Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ignorance vs Willful Ignorance

Greta Christina has a post today called CSI: Deuteronomy, that reminded me of a discussion I had with Nigel one night in which I claimed that religious people today are actually MORE stupid than religious people of ancient times. Nigel disagreed and it ended up being one of the few times I've gone to sleep angry and frustrated with him.

Consider the following from GC's post:
...I have to remember the time and place this was written, and not judge people with a Bronze Age view of the world from my own modern perspective. They didn't have the information or understanding about how the world works that we have today, but that didn't necessarily make them stupid or crazy. Grossly mistaken, yes, but not stupid or crazy.

This was exactly what I was trying to say in my discussion with Nigel, but didn't phrase well enough to make my point.

People today have information and the ability to find information that just wasn't around 2000 plus years ago, or even just 100 years ago. I can understand and sympathize with those who invented gods to explain the mysteries of their world. They weren't idiots. They weren't delusional. They were simply ignorant. This is not an insult, simply a statement that they did not have the tools needed to reach an informed conclusion.

Today, however, the religious seem to have embraced willful ignorance. The information is there. It is easily accessible. Yet many, if not most, of them deliberately choose to remain ignorant and continue using goddidit as an acceptable explanation for the way our world works, even though many of these ways are no longer mysteries, but have been adequately explained using scientific methods. There are still many mysteries, but the only thing that can be said of them by science is that we cannot YET explain them.

Willful ignorance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of natural explanations for the working of the world is worse than simple ignorance due to a lack of information. Therefore, I stand firm in my claim that today's religious folk who very deliberately choose to remain ignorant are MORE idiotic than those of centuries and millenia past, who had no such choice.