Don't confuse me with the facts.
Some people have an amazing ability to entirely disconnect contradictory beliefs or values. They can look at evidence which proves themselves wrong and walk away unfazed. Their theory of life is something along the lines of: “I know what I believe so don’t confuse me with the facts.”
No where is this astounding ability more apparent then when it is applied to religious faith. I well remember some religious types (fundamentalists) who descended on me one day while I was working. They wished to convert me. Surprise, surprise. One argument they offered is that the Bible was infallible and had no contradictions.
What is a contradiction? Well, here is an example. You met a friend, Sam. He tells you has never seen your other friend Suzy. You are surprised. You thought he had. So you ask: “Are you sure you never met Suzy?” He assures you he is. You verify that you are talking about the same Suzy even. And then he says: “Well the last time I saw Suzy she was wearing that red dress she likes so much.”
“Hold on,” you yell. “A second ago you said you never saw Suzy, ever. Now you say that in fact you did see Suzy and she was wearing the red dress when it happened. You are contradicting yourself.”
He says: “No, I’m not.”
Now what? He simply refuses to acknowledge that this is a contradiction. In most cases you would assume a screw loose. So it was with these fundamentalists. I noted that the Bible says that God is a spirit and that “no man hath seen God”. They agreed that was the case. No one has ever seen God they said. Now we didn’t delve into the idea that Jesus is God and thus anyone who says they saw Jesus saw God. They would argue that the first verse meant God the Father not God the Son -- convenient having several deities who are one but separate (contradiction).
They also agreed that Moses was a man. But the Bible says Moses spoke to God “face to face”. It also says that Moses “saw the hindparts of God”. I think that means he saw God’s butt. So one moment they are face to face and the other “cheek to cheek” or something like that. But it clearly says that Moses and Jehovah had a chat and that Moses saw God.
These two young men agreed that was accurate. So no man has seen God but Moses who is a man did see God. I suggested this was a contradiction. They both said: “No, it isn’t.” And they held firmly to the belief it was not a contradiction. I would ask: “Why isn’t that a contradiction?” The answer: “Because it isn’t.”
We never got any further than that. They refused to explain how they define contradiction and they refused to explain why these two opposite claims were not opposites at all. They just asserted it wasn’t. It couldn’t be since the Bible is infallible. Infallible means there would be no contradictions. So any contradictions you find can’t be contradictions because the Bible is infallible. And you know the Bible is infallible because there are no contradictions. And around and around we go and where we stop no body knows.
What reminded me of that story was an article in the New York Times regarding Marcus Ross, a fundamentalist nutter affiliated with Jerry Falwell and his faux university at Lynchburg.
Apparently Ross studied paleontology and all his academic work was scientifically spot on. He discussed species that existed on earth millions of years ago. In fact he discussed species living millions of years before he thinks there were any species or any earth to live upon. Ross is a fundamentalist nutter. He was already infested with Jesus-think before he went to university. And he insists the Bible teaches the world is not more than 10,000 years old. And since that book says it and that book is true the earth did not exist millions of years ago. And therefore no species existed here millions of years ago.
Contradiction? Obviously. Ross says it isn’t. He says he is merely working in two paradigms -- two contradictory paradigms. If Sam said he never met Suzy in one paradigm but did met her into another paradigm you would give him his meds and tell him to rest.
Ross has written papers about things happening tens of millions of years ago. Tens of millions of years before he says there was anything to happen. Asked about this he says: “I did not imply or deny any endorsement of the dates.” What?
November 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy is shot in Dallas. I have written that. I said that Kennedy was killed in Dallas on that specific date. Now if I were to say that by writing that I am not implying or denying that I endorse that date what does that mean? In fact take the Ross theory of logic and apply it to all the facts contained in that one sentence.
I am neither implying or denying the date in question, the person in question (JFK) or the location in question. I am merely writing something without saying whether it has any meaning whatsoever. Ross is stripping every sentence he makes of all meaning and content. He neither implies nor denies when he says something.
Now he studied paleontology. When he writes about paleontology he writes the facts as they are best understood by paleontologists. But he goes out and promotes creationism using his paleontology degree to endorse the theories he himself won’t use when acting like a paleontologist.
Fundamentalists are like the woman who is beaten by her husband but insists he really, really loves her. Giving her a black eye is proof. She ignores the evidence to the contrary. Worse yet she takes that evidence and twists it inside-out so that it means the very opposite of what it means.
She has so much emotionally invested in her “marriage” that she won’t accept, can’t accept, anything that indicates it is a sham. So she either ignores the facts, “Oh, I just fell down the stairs” or she twists them, “It is how he shows his love to me.” Her very identity is defined by her relationship with this abusive, violent man.
So if something happens it is her fault not his. It doesn’t happen when it does. It means something it doesn’t mean. She has lots of way to justify her situation and avoid the uncomfortable truth that she needs a divorce and he needs jail time.
Fundies married Jesus, the Bible, Jehovah and a host of associated doctrines. Just like Ross and his paleontology or the abused wife and her husband they have many coping mechanisms that allow them to turn a blind eye to the truth.