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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Journalist David Warren On today's "opinionator" hacks and on Darwinism

I was at a get-together of downtown Christian hacks, at which our guest speaker, Ottawa Citizen columnist, David Warren, who is not a Darwin fan, talked about how media had changed. He later wrote about it in a column, and I quote a key sample:
To my colleagues who could not be present, let me add the purport of a talk I gave, to a group of fellow-journalists in Toronto, on returning from the bush, Monday night.

In a long, rambling, extemporaneous memoir, I emphasized the traditional hack virtues of smoking and drinking and general loucheness against the prim political correctness of the current media mainstream. The beauty of the old-time hacks, I averred, was that they did not seek fame, only adventure, in contact with life. They could be as anonymous as mediaeval artists. They did not consider themselves to be intellectuals, and so their heads were free of stinking pride. Yet they had pride in craft, which the current ones seldom have. All our little Woodwards and Bernsteins today want fame, instead. And they want it smoke-free and soberly, they are professional fame-seekers.

That's been my experience too. One problem in encouraging a reasonable discussion of Darwinism or ID is that one is not dealing with people who just want a story that runs over the mast; one is dealing with third-rate pundits and opinionators. Facts matter so much less and ideology so much more now. I believe that it really does not matter to the opinionators that Darwinism is poorly supported by evidence at many points and absurd when applied to humans - as long as it serves ideological ends they support.

The problem is not that they have an opinion or a strong opinion or one I would dispute. The problem is the third-rateness of the whole thing. All third-raters have this in common: They parrot the views of an establishment (for example, the current Darwinist science establishment) with an air of certainty and profundity, and they do NOT want to know if those views might be mistaken, discreditable, or held for reasons unrelated to the evidence base. They lack the inner resources to deal with the consequences that might follow from the possibility that the true authorities in their own lives might be mistaken or misguided. Other people's authorities may be misguided or mistaken, but never theirs.

Some Warrenisms on Darwinism:

How and why it will die:
... It will gradually dissolve from a thousand little cuts from Occam's Razor. For the "God" of evolutionary biology -- incremental change by natural selection -- is not sufficiently inspiring to sustain the immense priesthood that has collected around it.


Why it fails to inspire:
What distinguishes Darwinism, in the end, is the nasty figurative edge to it, the popular use of it to communicate "nature red in tooth and claw". It became associated very early with Victorian atheism, and does the missionary work of the old Bloomsbury set that lost its Christian faith in the mid-19th century. It is an ideology that continues to reach beyond the strict realm of biology, into areas of philosophy and theology with which it has nothing to do. It sells a cosmos that is blind, random, purposeless.

It is a religion, sez I; a religion with prophets like Thomas Henry Huxley, and Herbert Spencer, and Richard Dawkins today. (And I'm not seeking tenure in any university, so you can't get me for uttering my heresies against it.)


Why Warren does not support Dover-style disclaimers against Darwinism, and other such strategies:
No law that compels a teacher to declare what he doesn't himself believe, can possibly be just. We need the same law to defend people who say "evolution is a crock".


And from his Idler column in Crisis, on what happened when he - speaking as someone who thinks creationism is "a crock," questioned Darwinism on the evidence,
You should have seen my mail. Not even for my “obnoxiously conservative” political views did I ever get so much abuse. And almost all either declaring or implying that I was selling the “young earth theory.” And from people unmistakably scandalized and outraged that I could doubt “modern evolutionary theory.”
Conclusion: Evolution has grown into a rival religion with which not only Christians and other religious, but even agnostics must now contend. For the Inquisitors in Spain were never so touchy as Evolution’s guardians and high priests.


Yes but hold on, Warren. The Inquisitors only had to defend the Church's position on theological controversies. Darwinists have to defend absurdities like "evolutionary psychology." Personally, I would rather be defending flying saucers. At least people couldn't know for sure from their own observations of human nature that flying saucers do not exist.

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?

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove ?

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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