There’s been a wee bit of flutter in the media about Richard Dawkins‘s refusal to debate William Lane Craig — a well-known academic theologian (of whom we never heard before). The video above is of Dawkins explaining why he won’t bother (it’s about 3 minutes long), and here’s an article about the issue in the UK’s Guardian. It’s not a major issue with us: Richard Dawkins’s refusal to debate is cynical and anti-intellectualist.
However, the “insult” of Craig’s being publicly snubbed seems to have struck a nerve in Seattle. Yes, it appears that Dawkins has somehow indirectly insulted all creationists, and the pain is felt especially by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
At the Discoveroid blog there’s a post by Bruce Chapman, whom we affectionately call “Chappy.” He’s the founder and president of the Discovery Institute. Chappy’s position makes him Lord High Keeper of the Discoveroids’ Wedge strategy, and the ultimate leader of all Discoveroids. When Chappy speaks, creationists pay attention.
Chappy’s article at the Discoveroids’ blog is Protecting “Public Intellectual Life”. It’s principal virtue is brevity. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
“Progressives” in science and other fields increasingly deal with serious opponents by belittling them and ruling their arguments out of order. That wouldn’t matter in a free debate, but the left wing in science also disallows debate.
We always love it when the Discoveroids — lacking any rational argument — posture as the defenders of conservatism and religion against the godless leftists. When one scrapes away all their valueless nitpicking, posturing is really all they’ve got. But as we delight in pointing out: (a) your Curmudgeon doesn’t fit their villainous stereotype, and (b) the Discoveroids themselves often adopt the tactics and teachings of leftists and are quite comfortable doing so.
A few examples from the past should be sufficient to demolish the Discoveroids’ conservative pretensions: Alien Life, Babu, Pravda, and Creationism, and also Babu and Pravda: Creationism’s Missing Link, and also John West & William Jennings Bryan, and also Discovery Institute Tactics: Recruitment, and also Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Barack Obama, and also Discovery Institute: Conservatives or Socialists?.
Okay, where were we? Oh, yes, Chappy was describing Dawkins as typical of “the left wing in science.” We don’t really know Dawkins’ politics, but a lot of Brits have a mild form of leftism, which we assume is a social reaction to their traditional landed aristocracy. We’ve been spared that in the US, so leftists over here don’t get any Curmudgeonly sympathy.
Were your Curmudgeon a Brit he’d be an unabashed supporter of the policies of Margret Thatcher, and maybe Dawkins wouldn’t approve. That’s not important. We’re discussing the Discoveroids’ shabby guise of being champions of conservatism against the mindless leftist hoards of Darwinism. It’s quite a fantasy, and we doubt that anyone accepts it, but it’s a standard part of their propaganda. Let’s continue with Chappy’s article:
That way they are allowed to mischaracterize their opponents’ positions and the opponents cannot correct the record in a reply. You will not see a pro-intelligent design article in the New York Times, for example.
We don’t care for the editorial opinions of the Times, but if the Discoveroids ever came up with some evidence that contradicted the theory of evolution, we’re confident the Times would publish it. Let’s read on:
The situation is a bit better in England, where, despite the absence of a First Amendment, journalists seem to admire a good joust. The most recent case was an announcement by Richard Dawkins that he would not debate American theist William Lane Craig on the existence of God because Craig supports “genocide.” This claim is bizarre, but quite in keeping with Dawkins and the bullying “New Atheists.” The true motivation, of course, is that Dawkins is afraid of Craig. There’s nothing new there.
How confused is that paragraph? Is it the First Amendment that somehow keeps the New York Times from promoting the nonsense of the Discoveroids? Nice confusion of freedom of religion and freedom of the press, Chappy! And then there’s the claim that “Dawkins is afraid of Craig.” Somehow we doubt that he is.
In truth, our long held and oft-expressed opinion is that scientists should never debate creationists, for the reasons we expressed here: Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism. As for Dawkins’ atheism, that’s not our issue so he’s on his own there. We don’t care whom he debates or doesn’t debate, and frankly we’re shocked — shocked! — that an allegedly scientific outfit like the Discoveroids would concern itself with such an issue.
Then Chappy talks about the article in the Guardian to which we linked above and he says:
The tactics of Dawkins and other New Atheists, says Came [the Guardian's columnist], are “fundamentally ignoble and potentially harmful to public intellectual life.”
Why do we care? And why does Chappy care? Here’s his conclusion:
The only deficiency in that sound characterization is the qualifier “potentially.” The dead hand of dogmatism is all over philosophical questions in biology today.
Ah, it’s all about the Darwinists’ “dead hand of dogmatism.” Right, Chappy. When you Discoveroids seize control of our education, and when your theocratic dreams come true, then we’ll see things really liven up. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned heresy trial or witch burning now and then to add excitement to the peasants’ lives.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.