“To return to the full-fledged moral Darwinist, we conclude that much of the resistance to intelligent design arguments is not theoretical, but moral, and since (as I have argued), the materialist principles that excluded the divine from nature have been undermined by the progress of science itself, then even more of what appears to be purely theoretical resistance to intelligent design is actually moral in origin. If materialism is a kind of faith – that is, a hypothesis attempting to explain nature, but doing so by excluding, a priori, nonmaterialist explanations ( a hypothesis against which there is mounting counter-evidence) – then what fuels this faith? To be quite blunt, the fervent desire that its opposite, intelligent design, not be true.”
- Benjamin Wiker – “Moral Darwinism – How We Became Hedonists” (2002)
I attended a seminar presented by the Intelligent Design Network this past Thursday. With school board elections coming up in November I thought it would be a good idea to find out if there’s been any positive movement toward an amenable compromise on Kansas Science Standards, which have the state in the crosshairs of a national controversy.
The presenters were:
Dr. William Harris, PhD (Nutritional Biochemistry)
Dr. Amos Menuge, PhD (Philosophy/Action Explanation)
John Calvert, JD
The following topics were covered during the three hours:
Hour One – A summary of the changes to the Kansas Science Standards.
Hour Two – How the changes replace a religious bias girded in scientific materialism.
Hour Three – How the public has been misinformed about the changes.
Between each session there was a question and answer period. The first two were ten minutes and the last was twenty-five.
I’ll make my bias clear. I am not a Darwinist, nor am I a scientist. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do believe I’m entitled to ask questions of the Darwinists.
That’s the thing that rankles the Darwinist side of this argument more than anything. They really don’t like to be questioned. This was very evident to me when it came time for the question and answer sessions.
There was a group of men in the front of the church sanctuary who were clearly displeased with the evidence Harris, Menuge, and Calvert presented. At the first interval one of them came to the microphone, lowered his head, scratched his chin, and asked Dr. Menuge, “Do you know what a straw man is?” It seemed a pretty arrogant question to me. I would like to think that any PhD worth his salt knows what a straw man is. Dr.Menuge responded far more patiently than I would have. “Yes, I know what a straw man is, but what has that to do with the argument I’ve made that Darwinism is a non-theistic religion?” For the rest of the session the man would alternately scratch his chin and then berate the panel, all but refusing to relinquish the microphone to anyone else.
After the third session another member of the group assembled in the front asked about narratives. “We have a narrative for our theory of origins,” he said. “Why don’t you?” I assumed that what he meant was that the lack of a narrative, or a perceived lack of one, would invalidate the point made by the other side of the debate. I decided it was time for some questions of my own. “Where is all of this taking us?” I asked. Dr.Harris replied, “That’s a really good question.” I turned and asked another question of the Darwinists gathered. “I’m more interested right now in where the Darwinist narrative is taking us than where it’s been. I realize that the question of origins is important, but I think that it’s even more important to consider the impact that Darwinism has had on just about every other scientific discipline of modern man. A lot of this began with men like Thomas Malthus, who was a proponent of the idea that mankind could not sustain itself because population growth at some point in history would far exceed the available food supply. The result of this convergence would be catastrophic. Darwin read his work and observed:
“In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus “On Population,” and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavorable ones to be destroyed. The results of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then, I had at last got a theory by which to work.”
By the 1930’s Margaret Sanger’s eugenics became a mainstream idea.
Well, one thing led to another. On the centennial observance honoring the publication of “The Origin of Species,” zoologist Julian Huxley observed:
“Evolutionary man can no longer take refuge from his loneliness in the arms of a divinized father figure whom he himself has created, nor escape from the responsibility of making decisions by sheltering under the umbrella of Divine Authority, nor absolve himself from the hard task of meeting his present problems and planning for the future by relying on the will of an omniscient, but unfortunately inscrutable, Providence.
Finally, the evolutionary vision is enabling us to discern, however incompletely, the lineaments of a new religion that we can be sure will arise to serve the needs of the coming era.”
In the seventies when I went to college Paul Erlich was in vogue. He had become a re-incarnation of Malthus, warning of the dangers of population growth and advocating solutions such as compulsory abortion and sterilization. Even on campuses like the Baptist college I attended he was the darling of the age. Everyone who read him, it seems, came under his spell. It didn’t matter that every bit of evidence around him contradicted his thesis. It didn’t matter that he spent too much time extrapolating and too little in scientific inquiry. It didn’t matter that his thesis was seriously flawed. It didn’t matter that hundreds of millions of people didn’t starve and the problem of starvation occurred principally in areas of the world where distribution and infrastructure were problematic. It didn’t matter that in areas where population density was highest, wealth and nutrition were also highest (Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London, Chicago, etc.). What mattered was that Erlich had become mainstream. The validity of his science had nothing to do with it.
The progression didn’t end there. About the same time Erlich was making population control mainstream, Princeton University “ethicist” Peter Singer took the concept to its next logical step – infanticide:
“Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”
By the time the nineties rolled around we were careening ninety miles an hour down a dead end street. In 1992 Jeffrey Reiman, philosophy professor at American University, carried the Darwinist ball a step closer to the goal line:
“Jeffrey Reiman has asserted that unlike mature human beings, infants do not “possess in their own right a property that makes it wrong to kill them.” He explicitly holds that infants are not persons with a right to life and that “there will be permissible exceptions to the rule against killing infants that will not apply to the rule against killing adults and children.”
With all of that said, I asked the Darwinists, “What’s next? Where is your narrative going to take us?”
After the meeting one of them spent about ten minutes with me, curious I think about my thought process. “You’re the guy who had the questions about where we’re headed, aren’t you?” he asked.
“I am indeed,” I proudly responded.
“What does your position have to do with verifiable science?”
“I’m not sure I understand your question.”
“Darwinism is verifiable. That’s what I mean.”
“Do you mean I see what you’re saying or do you mean I see the light?”
“Just where are you coming from?”
“Well, I’ve already explained my position. I’m concerned with where your narrative is taking us. It looks for all the world to me like there’s a progression and I want to know what’s next.”
“But that’s philosophy and it has nothing at all to do with science.”
“Well, you should tell folks like Huxley, Erlich, and Singer that. They seemed to have missed the message.”
Our conversation drifted for a moment and then came back to Malthus. “Do you think we have a population problem?” the Darwinist asked.
“What do you mean by problem?”
“My God, man!” he exclaimed. “There’s six billion of us! Isn’t that problem enough?”
With that, I rolled my eyes. Detecting a hint of Zyklon B in the air, I asked, “So, just where are we going anyway?”
He shrugged his shoulders, turned around and left. I assume it was his way of letting me know that he disapproved of me and the things I had to say.
At the risk of seeming to be the blogosphere’s biggest village idiot I still have questions. Some of them are mundane, like “How does a duck billed platypus fit into a Darwinist’s scheme of things? Or “what place in the Darwinist hierarchy do abstract thought or Shakespeare’s sonnets occupy?” But, the most troubling question of all for me is where we’re going. Dostoevsky said, “If there is no God, then all things are permissible.” I look at the world around me and I’m not sure I’m comfortable in believing that science is leading me up the rungs of Jacob’s ladder. In fact, I have this nagging notion that they may be leading me down into the pit. Could it be that without Supreme Authority to challenge them, Darwinists have created Huxley’s new religion, complete with sacraments like abortion on demand, euthanasia, infanticide and assisted or compulsory suicide? Given that, I can only imagine what their future sacraments will be. Soylent Green (a.k.a “filet of fundamentalist”), anyone?
Technorati tags for this post: