Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

The Strange Case of Little Green Footballs

It’s always a hoot to be fired upon by Little Green Footballs. A friend emails, “He proved himself a demagogue by what he didn’t quote” from my earlier post. Last time this happened, I wrote a series at Evolution News & Views analyzing that odd but extremely popular blog’s stance — read Part I, Part II, and Part III — and replying to his uninformed attack on me. I sent Charles Johnson, the blog’s author, an email asking for his response but he never answered. Predictably. What these people simply won’t do is confront the facts — or “Look there,” as I like to say.

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posted April 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I don’t know–given that Little Green Footballs gave the link to the original article so that anyone who wanted could read it for themselves, I don’t think his posting the quotes he did was demagoguery.
I think what irritates people is the unstated subtext in things like the “Slouching Towards Columbine” essay. We read that evolution should be regarded with “dread and terror…because of the uncanny way evolution has had of supplying the rationale and creating the backdrop for the most twisted, monstrous social movements that have sprung up in Western culture in the past century and half.” Now, to say that people who committed bad things X, Y, and Z used evolution or Darwinism to justify it is very different from saying that evolution intrinsically and of its nature must necessarily lead to X, Y, and Z. This latter is the never-quite-explicit subtext of what David is saying. In effect, he’s saying, “the uncanny way evolution by its nature has had of inevitably supplying the rationale and creating as it must necessarily always do the backdrop for the most twisted, monstrous social movements….”
Consider this: In the Middle Ages, the cosmos was viewed as a tight, well-ordered system made by a good God for man. The sun and stars circled Earth for our benefit, moved by the angels; the cosmos was big, but still had mankind at its center; and everything was a sign of God’s providence. Then, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, and Newton came along. The previous picture yielded to a vast cosmos in which man is a mere speck; an Earth that is but one of the planets of a mere one out of untold myriads of stars; and celestial bodies that move according to the impersonal force of gravity rather than the ministrations of the angels.
Some have argued (e.g. C. S. Lewis in The Discarded Image) that the Medieval view was much more humane and satisfying, and that the dislodging of man and Divine providence from the accepted model of the universe resulted in an intellectual alienation and anomie that laid the groundwork for the Enlightenment, which was in its turn the mother of secularism, anti-clericalism, atheism, and other such nasty things. One could debate this, but one could make a good case for it, as well. Heck, I find the Medieval view more emotionally satisfying, as well. There’s just one problem: Copernicus, Newton, et. al. were right. Regardless of what I think of the scientific model vs. the Medieval model emotionally and sociologically, I have to deal with the fact that scientific view is, as a matter of fact, true.
There are a few, shall we say, “eccentrics” out there that actually want to argue that Galileo was in fact wrong in order to salvage the Medieval picture. However, those of who actually understand science, it would be stupid to deny what modern astronomy has shown to be the case; rather, the task is to see how we can view God at work in a Newtonian-Einsteinian cosmos. This is a task that many theologians and scientists are in fact undertaking.
Likewise with evolution. David, in the Columbine post, even goes so far as to say that the “dread and terror” with which we should view evolution is “[n]ot necessarily because of any judgment about whether the idea is right or wrong as science”. So the truth or falsity of it is irrelevant? Or, by the same token, should we view Newton’s Law of Gravity or the heliocentric solar system with “dread and terror” because of what they, through the Enlightenment, unleashed on us? Converesely, as I’ve pointed out, as many atrocities have been “justified” by relgion on the part of their perpetrators. Does this mean we should view Judaism, or Christianity, or any other faith, with “dread and terror”?
I guess it comes down to this. If David wants to argue the truth or falsity of evolution, that’s a scientific question. That’s his prerogative, but good luck with that. You might as well argue against the spherical Earth, given the strength of the evidence. On the other hand, if he’s willing to admit that just maybe there is a scientific case for evolution, and that supporters of evolution are not all a bunch of civilization-wrecking atheists, then maybe he can work on how to harmonize religion with the the understanding of modern science.

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