Willful Ignorance, Redux

It’s quite apparent that one of the hallmarks of devout religions is willful ignorance. This is especially true in the area of science versus religion, most notable in the creationism/evolution debate. Creationists choose to believe what is written in the Bible, willfully ignoring the facts of science. They do this because to accept those facts, they would have to jettison their beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible, especially Genesis and the theistic explanation for the beginnings of life, man and the universe.

Another area where we find this phenomena is sex. Recently a study was released and reported in the journal Reproductive Health, which strongly suggests a correlation between higher teen pregnancy rates and religiosity. The conclusion of the study?

With data aggregated at the state level, conservative religious beliefs strongly predict U.S. teen birth rates, in a relationship that does not appear to be the result of confounding by income or abortion rates. One possible explanation for this relationship is that teens in more religious communities may be less likely to use contraception.

What does this mean? Well, it means that those states in which there is a higher incidence of religiosity also have a higher incidence of teen pregnancy. As the NY Times opined:

It could be that more religious teens are having sex than less religious teens, hence more of them become pregnant. It could also be that the percentage of teens who become pregnant in each state is similar, but the percentage who terminate in the less religious states is higher, leading to more reported pregnancies and births (although the authors did take some steps to adjust for that.) Or it could be, Strayhorn suggests, “that religious communities in the US are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself”.

I would tend to agree that it is the last.  Sex education is a no-no the more fundamentally religious the family. The oddball rationale for this is that sex education encourages sexual experimentation, which totally ignores the physiological underpinnings of sex, as if teenagers would never have sex if adults didn’t implicitly sanction it. Of course, Madison Avenue and Hollywood both send the message that teenagers should be sexual animals, yet it’s education, the one mechanism we have to counter the external stimuli of print and screen, that the religious decry. Teenagers and hormones are a predictable cocktail when it comes to birth rates, and a lack of sex education naturally results in the ignorant having babies. Encouraging ignorance of sex, in effect, encourages the production of babies.

This would seem to be a no-brainer, but to people who don’t use their brains when it comes to their religious beliefs, the results are quite predictable. If the only form of sex education is the abstinence only one, not only are the parents who believe this being willfully ignorant of the consequences, they are attempting to pass on their own willful ignorance to their children.

While the conclusions are correlative and not a causative, they should still cause one to pause and consider the implications.

After eight years of faith based government, we now have a President that seems to be amenable to reason. He has the bully pulpit to affect American attitudes, even though most practical work can only be handled at the state level.  The country needs to come to its senses, and throw off the yoke of religious intolerance of education, ideas, science  and facts.  Magical thinking and wishing it to be true will not keep teens from having sex. It has historically never been that way, and there is no reason to believe it ever will. This study and others that will follow, point to a reason-based national sex-education policy. The world has changed since the 1920s. It’s time to accept reality.

Education and an acceptance of reality will have more effect on teens than a simple “just say no”.

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12 thoughts on “Willful Ignorance, Redux

  1. Conservative religious adults make kids feel guilty for even thinking about sex, let alone doing it. Many of them are also hypocritical, because they experimented with sex when they were teens, too. When I was a teen, a considerable number of my Christian peers got pregnant outside of marriage. The rest were either just lucky enough not to get pregnant, or were using birth control because they weren’t stupid enough to trust their willpower (or the Holy Spirit, who never seemed up to leading anyone from temptation or delivering them from the “evil” of sex).

  2. I agree with Ex, but if you plotted a graph measuring willful ignorance on the side and devoutness on the bottom, I’ll bet you’ll get a straight line going 45 degrees.

    The problem seems far worse than just a lack of critical thinking in this country. There’s a lack of accepting reality. That’s really frightening. People believing Obama is the anti-Christ, that fetuses can’t be aborted because they have souls, that abstinence is a solution and that the failure of abstinence only sex ed merely shows that there wasn’t enough abstinence only sex ed and/or that it needs more time to work, that there’s no global warming or pollution because it’s absurd to think humans could possibly damage a creation of god, and of course the whole creationism and 6,000 year old Earth thing. Yowza, that’s a lot of disconnects from reality.

  3. Let’s see if this one gets by the local censor. An earlier attempt didn’t, but, in case it should ‘magically’ appear, don’t let the repetition bug you. Anyway, this post is one gigantic pile of manure, with ‘facts’ more than likely originating from deep inside SI’s ass.

    Also, Chumplain, where did you grow up… Alabama? Surely do don’t equate the antics of inbreeds with those of genuine Christians? There are no dumbassed teens in the circles I frequent, along with the accompanying social ills, so, it must be the geographical thing we’re dealing with, here. The further south you go, the more intense the moronicity.

    Chiefy-boy… maybe you ought to disconnect from at least a half-dozen or so Ding Dongs or bags of Doritos, every day, then maybe reality will finally reveal itself to you. Also, your neighbors will finally get some sunlight, it not having to first circumvent your girth much like it would have to with a small moon!

    Excrementeater… glad you made the differentiation between devout and fanatical, which is what your religion – Zionism – is… the latter.

    You a banker, by any chance?

    [EDIT by SI: this one showed up in my spam filter again, at 4:39. Gideon, I suggest you complain to Akismet. Your IP or email is probably on some central list, because I’m sure not intentionally trapping it]

  4. Gideon: A 187 word refutation that contained no facts. Kudos. Your tangental and insulting nature is exceeded only by your ability to put periods at the ends of sentences.

  5. It’s quite apparent that one of the hallmarks of devout religions is willful ignorance.

    Followed by an entire post that is willfully ignorant of any other religion than fundamentalist Christianity. Thanks for yet another conflation of religion with fundamentalist Christianity, no better than what we’d expect from fundamentalist Christians who criticize atheism. I deny that such is rational.

  6. Within the context of their particular religious beliefs, all religions are willfully ignorant, they all apply a double standard to their beliefs that they would never allow in their regular lives. Theists will believe something about a god that they would never believe about, say, Godzilla. Even when this disconnect is pointed out to them, theists will continue to believe, knowing full well that their beliefs are irrational.

    That goes for all theists.

  7. I don’t think theists know full well that their beliefs are irrational, even if that’s pointed out to them. Assuming that they know those beliefs are irrational, at least somewhere deep down in them, is about as unfair as them saying we know in our hearts there’s a god.

    There are those theists who fully admit their beliefs are irrational, but they’re definitely a minority.

  8. Pingback: I Don’t Need to Know This: Mythology and the Protection of World Views « (((Billy))) The Atheist

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