One of the major components of creationism and fundamentalism is that it mesmerizes its adherents into turning their brains off. By accepting literalistic biblical authority, creationists do not even notice evidence that contradicts their beliefs. But it goes beyond even the acceptance of biblical passages about the distant past. Creationists uncritically accept even beliefs that have no biblical basis and which can be easily disproven by observation in the present.
During the question and answer period of Francisco Ayala’s talk at the University of Oklahoma (see previous entry), one faculty member (who teaches freshman biology) reported results of student surveys in his class. (The new “clicker” technology allows an instant computerized display of student answers to survey and quiz questions.) He said that about 60 percent of the students believe that men and women do not have the same number of ribs.
This belief comes from the Bible story about God creating Eve from the rib of Adam. These students apparently thought that if someone’s rib is removed, that person’s descendants for the rest of time will have one rib missing. That is not how genetic inheritance works. It is not evolution that these students are rejecting; it is basic genetics. You cannot pass on things that happen to your body to later generations; the only thing you pass on is your genes. Moreover, the Bible nowhere says that because God removed a rib from Adam, all men will have a rib missing. The creationists have just made up this story, which contradicts all of biology, not just evolution.
The adherents of the missing-rib idea have turned off their minds. It is a perfectly straightforward procedure to count the number of ribs in men and women and verify that they are the same (unless there is an injury or a mutation in certain rare individuals). But they do not bother to do this. An intelligent creationist would instantly recognize (as many do) that the missing-rib theory is wrong and totally unnecessary for a Bible believer to believe. But mentally-lazy creationists, of which there are many thousands, do not bother with such mental exertion. They figure they already know everything they need to know: They believe the Bible, even if they do not know what it says, and they do not need to learn anything else. The result is a brain that is accustomed to not think.