What should you do when you find out that your girlfriend rejects Big Bang model and evolution?
Imagine that your girlfriend, who you have been dating for a few months, suddenly tells you that she rejects some of the most well-supported scientific explanatory models in all of science. She does not accept Big Bang or evolution because they just do not make sense to her and what does not make sense to her must be false. What if she also refuses to talk about it and cannot understand that things can be scientifically accurate even if she personally does not understand the intimate physical, mathematical and biological details?
This is the second installment in a new series called Skepticism and Relationships. In this series, we will examine traditional and social media posts that relate to skeptics and their relationship troubles with people who are pseudoscience activists, quackery pushers or rabid conspiracy theorists. This aims to be a productive contribution to the area of how to handle relationship issues as a scientific skeptic and fill that relatively unexplored niche.
Let us proceed to the relationship issue that is the focus of this post. What should you do if you find out that a partner rejects basic science?
The situation: Girlfriend who rejects Big Bang and evolution
Early days of a relationship is to test out the waters
Forget the romantic ideas of love at first sight and relationships that last forever. Instead, the early days of a relationship exists to test out the waters and see if you are intellectually and emotionally compatible with a potential partner. Just because you have dated for a few months does not mean that you are stuck with her forever. If she reveals too many red flags or even dealbreakers, it is perfectly okay to end the relationship without any guilt. You were just not compatible and that is okay.
It is very important to actively explore the degree to which you are compatible in the early days of a relationship. This is because it is much easier to break off a relationship before you own a home together, gotten married and had kids. Trust me, you do not want to discover that your girlfriend is an anti-vaccine activist only after the kids have arrived. Instead, it is vital to explore the intellectual and moral beliefs of a partner to figure out if they are compatible with your own.
Is it okay to break up with ignorant people?
Thus, it is entirely acceptable to break up with someone that one has been dated for just a couple of months because of intellectual incompatibility. Remember that this is not just about the girlfriend rejecting Big Bang and evolution out of ignorance. After all, everyone can be wrong and there is nothing bad with changing one’s opinion if confronted with sufficient evidence.
She could have spent the time getting familiar with the topics by reading some decent popular science books on the topic, but she has not done so. In other words, the girlfriend is not just ignorant. She is also arrogant.
She refuses to engage in productive intellectual discussion, read up on the scientific literature to correct her misconceptions. There is a substantial lack of humility in the refusal to accept that there are some things that are true that she does not understand. She seems to reject things as false if she does not understand it. She appears to view herself as someone who is very intelligent and everything that goes against her own understanding of reality gets rejected. This could be a sign of something far worse.
Scientific ignorance: a red flags that may signal something worse
Once a red flag with respect to scientific ignorance has been detected, it is vital to ask oneself if this is the root cause or if it is merely a symptom of something far worse. It may be the case that she is just ignorant about the science and have emotional difficulties of admitting this. However, there might be more to this situation than it first seems.
She may have a toxic personality where she believes that she is always right and that if she does not understand something, it must be wrong.
This combination of ignorance and arrogance is sometimes labelled the Dunning-Kruger effect whereby a person is so ignorant that they lack the awareness and understanding that they are ignorant. Instead, they believe they are right even though they are objectively wrong. If she has this kind of toxic personality, it may lead to many other problems in the relationship down the line. She may insist that she is right on relationship matters or interpersonal issues when she could be just as ignorant about those topics as she is about the science.
Could you respect her?
Imagine that you just suppressed this issue, did not think about it anymore and did not bring up the subject with her ever again. Could you ever intellectually respect her for her stance? Or would you go through life together with her while secretly thinking that she is ignorant or perhaps a little dumb? Are her other personality traits so great that you would be willing to sacrifice scientific integrity and be with someone you fundamentally did not respect? Is that really a good foundation for a loving relationship? If you could not respect her, it sounds like that this red flag could very well be a dealbreaker.
It is also worth thinking about if this discovery make her less attractive in your eyes. There are few things that are more unattractive than ignorance and arrogance. If this discovery of her stance on Big Bang and evolution means that you respect her less and even find yourself being less attracted to her, it is worth seriously considering if this relationship is something that is beneficial for you to continue.
Prioritizing and compromising
Some people might insist that relationships are a matter of prioritization and compromise. This is to some extent true. For instance, one might compromise on what to buy or where to go on vacations. However, some things are far too important to compromise on.
Scientific facts have a clear connection to things that may be very important in a relationship such as health and money. If she rejects Big Bang and evolution, does she also reject vaccines or genetically modified foods or other important topics? Is she vulnerable to fall for various scams, such as multilevel marketing or NFTs? Another crucial question one must always ask when someone comes out as a pseudoscience believer: how far does it go? How many more pseudosciences and conspiracy theories does she subscribe to?
Each individual decides for themselves on what counts as a dealbreaker and what you can live with. But since the relationship is so new and you value scientific accuracy and humility, it seems that her rejection of Big Bang model and evolution is a dealbreaker.
Is she worth the effort?
It would be hard for you to get her to change her mind on these issues. It would be even harder for you to help her change her fundamental approach to things she does not understand and help her lessen her toxicity. This may be worth doing for someone who you have spent a decade with and have children with, but probably not worth the effort for someone you have only been dating for a few months. Just break up, be happy that you avoided such a problematic person and move on with your life. There are plenty of other women that might be more intellectually compatible with you out there.