Fundamentalist Christians discrediting science


Discussion by: Nash33

I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian church. In the 1940s when I was a teenager, I remember the preacher from time to time would make statements discrediting scientists. Two examples I still remember are: 'scientists say that Bumbees can't fly'. And 'scientists can create a kernel that looks and tastes like corn but will not grow, only God can make things grow'.

Back then we had no Tv and no Internet and no good way to check the truth of any statements. It has been more than 60 years since I have been to church.

my question is, does this practice continue in the US today?


  1. Yes. In my experience, religious teachers continue to teach that scientists don’t know more about the universe than any layman. In fact, many orthodox rabbis continue to teach that scientists twist evidence because they want to do away with god.

    • In reply to #1 by Jay G:

      Yes. In my experience, religious teachers continue to teach that scientists don’t know more about the universe than any layman. In fact, many orthodox rabbis continue to teach that scientists twist evidence because they want to do away with god.

      not really on topic, but: I am not a Jew and don´t really know a lot (I live in Europe, we kind of scared them away I think the last century, besides having murdered a lot of them of course). we hear a lot about the idiocy of Christians and Muslims and their faith in the one deity, here on the forum and elsewhere, but how are things with Jewish-atheism… does it exist? (I´m sure it does): what I mean is, is there a big congregation of atheists in the Jewish community, or is it not done, as opposed to Christian-atheism, which is quite abundant, thank ´god´…

  2. they always will. to take the bumblebee as an example, it took a long time until the technology was available to demonstrate how bumblebees can fly. this has been distorted as you mentioned above.

    the reason is that science exists to study nature. as such the “what science doesn’t know” list actually grows all the time. as Dara O’Brien said, f science knew everything, it’d just stop.

    as long as there are phenomena that “science doesn’t know” there’ll be someone misinterpreting it as science doesn’t believe. it’s getting harder these days with so much information available but as long as there are people lazy enough to accept what they’re fed without checking, people like Bill O’Reilly will get away with saying “tide comes in, tide goes out” like it’s some kind of scientific mystery or invoking the 2nd law of thermodynamics as though scientists would not realise that if a scientific law was somehow violated emperically.

    the sad fact is, charlatans insult their audience with such rhetoric. the tide is turning though, the fact they make more noise is evidence

    • In reply to #2 by SaganTheCat:

      Your post reminded me of this quote:

      “Any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life.” -Wislawa Szymborska


  3. It’s really coming down to volume equals authority, The preacher loudly shouts his certainty while the scientist quietly points out his ignorance. It doesn’t matter that the scientist’s scope of ignorance is vastly smaller than the preacher’s, the scientist’s uncertainty about anything is all the preacher needs to prove the value of his overwhelming certainty in the eyes of a fawning believer.

  4. Two examples I still remember are: ‘scientists say that Bumbees can’t fly’.

    This is just misquoted ignorance by the preacher. Scientists said they could not explain how a bumble-bee or flies could fly, not that the bee could not fly!

    In contrast to early aircraft, the insects fly erratically by constantly correcting their inherent instability. It makes their flight unstable and unpredictable, which has considerable survival potential when a predator is trying to intercept them.

    Newly trained First and Second World-War pilots were told not to fly straight and level for any great distance, as it made them easy targets.

    Modern combat aircraft are similarly designed to be unstable so as to allow rapid changes in direction during combat. They need constant computer adjustments to controls, to stop them dropping out of the sky! Some cannot be flown by unaided human pilots.

  5. All you have to do is listen to the drivel spewed by Ken Hamm, Kent Hovind (and his mushwit offspring), Ray Comfort and Pat Robertson. Lies, misrepresentations and down right character assassination are their stock-in-trade. And aeronautical engineers called out the lie about bumblebees years ago. Hell, using the logic of the religiots I can prove that that helicopter overhead shouldn’t be flying, either. My first exposure to fundies was back in 1972 and they tried that bullshit on me. Big mistake. I’ve considered fundies liars and con-men ever since.

    • In reply to #6 by sundiver:

      I’ve considered fundies liars and con-men ever since.

      Yes!! Sundiver’s Conjecture. A working hypothesis, maybe a Fundamental(ist) Law? As yet unrefuted, anyway.

      Imagine CERN like funding, to accelerate particular fundamentalists and collide them at ever increasing energies, recording the results in search of the telltale signature of an honest one. Could be a very long running experiment.

  6. Yes, this practice continues in the US today. As a former Jehovah’s Witness, it is frustrating how difficult it is to even discuss science with any of my family who remain in the religion, because of it. They have been taught that Science is a “sacred cow” and that those who believe in it are deceived by “Satan”. So when you try to share some exquisite archaeological discovery that dates back millions of years, they roll their eyes! They claim that the prehistoric remains are likely the bones of disfigured or otherwise abnormal humans who lived as outcasts, therefore ended up in caves away from normal society. They claim that carbon dating is erroneous, stating some pseudo-scientific conjecture as proof, so that those remains could not possibly be dated so far back. They claim that woolly mammoths found in the Russian tundra are proof of the Noachian flood because some of them are found frozen with food still in their mouths, as if they were quick frozen by a sudden deluge in an arctic climate. And the Grand Canyon was gouged out by the waters of that flood! So, yes, I think it’s safe to say the practice of discrediting science still goes on in the U.S. and everywhere else where there exist fundamental christians today.

  7. When I heard the preacher talk about bumble bees, I knew it was a distortion of the truth.
    When I heard him talk about the kernel of corn, I knew it was an outright lie.
    Things like this and my favorite: Noah’s flood, started me on the road to non belief.

  8. If people actually paid attention to what aerodynamicts where actually saying, that is our current theories do not yet explain how bumble bee fly. Then is will be seen as a humble admission that their theory was incomplete, it still is – they do know now how bumble bee fly but there is debate in other areas. Now this is at a time when they had broken the sound barrier, sent man to the moon and allowed for international jet travel. Science had every right to crow, but instead, ah we still don’t get this. I think that explains very well the difference between faith and reason.

    And yes I have recently heard all the old tropes tossed out by fundamentalists I’m surprised they accept the earth is a sphere.

    • In reply to #11 by Alternative Carpark:

      Like you say, we have the internet now. Books too.
      Any attempt to discredit fundamental science is an exercise in futility.

      An excercise the fundies will all perform with great gusto right up until it costs them money .

  9. The standard message from the ignorant know-alls is usually of the same format.

    They are too ignorant to see any inconsistencies in their ignorance, therefore the indoctrinated fantasies don’t ring any alarm bells of falsehood. Their alarms are then rewired to flag anything which conflicts with their cognitive biases, while their minds invent elaborated denials of scientific evidence, to add to the denials which are being fed to them by ignorant “faith leaders”.

    Like most confident ignoramuses, they back their claims with false (god) “authority” – usually supported by denying and denigrating those who supply evidenced information which conflicts with their ignorance.

    The posturing airs of “authority” are built on, by disparaging information and suppliers of information where intelligent study is required for understanding.

    It is typified in preachers, who are presented to ignorant congregations as credible “authority” figures, and in thick politicians who egotistically use their positions in office for disparaging expert advice!

    It is the well known Dunning-Kruger effect .

  10. Bumble bee Yaay!

    Don’t think it’s an aerodynamics thing, its massarea, if your bumble bee was the size of a micro light it might make a lot of noise but would not fly, and be rather bad tempered to boot, it’s the same reason that spiders can fall from multi-storey buildings and walk away…

    • In reply to #14 by ShinobiYaka:

      Bumble bee Yaay!

      Don’t think it’s an aerodynamics thing, its massarea, if your bumble bee was the size of a micro light it might make a lot of noise but would not fly, and be rather bad tempered to boot, it’s the same reason that spiders can fall from multi-storey buildings and walk away…

      Actually its a little more complicated than that. bumble bees have flat wings not aerofoils the flat plate theory that (based upon newtonian physics equal and opposite force and all that) does not add up to enough lift for their beats per minute and wing area compared to mass. However there are voracities created around the top of the wing that adds to the lift produced (this is from memory so I may have this slightly wrong).

  11. Fundamentalist Christians typically demonstrate they do not understand science. They use many logical fallacies, including mere assertion, straw man, argument from ignorance, etc. when they attack science. That, and a use of the usual lies misrepresentations, quote mining and disingenuousness that fundamentalist theists are known for. Add to that a profound ignorance of science. They hate it. They avoid it. Yet they pretend to know all about it.

    No, they do not discredit science (except to their other ignorant fundamentalists). They only discredit themselves.

  12. Rick Warren is one of the most influential people in America and he does not believe in evolution. I was deeply saddened when I read that Rick’s youngest son Matthew passed away last week as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I hope that Rick’s faith will help him in this time of sorrow.

    Rick was well aware that Matthew had been suffering from depression and he said that he had provided his son with only the very best medical care. I’m sure he did everything in his power to try to prevent this horrible tragedy. However I can’t help but wonder what constitutes the very best medical care for a man who does not believed in evolution?

    • In reply to #20 by joby44:

      I recently read in a Creationist text book aimed at primary school children that scientists don`t know how electricity works.

      I wonder if the authors have a spark of intelligence, or are prepared to test their faith in scientists ignorance?

      The NOTICE says “HIGH VOLTAGE KEEP OFF – DANGER OF DEATH”! They wouldn’t really believe scientists or engineers could know that – would they????

  13. I often see that representatives of various religion says that ‘scientists don’t know this ,they dont know that etc etc’. But I wonder , do this people know anything about universe? I really don’t think that they have even primary knowledge about the universe. The fact that science still can’t explain many thing is true, but at the same time I must say in last 400 years science had made an incredible achievement. Today we can explain infinite no of thing starting from smallest scale to largest scale. Einstein’s equation governs the motion and structure of heavenly bodies. And it has extreme accuracy. It can predict things with accuracy upto 99.999999999999%. Can you believe that! In the sub-atomic or atomic scale Quantum Mechanics also describe things with such accuracy. It is true that we still can’t exactly explain the origin of life or our brain . These are very challenging task. Because there are so many things involved. But we also know many things about questions. The mechanism of life can’t be described in one sentence , it is very complicated and many thing is still to be explained. But we know something rather than nothing . When one say God created universe or God created life , he or she simply mean that he /she know nothing about the fact. GOD=NO KNOWLEDGE. This can be new definition of god . We always face new and hard questions, but we can’t bypass the question and say god knows. Its a lame excuse. Science is always developing. Every new question make it more precious, more accurate. Today we can explain the evolution of stars, galaxies even the universe itself. Sooner or latter these questions will be answered appropriately by science. Religions never answered any question properly and neither I think they will do. So they dont have any right to criticize people who are doing their job properly.

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