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Intelligent design as “rube-bait” and David Klinghoffer’s response

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Kevin D. Williamson

Recently, an American thinkmag hosted a spiteful little swipe at ID:

The Republicans, for their part, have devolved from the holier-than-thou party of the Moral Majority to the prolier-than-thou party of Donald Trump, the party that talks about the “Real America” in accents purporting to be Texan but native to no part of the Lone Star State, the party of Duck Dynasty and bad FM country music, the party of such daft rube-bait as “intelligent design,” and the party that sneers at many of the most successful parts of this country — Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the Ivy League, Hollywood — as cultural sewers. Kevin D. Williamson, “The Politics of Snobbery, and Its Inverse” at National Review

David Klinghoffer Responding to the uninformed attack on ID, Evolution News and Science Today: editor David Klinghoffer

From this and previous comments of his, I’m pretty sure that Williamson has little or no idea how advocates of intelligent design make their case, identifying scientific evidence of a guiding purpose at work in biology and cosmology, as against Darwinism’s insistence on blind processes alone.

Williamson and I are alike in idolizing NR’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr., and Kevin has written movingly about his interactions with WFB. I am surprised that he doesn’t seem to know that many of the great figures of the conservative intellectual past, including Buckley, tended toward skepticism on Darwinism or sympathy for design — in no particular order, Richard John Neuhaus, Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb, Tom Wolfe, Richard Weaver. In Witness, Whittaker Chambers beautifully described awaking from the spell of Communism upon contemplating the “immense design” of his little daughter’s ear. Buckley hosted a Firing Line debate on intelligent design, which he argued for alongside his fellow debaters, mathematician David Berlinski, biochemist Michael Behe, and U.C. Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, all affiliated with Discovery Institute. Commentary published Berlinski’s great series of attacks on Darwinian orthodoxy. And so on. David Klinghoffer, “The Ultimate Question of Life’s Origins” at National Review

As Klinghoffer notes, these people’s skepticism doesn’t by itself prove anything. Except this: Today’s support for Darwinism is largely built on laziness. As noted earlier, The Darwinians and their protected in-house critics have the additional advantage of an adoring, incurious, and gladly ignorant media who just want to believe that they are “science,” file a story and go home.

Klinghoffer offers his vid, The Information Enigma by way of rebuttal. But rebuttal almost misses the point. Today’s Darwinism is a snipe on Twitter, a swipe in passing, a slogan on a whiteboard, a well-practiced rant – not something it would make sense to ask anyone to support with reference to facts or coherent ideas. Williamson’s got that right. No arguing with fashion.

See also: Why did an evolutionary biology prof imply world-famous chemist James Tour was “stupid”? A writer encountered this all-too-common type of behavior recently and was, well, surprised. To see why it feels normal to many of us, it is helpful to understand a bit about Darwinism as a social phenomenon.

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4 Replies to “Intelligent design as “rube-bait” and David Klinghoffer’s response

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    Is this like 8th Grade where the insult ran something like “You’re dumb, and your mother dresses you funny”?

  2. 2
    EDTA says:

    >”… Hollywood — as cultural sewers.”
    So Hollywood is _not_ a cultural sewer? Evidence please.

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    @Vmahuna

    Yes, apparently it is lol

  4. 4
    News says:

    Vmahuna at 1, yes, it very much is. Today’s Darwin-dominated evolutionary biology is about as intellectually deep as Justin Bieber’s fandom. To make their point, supporters so often engage in junior high tactics.

    Williamson’s approach is best suited to Twitter where, when I checked last year, Canadian pop idol Justin Bieber had way more followers than either Barack Obama or Donald Trump (and only one of those three is the current US president, with executive signing authority).

    In other words, Williamson ‘s approach WORKS in the right venue. We admit to being surprised that National Review turned out to be the right venue. Agree, disagree, we had thought of it as a thinkmag. A place where more people would, for a variety of reasons, listen to either Barack Obama or Donald Trump than to the schoolyard.

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