“sophophile”Ã‚Â wonders whether I’ll reconsider my statement that Darwin doesn’t matter if Michael Shermer has to write a book on why he matters – on the basisÃ‚Â of sophophile’sÃ‚Â research into book titles.
[sophophile: Oh, WHY don’t these people have proper names? Isn’t this “Internet handle” thing becoming a bit childish after all these years?]Ã‚Â
At any rate, sophophileÃ‚Â writes:
Denyse OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Leary insists:
First, I find the title of ShermerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s book interesting. If Darwin really mattered, Shermer wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be writing a book insisting that he does.
LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s test that reasoning on a few other book titles taken from Amazon.com:
Why Religion Matters
Why Gender Matters
Why Geography Matters
Why Sinatra Matters
Why New Orleans Matters
Why Love Matters
Your Work Matters to God
God is No Laughing Matter
What Matters Most: The Power of Living Your Values
Your Mind Matters
Why Truth Matters
Animals and Why They Matter
Why Freedom Matters
and quite appropriately for this blog:
Denyse, would you care to reconsider your statement?
The answer is certainly not. Indeed, sophophile confirms just what I was trying to say – that when you have to explain why Darwin matters, he doesn’t. (I’m glad someone had time to do the title research.)
With the exception of “Sinatra” and “New Orleans,” every item in his list is merely an abstraction, into which the user can pour whichever part of the spectrum of meaning he wants – and withhold other parts at his leisure. Even “New Orleans” can fall into that category under certain circumstances.
I won’t be surprised if the “New Orleans” entry turns out to be a screed about alleged malfeasance following Hurricane Katrina, in which case the author is using “New Orleans” as a rallying cry. In that case, the city could just as easily have been in Mississippi, but I understand that the local administration there was more competent.
So that leaves Sinatra. Now DOES ol’ Blue Eyes matter?
Well, as I said, if someone has to write a book about why a guy matters, he doesn’t, or not much. That goes for Charlie Darwin as well as Frankie Sinatra.
Notice that the examples *I* gave below of things that matter and require no explanation were efficient personal gas mileage and cures for cancer – not the abstractions listed by sophophile above. I did that for a reason: You will know if you saved money or if a loved one was cured of cancer. I can’t pour into those phrases just any meaning I like and make it work for you.
The reason for the ridiculous adulation of Darwin and the insistence that he matters is that he is the current poster boy for materialism. In other words, he matters to those who want to make converts to materialism. I doubt very much that he and his theory – for which it is so hard to find unambiguous evidence – matter to science as such, despite the frantic adulation.