If you can stomach the Discovery Institute’s “Evolution News and Views” site, you’ll see David Klinghoffer’s lastest post, “What Darwinists don’t tell you: Valentine’s Day edition,” making a religiously motivated and badly misguided criticism of evolution.
First, though, if you’ve followed the Intelligent Design (ID) issue, you’ll know that the founding manifesto for ID, the infamous “Wedge Document,” had as its overweening goal not just the destruction of evolutionary theory, but the destruction of materialism itself as the guiding principle of science. The “governing goals” from that document are given below; if you can’t read them, they are “To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies,” and “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human being are created by God.”
That, of course, is because despite its claims, Intelligent Design is the product of a purely religious agenda, and materialism, absent religiously based metaphysics, is anathema to that agenda. If you overthrow materialism, everything supernatural and theistic can become part of science, and evolution is only aspect of that program.
And so Klinghoffer takes me to task, in my Darwin Day beef that I didn’t get awarded the DI’s “Censor of the Year” award, for pushing materialism—though I did it in a little joke. Klinghoffer is absolutely obsessed with me, scouring this site for things he can mock, and so he says this:
This bleak vision, the human being as meat machine, is on vivid display, though mixed with a clumsy childlike enthusiasm, in the writing of emeritus University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. On Darwin Day, for instance, he chided me for the hope that evidence of design will overcome Darwinian censorship: “I’m sorry to say that, I think, Klinghoffer will go to his Maker (disassociated molecules) before a teleological view of life permeates evolutionary biology.”
Imagine trying to sell “disassociated molecules” to the public, with their human intuitions, fears, and longings. Darwinists like Coyne or Dawkins, Bethell observes, are their own worst enemies.
I don’t think so! My first trade book, Why Evolution is True, is the #1 “evidence for evolution” book going, and keeps selling to the public, high school classes, and college courses. The worst enemies of evolution are in fact not evolutionists, whose atheism doesn’t seem to have prevented people from accepting evolutionary theory and fact, but religious believers, who simply won’t accept evolution because it either denies scripture or has implications they don’t like. Using the “stridency” of Dawkins as an excuse for rejecting evolution is just that—an excuse. I haven’t ever heard anyone say, “You know, if Dawkins would just shut up about atheism, I’d buy evolution in a second!” That’s not the way it works.
To these thoughts, add our colleague Jonathan Witt’s observation for Valentine’s Day over at The Stream. From Darwinian materialism, he notes, a denial of the reality of love must follow:
“Evolutionist Daniel Dennett called Darwinism a “universal acid” that “eats through just about every traditional concept … dissolving the illusion of our own authorship, our own divine spark of creativity and understanding.”Dissolve those things and there’s no room for romantic love to be anything very exalted.
Biologist E.O. Wilson is just as blunt. When Darwinian science conquers all, we will view the human brain as just the “product of genetic evolution by natural selection.” And the mind “will be more precisely explained as an epiphenomenon of the neuronal machinery of the brain.”
But surely we can rescue things like art, religion and poetry, right? No, Wilson insists. Evolution teaches us that all of it was “produced by the genetic evolution of our nervous and sensory tissues.”
Evolving Away Love
So what becomes of Valentine’s Day, of all of those romantic longings and pledges to love, honor and protect, maybe even till death do us part? Yes, glands and instincts are involved. Only a gnostic would deny that, and Christianity threw Gnosticism out on its ear at the Incarnation and the Resurrection.
But Darwinian science goes further. It insists the stuff of Valentine’s Day is all glands and instincts, and beneath those, all brain chemistry — a soulless concoction of matter and energy stirred up in the alchemist’s lab we call evolution.”
Of course, it would have to be that way. A materialist understanding of evolution robs us of virtually everything that makes life rich and worth living, if we’re honest about it with ourselves. What, really, is left? Eating? Animal rutting? Pursuing status or dominance in a manner hardly different from the way chimps and chickens do?
As Sean Carroll has pointed out so well in his latest book The Big Picture, there are realities at different levels, and so saying that, at bottom, love rests on our hormones and our genes does not deny that there is such thing as love. That’s like saying there’s no such thing as a stomach ache because the pain all rests on molecules. If you ask me if I’ve ever been in love, I’d say “Certainly!” For love is an emergent property, one of many qualia that appear from the interaction between our genes and our environments.
If what Klinghoffer says in his last paragraph is true, then evolutionists would be a soulless lot, unappreciative of art, music, and literature, unable to fall in love, and bereft of basic human emotions. But we all know that’s not true. Eating and rutting are part of life for sure, but most evolutionists I’ve known don’t spend all their time trying to copulate or fill their maws.
At the end, poor Klinghoffer is still fuming that ID, though he sees it as scientifically true, hasn’t yet been accepted:
Meanwhile, intelligent design is not permitted to make its own scientific case. Or when it does so, ID scientists are put down by censors or drowned out by media spokesmen with endless chants of “creationist, creationist, creationist.” What a mad world!
No, what a smart world, for real science isn’t motivated to affirm a prior theistic commitment, and thus it rejects the contentions and arguments of ID.
If you go back to the Wedge Document, you’ll see that it has both 5-year and 20-year goals, which Wikipedia summarizes:
The wedge strategy was designed with both five-year and twenty-year goals in mind in order to achieve the conversion of the mainstream. One notable component of the work was its desire to address perceived social consequences and to promote a social conservative agenda on a wide range of issues including abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, and other social reform movements. It criticized “materialist reformers [who] advocated coercive government programs” which it referred to as “a virulent strain of utopianism”.
Beyond promotion of the Phase I goals of proposing Intelligent Design related research, publications, and attempted integration into academia, the wedge strategy places an emphasis on Phases II and III advocacy aimed at increasing popular support of the Discovery Institute’s ideas. Support for the creation of popular level books, newspaper and magazine articles, op-ed pieces, video productions, and apologetics seminars was hoped to embolden believers and sway the broader culture towards acceptance of intelligent design. This in turn would lead the ultimate goal of the wedge strategy; a social and political reformation of American culture.
In 20 years, the group hopes that they will have achieved their goal of making intelligent design the main perspective in science as well as to branch out to ethics, politics, philosophy, theology, and the fine arts. A goal of the wedge strategy is to see intelligent design “permeate religious, cultural, moral and political life.” By accomplishing this goal the ultimate goal as stated by the Center for Science and Culture (CSC) of the “overthrow of materialism and its damning cultural legacies” and reinstating the idea that humans are made in the image of God, thereby reforming American culture to reflect conservative Christian values, will be achieved.
The 20-year goals appear on page 4 of the Wedge Document. Klinghoffer and his buddies better get cracking. The Document was drafted in 1998, and they’ve got just about one year left to get ID to permeate all of American life and to overthrow materialism as well.
Here’s a pro-tip for Klinghoffer: you’d be better off producing some science supporting ID than to waste all your time scouring evolutionists’ websites so you can mock their views. After all, Darwin didn’t get evolution accepted among rational people by mocking creationists. No—he had evidence.
h/t: Ken P.