Don’t violate the 9th commandment because you’re too lazy to read

I’m a serial non-commenter. It doesn’t mean I don’t read other people’s blogs — I do. I just don’t always have something to say. Often when I do comment it’s because someone — usually a theist — has violated the 9th commandment. If they make a false scientific claim I can verify that claim with a short series of clicks on my computer. Even without my access to a university credential to hundreds of scientific databases and scholarly journals, google is still a magical tool for fact checking. This post is to underscore the importance of being intellectually honest about your own weakness areas and how to talk about them.

I’m no polymath. I lack any discernible knowledge in Nanoengineering. I’m weak in Herpetology. I don’t know the first thing about Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Therefore, when discussing these fields with someone, I go to great lengths to avoid misrepresenting what these fields say about their respective topics. Prior to discussing, for example, non-linear electrodynamic coupling, I will review the literature to get at least a basic understanding of this phenomenon. In this specific example, I actually have a friend who wrote his Ph.D dissertation on this topic, so I might also call him up to discuss the field and ask for direction towards books or academic articles that will help me explain this phenomenon. I will not merely try to fill in the gaps of my understanding with guesswork and pass it off as fact.

But this is where some people — again, usually theists — encounter problems. I’ve read possibly hundreds of blog posts by theists who make scientific claims (often that “prove” god exists or something along those lines). But when I fact check them by reading about what science actually says about a topic, it becomes apparent that they don’t know the first thing about the field of science they are referencing.

Often I’ll google their claim directly and find a link to a creationist’s website. The source might have a shiny pseudoscientific veneer, but it lacks any credibility in actual science. In other words, it becomes evident that the theist blogger making these claims is just regurgitating intellectually dishonest work and passing it off as scientific research.

Listen, you don’t have to have an education to be able to explain scientific topics. You don’t have to have a Ph.D or even a B.A. to take part in the discussion. But you do need at least a basic understanding of a topic in order to have something to say. Don’t make a Not even wrong argument. If you don’t understand a topic well enough to be able to accurately explain it, stay out of the discussion until you have a better understanding. Although I am focussing mainly on theists making claims about god or cosmology or biology, this applies equally to atheists and, well, every human being alive.

And finally, we atheists often tell theists it’s up to them to provide evidence, but I think we also have an ethical responsibility to do some fact checking and lead them to what science actually says about their chosen topic. It’s rather simple to do. A couple minutes of clicking and typing, and you’ll find a wealth of knowledge about that topic, and I doubt god is ever the answer. Do what I do: Be relentless, even if it makes them feel ashamed. Don’t sit back and allow them to violate their own 9th commandment in such a way that it bastardizes and misrepresents science. Also, by doing so you’ll be exposed to more of that beautiful little thing called knowledge.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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4 Responses to Don’t violate the 9th commandment because you’re too lazy to read

  1. Tai East says:

    Your title for this post immediately caught my eye, so I had to read it. And although, I am a Christian which I guess makes me a theist, I understood exactly what you were saying and I even agree with you to some degree. You’re entitled to your opinion, and please know that it’s not my intention to offend you in any way when I say this, but believing in GOD and being a Christian isn’t so much about explaining facts as it is about having an encounter with GOD. For a person who doesn’t believe and who hasn’t experienced GOD on a personal and intimate level, it’s so easy not to believe and it even makes sense not to. And I say that because me being a Christian and believing in GOD with my whole heart, I know and understand that sometimes life will throw you that curveball that rocks your entire world and you wonder where is the GOD in that. I can’t speak for every Christian, but for me personally, I have had divine, intimate moments in THE PRESENCE of GOD, and I know that HE exists. So, no matter what life throws my way, I remember those priceless moments with HIM and I just know that HE’S with me. GOD didn’t promise us a life full of sunshine and rainbows, but HE did promise to protect us and be with us through our storms of life. (John 16:33 AMP- I have told you these things, so that in ME you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer, take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.) So, for me, GOD is not something that you can explain with pure facts. I believe that in order for one to truly believe in the essence of HIM being a reality in their hearts or in their lives, that HE has to be felt and experienced. And if you’ve never had that, then you naturally want and expect the facts for it all to make sense. I believe that a person has the right to live their lives however they see fit, whether it be as an atheist or a theist. But, I have to be honest with you, I’m praying that you have one of the moments with GOD, so it will all make sense to you without all of the “facts”, and maybe you’ll remember this moment that I shared with you that made it so. I usually end my “rants” with “Blessings to you!”, but I don’t want to offend you, so I’ll just say BEST WISHES to you! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Don't violate the 9th commandment because you're too lazy to read | Christians Anonymous

  3. Actually atheism is the total rejection of science, reason and modernity.

    Evidence means nothing to the atheist, either.

    Since science has proven the existence of God, atheism is dead.

    So who is it who really is an atheist and what kind of mind must they have to reject the fabric and make-up of the modern world?

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