3 Replies to “A Response (Kinda) at FT

  1. 1
    News says:


    It’s good that Webb is making many of these points but that doesn’t address the key problem.

    The key problem is: How did such a clueless piece as Meredith’s ever get into First Things? Steve Meyer is STILL #2 in paleontology (with many of his “reviewers” now doubtless wishing they had actually read Darwin’s Doubt first).
    And First Things – which once argued out serious issues in the history of life – is reduced to printing an emitter of feeble pseudo-Thomist drivel, instead of delving into what an information approach to the history of life even means.

    It’s going to take more to resolve this than printing someone who is kind enough to merely correct misrepresentations that should never have aired in FT in the first place.

    First Things is slowly morphing into the kind of Christian thinkmag that doesn’t matter very much because it reliably attacks whichever Christians (or others) stand in the way of the cultural ambitions of materialists. The materialists make it clear who the offenders are: ID theorists, for example.

    And the mag obliges by telling the world that real Thomists know their place and do not worship a God who would contest the materialists on any topic that is actually at issue.

    A good way of communicating that message is to sponsor an utterly incompetent argument against the ID theorists. It proves to the materialists that they don’t care enough even to get anything right; it proves to the ID theorists that First Things will be of no intellectual use in a serious conflict. And then, like good Christians, the editors sponsor someone to correct the most obvious misrepresentations some time later.

    Good moves all, assuming that is in fact how they want to position themselves. I’ll leave the why to others. – O’Leary for News

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    O’Leary has put her finger on it. The “why” is easy. Stephen Barr can’t bear the thought of being expelled from the academic cool kids club, and licking Darwin’s boots is the price of admission/retention in that club.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Barry, footnoting your comment at 2, in Commentary, David Gelernter noted re atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel getting Darwinned in an alley somewhere for doubting the dogma:

    The intelligentsia was so furious that it formed a lynch mob. In May 2013, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a piece called “Where Thomas Nagel Went Wrong.” One paragraph was notable:

    Whatever the validity of [Nagel’s] stance, its timing was certainly bad. The war between New Atheists and believers has become savage, with Richard Dawkins writing sentences like, “I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sadomasochistic, and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad….” In that climate, saying anything nice at all about religion is a tactical error.

    It’s the cowardice of the Chronicle’s statement that is alarming—as if the only conceivable response to a mass attack by killer hyenas were to run away. Nagel was assailed; almost everyone else ran.

    It’s one thing to retreat before a massed army of Darwinians, funded by governments and dead people, willing to destroy careers in order to make sure the gravy train runs on time (quite apart from whatever else they happen to believe).

    That fight’s not for everybody. Hey, we know.

    But to offer such pathetic criticisms and half hearted apologies is … well, what Gelernter said about the Chronicle’s statement seems to fit here too.

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