Friday, January 11, 2008

An Intentional Rhetorical Strategy Intended to Confuse Issues

Tom Gilson has observed another example of Darwinian fundamentalism, in the form of gross obscurantism. Some excerpts (emphasis mine):
[Calvert] mentioned “materialism” several times. [Rehm] asked him once, about halfway through, what he meant by it. She cut him off in the middle of his answer. It became apparent later on that she really knew nothing about philosophical materialism, and that she thought he was talking about buying expensive things. Near the end he almost had another chance to explain it, and she cut him short again. In spite of this she was ready at the end to pronounce him wrong and his disputants right.

. . .

True to the typical course of these things, however, ID was in fact badly misrepresented throughout. Real ID proponents bear no resemblance to the show’s straw-man stereotypes.

Toby Horn was the one who said “creationists” are confusing children about what science is. I’d like to talk with her about what confusing means. She and the other Academy representatives misused terminology throughout the whole discussion. For them, Intelligent Design = Creationism. I’ve observed this misuse often enough to be convinced that for many, it’s an intentional rhetorical strategy intended to confuse issues. Creationism is a word with a distinct meaning. Intelligent Design is a term with a distinct meaning. Their meanings are not identical. Intelligent Design is not Creationism. Now, is that hard?

The hearty support of such gross obscurantism by many in the scientific community is truly tragic. It hurts the cause of science in America.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Absolute Disasters in the Fight Against Intelligent Design

I linked to this email message from Michael Ruse to Daniel Dennett some time ago, but some of my readers may not have seen it. It is not to be missed. Some excerpts follow, but please go read the whole thing.

I am a hard-line Darwinian and always have been very publicly when it did cost me status and respect . . .

. . . .

It is true that I condemn or at least want to point to evolutionism, which I do think functions as a secular religion – but never have I said that Darwinian evolutionary theory is anything but a genuine theory – I am the guy who stood up in Arkansas and said this when all of the fancy philosophers would not have any part in the fight, and who got slammed afterwards by Larry Laudan, Ernan McMullin, Philip Kitcher, and others, because of my stand.

. . . .

Fourth, I thought your new book is really bad . . .

Fifth, I think that you and Richard are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design – we are losing this battle, not the least of which is the two new supreme court justices who are certainly going to vote to let it into classrooms – what we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues – neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas – it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims – more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will.

Other posts of mine involving the spat between Ruse and Dennett are here and here.

Related posts are here and here.

More on Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett if you search by their names above.