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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

British sociologist charges: Hostility to intelligent design is bigotry, not science

A friend writes to say that Steve Fuller's book Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism (Cambridge,) is now available.

Fuller is the Warwick U sociologist who made the mistake of trying to understand the intelligent design controversy by actually looking at the evidence. He appears in the Expelled film, so even the fact that he calls himself a secular humanist will not be enough to rescue his reputation. I would imagine the reviews will be terrible because most reviewers need to prove that they are good little boys and girls by trashing the book. One result is that - increasingly - the books the good littles trash are the only ones worth reading on this subject.

From the cover flap:
In Dissent over Descent Steve Fuller argues that the search for intelligent design in nature has been science’s overriding concern for its entire history.

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is itself best understood as the work of a failed ID theorist. Not even Richard Dawkins, for all his condemnation of religion, can get away from ID talk.

In this eagerly anticipated new book, iconoclastic sociologist of science Steve Fuller argues that hostility to ID is based less on science than sheer anti-religious bigotry. In fact, science and religion have gone hand in hand for most of Western history.

Fuller shows that even theological speculations about divine justice and biblical literalism have fostered the advancement of science. However to grant these points the significance they deserve, several myths about science need to be overturned.
My friend notes that his book "is not presently available from, but can be ordered from at nearly 30% off and free worldwide postage."

Here's a bit from Zoe Corbyn's 2006 profile of Fuller (Guardian Education):
His latest, The New Sociological Imagination, which is due out next month, is about saving social science from being squeezed out by fields such as evolutionary psychology and socio-biology. "Part of the problem is the influence of Darwinism. People are getting quite used to thinking about humans as animals." The result, he says, is that the study of the more humanising aspects of the human condition, the focus of social science, are in jeopardy.
Which is interesting, because evolutionary psychology - an attempt to apply Darwinism to psychology - is an almost fact-free discipline. It is based on the dubious assumption that modern-day attitudes can be understood by assuming that these attitudes helped our pre-human or early human ancestors survive and leave offspring. (To see what I mean, assume that your own attitudes can be understood as those that helped your great-great grandparents survive and leave offspring.) The underlying idea, of course, is that your mind is an illusion generated by your selfish genes attempting to perpetuate themselves.

(And if you think that doesn't make any sense, be assured, vast tracts of the Darwinism rammed down your throat would not survive scrutiny any better.)

When Fuller gave evidence at the Dover trial (for the defense), he ran into an army of Darwinbots on full tilt:
"There were people calling the university, calling for me to be fired, saying they wouldn't send their children there."

Amazingly, however, the U did not cave (and maybe didn't even grovel):
The university's response has been to use it as an opportunity for a larger public debate. "There's been an enormous amount of discussion on campus about it," says Fuller.

Fuller thinks that anyone who takes on the Darwinbot army had better be in a very secure position.

Note: Regular readers of this space will note that blogging has been light recently. I have been away for the Canada Day holiday (July 1).


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