There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle recently about many well-known scientists “participating” in a documentary that claims modern cosmology is coming to accept that the earth is the center of the universe. And which Kate Mulgrew (of Star Trek Voyager) lent her voice to. Of course none of this is true in any sense that matters – their voices are in the documentary, but they have been lied to and extensively quote-mined to make it sound like they are saying the opposite of what they actually believe. The standard, sane position that the Earth circles the Sun, which has been settled for centuries.
Naturally a lot of people are saying this is reprehensible. But I think this is one of the best things a group could do to discredit biblical literalism.
I was raised Jehovah’s Witness. Like all fundamentalist religions they can’t abide evolutionary theory, and they have their own handbook on how wrong it is. Like any good Jehovah’s Witness, I studied it so I could be ready for my biology teachers. Being a very geeky kid, I would argue online with non-theists and non-JW christian kids. It was through the wonder of the internet that I was first exposed to fact-checking, and was shown that the many biologists that were quoted in the JW book as coming out against evolution where doing nothing of the sort. Their quotes were plucked out of context to make them sound as if they were saying the opposite of what they were ACTUALLY saying. In one case it was almost literally a case of a biologist saying “I would never say that evolution is a crock of shit” and the part of the quote that made it into the book was “[…] evolution is a crock of shit!”
As an idealistic child who had always been proud of how honest and upstanding Jehovah’s Witnesses were, I was shocked. And I came to realize that if they were this deceptive about the scientists they quoted… they would twist around just about anything to seem to support their conclusion whether or not it actually did so. Evidence presented by the JWs was NOT TRUSTWORTHY on its face, because it was being presented by the JWs.
If I wasn’t an argumentative and precocious geek kid, I may never have stumbled across this information. Evolution is still seen as controversial by many people, almost no one questions a quote presented in a printed publication, so what trusting christian would go look up the quotes of every scientist (in a book their church presented!) in order to get the original context and intent? Who knows how long it would have been before I realized these people are liars?
On the other hand, nearly everyone realizes that Flat-Earthers and Geo-Centrists are complete idiots. That the Earth orbits the Sun is common knowledge. If you see someone saying the Earth is the center of the Universe, you already know they are crazy, simply because they are claiming that!
And if you see a religious group producing a movie filled with respected scientists that have been quoted agreeing with them, no one thinks “Huh, they must be on to something,” or even “Those scientists are clearly idiots.” What they think is “Oh, a group of liars has taken a bunch of scientists’ quotes out of context, manipulating their words so it sounds like they’re saying the opposite of what they really believe.” It creates a very strong association between “Religious groups claiming things contrary to science” and “Liar idiots.”
It makes them look so incredibly sleazy and awful, that everything they say going forward will be more suspect. This act of deception makes them look so bad that it behooves us to spread their message far and wide.
I don’t think they could have hurt themselves more if they tried. It almost makes me think that this could be a false-flag operation by an atheist group to discredit religious fundies.
I’ve long suspected the same thing of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, incidentally. That group has done wonders for the gay-rights movement, by making the anti-gay bigots look so fucking ignorant, hateful, and despicable. Honestly, could a gay group wanting to turn popular opinion against the anti-gay hordes do ANY BETTER than to pretend to Hate All Fags, and then picket military funerals in the most despicable manner they could get away with? It’s genius. I don’t think it’s true, and that makes it soooooo deliciously ironic as well. Thanks for making gay-acceptance come quicker Fred Phelps!
But I’m getting off topic. Share this far and wide!