Rant: Believing the earth is 5000 years old is not ok

Freedom of thought is essential. Anyone should be allowed to put forth any idea and not be ridiculed or shun for it. This is how our world advances, and that’s the way it should be. It’s a given in any “free society”.

That being said, what starts out as a good intention can be perverted. This can bring us to accept an idiocy as a respectable theory. When something as asinine as “the earth is 5000 years old” becomes a somewhat accepted opinion, we, as a society, have to put our foot down.

Best case scenario, you discuss and explain why you believe the idea is wrong. Worst case scenario, you just don’t talk about it. Even “agreeing to disagree” makes us complicit, and lets people take it as a valid argument. Not to be overly dramatic, but this threatens the very essence of what make western culture a success: rational thinking.
Western societies have many many flaws, but they are still what works best to date. Democracy, capitalism, rational thinking… Perfect? Nope. But show me another system that works better and then we can talk.

For a lot of hot issues, “agreeing to disagree” is the best we can do to avoid sinking into everlasting pointless arguments. Abortion, death penalty, neo-capitalism, guns, religion even… But this is different. It is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of ignorance.

Rational thinking is non-negotiable. Cultural relativism teaches us that we should be respectful of other people’s ideas, no matter how strange they seem to us. Study them, understand them, respect them, sure. But I will not believe that women should have lesser rights then men, I will not believe that people can own other people, and I will not believe that opinion has the same weight as evidence.
We have a system where truth is established by facts, and facts are validated by evidence. We shouldn’t take it as a given. It is a precious thing and we should stand for it.

I might be stating the obvious here, but then I don’t understand why I don’t see more uproar, indignation and public outrage when officials state that “the earth is 5000 years old”, to give only one example. I am the most accepting person in the world, but this is not acceptable, and it is absolutely not ok.
And we shouldn’t stand for it, even for a second.

Actually, a second is ok. But it has long passed…

September 18th, 2008