Lot’s of people like to lament the fact that American education is, well, less spectacular than we all might like it to be.

There’s a silver lining, though.

We’re not alone in our ignorance! This poor fellow and half the audience still haven’t received the “Copernican revolution” memo.

My favorite parts: the three people in the audience who can’t constrain their laughter when he says “final answer” and the hosts pathetic attempts at consolation.

(HT: Brad from Happy Mills)

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. If l’adversité fait sage, the converse is also true. In the developed world, one can lead a comfortable life and still be completely ignorant of the world in which they live and nearly the entire corpus of human knowledge.


  2. Prufrock,


    But then again, a prosperous economic society fosters intellectual development by allowing people to read books, paint painting, write music, etc. rather than work for bread. I don’t think the problem is so much the fact that we live in “the developed world” but the way the world has developed.


  3. As Jesus once said, “The dull you will always have with you.”


  4. I have nothing further to add.


  5. Please disregard the above statement.

    It’s interesting to me that you decry the French game show contestant’s and the studio audience’s ignorance of the Copernican revolution, by which a heliocentric model of the universe replaced the geocentric Ptolemaic model, thereby displacing man from the “center of the universe.” Alas, the entire cosmos does not physically revolve around humanity.

    But maybe it does so metaphorically.


  6. Prufrock,

    With all due respect, huh? Why again is it interesting that I decry their ignorance of the Copernican revolution? Do you expect me to praise it?


  7. No, everyone should know that the earth orbits the sun and not vice versa. No one should be that ignorant.

    It is the corollary impact that the displacement of humanity from the center of the universe and the repercussions for religious belief about the centrality of humanity to the universe that I was trying to underscore.


  8. Right…I get that.

    But I don’t get why you think it’s interesting that I would decry that people would be ignorant of science. The Copernican revolution certainly doesn’t threaten or impinge upon the truth of Christian theism, if that’s what you’re getting at……


  9. The truth is that every priest who really understands the nature of his business is well aware that science is its natural and implacable enemy. He knows that every time the bounds of exact knowledge are widened, however modestly, the domain of theology is correspondingly narrowed. If Christian divines admit today that the world is round and revolves around the sun, it is only because they can’t help themselves—because the fact has been so incontrovertibly proved that even the mob has had to accept it.

    Their [the priests’] effort to occupy all the areas not yet conquered by science—in other words, their bold claim that what no one knows is their special province, that ignorance itself is a superior kind of knowledge, that their most fantastic guess must hold good until it is disproved—all of this is certainly absurd enough, but even more absurd is their frequent attempt, just mentioned, to find support for their dogmas in what they allege to be overt facts [e.g. the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ prove his divinity].

    H.L. Mencken, Treatise on the Gods.


  10. Mencken is using the term “priests” in the broad sense of any person who performs religious rites.


  11. Matthew Lee Anderson September 11, 2007 at 1:05 pm


    I still don’t know what that has to do with my post or me.

    With all due respect to Mendel, I don’t think his claims here merit anything more than a dismissive “heh–that’s a silly position.” It makes me wonder whether he has actually ever met a priest. Remember, many of the founders of modern science were themselves priests and churchmen (and devoutly so, at that!). Remember (for one) Gregor Mendel? The plants he was studying were in the monastery garden.

    Try reading Ian Barbour’s “Religion and Science” for a bit more sophisticated approach (though I don’t necessarily agree with it) or JP Moreland’s “Christianity and the Nature of Science.”


  12. Your initial post was about ignorance and I definitely agree that there is far too much of it in the world today. Even in France.

    Thanks, I’ll check out those books.


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