I don't know if you've ever been privy to it, but one thing that I did deal with as part of my upbringing in a tightly controlled religious environment was apologetics. One night a week, my father would host a small group of people from the church - about six to eight people, on the best nights - and talk them through the nature of how their faith was different to other faiths. It was touched upon, when dad announced it in the church, with a certain sense of morbid awe, the idea that they were going to discuss cults. It was a study like unto some kind of spiritual special forces; this was 'not for everyone,' and 'not your normal bible study.'

Due to my parent's economical situation - despite both parents working, my mother got a terrible wage due to, well, being a woman teaching in a religious school that denigrated women, and then the income was further kicked in the butt by my sister and my attending said crazy religious school - babysitting was just not an option for all but the most special of events. So, since the event was hosted at school, where my mother had a key, and there was a TV in the kindergarten room and my parents were around, I was brought along.

Now, a lot of the time, I didn't mind. Cluedo was on TV in the time slot in question and not only did that have the oddly compelling Ms Scarlet, but there were ads on TV and I got to sit in a room on my own with books sometimes and with paper. It was pretty much just like my bedroom except I'd feel guiltier about jerking off. Yet, eventually, I got bored of watching the TV or doing any of the many things I could do with paper, and I'd wander out and listen in to my dad's talks.

Let me tell you, from the inside, Christian apologetics are a fuckin' trip. I was dealing with grown men and women who were sitting and listening in all seriousness as my father told them the sordid origin story of the Book of Mormon, or the terrifying, cultish programming that you'd undergo in The Moonies.

The thing that sticks in my mind from this is that at no point was a copy of the Book of Mormon cited, or a moony text. There was never any primary-source information that was offered up, only what my dad knew. Now, for the most part, dad never deliberately misrepresented the ideas; and yes, the Mormon history, with its entirely fabricated roots and many layers of obvious con was laughed at, outrightly laughed at, by these fundamentalist christians who believed the world to be four thousand years old.

This is the kind of discourse you deal with when you encounter the 'Christian Intellectuals' ala Ray Comfort. These people sit in echo chambers, and, through assemblied ideas or anecdotal repetition, usually from a lone authoritive source, construct what they think of as arguments. One of the most consistant and elaborate fictions you will find amongst these people is the idea that they are learned.

My father, much like Ray Comfort, does not understand evolution. He does not understand fossilisation or geologic stratification or really, condensation. He has a very simple, schoolboy perspective on such things, where he knows a certain number of tentpost facts, upon which he hangs his knowledge. This is reasonable as a method for learning when you are seven. It's how you learn to slowly fill in the middle areas with understanding - seeing how they connect by seeing the separated points.

The problem is, if you never move beyond this understanding, if your worldview is one where you do not feel the need to fill in these gaps, you strand yourself in a perspective where you never really have a whole and complete grasp of topics. And it is this way that the worst detractors of evolutionary theory profligate their nonsense. To provide as simple and as clear an edict on it as I can: These people impose the gaps in their knowledge as gaps in all knowledge.

When someone asks 'Why isn't there a Crocoduck?' they're doing so because they don't understand what they're asking, and they don't understand why it's stupid. Ray Comfort's vision of evolution is disconnected from the reality of the topic, and is at best a childish permutation of the very elegant, very sensible theory. Such is the way of my father's lessons. Such is the way of Christian study, and I have a suspicion, many forms of non-christian study too.

It was once said of the impossible and much-misinterpreted and misrepeated experiment of Schroedinger's Cat, 'If you're not shocked by it, you haven't understood it.' At the risk of sounding religious about the idea, I think this same structure should be applied to evolution: 'If you don't believe in it, you haven't understood it.'

I wonder how many great and wonderful minds that could have pursued amazing things were stunted at an early age by this mental practice of acceptance and projected ignorance.

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Comment by Fox Lee on November 15, 2009 at 7:14pm
> Remember the basic Christian argument approach: You're Wrong, Therefore Jesus.

I gotta have that in Latin...
Comment by Talen Lee on November 15, 2009 at 6:35pm
Oh good graciousness, absolutely. The number one topic amongst any Christian authors is not how they're right, or why their philosophy is good, but rather, how everyone else is wrong. You'll find that almost every single anti-atheism, anti-catholocism, anti-anyone-but-us book that Christians produce is long on attack, and very, very weak on its actual justification for the individual's perspective. That can work, and in a forum of ideas where all ideas are equally vapid bullshit, it kinda works.

Remember the basic Christian argument approach: You're Wrong, Therefore Jesus.
Comment by Jason Spicer on November 15, 2009 at 1:56pm
Oh my goodness, yes, Mel. I know a number of Christians who are absolutely convinced that all other religions and most other Christian sects are, in fact, cults. It's a huge blind spot for them.

And I don't know why there aren't any crocoducks. All you need is a crockpot and a duck.
Comment by Mel on November 15, 2009 at 12:10pm
I didn't realise Christians wrote books about "cults". How fascinating!
Comment by Fox Lee on November 14, 2009 at 9:56pm
@Duane - Setting aside the questionable reliability of the source, I think you can browse Wikipedia. It just works a little diferently. I can't count the number of times I've looked up something simple on Wikipedia, then spent the next four hours getting lost in a sort of 'Chinese whispers' pattern of related topics, until I'm miles from ferret marking categories, but gosh medieval economic theory is fascinating (so to speak). Since you can start from a random page, that's not at all unlike getting lost in your encyclopaedia.
Comment by Talen Lee on November 14, 2009 at 5:40pm
Typically, my dad's info would come from books written by Christians about the other groups.
Comment by Mel on November 14, 2009 at 12:59pm
"Like button" :D
Where did your Dad get all his info if it wasn't discussions from the primary literature? I'm guessing this was in the Great Dark Age before Wikipedia?

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