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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Pope, gender equality, and the depressing irrelevance of facts

The Pope has ....

strongly criticized modern theories that consider people's gender identities to exist along a spectrum, saying such theories do not "recognize the order of creation." Speaking of gender theory in an interview in a new book released in Italy, the pope even compares such theories to genetic manipulation and nuclear weapons. Gender theory is a broad term for an academic school of thought that considers how people learn to identify themselves sexually and how they may become typed into certain roles based on societal expectations ...

It's really important to socially conservative Catholics like the Pope to retain the idea of ciomplementarianism, the view that men and women are ontologically different and have different and complementary abilities and roles (the Pope and others have opined that women have special qualities men don't and even have different souls than men) ... it's one of the ways they justify discriminating against women in the church.

The thing is, they are wrong. Hey, not just my opinion - most other Christians believe in the ontological equality of the sexes and many science studies have shown that men and women are more alike than different - here's just one from the American Psychological Association ... Men and Women: No Big Difference.

But as another studies about the anti-vaccine movement and about climate change deniers has shown, when people have a big emotional investment in a certain belief, facts that contradict that belief will be ignored ... I Don’t Want to Be Right ...

[...] Not all false information goes on to become a false belief—that is, a more lasting state of incorrect knowledge—and not all false beliefs are difficult to correct.Take astronomy. If someone asked you to explain the relationship between the Earth and the sun, you might say something wrong: perhaps that the sun rotates around the Earth, rising in the east and setting in the west. A friend who understands astronomy may correct you. It’s no big deal; you simply change your belief.

But imagine living in the time of Galileo, when understandings of the Earth-sun relationship were completely different, and when that view was tied closely to ideas of the nature of the world, the self, and religion. What would happen if Galileo tried to correct your belief? The process isn’t nearly as simple. The crucial difference between then and now, of course, is the importance of the misperception. When there’s no immediate threat to our understanding of the world, we change our beliefs. It’s when that change contradicts something we’ve long held as important that problems occur ...


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