Fundamentalist Education

Over at Pharyngula, PZ presents this appalling video:

and points out

The really awful pedagogy. Over and over again, the creationist says some stock phrase and then pauses, waiting for his kids to fill in the missing word. This is simply demanding rote learning. Similarly, he leads the kids in asking a good question — “how do you know?” — while training them to ignore any answers. Right there on the wall is a description of radiometric dating methods, for instance, and they turn their back on it.

This seems to be of a piece with other fundamentalist traits. The oft-repeated assertion that morality and human rights come from God. Appeals to the Bible. Attempts to disprove evolution by discrediting Charles Darwin (or Richard Dawkins, or PZ Myers, or whoever’s the antichrist this week).


The unifying thread here seems to be the notion that all learning is handed down from above, and not something that you can work out for yourself. That mere humans are capable of looking at their society and improving it a little bit.

In a word, these people are authoritarians. Everything has to be sanctioned by The Authority: things learned in school are true because the teacher said so, who got it from the priests, who got it from God. Human rights exist not because a group of fallible humans got together and agreed that it would be nice if everyone could speak their mind, but because God granted them.

And, of course, they project their thought patterns onto others (as we all do), and assume that when scientists say that evolution is true, it’s because they’re members of a different tribe, one that gets its knowledge, laws, and morals from Charles Darwin.

So how does one fix this sort of mindset? Sadly, I don’t know.

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5 Responses to Fundamentalist Education

  1. Cyde Weys says:

    Speaking of the religious people thinking all rights come directly from God, here’s a bizarre outlook that I heard on ham radio the other day (though it’s all too common amongst the religious, I suspect). He said that the rights granted to the people in the Constitution are God-given rights, that they are granted directly from God and merely recognized as such in the Constitution. The whole concept is ludicrous, of course — how are you supposed to know which things in the Bible are rights and which aren’t — but I especially enjoyed how he thought that the right to bear arms was a God-given right. I’ve never heard anyone make that claim before.

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  2. Fez says:

    Cyde Weys,

    he thought that the right to bear arms was a God-given right. I’ve never heard anyone make that claim before.

    You’ve obviously been restricting yourself to the better rent areas of the Intartubes then. It’s a popular talking point in the neoconservative slums.

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  3. arensb says:

    Cyde:

    that I heard on ham radio

    Given the religious topic, I first misread “ham” as “Ham”, as in Ken Ham.

    But I’d be interested in knowing where the Bible discusses firearms.

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  4. Fez says:

    But I’d be interested in knowing where the Bible discusses firearms.

    Or women’s suffrage😀

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  5. arensb says:

    Or women’s suffrage

    Hm. That’s an odd one: on one hand, nowhere that I’m aware of does the Bible mention any kind of democracy; it just seems to assume that monarchy is the best or only form of government.

    OTOH, it’s also trivial to find passages that portray women as inferior, so presumably if there were any discussion of women’s suffrage, the Bible would be against it.

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