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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sanity moment::Charles Darwin is not a saint

Oh, it finally happened! Someone - an Australian poli sci prof named Hiram Caton - has commented on the bathetic and ridiculous hagiography of Charles Darwin that the Darwinian evolutionist community has resorted to - I suppose because it is under assault: from ID. I would hate to think this is their normal behavior, but I don't know enough to give odds:
... adroit evasion was not the beginning of the Darwin legend, but it was a landmark in his sanctification as the presiding spirit of scientific enlightenment. Signs abound that the celebration of his bicentennial will reverberate with new hymns and hosannas. Indeed, it has already begun with the opening of the lavish Darwin Exhibition at New York’s American Museum of Natural History in November last year. In June the exhibition will move successively to Boston, Chicago, and Toronto before finally opening in the London Natural History Museum in time for the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth on February 12, 2009..

Indeed, Caton enlarges on the fulsome nonsense:
Darwin revolutionised the biology of his day; he fashioned a new concept of humankind; he challenged basic philosophical and religious ideas about the nature and meaning of life; so profound was his insight that his thought remains relevant to contemporary biology. These surpassing achievements brought a “revolution” equal in importance to the Copernican revolution. Smitten with reverence, my eye falls on the dust jacket to contemplate the photo of the dignified aged Darwin: yes, he looks like a prophet!

As is wont with preaching, no evidence for this litany is offered: evidence implies evaluation and critical scrutiny. But outside the cathedral, old habits disturb my rapture. What grading system ranks Origin as the greatest book in science? What titles were runners-up? What were those signal discoveries that transformed the biological sciences of his day? What was his new concept of humankind? Did it support the actively canvassed universal suffrage and gender equality? What was the secularising element of Darwin’s thought, and how did it relate to the well-established influence of irreligion, industrialisation, engineering marvels, the free press, socialism, positivism, and the notorious laissez-faire doctrine of survival of the fittest?

But I am not going to spoil it for you any more. Enjoy it yourself.

Look, Charlie D. was a nice, wealthy old gent, a Victorian Brit toff who figured that the history of life could be explained by survival of the fittest, the war of all against all, the continual free fight, Darwinian capitalism, or whatever. And it had better be okay to say "On reasonable evidence, I don't think it's true or even very likely."
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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