Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Dangerous for Children! Obtain ASAP!

posted by David Klinghoffer

yellow and pink.jpg

When the New York Times derided this book for children — as possibly giving comfort to religion! — I wanted to buy it right away but of course it was already out of print. So the King County public library system was my best alternative. It’s a very clever yet simple allegory by William Steig, the author of Shrek, contrasting a Darwinian and an intelligent design perspective. A yellow wooden doll and a pink wooden doll debate where they came from, with the yellow doll voicing fatuous opinions straight out of Darwin about how it all came to pass by accident. In the end, a man, their designer, comes along and scoops them both up.
Finally, my turn in the library queue came. After I got home from work with the book, our 7-year-old, Ezra, read it in a few minutes. “Pink seems smarter than Yellow,” he commented. After I had read the brief and charming little book aloud to him, Naomi (age 6) and Hannah (age 3), Naomi said “Again!” 
It was a bit over Hannah’s head but then again, the subject also seems to exceed the grasp of the New York Times science reporting staff.

About the Times review of the book, my friend and colleague Jay Richards writes:

He has nothing to say about the qualities of the book — its cleverness, the quirky personalities of the characters, the simple drawings that somehow capture rich subtlety and emotional detail — or the fact that kids love the book. All we get is the boilerplate identification of science with materialism. “It’s not the pro-religion stance that bothers me here,” he explains, “so much as it is the anti-science one.” Yeah right.

He makes clear that he won’t be reading the book again to his children. Apparently a children’s book that dares to ask the most perennial question in human history is enough to cause metaphysical indignation at the New York Times.



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Anton C.

posted April 30, 2009 at 9:49 am


“When the New York Times denounced this book as dangerous to children” Just as I suspected – the New York Times reviewer did no such thing. This whole blog post is missleading and overblown, worthy of FoxNews.



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Steve

posted April 30, 2009 at 10:45 am


David wrote: “It’s a very clever yet simple allegory by William Steig, the author of Shrek, contrasting a Darwinian and an intelligent design perspective. A yellow wooden doll and a pink wooden doll debate where they came from, with the yellow doll voicing fatuous opinions straight out of Darwin about how it all came to pass by accident. In the end, a man, their designer, comes along and scoops them both up.”
What do you mean by a “Darwinian perspective” and “intelligent design perspective?” In none of Darwin’s published writings, or private writings that I have read, did he claim that no intelligent being contributed to the existence of the known universe. In fact, in Origin of Species, he wrote the following: “Authors of the highest eminence seem to be satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.” That suggests to me that Darwin is suggesting that there was some kind of “Creator” that caused the known universe to exist, but that the Creator didn’t poof any organisms into existence. Now, if Darwin did think that there is a creator, I disagree with him. I’m an atheist. But it’s problematic to suggest that Darwin believed that “it all came to pass by accident.” When he wrote Origin of Species, he definitely thought that no deity or extraterrestrial poofed any complex organisms into existence. And, obviously, he was right about that. But it is less clear on whether he believed that an intelligent being contributed to the existence of the known universe.
Now later in his life, Darwin said that he was an agnostic. For instance, in 1882, Darwin wrote an autobiography for his granddaughter. In the autobiography, he included his views on religion, including the following quote: “I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.”
Here is a link to the full passage in his autobiography on his views on religion:
http://www.update.uu.se/~fbendz/library/cd_relig.htm
It is important not to conflate biological evolution with atheism. It is logically possible to believe that some of my ancestors are fish and to believe that an intelligent super-being contributed to the existence of the known universe. The two propositions have different meanings. For instance, it is logically consistent to believe that an intelligent super-being caused the Big Bang and then didn’t do anything after that.



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Glen Davidson

posted April 30, 2009 at 11:14 am


Well well well, the author of Shrek can grasp the absurdities put out by the DI. That’s almost as impressive as A.N. Wilson’s conclusions regarding science based on a dinner party.
But I guess one has to churn through a host of science-ignorant minor celebrities, when one has nothing other than religious prejudice against treating all evidence the same.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Leora

posted April 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm


Great post! I adore William Steig–had never heard of this book, though. Whether he meant to take sides in a great philosophical/scientific debate or not, he sure did–and with his uniquely earnest sense of humor–love it!



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Olorin

posted April 30, 2009 at 4:51 pm


So Ezra and Naomi will never become scientists. Too bad. As the African proverb says, “Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.”



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Michael

posted May 1, 2009 at 7:32 am


I continue to be amazed, although I should not, at the number of intellectual persons, so tolerant in their views, that heap the charge of ignorance and intolerance on those of differing opinions. There appears to be no room for true discovery, for they have removed anything that even hints of the supernatural from their consideration. Yes, “Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.”



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Your Name

posted May 1, 2009 at 9:29 am


Looks like Ben Stein’s not the only celeb that is willing to take on the scientific establishment’s blockheaded view on intelligent design theory. Maybe a new motto for the scientific establishment should be,”not the wishfully think is worst of all”. Any designer that has an IQ of zero will never be able to design anything, no matter how many generations it tries and no matter how many mutations it sees. Without intelligence, there can never be design. For the scientific establishment to insist that there cannot be ID is to back them into a hole that they probably don’t want to be in. Wayne Hollyoak



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Larry Yudelson

posted May 1, 2009 at 10:17 am


So let me get this straight. Richard Dawkins says that the Creation story in Genesis is a fairy tale for children.
David Klinghoffer says that Intelligent Design is valid because…. it makes sense as a fairy tale for children.
I guess the only debate is whether there comes a time to put away childish things.



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Joel

posted May 31, 2009 at 11:44 am


As an Agnostic, I have problems with this book… Then again, I also have problems with schools teaching kids from an early age to be tolerent of homosexuals or act like they’re extra-special. I’m not anti-gay or anything like that; it’s just that I don’t agree with indoctrinating kids to believe a certain way in such politically charged issues when they’re too young to understand what they’re talking about.
When I grew up, I was taught to believe in Christianity and eventually came to have huge difficulties at looking at anything with an unbiased mind because I had been taught that certain things were true and right from an early age, even though they were not really backed up by anything.
So personally, I’m against teaching kids an opinion on anything beyond simple action-result type of things until they’re ready to make the decision for themselves. For example, I would like a son of mine to think at this level: “If I punch this kid, Dad’s going to send me to my room, so I better not punch him.” or “If I pick up my room, Dad’s gonna be proud of me, so I’ll do that.” That’s just my opinion based on my own experience.



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