November 5, 2015

Teh Crazie - Ben Carson Edition

Although I've written before that as an either/or assessment it's rather harsh, I have to say that Abul'-Ala' al-Ma'arri was exactly right when describing some of the more fervently religious among us.  As a reminder, al-Ma'arri wrote:
There are two types of people on Earth:
Those who have reason without religion,
And those who have religion but lack reason.
Born and died about a thousand years ago in what is now Syria, he also wrote that religion is "a fable invented by the ancients" and:
Do not suppose the statements of the prophets to be true; they are all fabrications. Men lived comfortably till they came and spoiled life. The sacred books are only such a set of idle tales as any age could have and indeed did actually produce.
His offenses against religion a thousand years ago were so great that in 2013 the Al Nusra Front beheaded a statue of him.

Faith is one thing.  As George Carlin says, it's like a lift in your shoes.  If it makes you walk straight and feel better, fine.  But beyond that, I have to add that once it gets in the way of reason, of rational thought, that's when al-Ma'arri begins to make sense.

With that in mind, let's start with the most recent (kind of) anti-intellectual thing that prominent neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate had to say:
Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday night confirmed his belief that the pyramids in Egypt were built for grain storage by Joseph, the Biblical figure who helped the Egyptians survive famine, even though archaeologists have concluded that the pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs.

"My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain," Carson said in a 1998 speech surfaced by Buzzfeed News on Wednesday. "Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain."
CBS has more on Carson's narrative source:
What Carson has in mind here is the seven years of plenty in Egypt, referred to in Genesis, when "Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure." In the Bible, Joseph fed Egypt and the rest of the world during the seven years of drought that followed.
This is described in Genesis 41: 41-57.  If you look carefully at the text, it's a span of about 14 years - 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine.  7 + 7 = 14.  Simple.

Now let's look at the facts.  Archeologists have found about 118 Egyptian pyramids ranging from the Pyramid of Djoser from the 27th Century BCE to the Pyramid of Ahmose, the last known royal pyramid in Egypt, dating from about 1550 BCE.

However you count that, that's wa-a-a-a-a-ay more than 14 years.  Were all those 100+ pyramids used for grain storage?  Were they built before or during the 7 years of plenty described by Scripture?  How?  And then after the famine, how did all the stuff that the archeologists actually find in those pyramids get in there?

Carson never says.  And yet he's sure that he's right.  So which is it?   Which one is right?  Carson's beliefs or the conclusions of the world's Egyptologists?  One side has science to back it up and the other has a very very old book.

I'll let you figure out which one I think is right.

Let's move on to something else from Genesis.  In late October of 2015, Ben Carson tweeted this:
It is important to remember that amateurs built the Ark and it was the professionals that built the Titanic.
Let's step over the obvious criticism (that one has to take it as a matter of faith the existence of Noah's arc while it's a simple historical fact that Titanic actually existed) and look at what the good Dr is trying to say.  It's this: The experts failed while the amateurs succeeded.  That's the important part of the story to Ben Carson and it's nothing more than a statement of anti-intellectualism.

Not only that, but it's a statement that requires the assumption as true something for which there is no evidence - that Noah and his arc actually existed.  His whole argument rests on a bubble of nothing but faith and when faith replaces reason, that's always a bad sign.

Finally we have this:
The retired right-wing neurosurgeon, known for his off-the-wall ideas about a great number of issues, called the science surrounding the big bang “ridiculous,” and added in reference to evolution, “I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary.”

In context, “the adversary” appears to refer to Satan.
Evolution is a concept that came from Satan as a way to get people to not believe in God.  That's basically the idea Dr Carson is propounding.  Nothing about whether it's true, nothing about whether its evidence is solid, whether its reasoning is valid.  No.  Just that it was designed to get between the faithful and the faith.

I'll leave it to Richard Dawkins to respond:
“You’ve just told me that all the Republican candidates except one say they don’t believe in evolution. I mean that’s a disgrace,” Dawkins said. “But for a senior, a very eminent distinguished doctor, as he is, to say that — it’s even worse, because, of course, evolution is the bedrock of biology. And biology is the bedrock of medicine.”

The atheist leader when on to say that it is especially problematic that a doctor as prominent as Carson doesn’t understand the “fundamental theorem of his own subject.”

“That is a terrible indictment,” Dawkins said.
Yes, it is.  When faith replaces reason as a mechanism of decision making, there's nothing but trouble ahead.

The fact that Dr Ben Carson is so popular among GOP voters is frightening for that party and, sadly, the nation as a whole.


Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

"evolution is the bedrock of biology. And biology is the bedrock of medicine.”
So there were no advancements in medicine before Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life."

Ol' Froth said...

You are a very stupid and ignorant man Heir.

Zeus0209 said...

No theory will ever be said to offer 100% certainty. Once that is understood, its all about source credibility reinforced by repeated trials of that theory. Science must therefore acquiesce that the theory of evolution is not and will never be absolute. Same with the theory of gravity. Or the theory that the pyramids were built for grain storage. Or the theory that amateur ship engineering and construction may be superior to professional ship engineering and construction. Or the theory that a devil made Darwin write a book.

wilting green tablespoons emptied the woodchucks ashtray.