Friday, February 21, 2014

Maybe the Bible Is Why People Still Think the Sun Revolves Around the Earth, Pat Robertson? Naahhh, Can't Be.

On Tuesday, I posted a blow-by-blow account of all the wingnut asshattery in that day's 700 Club.  Turns out I probably could have done the same with Monday's broadcast had I not slept in—hey, it was a holiday!—because there was a load of stuff being shoveled that day, too.  You probably heard about a couple of the juicier items:
  • Because this winter has been a little harsh (climate change means severer weather at all of the extremes), Pat Robertson went on a semi-focused rant about global warming that touched on "Obama's third term" (???), John Kerry, SUVs on Mars (not Jupiter this time)—ultimately landing on a kinda comprehensible although still lunatic argument that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by socialists who are making up "climate change" so they can take control of the energy industry (just like Obama wants to take over the healthcare industry!).  If you're keeping score, "socialist hoax" is now at least Pat's fourth attempt at discrediting global warming, after "it's actually global cooling," "it's a scam by money-hungry scientists," and "it's a myth by occultist environmentalists who worship the Earth."  (Curiously, he's completely forgotten the time when he filmed a commercial for Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection in 2008.)
  • During the "Bring It On" segment (i.e., "Ask Pat"), Robertson said in response to a viewer email that a Wiccan parent was the equivalent of a mother who makes her child deal drugs, or who sells her into prostitution, and the viewer was free to ignore the Fifth Commandment and not honor her mother.
  • Also during the "Bring It On" segment (this part of the program is so frequently a source of our ire/entertainment, because it catches Pat at his unscripted best), a viewer asked if he should tell his wife about an old girlfriend who revealed to him that she was a transsexual, and Pat's initial response was "Keep your mouth shut."  Actually, if you look at the full transcript of Pat's reply, it seems like he's only saying, "There's no reason to complicate your marriage by talking about whatever potentially awkward relationships you had before you met your wife," which perhaps isn't such an unreasonable outlook.  However, the rest of the Internet wants to believe he said it like, "Don't ever, ever talk about your shameful, sinful deed," so I'll play along.
But let me not bury my lede any further.  In the middle of his latest global-warming conniption, and lost in the shuffle of all the coverage given it, Pat brought up this seemingly irrelevant news story—the National Science Foundation conducted a survey finding that a quarter of Americans didn't know the Earth revolves around the Sun.
“One-third of the American people do not realize that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  They think the Sun revolves around the Earth, 'cause they see the Sun come up in the morning and go down at night… It's kind of like the Middle Ages.  You got excommunicated if you suggested that the Earth was round, and you suggested that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  That was heresy.”  [Pat later corrected the part where it was actually one-quarter of respondents.]

Why did Pat bring this up?  He never specifically explains why, but coming as it did amidst his Obama-Kerry-Mars-socialist-hoax-deep-ecology global warming arglebargle, it looks like Pat was attempting to show that there's still a fair amount of scientific illiteracy in this country—and that's why so many people think that climate change is real.

But why oh why would so many citizens of this good upstanding Christian nation still believe the Sun revolves around the Earth?  Might it have something to do with this?:

Joshua 10:13, The Bible

THE SUN STOPPED.   That's how the Bible puts it.  In a country with a considerable evangelical population whose religious leaders promulgate the Bible as the literal truth, is it any wonder that so many might at least mistakenly believe (if not firmly believe) that if "the Sun stopped," then it's the Sun that moves?

And incredibly, Pat brought up the Church's history of excommunicating people for denying the geocentric model—when the Church said the Bible established that the Sun revolves around the Earth. I truly believe Pat was about to compare that handful of scientists who deny climate change to Galileo, when he realized that These stupid people who believe the Sun revolves around the Earth! was about to become That stupid Church which used to believe what the Bible says!  Which is why he immediately dropped this angle right after uttering the word "heresy" and moved on to "socialist hoax."

What it comes down to, ultimately, is that Pat Robertson will grasp at any conceivable straw to attack climate change, embrace any argument that comes down the pike or which pops into his brain at the moment, and ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence for global warming.  And I've just come to realize why: accepting the truth of global warming means that God is not watching over us and protecting us.

But he can't bring himself to say that, because if he were to completely deny all the scientific evidence and rely only on what his Book tells him to think, he would risk making a joke of himself.

(By the way, some on the Right are chortling over the fact that a breakdown of the NSF survey by party and political affiliation [download the PDF file at this site and go to page 7] shows Republicans did better than Democrats on the "does the Earth revolve around the sun" survey—bootstrapping that into arguing that their side is smarter and that religion has nothing to do with any of this.  (Click this link at your own risk.)  But the breakdown also shows that once you put party affiliation aside, liberals outclassed conservatives.  The telling distinction is that the worst-performing cohort by far was conservative Democrats—essentially, Southern (and therefore presumably more evangelical) Democrats who've maintained their party affiliation even as they've voted more Republican in national elections. Going by Wikipedia's numbers, registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans in several solid red states firmly in the Bible Belt, and even in Southern states with fewer Democrats, the voter results of the last few presidential elections have gone Republican beyond the registration differentials.)

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