From high flyer to religious liar

Gary Ablett Sr., for shame. You’re a footballer. A true great of the AFL game. You are, in your own words, “no scientist.” So what gives you the right to write an ignorant screed against humanism, atheism, evolution and science in general, in a major newspaper?

Oh, did I say write? I mean plagiarise and repeat decades-old fallacies and lies. Like the fantastic “Peanut butter disproves evolution” argument:

A human stem cell. Photo: Imperial College London

I’m off to burn my biology textbooks after that – why didn’t they tell me about the peanut butter proof?

In addition to confusing abiogenesis with evolution (which is particularly amusing, if you read the second sentence of the wiki article on abiogenesis) and repeating lies about a lack of data supporting evolutionary theory (sounds familiar), Ablett blames the perceived moral decline of society on atheism and humanism, suggesting that if everyone was more Christian, it’d get better.

“Unfortunately, Western civilisation has embraced the “lie” of evolution as fact, and we have been completely blinded to the profound effect and impact it is having upon our society and nation.” – Gary Ablett Sr.

Yeah, it sucks that people use empirical data, logic, hypothesis generation and testing across a wide range of fields to come up with an understanding of the world around us. It’s much better to stick wholly and literally with with the contents of a poorly substantiated, internally inconsistent set of writings accumulated in a time when people, among many other things, didn’t even know Australia existed, or what a cell is.

My recent irritated post about Ray Comfort’s attempt to mangle Darwin’s work attracted some rebukes from friends who don’t agree with Christian literalist teachings and don’t like being tarred with the same brush. Yet the following day, an ignorant article attacking science, from someone completely unqualified to comment, is published by a major news vendor, presumably because they think it to be of interest to a significant number of people in Australia. Indeed, there are many supportive comments on the story.

Gary Ablett Sr. is obviously as committed to biblical literalism and Christianity as he was to his footy. He follows, to a greater extent than many people who identify as Christian, the teachings of the Bible. Moderate or liberal Christians might shake their heads at the nonsense spouted by Comfort and Ablett Sr., but they still pray to the same god, based on the writings of the same, single, ancient book. They validate faith as a position and make the intellectual climate hospitable for DunKs to blame secularism for everything wrong with society, to spread misinformation to the gullible and uninformed, and to lie about and misrepresent well-established, fundamental science.

To me, faith seems to be a license to believe whatever you want about anything, with no regard to its connection with reality. The level of cognitive dissonance a person can tolerate determines how faithful they are to their religion or ideology. Am I wrong?

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Categories: Problems, Science, Things people do | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “From high flyer to religious liar

  1. Nathan

    I think your definition of faith is probably pretty accurate.

    Although, most people simply resolve their cognitive dissonance with self delusion and rationalisation and it doesn’t really impact their ability to believe… I mean, maybe God just made it look like evolution because .

    People rarely remain in a state of dissonance for long… they either choose a side, change their model, or invent a needlessly convoluted solution to explain the inconsistencies.

    Needlessly convoluted solutions are my favorite kind. Who says reality should be appropriately simple?

    • Yeah, why trust data and observation if you can invent a cosmic twiddler to interfere with it without you being about to detect?

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Noodly Appendage is long and limber.

      I have a feeling that dissonance does persist for some, even the most devout – Ray Comfort writes about atheism and evolution *all the time*, so it obviously plays on his mind.

  2. this

    “So please bear with me as I may need to get quite technical to get my message across.”

    is too funny. That article pissed me off, so much so i had to tell you David.

    “To me, faith seems to be a license to believe whatever you want about anything, with no regard to its connection with reality.”

    I have a problem with you saying this David because of your consistent aversion to the idea of truth (i.e. your favourite quote :S) and because of that discussion we had about man’s ability to perceive reality correctly, to which you insisted he can’t (using visual allusions as an example :S).

    I don’t understand where you stand in general but as an emotional response to that article i can appreciate your post.

    Chad

    • Haha, yeah, “quite technical” and he brings out the peanut butter.

      I feel we’ve always been arguing across each other on the idea of truth. I agree in the existence of an objective reality which does not depend on an observer. However I think that what we can comprehend is always a ‘model’ of reality, which can be very accurate if interpreted correctly but can rarely resolve in absolute detail.

      I think you’d agree with that in general. Let me use an analogy: you have a computer code running a simulation of a moderately complex system, which is being displayed on a graphic screen. If you have the code, and can watch it processing, you know *exactly* what is going on and why. If you are watching an output, you can achieve a high level of precision in terms of observing the simulation and possibly even predicting what will happen and why, but can’t be 100% sure you know the underlying code perfectly. Because the world around us is so complex and has so many variables, our ability to observe and understand any major system in it will not be complete.

      That’s not to say that we can’t achieve an understanding of reality that is, functionally, true. I just don’t think it’s possible for us to have a complete understanding of every possible variable in an observation we make. That’s where a scientific approach kicks in, to weed out our errors and improve the robustness of the model of understanding we have.

      Does that make my position any clearer?

  3. If the world was such a peace-loving place before Darwin dared publish his thoughts on evolution, why did God have to keep smiting and flooding and killing himself/his-son in order to try and re-boot his flawed design?

  4. I have let the Media Watch team know that the article was plagiarised so perhaps this will get allot more coverage in the mainstream media :)
    http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/

  5. @ Andy: Clearly, he’s on an unstable Windows platform…

    @ Jayson: Sweet! I hope they pick it up.

    • I’m on a Mac myself but this week it appears to be running a Windows emulation – crash, crash, crash :(

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