Conservapedia, The Encyclopedia Re-written For Idiots

Mentioned in the news these days is Conservapedia, a wiki written by “conservative christians”. In a nutshell, scientific concepts such as evolution are rewritten at religious leisure to be more fitting for people of faith.

On Conservapedia, “Evolution” redirects to “Theory of Evolution” and, among other things state:

that there is an abundance of scientific arguments showing the earth and universe are both approximately 6,000 years in age

It’s also interesting to see the history of edits to an article such as the one on Atheism, which early on contained this jewel:

Since atheists have no God, as a philosophical framework atheism simply provides no logical basis for any moral standard. They live their lives according to the rule that “anything goes”. In recent years, this has led to a large rise in crime, drug use, pre-marital sex, teenage pregnancy, pedophilia and bestiality.

If it wasn’t for the fact that some people believe this insanity, I’d get a good laugh out of this.

Responses to “Conservapedia, The Encyclopedia Re-written For Idiots”

  1. Omar says:

    I’ve just come to accept that there will always be people that are going to have such fucked up views. There’s really nothing you can do to change someone’s beliefs when they have become so rigid.

    I got a haircut a week ago at the place I usually go. Except this time my barber decided to bring out a few of his Christianity Pamphlets?, which outlined:

    1) How the “laws of thermodynamics” disprove evolution as a theory.

    2) How the world will end in about 7 years.

    3) The only way to prepare for the “inevitable” end of the world was to take Jesus as your Lord and Savior NOW.

    I should have known something was up when the guy was talking about himself in third person :p

  2. Naja says:

    “Many atheists enjoy the Blog of the Gods, which pokes fun at the beliefs of many religions. They also like to kill babies…”

    Ah. To be so narrow-minded that you believe a characteristic of atheists are that they kill babies. That sure is one refreshing jewel you supplied us with.

  3. Joen says:

    I should have known something was up when the guy was talking about himself in third person :p

    That’s usually a dead give-away!

    Ah. To be so narrow-minded that you believe a characteristic of atheists are that they kill babies. That sure is one refreshing jewel you supplied us with.

    Hardly refreshing, but fun in a “punch in the stomach” sort of way :)

  4. Chris says:

    Joen, you realize I woke up and this was the first thing I read right? Crazy bastards that think I’m a godless heathen.

    Ok, sure, I’m godless. Maybe I’m a heathen, ok… fine.

    But… I haven’t screwed a chicken in a long time. OK? OK.

  5. Chris says:

    By the way, did I ever tell you the story about the woman I met when I worked for the US Census back in 2000? She homeschooled her children and insisted that the earth really was only 6,000 years old.

    This was around the same time as the first Hubble Deep-Field. It drove me batty that her view of ‘creation’ precluded the wonders of those images. And so, in a certain way, this view of ‘creation’ stops these nutters from being able to truly appreciate the beauty and majesty of their ‘Gods’ great work.

    It’s sad.

    Oh, and regarding the pamphleteers, there was a time when I couldn’t go a week without someone giving me a pamphlet that basically said I was going to burn in hell for all eternity. There was one time where I was accosted twice in as many days by Jehova’s Witnesses handing out the Watchtower. Once in a Walmart parking lot, once while I was getting gas at a 7-11.

    I just attract nut-jobs.

  6. Tristan says:

    Ah, you always give me something interesting to waste my time on right when I need it :-)

    What a bunch of BS — I know I’m preaching to the choir, but man… some of the things people believe are just wrong! I’ve given up trying to convince them otherwise long ago, so I won’t be registering an account or anything, not even to just fix the links at the bottom of the “Atheism” page (they’re only about 97% biased).

    Two things strike me as fundamentally wrong — forget what they actually believe, I’m going for one level up…

    1) They believe that their truth is the only truth, and they are offended by other truths.

    2) Their truth rejects all evidence, human thought, and rationality, and relies on mass-reinforcement, faith, and brainwashing to “remain true.”

    Here’s a good thought experiment for judging something that’s true or not: Start with an imaginary person with no knowledge of religion, atheism, or the entire world around him, but who is intelligent and can communicate. This person is obviously impossible, but let’s just imagine. If you presented that person with all the scientific evidence for anything, and they can still, using all of the high intelligence and rationality available to them, understand it and agree with it, then it’s probably true. I just don’t think any major religion would stand that test with the evidence available today, so I choose to start as a blank slate and use the evidence available to my, then use my own mind to come to conclusions, as it’s the only thing that I can trust.

    Life is like the perfect computer program to me. In my mind, the program is reality, and it contains all of the history of the universe, all of the physical universe right now, and all of the future, and it has no bugs. Everything fits together in a way that is impossible to argue with, because that’s just the way it is. If I found a bug in reality, I would be extremely concerned, but I have not, and I trust that I will not, ever.

    If my reality were based on a higher power, on the other hand, then I would have many many unanswered questions that don’t fit with the part of the program that works really well, and that wouldn’t sit right with me. It wouldn’t fit together, and the programmer in me would wonder why there weren’t any compile-time errors when they tried to make the world… and why there aren’t run-time errors all the time now that it’s (somehow) running.

    There just isn’t any question. If reality is running like a program (and it is running perfectly, by all the observation we can possibly do) then all of the preconditions for running this program would have to have been met — the world had to have been created, all of geology had to happen exactly the way it did over billions of years for something like granite or diamond to possibly exist, bees and flowers had to have evolved together for their incredibly complex relationship — for each part of them that is part of the other — to possibly exist… everything just fits together and works extremely well and makes sense and runs the way the program says it should!

    For God to exist and create all of this, all of reality, He would have to have been a human (God) compiler; he would have to manually assign all the traits of all the objects and all of the relationships and program all of the laws and entire state of the entire universe, and then set it running.

    If God is a human compiler — if he’s that good of a programmer — then he would also be extremely intelligent. What programmer would write, in assembler — nay, bytecode — the entire universe as if it were an evolutionary self-mutable program at a specific state — when he could just write a few laws and one line of self-mutable code (maybe [ nextTimeStep(initialState); ]) , and click “Run” ? No, God would be smart, and God would appreciate the incredible elegance of that one line, and God would think writing the whole universe and its state from scratch would be freaking stupid. Furthermore, a being of that level would know that if they wanted to start the world at, say, where it would be after 4 billion years (6,000 years ago, say), the best, easiest, surest way to get that state is to run the friggin program! Even if this being ran it in “simulation,” when a simulation gets that complex and that real, is it not reality? Isn’t that what we’re talking about? Did he not run reality up to a point so he could record its state and keep on running it? Then, isn’t that pointless and redundant? Yes. What if this being thought about all of the complex relationships and objects and things he wanted in his universe before creating it? Wouldn’t that just be running the simulation up to the point in his own mind? Then, isn’t that still the same thing, and pointless and redundant? Yes.

    The whole point is that a being that could create a universe from scratch would be smart enough not to.

    Even we humans, who create large programs, are smart enough not to use machine language. If there is a God, I and most other people believe he’s smarter and more powerful than any human. We are not yet smart enough to write a universe program, but even given that, seeing the simplicity of its beginnings, I wouldn’t put it beyond us someday, nor do I think we aren’t necessarily the program of another being who achieved the same.

    I don’t actually think of life that way, don’t worry :-) But I do think it’s much too elegant and complex and amazing to have been created by an all-powerful and simultaneously completely stupid creator.

  7. Tristan says:

    Okay, I feel like I should clarify how I do feel about life, in the context of my analogy.

    So if the universe is a program, and it’s running and working great, then cool, let it be. We are members of it, and at the same time (since we happen to be self-aware and sentient) we are users of it (or at least that’s the best term in the analogy).

    Everyone knows that the last thing users care about is that what they’re using is a program. It’s just not that important. It’s obvious.

    So yes, look around, this is reality, great — duh! It’s cool to realize sometimes, but the simple fact isn’t that astonishing… unless you are a programmer, and (as far as I know) none of us are universe-programmers (myself being just a regular programmer, I take appreciation in the fact that reality is of the same thread (or string, as it may be) at least in my little analogy, which I’m starting to like very much).

    Likewise, no one asks “How was it made?” about a program except a programmer. Life is an exception of course, because we are both part of and users of our realities, which is a bit of a conundrum that we like to make up explanations for. But in general, day-to-day life, using the program, we rarely wonder how it was made or why. We just live.

    “Okay, great, it’s a program, it was made somehow… so, what’s it do?” and that is, of course, the important question. The universe is amazing. It will never cease to entertain us and make us wonder in awe at its sheer beauty. It’s like (if you can imagine it) the best program in the world, with the ideal user-interface, and great aesthetics too! Simple, natural, beautiful — it doesn’t get any better. And it’s just a part of this huge program of the universe, a subset of its nature and wonder, with perhaps completely different subsets light-years away with different purpose, but perhaps just as amazing and complex. It’s like one huge operating system, and Earth is just Firefox (multi-platform and extensible, you know).

    So we, as users of this program, this planet, this universe, should appreciate it for the same kinds of reasons Mac zealots appreciate OSX, but with orders of magnitude more awe and humility, because it designed itself, and that is, in fact, why it makes so much sense and works so well.

    I’m trying to decide how war and poverty and despair and morality and society fit into all this, but I think the spectrum of human emotion and experience is best left to a different analogy, and I think we can agree that the natural world was beautiful and amazing before humanity ever messed it up, and it still is in most places if we have the chance to admire it.

    So that’s what I think — life, the world, and the universe are the epitome of elegance and beauty. I believe that restricting your perceptions to one view is a detriment to your own life (but you’re welcome to do that if you want), and forcing that view onto others is depriving them of their own well-being (which is not okay with me at all). So Conservapedia? I just think of it as propagating single-mindedness, that’s all. Fortunately, I think we’re getting better; that as a society, we’re starting to come to the realization that our world and each person in it are incredible and amazing, without requiring external validation. Someday anyway…

    In fact, I believe the other people in the world are the best part of it! So I don’t care about what they believe, I just try to make their lives better however I can…. (It’s like the world program is a social networking program! …okay, I’ll stop now… ;-)

  8. Joen says:

    Chris,

    Joen, you realize I woke up and this was the first thing I read right?

    Well, sorry.

    godless heathen

    What’s so wrong with being godless?

    But… I haven?t screwed a chicken in a long time. OK?

    I’ll take your word for it.

    And so, in a certain way, this view of ?creation? stops these nutters from being able to truly appreciate the beauty and majesty of their ?Gods? great work.

    One of my prime reasons for being atheist. I find it almost arrogant to attribute such natural wonders to “God”.

    Tristan,

    Ah, you always give me something interesting to waste my time on right when I need it :-)

    I don’t know if that’s sarcasm, but I hope we’re still friends? :)

    Here?s a good thought experiment for judging something that?s true or not: Start with an imaginary person with no knowledge of religion, atheism, or the entire world around him, but who is intelligent and can communicate.

    As in “a baby”? Maybe not good at communication or too intelligent just yet, but certainly a “blank slate”. Point being: teaching kids religion early on is child abuse.

    Life is like the perfect computer program to me. In my mind, the program is reality, and it contains all of the history of the universe, all of the physical universe right now, and all of the future, and it has no bugs. Everything fits together in a way that is impossible to argue with, because that?s just the way it is. If I found a bug in reality, I would be extremely concerned, but I have not, and I trust that I will not, ever.

    The anthropic principle, also called the “Goldilocks principle” because our universe is “just right”. I agree with you, it’s one of the most fantastic sources of wonder for me. To look at our surroundings and think “wow, this just feels right” (not always, but sometimes most definitely).

    The whole point is that a being that could create a universe from scratch would be smart enough not to.

    He’d also be smart enough not to place testicles in a small sac between the legs of human males.

    Well, that was an interesting piece you wrote there. I’ll try and sum up a response.

    Essentially, I agree. Writing an application that does a specific task, working the kinks out of it, improving it into version 2, is comparable to — say — the evolution of a bacteria. It’s a number of atoms that, together, perform a specific task. When encountered with a problem (penicillin), it further develops itself (mutates) and the best result is chosen (natural selection). Sure, there are dead ends in evolution just like there are in software development. (Chris, this sentence is wide open for a bad Windows joke…)

    My point is, while I do agree the universe is beautiful and elegant and all that, it’s not perfect. As a society, we still evolve.

    Conservapedia, I think, is a symptom of such a kink. Statistically, these kinks are worked out over time. We don’t burn witches anymore, we don’t stone gays and we don’t execute people. Well, okay, some nations do execute people, but that’s for another topic. The bottomline is, while I can be as annoyed as anyone at these moronic idiots for spreading their vile selv-serving lies, if I look at things from a perspective, I honestly believe it’ll all improve over time.

    Quite simply, knowledge will eventually suppress ignorance. Overwhelming evidence will eventually replace mindless leaps of faith. I believe that in 20 years, we will no longer solemnly look at religious people and say “good for you”, we’ll most likely think of them as deluded.

    Arthur C. Clarke said:

    A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets

    I sincerely subscribe to the truth in this sentence, and in time, I believe, everyone will.

  9. lm says:

    well it is not a latest news that when people are very poor and/ or suffering, they find god everywhere and give not much thinking about him exsistence or “other collisions” with truth. They believe emotionally and that is all matters for them.

  10. Joen says:

    Sure, the concept of God (meaning the comfort of meaning, answers and purpose), can give strength to people — but isn’t there a better way?

  11. Rogier says:

    Sure, the concept of God (meaning the comfort of meaning, answers and purpose), can give strength to people — but isn?t there a better way?

    These people just need start believing in themselves and stop believing fairytales…

  12. lm says:

    thats a point – weak and vulnerable people cant believe in themselves – so they look for easier way out. They believe in somebody who as they suspect no matter what dont let them down.

  13. Joen says:

    thats a point – weak and vulnerable people cant believe in themselves – so they look for easier way out. They believe in somebody who as they suspect no matter what dont let them down.

    It’s actually an interesting problem.

    I read somewhere that religion has the same, or a comparable effect on the mind, to that of drugs. Both release pleasure-hormones in your brain, and both are addictive and self-reinforcing. The study used this to explain why many drug addicts can “replace” their previous drug with religion.

    The actual study, and a further discussion into this, is actually on my “to blog” list. The conclusion to that, I think, would be: is it actually better to replace one drug with another, if that other drug is religion? And is there a third alternative?

  14. lm says:

    well we all for healthy options of course (sorry but only gym came into my head right now :D)

  15. Joen says:

    well we all for healthy options of course (sorry but only gym came into my head right now :D)

    That’s actually a good point. Exercise releases endorphins. Perhaps that could serve as a third alternative…

  16. lm says:

    wait a second i heard people in China already busy massively with some excersises?

  17. Tristan says:

    Yep, I kind of went off on a tangent… but it was enlightening for me! Thanks for reading through my thought process.

    Anyway, yes, we are not perfect as a society, nor is life perfect, but the fact remains that it all works quite well, because that’s how we evolved; if we didn’t work well (to at least survive), we wouldn’t be around to tell about it! (Anthropic principle, I know).

    The next step of course is the evolution of our society, and I agree with you that it’ll get better through the spread of knowledge, so that’s what I try to promote… unfortunately it seems that anti-knowledge spreads nearly faster, and I suppose it always will in some circles.

    To take that further, I believe that knowledge itself naturally leads to a healthy uncertainty about the world — it promotes healthy thought, gives you lots of evidence to the contrary of certain fixed beliefs, and gives you the tools you need to trust yourself and your own humanity in making conclusions about the world around you. That can only be a good thing, in my opinion. Once the world is understood, there’s still plenty of room for wonder and storytelling about how and why it all “is”, which science may never answer.

    Loren Eiseley had an excellent essay called “The Secret of Life” about some researchers trying to recreate life from the primordial ooze — here’s a great quote –

    “It is really a matter, I suppose, of the kind of questions one asks oneself. Some day we may be able to say with assurance, ‘We came from such and such a protein particle, possessing the powers of organizing in a manner leading under certain circumstances to that complex entity known as the cell, and from the cell, by various steps onward, to multiple cell formation.’ I mean we may be able to say all of this with great surety and elaboration of detail, but it is not the answer to the grasshopper’s leg, brown and black and saw-toothed here in my hand, nor the answer to the seeds still clinging tenaciously to my coat, nor to this field, nor to the subtle essences of memory, delight, and wistfulness moving among the thin wires of my brain.”

    So science and knowledge can only take us so far, when it comes down to it, we still have many unanswered questions to ponder, and in those, I think, perhaps religion is most valuable to the people of the world, which might be why its archaic parts remain intact. It is the separation between science — understanding the world as it really is — and religion — attempting to understand why we’re here — that will become more clear as people gain knowledge.

    I happen to believe that with a better understanding of the universe comes a more enlightened view and appreciation that we are in it, followed by a more complete medium in which to think about Why. How others do that is up to them, as long as they don’t get in my (or anyone else’s) way ;-)

  18. Jonas Rabbe says:

    Quite funny re. Chris’ comment on getting accosted by people. I saw two groups of religious pamphlet pushers, a group of Mormons (?) and a group of Muslems, standing on a street corner discussing religion. Thought that was pretty priceless :)

  19. ?Many atheists enjoy the Blog of the Gods, which pokes fun at the beliefs of many religions. They also like to kill babies…?

    But..but..but, you’re telling me you don’t enjoy killing babies?

    But yes, scary site.

  20. Rob Mientjes says:

    Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?

    I, um, suppose it’s really simple. We fit in a certain cycle of life. Not anymore we don’t, I know, but we did. That’s meaning enough for me.

  21. Joen says:

    Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?

    I saw a wonderful interview with Richard Dawkins. It’s available on YouTube, you should definitely watch it. Regarding “what is the meaning of life”, Dawkins is actually asked that question and responds beautifully.

    Also, in the last minute of the video, he’s asked what he’d say if he died and met God in heaven. His reply is most effective.