Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Two way street

People take many different lessons from school. Although I was busy with other things, one of the lessons I nevertheless picked up on from others, is that if you can’t be cool, you can at least attempt to gain notoriety by making a complete ass of yourself. These were the kids flinging peas across the cafeteria at lunch and pulling pranks.

Yet, as you’d expect, such ill bought fame, comes at a price. Aside from the obvious detentions that school children get, many soon felt the stinging realization that no one was laughing with them, they were laughing at them and in reality, they had no respect.

But strangely enough, this lesson is one that a large number of adults seem to have missed.

Today, we see grown men putting on strawmen puppet shows of science and then wondering what went wrong and growing indignant when scientists laugh at them. Eventually their anger that their antics aren’t well received, drives them to forget the other part of the lesson most learned in elementary school:

Respect is not given; It’s earned.

If creationists and ID proponents want to be taken seriously and respected as scientists, they should do science instead of the mocking antics with which we’re so familiar.

But far be it from the creationists and ID proponents to be the only ones in the religious world that have missed this lesson.

It seems that every world religion today is demanding their bit of unearned respect. Earlier this year it was Muslims throwing a fit about their laws not being followed by people in other countries who don’t follow their god.

Now it’s Christians crying that they are not being respected because a piece of historical fiction has made it to the silver screen. Even high ranking Vatican officials like Cardinal Francis Arinze are getting their panties in a knot and threatening to sue because he believes legal action “ can be taken in order to get the other person to respect the rights of others.”

However, I’ve never seen any government, nor even the bible giving credence to the claim that there is somehow an inherent right to respect. Yet that doesn’t stop him from claiming it’s “one of the fundamental human rights.”

But many realize that the courts won’t uphold that fictitious right. So it seems that some are calling for a global religious tribunal to impose sanctions on countries when others feel that they didn’t get treated with respect they haven’t earned. So much for freedom of speech.

Again, if the religious fanatics want some respect, they should earn it? How? For the creationists and ID proponents: do some real science. To the religious that think their dogma needs some respect: Drop the bits that make no sense instead of wearing them as a badge of honor.

Until you can do these things, people are going to laugh at you and mock you. You’ve asked for it. And they have every right to, as Scott Adams (the creator of the Dilbert comics) points out in his blog.

As he puts it:
I respect the Mormons for doing a great job of creating good citizens. Whatever they’re doing seems to be working. You rarely hear about a gang of violent Mormons terrorizing a town. But must I also respect their practice of wearing special underpants to ward off evil?

He goes on to point out that such nonsensical beliefs should be mocked because without a good bit of mockery, there would be no limits on the stupid things people would come up with. As he says:
I’ve never seen anyone change his mind because of the power of a superior argument or the acquisition of new facts. But I’ve seen plenty of people change behavior to avoid being mocked.

Although I’ve (on rare occasion) seen people give up their cherished fantasies in the face of overwhelming evidence, it’s far more common for someone to cling to their ideologies because they prefer not to stick out like a sore thumb.

As H.L. Mencken put it:
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

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