A few weeks ago I posted How Materialist Fundamentalists Are Like Christian Fundamentalists in which I argued that Christian and Materialist fundamentalists are alike in this respect: Their religious/metaphysical commitments come first and the evidence comes second. If the evidence seems to contradict conclusions compelled by their faith commitments, they will either reject the evidence or try to explain it away.
A few weeks after I posted my article, O’Leary for the UD News Desk posted an article about a philosopher who had dumped Darwinism because of its proponents’ open advocacy of using deception to push the Darwinian line. She linked to “I’m with stupid” by J. Budziszewski in which he wrote:
Philip Kitcher, a philosopher of biology and a supporter of natural selection, chastises Darwin for “appeasing his critics,” writing that “If the presence of particular goals can interfere with the epistemic evaluation of a novel proposal, then it is epistemically desirable for the proposer to respond to those goals, even if it requires deception.”
In other words, you may have to lie to the stupid people to get them to take Darwinism as seriously as we smart people do.
A more elaborate argument in favor of deception is offered by philosopher Phillip L. Quinn, who says that sometimes, in public debate over Darwinism, the only arguments that have a chance of convincing policymakers are bad ones. He argues that presenting arguments one knows to be faulty is morally permissible, but only “provided we continue to have qualms of conscience about getting our hands soiled.” He does worry that after presenting effective but bad arguments has become easy and second nature, one’s hands “become dirty beyond all cleansing and one suffers from a thoroughgoing corruption of mind.” But perhaps scholars could “divide up the labor so that no one among us has to resort to the bad effective argument too frequently.” That way, “we can succeed in resisting effectively without paying too high a price in terms of moral corruption.”
This got me to thinking. Where have I heard “it’s OK to lie to further the true religion” before? Oh, yes, some Islamic fundamentalists say this.
Reliance of the Traveler and Tools of the Worshipper (also commonly known by its shorter title Reliance of the Traveler) is a classical manual of Islamic jurisprudence written in the 14th century by scholar Shihabuddin Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn an-Naqib al-Misri. In a famous passage al-Misri writes:
Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible (N:i.e. when the purpose of lying is to circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible), and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory . . . it is religiously precautionary in all cases to employ words that give a misleading impression . . . One should compare the bad consequences entailed by lying to those entailed by telling the truth, and if the consequences of telling the truth are more damaging, one is entitled to lie.
Reliance of the Traveler, sec. r8.2, 745-746.
For the Islamic fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith.
For the Materialist fundamentalist, truth is a conditional good at best, and whether to tell the truth or lie in a given situation is a prudential consideration driven by larger objectives, most importantly, the propagation of the faith. (I use the same word advisedly).