Creationists and Curiosity

Terry Firma doesn’t think the creationists who held up questions about evolution (in that Buzzfeed set of photos last week) were really interested in the answers.

Just (Not) Curious: When Creationists Ask Questions, Are They Interested In the Answers?

It finally occurred to me that asking questions is not at all the same as displaying curiosity. Curiosity implies wanting to know. Some questions, however, are posed to achieve almost the opposite. They are ideological stands, markers of obstinacy presented under the guise of open inquiry.

They’re not about wanting to know; they’re about wanting to stubbornly assert doctrine.

Look at those photos and at the questions the Creationists scrawled on that sketchpad. I don’t want to be harsh, but I’m not sure that what I’m seeing is curiosity.

“How do you explain a sunset if [there] is no God?”

“If we come from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”

Because if they really wanted to know they could spend 5 minutes of Googling, or an hour reading a book, and find the answers to their questions.

My bleak suspicion is that many of the people in the photos have not actually attempted in earnest to get past a sixth-grader’s understanding of the issues. If they’d read just the first few chapters of Evolution For Dummies even once, rather than the first chapter of the Bible over and over, their questions would already have been answered.

Firma quotes a recent book by science journalist Philip Ball that the underlying issue is that, to some faithful, curiosity is not a virtue, but a weakness.

The central problem with curiosity was that it was thought to be motivated by excessive pride. The accumulation of pointless learning ran the risk not that one would become another Lucifer, but that one would primp and preen rather than bow one’s head before the Lord. … Curiosity, like scepticism, was a sign that you lacked devotion and faith.

Thus does religion perpetuate itself by shielding adherents from interest (and sometimes complete awareness) in the outside world.

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