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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Darwinism and pop culture: Darwinist attacks Canadian columnist Mark Steyn

In a column that is, generally, about attempts to strip Christmas, and society in general, of religious content, Canadian columnist Mark Steyn mentions that he is one of the latesttargets of P.Z. Myers, a Darwin Street heavy who recently went after Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams. According to Steyn,

... a couple of months back, I was asked about creationism and 'intelligent design'. Not my bag, so I kept it short. But I did say that the Psalmist had captured the essence of our reality rather better than your average geneticist. I'd just been told that not only does man share 98.5 per cent of his genetic code with the chimp but he shares 75 per cent of it with the pumpkin. If that's so, it doesn't seem a terribly useful scale for measuring the differences in our respective achievements. As I put it, 'The fact is that this is a planet overwhelmingly dominated and shaped by one species, and our kith and kin — whether gibbons or pumpkins — basically fit in the spaces between.'

This modest thought provoked Paul Z. Myers, professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, into paroxysms of scorn: Steyn, he scoffed, 'must not possess a gut populated by intestinal bacteria. We are at their mercy; without them, we suffer horribly for a while and die.... He must not have any wooden furniture in his home, or plastic ...made from the carbon left by ancient forests.... It's a good thing he doesn't eat, or he'd have to excrete — without any bacteria or fungi or nematodes or flatworms, the shit would just pile up (this would explain his written output, though).'

Oh dear. All I was doing was making a simple point about the scale of man's domination, and all Professor Myers's demolition does is confirm it. My intestinal bacteria may indeed be doing a swell job, but living in my gut isn't exactly a beach house at Malibu. Yes, I've got wooden furniture. I live in the Great North Woods and the house and practically everything in it is made from those woods. But I sit on the chair, the chair doesn't sit on me. And as for my excreta and the hard-working nematode, who gets the better end of that deal?

In a way, Professor Myers is only taking transnationalism to its logical conclusion. After all, if one is obliged to pretend that the Americans, Belgians, Greeks and Canadians are all equal members of a military alliance, it's not such a stretch to insist that the Americans, the flatworms, the intestinal bacteria and your Welsh dresser are all equal partners in some grand planetary alliance. Nonetheless, if we are virtually the same as a chimp, the 1.5 per cent of difference counts for more than the 98.5 per cent of similarity. The Psalmist seems to find that easier to understand than the biologist does.

My instinct is that we are reaching another cultural crossroads when Darwinists find themselves in dogfights with cartoonists and columnists. Hmmm. Come to think of it, when was the last time I saw Ed the Sock (puppet) ? Ed, who's always in trouble here in Canada (unlike Steyn, he doesn't live abroad) may well be next on the Darwinists' ever-expanding hit list of enemies. Ed? Ed? Wake up and say something rude about Darwinism, will you? ED?

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

The Pope using the term "intelligent design" to describe the Catholic view of origins, go here.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams attacked by Darwinist, hits back. Will he now cartoon on the subject?

"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. See also the ruling on tax funds. Note the line that the “free speech” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Christoph, Cardinal Schonbon is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.

World class chemist dissed at Catholic university because he sympathizes with intelligent design.

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