View Full Version : Caught In One of The Many Buckles

2006-Mar-13, 04:20 AM
Let me say first that what I am about to say does not in anyway suggest that religious people are in some way stupid.

That being said, I live in (one of) the Buckles of the Bible Belt. Southern Utah to be exact. I grew up in another one (N.C.) where is swear, people were more tolerant of new ideas. And read books on occasion.

The other day I almost had a case of apoplexy when a co-worker and I ended up discussing Creation Science. He actuality used the argument, “Why are there still apes?” Even at this point I hadn't lost it yet, that came a couple of answers later. I asked him why he thought that Darwin taught that man descended from the apes. He told me that was what he was taught... wait for it... in college.

Start cranial bleeding.

His instructor told him, that Darwin taught that life sprang forth in about 10,000 years, and that the extinction of each form of life “paved the way” for the next higher order. Did I mention that this was his biology class?

The killer of the whole affair is that this instructor told his class NOT to read Darwin, because it would only confuse you.

(Personally, anytime someone tell me not to read something, I head straight to the library. I read “Worlds in Collision” and I lived.)

My friend saw no problem with a teacher telling him NOT to read something. I almost fell off my chair when he told me, “Hey thats the teachers job.”

And yes I know that some people are threatened by science, because they can't, or wont, reconcile
their beliefs with things like evolution. I'm down with that. But in the five years I've lived here I've met people who don't know who Dick Cheney is, people who never heard about holocaust denial, and last week a couple of high school kids asked me which side was Utah on during the Civil War. They asked their teacher, but she wasn't sure.

Is it just me?

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Mar-13, 04:34 AM
Nope. I frequently feel like I'm looking down on a situation from above. I can see what's going on, but the participants can't seem to. Ignorance is huge.

2006-Mar-13, 06:54 AM
Other than the to-be-expected evolution disagreement, I doubt religion plays a role---have you seen Jay Leno (http://tonightshowinfo.com/)'s "Man in the Street" segments?
... in which ordinary people say the darnest things when asked simple questions...

2006-Mar-13, 07:31 AM
I live in northern Utah. My 8th grade biology teacher, whom I really liked, taught us that evolution is a species slowly changing over time to better adapt to it's environment. This change may happen in only one group of that species, resulting in a 'spinoff' species. Like having (it was the early 80's) the tv show Different Strokes and the Facts of Life; one came from the other, but both existed at the same time.

Then he added that he personally preferred to believe what he called the 'zap theory' (creationism), that species only evolved within themselves, and that there was no common ancestor for both dogs and cats, man and apes, birds and lizards.

2006-Mar-13, 07:46 AM
Other than the to-be-expected evolution disagreement, I doubt religion plays a role---have you seen Jay Leno (http://tonightshowinfo.com/)'s "Man in the Street" segments?

Bah missed this while it got busy here.

A good friend of mine was brought up in the dominant religion in the area, but never became active in it. Many of his friends did. We got into a discussion one night about being cynical. He said I was very cynical. I said all I did was ask questions about things. Because he was brought up differently than I was, I proposed that he was conditioned to accept what he was told to be the truth more easily than I was. He disagreed, but thought about it. A few weeks went by and he talked to his friends who were very active in 'The Church'. After talking with them for a bit, he saw my point. They were unwilling to even discuss questioning something they were taught was true. Not just a religeous belief, but anything presented to them by an authority figure, like a teacher, must not be questioned.

I don't think all religions are that way. I don't think everyone who refuses to ask questions does it becasue of religion. I do think that some groups, religious or not, create an environment where asking questions is wrong.

BTW, it's also really common in the martial arts to discourage asking 'why'. At least around here.

2006-Mar-13, 08:19 AM
I do think that some groups, religious or not, create an environment where asking questions is wrong.

Always, always, always ask questions, if possible from several sources ... how else can you check the facts? If the person giving the information can't or won't answer the questions they probably are not worth listening to.
On a related matter I have just heard of a proposal to include I.D. in school SCIENCE courses here in the UK, I think we may be about to join the US in a slow decline into ignorance and a new dark age :mad:

2006-Mar-13, 09:18 AM
I hate it when my friend goes

"OK, I will agree that evolution works very well in a science classroom but I prefer to get my moralls from the bible"

He doesn't understand that accepting (or beliving if you use his words) evolution doesn't mean he has to base his values on it...

And someone else in my class(She does biology and earth Science(geology) for some reason(she rejects half of what is taught) keeps yelling at me to read genisis chapter 1,2 and 3. I've already told her that I have many times, and even though it doesn't in the slightest bit constatude as evidence, it doesn't say the earth was created 6,000 years ago, and has a couple of contradictions...

Don't worry though- it's only the two of them... Eccept when I go to my... wait for it... Youth Group. Some of them go on about it only being a theory, something about trees being found in multiple stata's and I have to argue it with about 5 other people... bah!

You should hear the lyrics to some of their songs!

"we live by faith and not by sight"

2006-Mar-13, 10:31 PM
Willful ignorance. That's what it is. People just don't want to know. It's convenient to blame religion or politics or whatever, but I think it's part of human nature that, blessedly, some humans are able to overcome. At least, that's what I think on my more cynical days. My thoughts on the subject get way more complicated when I'm not depressed.

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Mar-13, 10:37 PM
I think it has to do with the fact that people are very easy to manipulate, even unintentionally. Any one interested should look up the "Third Wave," er, incident and the Milgram Experiments.

2006-Mar-13, 11:58 PM
BTW, it's also really common in the martial arts to discourage asking 'why'. At least around here.

I won't involve myself much with the religious aspect of the question but this part is a major thorn in my side. You're absolutely right - one of my self defense 'slogans' if you will contends that 'why' is the most underused question in the MA. I've been tossed from a number of schools for asking just that question - why does such-and-such work, why do we stand like this, etc. The most common answer is 'because I say so'; in a variety of forms and that really drove me nuts.

The funny thing is - and I suspect this might be true for religion as well as the Arts - the ones who discourage 'why' are the low-to-middle level instructors; the 1st- and 2nd-dan senseis that run the everyday dojos.They tend to be very quick to answer 'because I say so' and to state it is disrespectful to ask etc.
(Side note: it's also apparently disrespectful to actually hit said teacher when he tells me to throw a full-power punch. I've been booted from a couple of places for dropping the sensei like a rock. Hey - it isn't my fault he's never actually seen a full-power punch before. :D )

OTOH I've had the opportunity to train under and speak with some very high-level MAists - for instance Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei (8th Dan, Ki Aikido chief instructor for N. and S. America) whom I had the great pleasure of being an uke for - and their attitude is very different. Far from dismissive; they encourage questioning and outright debate and have no difficulty with having their opinions or technique challenged.

The reason is simple - Unlike the low-level instructors; they know what they're talking about and are firmly confident in their facts and abilities. They also have a passion for teaching that trancends ego - which is a major factor in the 'why' issue. Low-level instructors commonly don't want to face the possibility of not knowing something; so they follow the simple tactic of not allowing questioning.

I recall a hilarious evening a couple of years ago when Kashiwaya Sensei was teaching a seminar in Kingston. I was priveleged enough to be his uke for much of the seminar - mainly since he wanted a big guy who could really deliver force to throw around. And man, did I get air time in that seminar! :D
Anyway; during the breaks I'd been peppering him with questions pretty hard and was clearly spoiling for a debate on aikido's effectiveness. Remember; as a soldier I taught unarmed combat for close to 15 years with 25 yrs. overall in the MA and has some serious concerns with what was being taught. That evening we had a dinner out in his honour and I wound up in the chair to his right; so we could debate over shrimp and steak. Well; the other black belts were totally horrified - here's a measly white belt tearing into their master's arguments! I was told - repeatedly - how disrespectful I was; how The Master (TM) Must Not Be Questioned, etc. I was even told I'm a disgrace. Sensei enjoyed himself thoroughly though and it was one of the most fascinating and complex discussions on both the arts and kinesiology I've ever had.

What's the point in all this? Well; it runs out of the Arts and into religion - because many wannabe MAists follow some common religious and cult-like principles in their fervor.
What it boils down to is that 'why' is a dangerous word for those engaging in cult-like behaviour; because it's a sign that students - or followers - are thinking independantly. Cult leaders - and make no mistake, many MA schools and fundamental religious groups are cults - do not want their followers to think independantly. They want them to accept what they tell them. Acceptance means control, and control means power. And power - going back to a point I made above - feeds the ego.

Edit: I should make the point as well that both MA cults and religious cults share another common theme: in addition to feeding the ego of the Grand Poo-Bah at the top; they also fill his bank account. One thing all cults share is powerful revenue generation. While we're looking for higher reasons; we can't ignore the base ones. :)

2006-Mar-14, 07:03 AM

And I thought I was being too demanding in my search for a school.. though usually the answer was "because it works".

Of course, the downside is, now that I've found a sensible sensei (Tae Kwon Do), I have my time and finances committed to other projects.


T-Rex had feathers

2006-Mar-14, 07:43 AM

And I thought I was being too demanding in my search for a school.. though usually the answer was "because it works".

The one I actually heard one time was "Becasue we've done it that way for 2000 years."

Some school horror stories I have include an instructor making a racial slur about Japanese people.

A student instructor explaining that the reason you follow up a palm thrust to the chin with a front kick to the chin is becasue all your kicks should go to the head. The judges like high kicks.

My kenpo instructor (money grubbing pseudo-cult leader) trying to convince me to stay by saying "... and maybe when you get better at that Aikido crap, you can do that here on Sundays."

That description of some MA schools being cult like described that place exactly.

Around me the dominant form is American Kenpo. Second would be Tae Kwon Do. Most of my formal training was in kenpo, but I've dabbled in a lot. I cannot find an instructor that I have any confidence in that will even acknowledge another style might have something to offer. It's really frustrating. I did meet one guy that was great. He taught what he felt were the base components of Aikido, Kenpo, Tomari-te, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, and one he called Shinobi Bushi Tao (A hybrid form he learned from his uncle, who grew up in China). He taught each style as seperate at the start, then said something like, 'Okay, now do what feels right for you. Let's see it." Then one day he just vanished. Every couple of years I get a call from him but he won't even discuss martial arts. It really makes me wonder what happened. :sad: