Crap Thinking

Anthony Grayling talks about pretty much the same thing, also taking off from the survey that found all those creationists and IDers.

…a significant proportion of university entrants today are…less literate, less numerate, less broadly knowledgeable, and less reflective. At the same time education has been infected by post-modern relativism and the less desirable effects of “political correctness”, whose combined effect is to encourage teachers to accept, and even promote as valid alternatives, the various superstitions and antique belief-systems constituting the multiplicity of different and generally competing religions represented in our multicultural society…The key to the weakening of intellectual rigour that all this represents is that enquiry is no longer premised on the requirement that belief must be proportional to carefully gathered and assessed evidence. The fact that “faith” is enough to legitimate anything from superstition to mass murder is not one whit troubling to “people of faith” themselves…

Because they take faith to be a virtue. They take the ability to maintain one’s ‘faith’ and ‘beliefs’ in spite of conflicting evidence to be a sign of strength, and laudable strength at that. And that’s your problem right there – it gets you crap thinking. Thinking that makes a virtue of ignoring evidence is crap thinking.

“With faith anything goes”: here is why the claim that the resurgence of non-rational superstitious belief is a danger to the world. Fundamentalism in all the major religions (and some are fundamentalist by nature) can be and too often is politically infantilising, and in its typical radicalised forms provides utter certainty of being in the right, immunises against tolerance and pluralism, justifies the most atrocious behaviour to the apostate and the infidel, is blind to the appeals of justice let alone mercy or reason, and is intrinsically fascistic and monolithic.

It’s hard to argue right now that fundamentalism is not dangerous. So I won’t bother trying.

More regrettable still, though, is the fact that the civilised quarters of the world are not taking seriously the connection between the world’s current problems and failure to uphold intellectual rigour in education, and not demanding that religious belief be a private and personal matter for indulgence only in the home…As part of the strategy for countering the pernicious effects that faith and dogma can produce, we need to return religious commitment to the private sphere, stop the folly of promoting superstitions and religious segregation in education, demand that standards of intellectual rigour be upheld at all educational levels, and find major ways of reversing the current trend of falling enrolment in science courses. The alternative is a return to the Dark Ages, the tips of whose shadows are coldly falling upon us even now.

Well, that’s what I think. But I don’t have much faith it’s going to happen any time soon.

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