Monday, February 07, 2005

Evolutionists are Fundamentalists

Over on the Panda's Thumb blog, they are experiencing paroxysms of agony over two recent articles dealing with Intelligent Design, Behe’s op-ed in the New York Times and especially the Wall Street Journal article entitled "The Branding of a Heretic" by David Klinghoffer.

I have no real dog in this fight, for the evidence of design in cosmology, chemistry, and physics is so much more compelling than in biology that this is all "in the noise" as far as I'm concerned. I only stop by Pandas Thumb because I find it amusing when the evolutionary fundamentalists get their panties all bunched up over this or that perceived injustice.

And they are fundamentalists. At least in my opinion. To me, the most striking features of fundamentalists are
  1. The refusal to engage in meaningful debate, often by resorting to ad hominem attacks (Panda’s Thumb is a world leader in ad hominem tactics, I have never seen, since middle school, such frequent use of arguing by calling one’s opponents "stupid, crackpots, idiots, morons, etc.")

  2. Seeing their various opponents as mere manifestations of a larger, evil conspiracy. The PT crowd is more adept than Hillary at this.

  3. Elitism, in the form of "I know what is right and important for you, even if you don’t." In spite of the fact that students have reported that they just laughed at the textbook stickers (the controversial inserts stating that evolution is a theory, not fact, and should be approached with an open mind), the PTers feel a fundamentalist compulsion to protect them. They treat the students (for their own good, of course) as if they were feeble minded. I am still waiting for someone on Panda’s Thumb to admit that he is so stupid that, had the sticker been placed on his high school biology text, he would have ended up teaching Young Earth Creationism at Liberty University.

  4. The willingness to sacrifice principles for a "greater good (evolution)." I have read many comments on PT regarding the sticker controversy that could be summarized as: Although I’m all for democracy, it doesn’t matter, in this case, if the majority of the citizens in a district want ID mentioned in the classroom And a variant, along the lines of normally I wouldn't want a judge to direct a school district's curriculum or policies, but in this case I’ll make an exception.

There is even a sort of fundamentalist structure at PT. Those on top of the food chain make fairly reasoned arguments, but then step aside while their attack-jackals crank up the personal attacks. It's like the fundamentalist hierarchy I recall from the movie Mississippi Burning: The sheriff was too smart to get his hands dirty, but he had a legion of slavish minions willing to do the unsavory work for him.

Once again, while not passing judgment on the merits of the biological ID debate, when someone on PT criticizes ID for its lack of peer-reviewed ID publications, I want to laugh at the absurdity. Now, as fundamentalists, I suspect that they are absolutely certain of the "level playing field" myth they perpetuate. Once again, though, I’ll point out the obvious. What they are really saying is
  1. ID is not science because IDers do not publish in peer reviewed journals

  2. ID should not be published in peer reviewed journals because it is not science

  3. If (2) is ever violated then either the journal is not as reputable as thought or the editor was not properly vetted.

As I have said before, I tend to agree with (2) but can only marvel adding (1) into the mix (and with a straight face!)—which requires cajones the size of Brazil. Then again, fundamentalists don’t mind espousing circular arguments if it fits their world view.

No comments:

Post a Comment