religion-vs-science-kid.jpg

Seriously, Now: How to Combat Anti-Religion Bias?

The incredibly depressing photograph to the right has been flying all over the interwebs recently. As you can see, a cute little girl is being used as a prop to bash religion and tout science (which, of course, are assumed to be mutually exclusive).

I was struck by the response to this photo on a blog called Bookwormroom.com, the subhead of which claims that “conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions”. The blog rewrote the sign the little girl is carrying to say things like:

According to religion, I am a sacred life from the moment of conception

and

According to Abstract Science, I am a petri dish for stem cells

and 

According to Leftist Applied Science, I am undeserving of life until after I am born and, if I am flawed or unwanted, not even then

Now, I understand the anguish of religious Christians when they see offensive tripe like the above photo disseminated, especially with the big steaming side of self-righteousness that always accompanies it. (One yearns to give the people zipping it out to all their Facebook friends a good patsch to wipe away the smirk.) Still, responding by announcing that religion = pro-life seems counterproductive: it reduces the issue down to pro-life vs. pro-choice and shuts the conversation down immediately. (It also discounts the reality of religious believers who are also pro-choice, but that’s a secondary issue here.)

What has always amazed me about the God vs. Science line of thinking on the left is how unimaginative it is. Why not attack on that line instead? Why not force a leftist to explain why the math behind the movement of the spheres disproves the existence of a creator? Put them on the defensive, don’t go into your own defensive crouch. A person who puts a sign like this in his own daughter’s hands is not going to hear a word you say if you open with a pro-life argument. That’s for later, no?

  1. Derek Simmons

    A worthy topic, but you went a phrase too far. Here’s where you should have stopped your sentence:

    A person who puts a sign like this in his own daughter’s hands is not going to hear a word you say…… 

  2. Fred Cole

    What is “Leftist Applied Science”? I see this thing from time to time on FaceBook. Look, this is a theism-atheism thing. If you make it pro-life v pro-choice, you’re making it something it ain’t. Same as if you make it a Left-Right thing. There are plenty of atheists on the right and the vast, vast, vast majority of people on the left are theists (especially Democrats, and especially elected ones). Something like 90% of the American population believes in God. That’s despite, well, everything. Theists are winning the war.

  3. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    You may be right in terms of tactical argument with the parent who drafted that straw man of a sign. But I have to say, the life issue was the very first thing that sprung to my mind too. It’s pretty foundational. But I terms of engaging the debate with those of the worldview like the parent in question, probably better to open with references from religion describing the deep value placed on individual lives. There are plenty. And also the natural logical progression of an atomized and amoral materialist view of life. Eugenics was a product of the “scientific” worldview. Though in many ways, that particular point circles it all back to the pro-life position too.

  4. Jimmy Carter

    It ain’t “Religion vs. Science,” unless Yer “religion” is global warming.

    (To  use Fred’s terms) Theists accept science, atheists reject religion… oh, except for marriage, then They’re beating down the door demanding to be let in.

  5. Guruforhire

    The creator of the sign doesn’t know what science is.  Science says none of those things.

  6. Lady Randolph

    I think the saddest thing is not that someone wrote this sign, but that so many will repost, retweet, and otherwise rehash it without any critical thinking (i.e. “Wait a minute, what religion says that people are dumb? Do all religions actually say the same thing about human beings? Has science ever been used to justify inhumanity?”)

    I know, I know. Critical thinking? Who does that?!

  7. Israel P.

    How exactly does science say she is all those things on their list? And so far as I know, religious people pretty much think that most people are most of those too.

    And why doesn’t science say she is flawed (who isn’t?), [maybe] weak and [potentially] sinful?

  8. Klaatu

    My first thoughts were, ‘what religion says that?’ and ‘which branch of science makes value judgments on beauty, wonder, etc…?’.

  9. Israel P.

    Maybe someone can whip up one of these with a child with Downs Syndrome. Something we can use to reply when this silliness shows up in our Facebook timelines.

    EJ?

  10. david foster

    Judith, I agree with you tactically…when conducting an argument, it is best not to open with a line guaranteed to make the opponent stop listening.

    Note, though, that Bookworm is not a religious Christian but rather an agnostic Jew.

  11. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    Brilliant suggestion, Israel P! Ubi vita est, spes ibi est.

  12. Skyler

    How to combat it? Try prayer.

  13. The Mugwump

    Subtitle:  “Using my daughter as a prop to display my intellectual and moral superiority over right-wing, knuckle draggers.”  Unmentioned in the statement is “I am humble.”

  14. Ross C

    The first comment for religion should be Made in God’s image.

  15. Gödel
    Judith Levy, Ed. Still, responding by announcing that religion = pro-life seems counterproductive… A person who puts a sign like this in his own daughter’s hands is not going to hear a word you say if you open with a pro-life argument. That’s for later, no?

    No, because the audience isn’t the moral and intellectual idiot who put the picture in his poor daughter’s hands. It’s eveyone else who might see it. And the time for calm, level-headed fact and nuance, when we’re up against direct, literal falsehood and proactive evil, is behind us.

    NB: this includes the “pro-choice” “religious.” If anyone is uncomfortable with that… good.

  16. Jimmy Carter

    According to science, if I am

    -broken

    -flawed

    -sinful

    -dumb

    -weak

    -nothing

    then I’m aborted.

    According to religion, I’m

    -full of wonder

    -smart

    -a great learner

    -beautiful

    -potential for greatness

    at conception.

  17. Percival

    Nothing in the book about wonder or beauty.

    94th-Chemsitry-and-Physics-Handbook.jpg

    Do they have any units on those measurements?

  18. Son of Spengler

    I suspect this kind of thing appeals mostly to people who aren’t actually raising children. It’s fairly common for people who haven’t given much thought to religion for most of their lives to then become more religious when they are confronted with the problem of what values they want to pass down.

    So I think there are two responses to this kind of thing. The first is: What do you want to teach your child about his or her place in society and in the universe? The second is a variation on the idea that “living well is the best revenge”. Whenever you see children who are capable, mature, polite, constructive, helpful, and generally well-adjusted socially, odds are that the child’s education has a strong religious component. Well-adjusted children are the best advertisement for a religious upbringing.

  19. Leslie Watkins

    It’s a proxy war: anti-religious people versus Christianity, not theists versus atheists. That it is a war is very dispiriting, especially since religious beliefs are supposed to bring one inner peace. Losing the culture wars does not mean losing God.   

    Fred Cole: Something like 90% of the American population believes in God. That’s despite, well, everything. Theists are winning the war. · 2 hours ago

  20. Percival

    To be clear, I find beauty in physics and chemistry – well, physics anyway.

    And sonnets.

    And symphonies.

    And sunsets.

    And psalms.

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