I am slowly rebuilding from a complete computer replacement. The best way to know what you would lose in such a case is to try finding it again. Anyway, the time lost foraging through the mess and rebuilding is gone for good.
But this for now: A friend has written me to complain that his professional association is hassling him because he has allowed the world to know that he thinks Darwin might be wrong.
I replied to him something like this (with some additions):
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First, a word on the association boffins’ ridiculous behaviour:
In the materialist universe, what you did is heresy. It is worse than heresy. It is contumely. It is like going into a Catholic Church and saying that Mary might not have been … well, you know … and therefore Jesus might not be ….’
Okay, basically, here’s the deal: If you do that and if Micky O’Reilly and Ladislaw Borowski pick you up and hustle you out of that church and drop you as hard as possible on your can on the pavement, at least you can guess why they did it. You insulted their Mother.
In the same way, a professional association that is thoroughly accommodated to materialism will no doubt tolerate massive eccentricities of belief among its members as long as the members do not insult or question Darwinism, the creation story of materialism/atheism.
Darwinism is their perpetually virgin theory that can never be impugned. Have you noticed how absolute are the claims they make for it? You’d have as much luck discussing science-related questions about Darwin’s theory with them as discussing Mary’s state of grace with Mickey and Ladislaw.
As with all religious traditions, materialism allows you to query little squidgets here and there, of course – one endosymbiosis here, one punctuated equilibrium there – but you had better be prepared to get up and shout “I am a Darwinist” whenever they want, as loud as they want, and for as long as they want.
That’s so vulgar. In my (Roman Catholic) tradition, we sing the Creed every week. It is much more genteel, and makes a good deal more sense than yelling “I am a Darwinist.” It is true that our Christian doctrine of the Trinity is incomprehensible, but that in principle does not make it false. Any proper doctrine of God must be incomprehensible. (Free unsolicited advice: If you are interested in religion and run into a sect with a simple, comprehensible doctrine of God, grab your hat and wallet and car keys and run.)
Bu who can pretend that the vast subtleties of life could happen purely by natural selection acting on random mutations? That is clearly and obviously false, and should not even receive much attention. And would not, but for the fact that materialism needs a creation story and that is the best they can do. So Darwin’s theory will have to do and it must be defended against the unbelievers by any means available.
Now, as a journalist, I have covered controversies all my working life. Here is where I think you are now, in terms of how this controversy is developing and why your professional association boffins are in catfits over you (when they could be obsessing over paper clip waste or voting themselves a raise or sneaking out for a beer):
1. The materialists (mats) are genuinely worried. I know of at least one recent situation in which they acted in a very unusual way in order to prevent ID-friendly research from getting done.
They do that for a simple reason: There are grounds for accepting ID. Thus, research could go in either direction.
Intelligent design may be correct or incorrect, but if all the research that could be done is done, at least some research would support it. So materialists must prevent all research that they reasonably suspect would support it.
Those researchers who oppose ID in principle know enough to (1) stay out of sensitive areas, (2) put a non-ID spin on their findings, or (3) just bloody not publish until they can cook up a non-ID spin. We see that happening in papers where Darwinism is invoked in an apparently irrelevant or implausible way – and EVERYONE knows better than to say a thing about it.
2. So why, specifically, is your professional society hassling you? The mats know that they can’t prevent all ID-friendly researchers from working or publishing. PLUS they constantly encounter conundrums that they know darn well are not resolvable by reciting materialist mantras. Now what? Well, how about this: Shut down and scare off anyone who is saying out loud, the deplorable words “I do not believe that the evidence supports materialism.” (And, needless to say, that includes Darwinism as its creation story.)
Please note: No one cares if you say “Materialism bugs me” or “A god appeared to me in a dream and told me it wasn’t true.”
Hey, I’ll go you one better: A Middle Eastern genie exploded out of a discarded pop bottle in my back garden at 14 Latimer Avenue in Toronto last July and SWORE that materialism wasn’t … okay, okay, I am exaggerating, the story didn’t happen quite like that, but you get the picture, right?
The deplorable words, to be deplorable, must always include “evidence.” Something that you could understand as well as I could. And so could some mostly clueless Brit ed boffin or even Richard Dawkins – except that he seems to be having an utter nut-out about religion just now.
(My real fear with Dawkins, you know, is that he will get religion one of these days and be on all the US Christian talk shows. Good thing I never watch those shows, so I won’t be tempted to shout “Siddown and shuddup for a change!” at the screen.)
3. I assume that your lawyerly friends will tell you how to combat your professional society’s threat, but note this: The soc probably has members active on the other side. Ask if it will require those ‘ people to remove their names from activist groups as well. If they say no because materialism is correct, ask them where it is written in their constitution that a member must assume materialism is correct. (They could put that in, of course, but they haven’t yet, so make the most of the time you have.)
4. Because I have to get back to rebuilding my system and catching up with a massive workload, this is hurried and may not be well expressed: Your biggest problem is not the academic materialists, actually. Some of the atheist types appear obsessed to the point of madness. Your professional organization foes are merely scared-witless bureaucrats.
No, your biggest problem is the slumbering mass of popular materialists – the post-Christians (and probably post-Muslims too) who shop while you sweat. They are practical tools of your enemies even if they deny it. Until they are aroused, they will do nothing. Only terrible events can possibly arouse them, and I pray that the terrible events do not include great misfortune for you.
*Between books, I make my living writing social sciences and sciences stuff for pop and education media. Most of my writing has nothing to do with the ID controversy, contrary to the purport of some recent Internet attacks on me. – d.
**I am tempted to send some of the currently bloviating atheists a list of evangelical Christian rest homes in the Deep South. But then I would have to go to Confession. The priest who knows my personality type best would cut me no slack because I simply had to know that that was a sin …. – d.