So today (yesterday by the time you read this) I got stung by believing something that was false. I jumped on a guy who downplayed my complaint about the Roman Catholic practice of enforcing celibacy on their clergy, when Scripture says those “clergy” should be the husband of one wife.
When he said it was unimportant, I brought up the recent scandal in the RCC with priests and children. In my mind, enforced celibacy was related to a high occurrence of child molestation.
It’s not. Someone said that correlation is not causation, which I am well aware of. Somehow, though, I got it in my mind that this issue was a settled, firm case.
So I looked it up. It’s not. Not only is there no causation, there is no correlation.
It was really embarrassing. I jumped all over that commenter because I was offended. Had I been correct, I would have been rightly offended. I wasn’t, though, so I was just really rude.
Now I’m going to use this mistake to jump subjects entirely.
Being wrong like that brought back unpleasant memories of another experience I had 20 years ago.
In 1995, I watched 3 episodes of a creationist show put on by the Creation museum. They told me they were equipping me for battling the evilutionists who were being used by satan to get us to quit believing Genesis and thus throwing doubt on all of Scripture.
I should have been more on my toes. In the late 1980’s, I had read a book, put out by InterVarsity Press and written by three scientists who were Christians, that complained about the dishonesty in the creationist movement.
I didn’t pay much attention because I had such a hard time believing that Christians, especially leading, in-the-public-eye Christians, would be purposefully dishonest.
I was new to the internet then. I was only familiar with CompuServe. I knew of people who had been “out there.” They had gone into the World-Wide Web, and they had returned unscathed.
I limited myself to the CompuServe religious forum, where I used my knowledge of the early Christians to take on all comers in debate. I’m good at debating, I gained bit of a following, and I took way too much pride in considering the CompuServe Religion Forum my own private domain.
A pack of evilutionists showed up in “my” CompuServe forum.
No problem. I was prepared. I had seen three TV shows done by the Creation Museum.
I immediately pulled out my favorite weapon from my extensive, 3-hour training history: “Lucy,” the supposed ape-human link.
Borrowing information from the program, I “proved” Donald Johanson, the discoverer of Lucy, to be a fraudulent and deceitful man.
They were not impressed. “Really?” they asked. “Are you just going to pull out the same lies you guys always pull out? Do you have nothing new?”
With the immense amount of preparation I had, I answered, “Huh? What are you talking about?”
They gave me a link that sent me out into the world of the internet for the first time. There I read an article exposing the shameful misconduct of Christians in fabricating the slander against Dr. Johanson.
I was every bit as horrified then as I was horrified today to have so boldly and harshly defended a false rumor.
That makes today worse. I made a commitment 20 years ago to do proper research. I would never just trust what I heard. I would make sure there were good sources for what I said.
And if there weren’t? Well, the Creation Museum had taught me not to trust even prominent Christians, so I wasn’t going to believe what did not have good evidence. The only word I would just accept is God’s.
Correlation and Cause
When Ben called me on the Roman Catholic issue I mentioned, I knew what to do. I had to find out if anyone had checked on whether celibacy had anything to do with causing pedophilia.
I’ve learned over the years that anti-evolutionists don’t like research much. They prefer to ask questions and leave them unanswered. “What if” and “maybe” are two of the most preferred answers to questions in the creationist movement.
I don’t like to leave things there; leaves too much room for lying, er … dishonesty.
So I looked up Ben’s suggestion. I’m not going to leave things at “maybe”; not if I don’t have to.
The results were pretty painful. Crow is hard to swallow. I was wishing I’d done the research before I wrote.
Still, I thought I’d try to rescue something useful from the incident.
Things are much clearer when they are not left at “could be.”