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Monday, July 24, 2006

Aussie poli sci prof: Darwin's main claim to fame was his social status

In a recent post, Sanity moment: Charles Darwin is not a saint, I introduced the spot-on observations of Australian political scientist Hiram Caton, on the ridiculous hagiography of Charles Darwin, posh Victorian Brit. Of course, given that Darwinism is the creation story of materialism, it makes sense that Darwinists would consider its author a saint, but Caton was finding the obsequies a bit much. Ditto me.

(Oh, and some of the greatest of these are following in the master's footsteps and building a replica of the ship he sailed on, The Beagle, for a mere three million Brit lbs and change. About the latter, ... don't anyone ever bug me about the Crystal Cathedral again!)

But in another article Caton also deflates the importance that the materialist gospel assigns to their Book of Genesis, Darwin's Origin of Species, in promoting the materialist outlook:
... Darwin's celebrated book did not deliver an earth-shaking new vision of nature, as creationists believe. The Origin of Species came nowhere close to the bestseller list. It sold about one-third as many copies as did Vestiges. Darwin's main claim to novelty, the discovery of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution, was implicit in Spencer's theory and indeed had been clearly stated three decades previously by the Scot Patrick Matthew, who aptly styled it "the natural law of selection".

From the point of view of public uptake, Darwin's most important contribution was his high social status, for it meant that an outlook that previously lacked the necessary social credentials had acquired them.

Based on my reading, Caton is mostly right. Darwin wrote the Book of Genesis for a materialist worldview that had already received its Gospel during the 18th century. But I wouldn't underestimate, as he does, the importance of Darwin's completion of the canon.

He also notes the hypocrisy underlying the science establishment's current spaz about the ID Visigoths at the gates.
The science establishment's horror at the thought of the pollution of biology teaching by pseudo-science is certainly sincere but of doubtful consistency, with its many compromises with social currents too strong to resist. Not only science but all subjects have been made over to be supportive of multiculturalism, equality of the sexes, identity politics, environmentalism and other preferred beliefs. The postmodernist catchphrase critical thinking has been adopted in the titles of biology teaching texts and teacher aids.

Now there, Caton is partly right. No one could be a textbook editor, as I have been for many years, and fail to notice the hijacking of most curricula by fact-lite agendas and fads. (Indeed, I would love to see the science establishment take on the multi culti nonsense, but no dice.) But "critical thinking" is not a mere post-modern catchphrase. Critical thinking is the only weapon the student can wield against overwhelming ideologies, increasingly backed by sanctions against doubters. The postmodernists assault the student, yes, but they have thrown him a sword as well.

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