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Sunday, March 18, 2007

The relevance of Darwin mythmaking to ID

In a comment to one of my posts of yesterday at Uncommon Descent, on the popular myths (and ridiculous hagiography) around Darwin, someone responded, "I am not seeing the ID relevance of this article."

Really not? Okay then, let me unpack it. When I started covering the ID controversy in depth (about 2002 onward, while writing By Design or by Chance?), I quickly became aware that the Darwin myths were the single most important reason why - irrespective of any evidence whatever - average educated people could not imagine that Darwin and his heirs might be mistaken in their interpretation of the history of life.

Indeed, Darwinian evolutionist Douglas Futuyma picked up that current when he wrote in the 1998 edition of his textbook,
Together with Marx's materialistic theory of history and society and Freud's attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin's theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism…

Yes, you see, Darwin is right up there with Einstein - where Freud and Marx also used to be - as one of the guys who explained it all for you.

Now, obviously, one consequence of materialist apotheosis (becoming a materialist divinity) is that you can't be wrong even when you obviously are. Miracles are ascribed to you or allegedly done in your name. The people who oppose you are evil, and are hatching wicked plots against the righteous elect who believe in you.

Now, religious sects in North America often behave in this fashion. But they do not often demand what the Darwinists have demanded and so far got - that all children be legally compelled to learn their dogmas (and only their dogmas) at taxpayer expense in publicly funded schools. Had the American elite not already been sold on the religion of materialism, materialism's creation story (Darwinism) would certainly not have attained this status in biology classes. And there is now no longer any question that the materialists do mean to found a church.

Slowly, materialists are succeeding in their effort to establish their church as the national religion. And, just as a sociologist of religion might predict, the vigorous Christian sects of North America, Catholicism and evangelicalism, are blowing the materialists off but the dying liberal ones are accommodating them.

Now, how does this affect ID? Well, in the present environment, any scientist who says, "My data better fit a hypothesis of the workings of nature that includes design than one that does not" is essentially either an infidel or a heretic. Thus, the question is not whether his data provide useful information but whether we should burn or drown the faithless wretch.

In my own view, most educated people will not evaluate the question of whether design is an intrinsic part of nature in a reasonable way until the dubious Darwiniania is shown up for what it is - dubious mythmaking and inappropriate hagiography. The Darwin bicentennial is a good place to begin.

(Note: A couple of years ago, I was discussing an obscure question with a fellow science journalist who confided that his personal reverence for Darwin stemmed from the fact that Darwin was a "moral" atheist - thus demonstrating that an atheist could be moral.

I was a bit surprised because I apprehended for the first time the yawning gulf between his life experience among the elite and mine among the unwashed.

I'd never doubted that a Christian could be moral. That's just expected. But the typical serious Catholic aspires to be a saint, which ratchets the bar up considerably higher. Even so, John Paul II was declaring people saints and blesseds all the time. (The typical serious Protestant aspires to a similar status, though expressed somewhat differently.) In other words, the problem was never whether morally praiseworthy behaviour is possible in principle but whether one really intends to follow the many virtuous examples oneself.)
My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

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.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God , my backgrounder about peer review issues, or the evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin and of academic ID publications.

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
Blog policy note:Comments are permitted on this blog, but they are moderated. Fully anonymous posts and URLs posted without comment are rarely accepted. To Mr. Anonymous: I'm not psychic, so if you won't tell me who you are, I can't guess and don't care. To Mr. Nude World (URL): If you can't be bothered telling site visitors why they should go on to your fave site next, why should I post your comment? They're all busy people, like you. To Mr. Rudesby International and Mr. Pottymouth: I also have a tendency to delete comments that are merely offensive. Go be offensive to someone who can smack you a good one upside the head. That may provide you with a needed incentive to stop and think about what you are trying to accomplish. To Mr. Righteous but Wrong: I don't publish comments that contain known or probable factual errors. There's already enough widely repeated misinformation out there, and if you don't have the time to do your homework, I don't either. To those who write to announce that at death I will either 1) disintegrate into nothingness or 2) go to Hell by a fast post, please pester someone else. I am a Catholic in communion with the Church and haven't the time for either village atheism or aimless Jesus-hollering.

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