Sunday, April 20, 2008


Academic Discourse

Sahotra Sarkar is a Professor of Philosophy and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas, Austin. His book, Doubting Darwin?: Creationist Designs on Evolution, is a very good deconstruction of ID from a philosophical viewpoint. John Wilkins has found Sakar's reaction to Expelled in an article entitled ""Intelligent Design" Creationism Is An Immoral Fraud":

If you can't argue for your position on intellectual grounds, try politics. If you can't succeed with legitimate political argument, resort to ad hominem attacks. That's what the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has been reduced to, especially in Expelled. ID creationists have produced no credible argument against the theory of evolution, let alone positive evidence for design ... Politically their fortunes have been devastated ever since the 2005 Dover, Pennsylvania court decision in which a George W. Bush-appointed Church-going judge found ID to be religious dogma that cannot legally be introduced in public school science classes. So now we are presented with a new line of attack: because natural selection was invoked by the Nazis in support of genocide, the theory of evolution must be false. To this, David Klinghoffer adds a new twist: if you believe in the theory of evolution, you are an anti-Semite.
In debunking those claims, Professor Sarkar makes an excellent point:

Note, moreover, there was antisemitism before Darwin and it persists today in many religious fundamentalist circles which are entirely hostile to the idea of evolution. The theory of evolution is thus obviously not the source of antisemitism. Given the long history of Christian antisemitism, is particularly odd that apologists for Christianity, as most ID creationists are, should try to use disgust with antisemitism for their own rhetorical and political purposes. Note, also, that what inspired Hitler in Mein Kampf as much as biology was the example of the United States. By Klinghoffer's logic, we should also reject much of our own heritage simply because it inspired Hitler.
That is doubtless less surprising than my own discovery that it was Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence that caused the Holocaust. But then Sarkar tops even that with the following:

Let us return one last time to the logic of Expelled (and Klinghoffer). Let us suppose for the sake of argument that the theory of evolution really led to some undesirable political consequence, which, as we have seen, is simply not true. From this assumption, it is supposed to follow that evolutionary theory is false and we should replace it with ID. Let us see where this takes us. From the usual rules of chemistry many nations, including the United States, have designed chemical weapons. From this, should we conclude that chemistry is false and we should replace it with Intelligent Alchemy? From the principles of molecular genetics, many of these same nations have designed biological weapons. Should we declare molecular genetics false and replace it with Intelligent Pangenesis? From quantum mechanics came the nuclear bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Therefore, quantum mechanics is false and should be replaced by Intelligent Ether Theory?
We can assume that Klinghoffer and the IDeologists would consider Professor Sarkar's article to be evidence of the "Darwinian orthodoxy" ridiculing ID "theorists" for their views. However, what the whiners of ID don't tell you is that being nice has nothing to do with how academic debate is usually carried on.

Sometimes, being treated like a loser is simply what you deserve.

Beautiful! Even the philosophers can't stand them. I can't wait to see who piles on next.

Thanks for pointing this one out!
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