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September 03, 2008



I'm not sure what this proves as they mostly aren't questions of rationality. After all David Icke presumably believes some of those things too. But his belief in the reptiles from outer space did - I think rightly - gnaw away at my confidence in his other utterances.


I think one can still make a pretty strong case for the "creationist = irrational" part though.


@Sanbikinoraion - yes, you can certainly do that. What you can't do is say = anti-creationist = rational.
@ Matthew - the point is that it proves nothing. Just that you can't automatically infer someone's political views from their religious fundamentalism.



"After all David Icke presumably believes some of those things too"

As, no doubt, do you. So your point is? Oh a gratuitous and irrational side-swipe at religion? Thanks, I've gotcha.


So that also means that 71.5% don't believe the Bible is the literal word of God; including the majority of Christians.

Is it possible that some time this century we can lose the atheist/secular Straw Man that claims all Christians are fundamentalists who believe in Creationism? Catholics aren't. Methodists aren't. Anglican/Episcopalians aren't. A few snake handlers in Tennessee and similar types are.

John Meredith

Staggering that it is possible to believe in the literal truth of the Bible but not to hold that homosexuality is wrong. Do you think that subset has read the holy book?


John Meridith

What answers people give to surveys like this quite often reflect what they would like to influence rather than what they believe.


Why on earth should we pay heed to people who believe in a virgin birth and a resurrection?


And transubstantiation of biscuits?


Oh Dearieme do grow up and leave the JCR. Everyone, even you, has beliefs that other people consider fatuous/evil/irrational/nonsensical/farcical. Or are religious beliefs unique in that respect? If so, then you're vaunted Reason would have seemed to have departed for a well deserved vacation.


"Why on earth should we pay heed to people who believe in a virgin birth and a resurrection?"

You don't. The election is in the USA not the UK. And the important word there is election: it sort of provides that thing called a choice.

So you're not really going to be oppressed by her beliefs, are you? Even though you seem to wish for that victimhood.


And in one respect, fundamentalists have quite leftist opinions. 66.8% think the state does too little to help the poor - much the same proportion as among non-believers.

So they're exactly the same as non-believers.

In other words, they're not "leftist" in the sense of "to the left of the population as a whole".

Further, if a position is held by the majority of the population, shouldn't that make it "centrist"?


Is your link to the study correct, btw?

I don't really understand your point now. You say, "What you can't do is say = anti-creationist = rational." But who is saying that? Oliver Kamm wasn't, was he? Being anti-creationist is no different from being anti-SantaClausist, and no-one would argue that says anything about your other views. Do you mean 'on that point' only? I

Recustant - Blimey, I think you might have got me confused with someone else. I was talking about David Icke and whether Chris's survey questions were a good measure of 'rationality'.


Thanks Matthew - link is fixed.


"Oliver Kamm wasn't, was he?"

No, he was saying "believer in creationism = believer in conspiracies = irrational = unfit for high office." No argument with step 2 to 3. But as someone already pointed out, step 1 to 2 is a non sequitur and if it is understood that irrationalities exist within us all, step 3 to 4 is also a non sequitur.

Larry Teabag

Step 2 to 4 would do, or for that matter straight from 1 to 4.

tim f

John M - there are very few passages in the bible that talk about homosexuality. (In comparison, there is passage on passage which talks about the oppression of the poor.) There's Leviticus, where there's a strong argument it's part of the purity codes which Acts makes clear no longer apply. There's a passage in Corinthians where there has been a long debate about what the word actually means because it doesn't appear anywhere else - it has conveniently been translated as homosexual but in other traditions has been translated as masturbation! There's a passage in 1 Timothy where it refers to the practice of castrating and abusing young boys - that should be understood as rape, not homosexuality. Basically it all boils down to one passage in Romans. In Corinth where Paul wrote Romans, a particular kind of sexual behaviour - sexual orgies featuring temple prostitution, which happened to be homosexual - was commonplace. The argument is whether in this context the criticism of homosexuality means homosexuality in general or just this particular practice. So in fact the subset you talk about may have read the Bible in more depth than some of those who believe homosexuality is wrong.

Believing that the Bible is the word of God does not mean you have to accept every facet of the "traditional" interpretation of it. An in-depth study of the bible makes many aspects of Americanised-Christian-religion look silly anyway (eg prosperity gospel).

Similarly I don't see how biblical literalism necessarily means accepting creationism. The idea that a "day" refers to 24 hours in the creation account is pretty incompatible with the part in the story which says the sun was created on the third day, no? Clearly if we are going to translate the relevant word as "day", we need to ditch the idea that "day" just means 24 hours.

I believe the bible is the word of God. I'm also happy to use the slogan "as early as possible, as late as necessary" in reference to abortion. I support redistribution of wealth, oppose immigration controls, try to support workers participating in direct action including strikes, etc. I might not be the most left-wing person in the world but it would be laughable to say I'm not to the left of the population as a whole.

I'd suggest the results of the survey indicate a cultural bias rather than a necessary connection between belief in the Bible and right-wing views.

Hilary Wade

Some time ago I met a man who had become a creationist, or said he had. This man is a scientist who took a spectacularly good First. I don't know if he was just being mischievous, or a complete creative maverick - as some first rate scientists are. I didn't argue with him, because he would have made philosophical mincemeat of me & also I suspect many of the posters on the Kamm thread. Anyhow it hasn't made him any less rational, or less good at his job.

My view is, pupils at fifth or sixth form level ought to learn about the anthropic principle, so they can start to perceive the limits, and at the same time the open-endedness, of science. It stops them getting complacent, and gives them something to think about. However, it would be easy for detractors to portray this as teaching ID.


dearime, you pay heed to such people firstly because in democracies their votes count as much as anyone else's - much as one might have to pay heed to the many ctizens who are stupid - and secondly, because they might be right on other issues - would you ignore a warning that the bridge was out simply because it came from a fundamentalist?

Bob B

The literal word of God? Hmmm. Try this on "the number of the beast . .":


I've been thinking about this for some time: I don't think the US can survive the death of Biblical literalism.

Right now 40% of those serving in the army are evangelicals, and knowing how evangelicals are about describing themselves, I'd assume the percentage is probably closer to 50%, maybe even 60%.

Furthermore, as a writer in Comment is Free noted, 90% of all non-profit charity towards the poor in the UK is done by religious organizations. I can safely tell you that in the US liberal charities throw money at technology and trendier stuff, incl. trends that "help" the poor like needle-sharing, but there's a major reason why the faith-based initiative even came up in the first place. The motivation to help others is something that enlightened self-interest has not really found a sure way of replacing; it has ways, but nothing like "in the next life, you will be treated as you treated others here."

Why is any of this dependent on Biblical literalism? Because - and this is what I'd like to see research on, it is just my suspicion - fervor decreases dramatically the second you can question whether or not the Bible is literally true. If you start opening up those questions, then you have to answer them. If you have to answer them, that's time spent away from getting into the kingdom of heaven, time spent away from working for God and country.

Now the question emerges whether in a larger sense rationality takes seriously the survival of one who is rational. Modern thought assumes rationality and self-interest are one, but pre-modern thought held that those who were most rational were ascetics. Socrates was considered rational not because he was designing catapults but because he could restrain his urges. Archimedes had power through knowledge but wasn't terribly extravagant. Self-interest via property rights doesn't seem to characterize those who were rational, once: perhaps this is what Nietzsche means when he talks about thinking too much about an issue and dying through failing to act.


The problem with fundamental christians isn't so much that they're irrational, but rather that they expect anyone else to be convinced by their arguments. Very few people have a problem with those who are able (or at least attempt) to lock their irrational beliefs away in the dark corners of their mind when engaging in intelligent conversation.

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