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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Darwinism, atheism, liberal religion, and the academy

As the Darwin bicentennial looms and the flapdoodle flaps, we are treated to ridiculous hagiography and soothing, reassuring spin on how Darwinism can live harmoniously with the non-materialist beliefs of the peoples of Earth.

Meanwhile, a friend draws my attention to Taner Edis.

He advises me that Edis is
a physicist at Truman State University and a researcher at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. He's also associate editor for physics and astronomy for the NCSE's monthly journal. In 2004, he co-edited Why Intelligent Design Fails, a volume with many scientific contributors opposing ID and supporting evolution; including various contributors associated with the NCSE.

And he offers some brief passages from Edis's 2005 book, Science and Nonbelief , as a commentary on the harmony we can expect:
"[E]volution does, in fact, undermine a common traditional conception of the nature of morality. In a Darwinian world, nature is no longer infused with morality. Living things do not have created functions that are right and proper, and variation is not a deviation from an essence with overtones of corruption."
(Taner Edis, Science and Nonbelief 90 (Greenwood Press, 2006).)

"[I]n the United States, there is a recent movement to celebrate February 12, Darwin's birthday, as "Darwin Day." This event is supported largely by humanist, freethought, and atheist-oriented groups, using slogans of science and humanity." Naturally, the scientific community responds positively, treading it as a public outreach .. Occasionally, university science departments cosponsor larger public events put on for Darwin Day, alongside atheist and humanist organizations." (Taner Edis, Science and Nonbelief 91 (Greenwood Press, 2006).)

"An alliance with religious liberals need not bother the nonreligious. After all, nonbelievers most often react against politically intrusive, conservative religions. Their political goals and ethical inclinations are usually close to those affirmed by modernist spiritualities. And even those nonbelievers who equate all religion with superstition very often think religious liberals are already halfway to rejecting the gods. If so, promoting public acceptance of Darwin would also nudge people toward dropping their supernatural beliefs, even if they hang on for a while to vague liberal conceptions of divinity." (Taner Edis, Science and Nonbelief 91-92 (Greenwood Press, 2006).)

Oh, well that's all perfectly all right then. If you attend a church, synagogue, mosque or whatever, Darwin Day sounds like a great way to find out which clergy should take early retirement. Just catch them promoting it.

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