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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Outrageously funny mathematician takes on Darwinists: Irrepressible Berlinski confesses all

In three interviews with himself (and who better to do them?), here, here, and here, American-born mathematician and novelist David Berlinski, a Jewish agnostic, socks it to a variety of topics related to the intelligent design controversy. The last interview is the funniest, so don't read it anywhere that you may be asked why you are laughing out loud. Remember, Berlinski isn't supposed to be funny. You are supposed to have correctly outraged views on a variety of topics that he declines to have such views on:

On outraged Darwinists:

Why are Darwinian biologists so outraged? Like the San Andres fault, the indignation conspicuous at blogs such as Panda's Thumb or Talk Reason is now visible from outer space.

There is a lot at stake, obviously. Money, prestige, power, influence - they all play a role. Darwinism is an ideological system and when such systems come under threat, they react in predictable ways. Freedom of thought very often appears as an inconvenience to those with a position to protect. Look at the attempts made to humiliate Rick Sternberg at the Smithsonian Institute or the campaign now underway to do the same thing to Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State. There is nothing surprising in all this. I myself believe that the world would be suitably improved if those with whom I disagreed were simply to shut up. What is curious is how quickly the Darwinian establishment has begun to appear vulnerable. (from Interview 1)

On the Discovery Institute:

... the only private institution in the world, I suspect, that has had the nerve to take on the entire Darwinian establishment ...

... no more than a handful of scholars, really, Steve Meyer, Mike Behe, William Dembski, Jonathan Wells, me - of course, I count for three - taking on the entire American science establishment, and more or hess holding its own, too, against the most solemn anathemas and grimly voiced objurgations that any number of perfumed tonsils can devise. Of course, it helps to be financed by secret Christian oligarchs ...

... You're not serious ...

Of course not. If the DI had the kind of money that its critics suppose, do you think it would allow Steve Meyer or Bruce Chapman to appear in public in those frumpy suits of theirs?

On his true relationship to ID:

My attitude is pretty much what it has always been: warm but distant. It's the same attitude that I display in public toward my ex-wives. I have been a published critic of various design-theoretic arguments, but unlike other critics I have never suggested that the Enlightenment would come to an end were they to be widely accepted.

On the Talk Reason Darwinist blog:

... They make an effort to be fair. An overwhelming impression conveyed by Talk Reason is a kind of insecure disgruntlement, the impression conveyed by men who suspect that the opinions they reject might just be persuasive to men less intelligent than themselves ...

On the Panda's Thumb Darwinist blog:

The Panda's Thumb, on the other hand, is entirely low-market; the men who contribute to the blog all have some vague technical background - computer sales, sound mixing, low-level programming, print-shops or copy centers; they are semi-literate; their posts convey that characteristic combination of pustules and gonorrhea that one would otherwise associate with high-school toughs.

Yes, I have sometimes reflected myself that with such friends, Darwin would be better off with his enemies.

Incidentally, Berlinski's comments on origin of life theories are here.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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