Sunday, August 17, 2008


Dinesh D'oh

Dinesh D'Souza has been interviewed for a website called News By Us: not news bias. Self-proclaimed lack of bias is always a bad sign. There is a lot wrong with D'Souza's assertions but these leap out:

I see evolution as being a scientific proposition but Darwinism I see as being an ideological proposition. We have all these scientific laws but no one calls themselves Keplerians or Newtonians so why do so many insist on calling themselves Darwinists? Their doing so puts an atheistic spin on evolution, and this spin is what the Christian community finds itself reacting too.
First of all, few scientists call themselves "Darwinists" and, even when they do, they have a specific definition that has no "ideological" import. This can be seen in the following from Stephen Jay Gould's 1982 Science paper, "Darwinism and the Expansion of Evolutionary Theory.":

If we agree, as our century generally has, that "Darwinism" should be restricted to the world view encompassed by the theory of natural selection itself, the problem of definition is still not easily resolved. Darwinism must be more than the bare bones of the mechanics: the principles of superfecundity and inherited variation, and the deduction of natural selection therefrom. It must, fundamentally, make a claim for wide scope and dominant frequency; natural selection must represent the primary directing force of evolutionary change.
This is not an ideology but merely a description of a particular view of the relative importance of one out of several mechanisms proposed as forces driving evolution. It is not even that creationists deny that natural selection is a real force in biology. As Jonathan Wells has said:

ID does not deny the reality of variation and natural selection; it just denies that those phenomena can accomplish all that Darwinists claim they can accomplish.
And what alternative force do creationists propose? Dr. Michael Egnor lets us in on that:

Darwin's theory [is] that all biological complexity arose by natural selection without teleology.
Anyone not terminally naive (or without a motive to lie to evade Constitutional restrictions against teaching religious doctrine as "science"), readily recognizes the proposed "teleology" as emanating from a creator God. Thus the only "ideology" that that is involved here is the theology that people like D'Souza would like to inject, selectively, into the biologic sciences. No one calls for teleology to explain the day-to-day workings of chemistry or gravity or thermodynamics. The insistence of scientists to restrict scientific explanations to natural causes is not an ideology but the consistent application of the methodology of science that has proven wildly successful.

Thus, in fact, "Darwinist" is almost entirely a label put on scientists by creationists, precisely to imply an ideology that does not actually exist as part of science. It is the height of dishonesty to first apply a different meaning to a term, only rarely in use in any event, and then claim that certain people hold a view implied by the altered term, based in the widespread use of the label by their opponents.

Next up from D'Souza is this:

Christianity had a lot to do with the origins of science. Most of the leading scientists of the last 500 years have been Christian.
First of all, correlation does not amount to causation. It is a contingent fact of history that science was largely restricted, at its beginning as an organized activity, to Western European societies that were already predominantly Christian. It is no surprise, then, that many early scientists were, at least nominally, Christians. Any attempt to imply causation is simplistic history, to say the least, especially given the fact that the same period coincides with the Enlightenment, defined by Isaiah Berlin as:

The proclamation of the autonomy of reason and the methods of the natural sciences, based on observation as the sole reliable method of knowledge, and the consequent rejection of the authority of revelation, sacred writings and their accepted interpreters, tradition, prescription, and every form of non-rational and transcendent source of knowledge ...
The rise of science, in other words, is at least as well explained by the loosening of the power of Christianity over Western Europe as anything contained within Christian belief.

In any event, what sort of connection is D'Souza asserting anyway? For D'Souza to claim credit for science for Christianity, he seems to think that all he needs to show is that some scientists were Christians. But when it is pointed out that Hitler was a Christian, D'Souza invokes an undocumented "renunciation" of the faith by Der Fuhrer to deny "credit" for the Holocaust for Christianity. And that is despite the numerous other Christians who enthusiastically participated, in no small part due to the anti-Semitism that was a long tradition within the Christian church. In short, D'Souza has a very flexible standard of proof, depending on his desired results.

Finally, the last point I'll address is this claim by D'Souza:

[A]theists ... are rebelling against a childhood version of Christianity — one that they learned in Sunday school and catechism. Their opinion of it now is rooted in what I call "crayon Christianity." What we must also realize is that when atheists use the word "fundamentalist" it is but a big ploy. When they say fundamentalist and mount attacks against fundamentalism what they really are attempting to do is to go after traditional Christianity.
But whose fault is that? Take this from the Rev. Samuel Krouse is pastor of First Baptist Church of Colusa, California:

In the final analysis, the New Atheism presents the Christian church with a great moment of clarification. The New Atheists do, in the end, understand what they are rejecting. When Sam Harris defines true religion as that "where participants' avowed belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought," he understands what many mired in confusion do not. In the end, the existence of the supernatural, self-existent, and self-revealing God is the only starting point for Christian theology. God possesses all of the perfections revealed in Scripture, or there is no coherent theology presented in the Bible. The New Atheists are certainly right about one very important thing—it's atheism or biblical theism. There is nothing in between.
Perhaps it is D'Souza who misunderstands Christianity. Or perhaps D'Souza, Rev. Krouse and the New Atheists all misunderstand it. Maybe it is the many people who believe in evolutionary science and feel no need to claim that all good things come from Christianity, but nonetheless call themselves Christians, who are right. Or maybe Christianity is all things to all people.

What isn't all things to Dinesh D'Souza is honesty or logic or truth.

In the cartoon on that website, why are the thought balloons emanating from St. Basil's Church? That's next door to the Kremlin, and not the seat of govt.
Forget that! Why aren't they coming from the White House and the names aren't George and Dick?
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