Discoveroids: Darwin’s Dead Hand of Dogmatism

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.

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11 responses to “Discoveroids: Darwin’s Dead Hand of Dogmatism

  1. “You will not see a pro-intelligent design article in the New York Times, for example.”
    Finding Design in Nature Christoph Schonborn, in The New York Times, July 7, 2005

  2. Let’s not forget that Michael Behe has had at least two NYT op-eds under his belt.

    The real story here is yet another Discoveroid admission that their concerns aren’t about science at all. After all, Craig is a theologian, not a scientist. If the DI is truly all about the science, with none of the religion, then why is a religious debate any concern to them?

  3. cnocspeireag

    I’m surprised you haven’t heard of Craig. He is a published philosopher and formidable in debate. If one accepts the premise of your favourite political thinker, that ‘philosophy is to reality as masturbation is to sex ‘, then Craig might fairly be described as a master debater.
    More seriously, the scientific approach to investigation is far removed from the tricks of rhetoric and the artificial rules of debate. One might as well test the validity of the ToE by proposing a boxing match.
    Actually, Chappie vs Mike Tyson has a certain appeal.

  4. Interestingly, Dawkins wrote a piece in the Guardian on the 20th http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig explaining exactly why he would not debate Craig.

    Although the DI won’t mention it, the subject of evolution does not appear in Dawkins letter. The “dead hand of dogmatism” is curiously missing from this matter.

    It’s also ironic that the DI considers Dawkins and others as having tactics that are harmful to public intellectual life, considering that the very reason Dawkins did not debate Craig was due to his harmful ideas. Perhaps that is the reason the DI did not offer to link or even mention Dawkins actual explanation of his position.

  5. Craig is an ID sympathetic evolution critic who tries to claim he is an “agnostic” on evolution (whatever that means in this context) while routinely spouting many of the usual DI talking points. So we know he is a creationist and as dishonest as any of the Discoveroids.

    I agree with Dawkins refusal to “debate” him live on a stage.

    It is at best a waste of time and at worst counter productive trying to “debate” creationists in such a time limited close ended venue. If one chooses to “debate” them it should be in an open ended written format without word count limits or time limits, or in a court of law.

    Chapman’s claim that Dawkins is afraid of Craig is the usual sophomoric nonsense I’ve come to expect from the DI, and that is the level of audience it is meant to appeal to and influence.

  6. First, glad you made it back safe and sound from your clandestine (or was it covert?) operation. Second:

    so leftists over hear

    Did you mean to say “so leftists over here”?

  7. I thought all the scary leftists were on Wall street living in tents and not taking baths.

  8. Also, I agree with what rubble said. The NCSE posted a video warning of the dangers of debating creationists. To creationists, it’s not about the science; it’s about proselytizing. All they want to do is get out “The Word” about God, heaven and hell. The science aspect is nothing more than a vehicle, a stepping stone (to be stomped on time and time again) in order to allow them to spread the gospel.

  9. Gary asks:

    Did you mean to say “so leftists over here”?

    Yup. How embarrassing! All fixed now. Thanks.

  10. Tundra Boy says:

    I thought all the scary leftists were on Wall street living in tents and not taking baths.

    Those are just the presentable, articulate ones.

  11. It is strange for creationists to espouse a conservative ethos, especially when endorsing their so-called “family values.” The first Christian family (Adam and Eve), supervised by none other than God himself, produce two male children, one of whom kills the other! If creationists want to base science (and family values) upon a book, they should pick one with better morals and better science. I also still do not understand how Adam and Eve had only male children, but yet we are all descended from those two. I suppose all will be cleared up when the new creationist biology texts are written.