On Spelling It Out

Sunday's Doonesbury strip
Sunday’s Doonesbury strip

It is normal today to say we live in an abnormal time. We think everything is damn confusing. Or not at all. We speak out of one side of our mouths that this is a time of all this conflicting data, but ideologues speak with such consistency and confidence. We recognize complex problems and we offer overly simple solutions. This is insane.

Sunday’s Doonesbury strip highlights that challenge by demonstrating how insane our need for simplistic solutions for complex problems really are.

  • Complex problem: the intersection between Christians, their faith, their history, their Scripture, their tradition, their understanding of the world, their belief about interacting with society, how they deal with complex scientific concepts, and belief about the very nature of truth.
  • Simple solution: teach creationism as an “alternative theory”.

For most Christians, rather than deal with the actual challenge given to us by our creator to learn about our environment and our place in it and directed in that very process by our liberator and guided in that very direction by the Wind, we slap a sticker on it, call it “intelligent design” and pretend that it is remotely like our mission and not a disservice to our people.

This unravels, however, when we actually spell it out. When we see it in action. When we see students actually having to learn this crap. It reveals how ridiculous we are, not in those creationists pushing for this, but in our going for this ridiculousness as an actual option. We are the ones tolerating this. We are supporting legislators who think this is an actual solution. The crazies are going to be crazy, but it is we who are pushing this.


What would it be if we tackled complex problems without looking for the quick fix, that simple solution that makes the noise go away?

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  1. Tom Downs says

    Love the microbes; good thing they didn’t get left behind like the unicorns.
    Black and white are theoretical; gray is our reality. Do you remember the brain science that says a certain portion of humanity can’t physiologically live comfortably with a gray reality? They literally have to have the illusionary black or white. …and they typically become Republicans.

    • says

      I’m going to have to contemplate the questions of the original post, but I did have to respond to this comment.

      Do you remember the brain science that says a certain portion of humanity can’t physiologically live comfortably with a gray reality?
      I’d never heard of this, but I’m about to hunt down the data! I’ve seen more and more clearly by the year how uncomfortable some folks are with shades of gray, but it never once occurred to me the basis of that discomfort might be physiological.

      • says

        Amazing, right? If I recall, there is a bit about the relationship between the reptilian part of the brain, which is old fight/flight part, which breaks the world into binary constructs of friend and foe. The later developed brain is the part of differentiation and thinking. This is the part of the human brain that has been growing and the reptilian brain has been shrinking. Natural, right? But it is funny that for some, the access to the reptilian, less-advanced brain is more ingrained.

    • says

      I do remember that. I am also fascinated too by the group whose brain chemistry allows them to switch back and forth between understandings of the world. They tend to get mischaracterized as moderates, when in fact, they can hold really divergent opinions in opposition without the hint of insincerity.


What do you think?