Class Warfare Blog

August 8, 2017

Why Creationists Insist the World is Only 6000 Years Old

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, the creationists who believe in a 6000 year old Earth are called Young Earth Creationists to distinguish them from the others of their ilk. So I am referring to these chaps (they always seem to be men; whether this is due to a manifestation of Christian misogyny or a manifestation of female sensibility, I can’t say).

And the idea of a “young earth” is not just confined to people who label themselves as Young Earth Creationists. If you watch any of the very numerous apologist videos, you will see their positions aped very frequently. In essence, if you believe in the literal truth of the Bible, you are a YEC.

Onward and upward!

As to why the insistence on this 6000 year age for the Earth, I assume some of it is to protect their assumption that the Bible cannot be wrong, but underlying that their narrative has problems if the Earth is not so young. If, after creation, Adam and Eve are shooed off to go forth and multiply but not to darken the door of his garden again by Yahweh, Jesus comes along after about 4000 of the six thousand years. Jesus is the “fix” for the problem of people not being in their god’s good graces. So, for 4000 years, Yahweh is observing to see what his creatures will do.

After about 1600 years or so, Yahweh is so disgusted with what he was seeing that he caused the Great Flood and wiped out 99.99999% of living humans and all land animals and plants, etc. He basically wiped the slate clean for a do over. Then Yahweh sits down on his throne to see what will happen next. After about another 2500 years, he decides to manifest as Jesus and give people a way out. Now this narrative time line seems reasonable. While 2500 years seems like a long time to us, it is not in the march of human progress and certainly not much time to an immortal being (or one for whom time does not count).

But wait, there’s more!

Consider how different things are if we take what evidence we have from nature and apply the same narrative. Modern humans seem to have cropped up (along side other hominids) about 300,000 years ago. So if that is the moment of creation, then instead of Yahweh waiting 1600 years to make his “Flush them, flush them all!” decision and the Great Flood, He waited 295,600 years before his big decision. During 300 millennia, a lot of people lived and died, many miserably from diseases no one dies of any more. None were offered the religious instruction that would provide admittance into Heaven, so apparently all were sent to Hell and have been roasting there for thousands upon thousand of years. So, it takes Yahweh almost 300,000 years to see that humanity is utterly depraved and must be wiped off the face of the planet, and then another 2500 years to take pity on the second wave humans and offer up himself as a sacrifice to himself (still puzzling) to let many, but not all, off the hook.

For an omniscient being who has past, present, and future all laid out in front of him, why the wait? This timeline shows a god who is either off doing errands or disinterested or indifferent or who actually likes the suffering He sees. This behavior doesn’t exactly line up well with an “all good” god.

If one opens oneself up to such a story by admitting the Earth and humanity are both much older than the Bible implies (it does not state, just implies) one finds a devastatingly absent god who allows great suffering in people who do not even have the language skills to be able to transmit the lesson of “The Fall” or the “cure” for the consequences.

That is reason enough to insist on a 6000 year old Earth. And for people who believe in magic, nothing is impossible.

* * *

As an aside, I find the ignorance of many (very many) of these Christian apologists posting videos on the Internet to be appalling. I expect their knowledge of science to be weak to nonexistent, but their understanding of logic and even of their own scriptures is also very weak. They seem, like the singers of other people’s songs, to be repeating words that are not theirs, just adding whatever flair they bring to the table because of their calling to do that work. So, like song stylists, they are argument stylists, but end up being quite inept, because there are no argument producers, career managers, recording studios, etc. for these amateurs, they almost always get it wrong. They assume their arguments are devastating because they found them convincing (being already convinced). They seem not to bother to try to understand why others found them specious or that out they had been disproved decades or centuries ago.

Note If you are wondering why diatribes against mainstream religion are being offered in a Class Warfare blog, I argue that religion is being used as a tool of the class war. Can you see how the rich and powerful can support a creed that claims you are unworthy and sinful, that your reward will not be in this world, but in the next, while they reaps their rewards in this world and do not bother with scriptures that address warn how rich people will not get into Heaven. They know that such “knowledge” is for the rubes. They think if you will believe “that stuff” you will have no trouble believing the propaganda they dream up (trickle down economics … right …).

January 15, 2017

You Have to Ask “Why?”

Have you ever heard of the High School Movement? I certainly had not, so I looked it up in Wikipedia, which provided the following:

The high school movement is a term used in educational history literature to describe the era from 1910 to 1940 during which secondary schools sprouted across the United States. During this early part of the 20th century, American youth entered high schools at a rapid rate, mainly due to the building of new schools, and acquired skills “for life” rather than “for college.” In 1910 19% of 15- to 18-year-olds were enrolled in a high school; barely 9% of all American 18-year-olds graduated. By 1940, 73% of American youths were enrolled in high school and the median American youth had a high school diploma. The movement began in New England but quickly spread to the western states. According to Claudia Goldin, the states that led in the U.S. high school movement (e.g. Iowa and Nebraska) had a cohesive, homogeneous population and were more affluent, with a broad middle-class group.

“The United States exceeded Europe in mass secondary education. The American system of education was characterized as open to many (mostly white) students, forgiving, lacking universal standards, and academic. On the other hand, the European system was closed, unforgiving, with uniform standards, and academic for some and industrial for others. Secondary schools in America were free and generally accessible, while in most of Europe they were costly and often inaccessible with difficult entrance exams. In the United States, schools were provided by small, local districts. Because decentralized decision making system rose competition among districts for residents in the United States, the U.S. moved quickly in building schools initially. In contrast, schools were provided by the central government as a national decision in Europe. Further, high school was designed to be the terminal degree rather than a pre-college diploma of office or skilled blue-collar workers in the United States. By 1955 80% of United States youth had graduated from an academic high school. In this setting general skills and social mobility were emphasized, not specific training or apprenticeships. Even by the 1930s, America was virtually alone in providing secondary schools that were free and accessible; however, this accessibility was limited to white students. While in Europe the rate of those graduating from academic high schools was only 10%-20%. Most Europeans, 40%-50%, attended full-or part-time vocational training.

“From the viewpoint of economics, this movement led to the increase of women’s labor force from 1930 to 1950 in the United States. Knowledge and skills women gained in high school helped them attain better jobs outside the home.

I didn’t know this. I did know that the transition the country was in from a farming-based economy to one less involved in farming made a great many farmers job’s superfluous. In the late 19th century, 40% of all jobs were in farming; now it is closer to 2-3%. As labor required more expertise to be effective, it became smart to keep kids in school longer. It also kept the kids out of the job market for non-farm related jobs.

So, greater prosperity for all and greater opportunities for women. Wow! But, wait, there’s more!

In the early 1960’s a combination of events lead to a similar expansion, this time in U.S. citizens going to college. In the mid-1800’s there was a tremendous growth in the number of four-year colleges, mostly in the western states. But, still, the number of colleges was relatively small. Also, the entrenched eastern colleges had different ideas regarding the purpose of a college education from the newer western colleges. The western colleges were more pragmatic, teaching subjects like engineering and mining and animal husbandry. The eastern colleges were more traditional, emphasizing philosophy, the arts, as well as the law and medicine. We have remnants of those disputes still today: in many eastern colleges the BA degree is considered superior to the “more pragmatic” BS degree. In the west, it is the reverse.

As few people went to high school as there were in the early 1900’s, the demand for students to take slots in U.S. colleges and universities was still being met. But in the early 1960’s there was a huge explosion in the number of community colleges. These were colleges which only addressed subjects that were addressed in the first two years of a tradition four-year program, hence their label as “two-year colleges.” At one point in California in the early 1960’s, a new community college was opening about one per week. Even though many derided these colleges as “high schools with ash trays” and pointed to programs in cosmetology and welding as being inappropriate topics for colleges, this expansion lead to a number of things: for one it lead to a great many students being able to afford a college education (I was one of those) and it allowed a great many more to attend college due to having one in close proximity. The State of California credits the expansion of the college-educated workforce for a great deal of the expansion of its economy, especial in areas like aerospace, electronics, and high tech (Silicon Valley, etc.).

As a community college professor (later), I remember entertaining delegations of Chinese educators coming to this country to see our colleges and universities and especially they wanted to see our two-year colleges. Nowhere else in the world was attendance in college being offered to so many citizens as was being done in the U.S.

So, since the expansion of education to a greater and greater share of the U.S. population has lead to unprecedented prosperity and well-being, you have to ask why are our public schools currently under attack? “Entrepreneurs” have high jacked the voucher school and charter school movements expanding those offerings substantially by siphoning off funds from public schools to do so. Of course, there was a disinformation campaign involved (a major weapon in the plutocrats arsenal). Our public schools were described as failing, not up to international standards, etc. “Evidence” was cherry-picked to support these false claims. And people have offered almost no resistance to these efforts resulting in the dismantling of our system of public schools and colleges. Why is this being done?

Oh, greed. Well, that explains it. There is money to be made in opening these “schools.” So much money that new stories of mismanagement and malfeasance at charter schools are now a daily occurrence. These schools, being offered as a promise to do better than the “failing public schools” are, of course, not doing better, most are about the same but many are far, far worse and many only do as well as they do by excluding “difficult” students: those “of color” and/or disabled.

This is another example of the Killing the Goose that Laid Golden Eggs Syndrome. You know how the parable goes: a goose is discovered that lays golden eggs. After extensive discussions, the owner of the goose is induced to kill the goose and harvest all of the eggs inside of it. (This is a terrifically stupid story in that anyone ever having lived on a farm knows that fowl take a day or more to create one egg; they aren’t egg dispensers having many eggs inside and just dispensing one a day.) Of course, killing the goose reveals no more eggs and now that the goose is dead, there will be no more eggs.

The Great American Economy was built not on capital and entrepreneurship, but on educating American workers so they became the most productive workers in the entire world. We are now in the process of destroying that educational base. I remember when “public education reform” was something done to make education better, not just more profitable for the rich.

Let me requote the above “The American system of education was characterized as open to many (mostly white) students, forgiving, lacking universal standards, and academic. On the other hand, the European system was closed, unforgiving, with uniform standards, and academic for some and industrial for others.” Why are we trying to take the system that worked so well and transforming it into the one we superseded?

Oh, greed, I forgot for a second.

And, you will notice that we denied this opportunity to people of color, to whole we offered only substandard educations. Why are we continuing this practice, a practice that has worked so poorly and not offered them what worked for white people?

Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Is this how you want to go out?

August 7, 2016

Fighting Against the Obvious

It was recently pointed out that a noted economist (Dani Rodrik) has often argued that “markets and states are complements, not substitutes.” Well, duh. It is clear, at least to sociologists if not economists, that without governments there isn’t enough trust in societies to engage in any sort of extensive commerce. Before government control of markets (modern markets, not medieval fairs) most market transactions were more akin to how major drug deals are portrayed in the movies … <cue the edgy music track>: two men with briefcases approach one another, one stuffed with cash, one with drugs. They inspect both to make sure that it was what was agreed upon and not adulterated (e.g. counterfeit currency, counterfeit or diluted drugs). All the while each has guards in place in case anyone wants to pull a heist. Most transactions, even for bunches of carrots were like this: face-to-face with items of equal value being exchanged.

“An obvious conclusion is that for there to be globalization, an expansion of
economic markets to include ever larger groups of countries, you need
more government, not less.”

Even with governmental controls, most transactions had some of this flavor. As late as U.S. Revolutionary times, England had laws requiring some of the commodity being bought being necessarily transferred when the contract was signed (a sheep, a sheaf of wheat, whatever was being bought). This made international commerce somewhat restricted.

Only with governmental security of the contracts, with the force only a government could supply, could make modern markets work at all.

An obvious conclusion is that for there to be globalization, an expansion of economic markets to include ever larger groups of countries, you need more government, not less.

The Republicans and Corporate Democrats (Is there much left of those two parties when you pull out those groups?) are all backers of “globalization” because their paymasters are. (It has been claimed that if the plutocrats didn’t want globalization, the term wouldn’t even exist.) The latest effort to instill more globalization is the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership which is a pact often compared to NAFTA, the North America Free Trade Act. The TPP which will be rammed home shortly on a tidal wave of corporate money actually says very little about trade but, of course, it is still is referred to as a “free trade treaty” between the Pacific rim countries that are involved. So, if it isn’t about “free trade” what is it about? It largely is a corporate rights document, empowering corporations and disempowering governments. (It was written by the corporations themselves, with no help whatsoever from the uncooperative “public.”)

So, what the corporate backers of the TPP, and their lackeys in the GOP and Democratic Party, are trying to establish is the equivalent to “more globalization with less government.”

As has been shown by economists, not overtly because they, too, receive their funding from the plutocrats, these “treaties” are “good” for the economies of the countries involved. What they don’t bother to point out is who specifically is the reaper of those benefits of the benefits of such deals that accrue. It turns out that these treaties are hugely beneficial to corporations and rich people and hugely harmful for the poor and middle classes.

We often hear about the millions of jobs that have been lost to Mexico because of NAFTA. What we don’t hear about are the millions of jobs Mexico has lost to us. Our cheaper agricultural goods have wiped out many Mexican farmers who have then tried to get across the border to find work in the U.S., thus straining our immigration systems. The jobs move quickly from place to place, but we don’t have the same mobility. If your job moves to Viet Nam, will you follow it?

The TPP is of the same ilk. The rich will get much richer, after all they are few. And the poor and the middle class will become even poorer. But that is their lot in life, no?

This is a form of redistribution of wealth of which conservatives approve. This is why they are willing to ignore the obvious (more globalization requires more government, not less). It is all about the money and really nothing else and the rich, they just don’t have enough of it.

In all such cases in which a tiny majority runs roughshod over a much larger majority, it ends poorly, often with the tiny majority trampled by the many. Can this turn out any other way? When will we begin? (Personally I would like to spare them. They have proven, though, that they cannot be trusted with so much wealth. If we want to save them, we need to tax them back to civility.)

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