason in a conversation about "where the world comes from." A conversation held in a "museum" where dinosaurs wear saddles because they had to have coexisted with humans in order for the earth to be only 6,000 years old, so humans obviously domesticated the fucking things and rode them like horses, which would be easy to do since all creatures were vegetarian until after Noah's Flood.

dinosaur wearing saddle from creation museum in kentucky
I'm not making this up.

What's awesome about tech like YouTube and Twitter is that, in addition to watching this circus, we can also read what people all over the world are saying about it. Indeed, we can all join in the fun. I like fun and I have enough Twitter followers that I typically get some sort of entertaining reaction. So I fired off a couple of tweets. [Follow me on Twitter, by the way. Next time I say some crazy stuff, you'll see it.] In the beginning, I made some lame jokes, got some RTs, some Favs, a guy with no sense of humor who does not think that Billy Nye worships the Sun.

screenshot os Tyler Coe's joke tweets about Creation Debate

Then, things got a little out of hand. At first, people seemed to get the joke. That didn't last long. Pretty soon, Creationists were retweeting/favoriting me like crazy. Then came a wave of Christians chastising me for having "casted" judgement, then judging me, at times with surprisingly aggressive language, considering their message. Then came the Evolutionists, rolling their eyes so far back into their heads they looked like zombies...

screenshot of Tyler Coe's viral Creation Debate tweet and responses

And what everyone here seems to have forgotten is that most people in the world are not scientists. All we're really doing is deciding who to believe about anything. We don't have hands-on experience with the research, the data, the evidence. Even if we did, we wouldn't know what any of it signifies. When science takes the role of "labeling the tendencies" of observable phenomena, then it is pure. However, too often the zeal of religion seeps into science, tainting it with smugness and condescension. [I am not accusing Bill Nye of this, at all.] You know the guy. You're friends with him on Facebook. He doesn't have a handle on the whole "They're, Their, There" conundrum but he's smarter than anyone who's ever believed in a God or Gods. If you don't know the guy, browse /r/cringepics for, like, ten minutes.

Even if you are a scientist, working first-hand on some new study, you can only make sense of this new data as it relates to what you already know, or think you know, which is determined by the entire history of Science and human error within. How much of what we believe is based on the kind of person we try to be? Whether we pride ourselves on healthy skepticism or humble faith, we're seeking self-same qualities in those we look to for explanation. We find some website or news station that agrees with our position on Major Issues, like abortion, and it becomes our go-to source for how to think.

Say we do still ask ourselves all of the questions we should when processing outside opinions on news-as-filtered-through-media. We're still responding to information that may or may not be true, may or may not mean what the current science or dogma proposes it must mean. [I'm ignoring those in personal communication with the Creator of the Universe. The ones who talk to God and God talks back? But I've got nothing against schizophrenic people. Tell Him I said what's up.] So now what do you know? What do you really, really know?

"I know One Thing: that I know Nothing."

Thank you for your time.
Are there any questions?


1 comment :

  1. Sheila R. here Tyler, your mom's old friend that now lives in Springfield. I continue to think you are absolutely brilliant . Have thought that since you were very young. Please continue to share your brilliance with us, and maybe you will expand our minds!! I am a person who loves the Bible ( as a book) but I love to challenge my thinking. Glad you are there with your mom!!