Discovery Institute: Darwin, Atheism & Marxism

THE article we’re writing about today is such an incredibly tangled mess that it’s difficult to determine whether it’s the random result of impending brain death or if it’s an example of intentionally designed obfuscation. We’ll let you decide.

At the website of something called Oregon Faith Report we read: Separating Darwin from Evolution . It appears to be an interview conducted by Georgene Rice — whether she’s a staffer or an inmate isn’t clear — and Dr. Benjamin Wiker, author of “The Darwin Myth: the Life and Lies of Charles Darwin”. Catchy title, huh? Here’s an Amazon link so you can grab a copy.

Who is Benjamin Wiker? Oregon Faith Report says he’s “a senior fellow at St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and is also a senior fellow at Discovery Institute.” Great! He’s one of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). We haven’t come across him before, but sure enough, the Discoveroids’ creationist website includes him on their list of fellows. They say his Ph.D. is in Theological Ethics from Vanderbilt University.

Wiker is a theologian, which is worth remembering as we try to traverse this wasteland into which we’ve wandered. It’s also worth remembering that he undoubtedly imagines himself to be some kind of ethicist. We’ll let you decide that one too.

Here are some excerpts from the interview, with bold from the original to highlight who’s speaking. We don’t need to emphasize anything else, because every sentence is a howler. We’re guessing that this is one of those interviews where the guest hands the compliant “interviewer” a scripted list of the questions he wants to be asked. If we’re right about that, then everything in the interview, questions and answers, are by Wiker. Indirectly, he’s giving us the Discoveroid line on things. Here we go:

Georgene: Charles Darwin spread the myth that anything scientific could not include God; a myth which has grown to define science for the last 150 years. He thought everything could be explained through natural selection without the help of a divine hand. So he deliberately left God out of his version of evolution known as Darwinism.

Wiker: Yes, I thought I would focus on his life as the backdrop of the Darwin myth. This is the year of Darwin. It’s the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book, “The Origin of the Species”. I wanted to show you the man behind the theory. That’s the key: what was this man really like and why did he put forth the version of evolutionary theory he did? We tend to identify Darwinism with evolution, and there are important reasons not to identify the two.

Right, forget about the science. Let’s talk only about the godless monster who gave us “Darwinism.” The interview continues:

Georgene: You write the problem with Charles Darwin is not evolution itself but his strange insistence on creating an entirely Godless account of evolution. That evolution must be Godless to be scientific is the Darwin myth, which is so profoundly misleading that it must be called a “great lie”.

Wiker: Yes, absolutely, because it’s still with us and going strong. If you are currently a scientist, you are not allowed to express any wonder at creation because it may lead you to suspect that there is a creator. In other words, you can’t mix religion with your science. Darwin was part of a larger, secularizing movement that believed we were moving away from the dark ages — the religious ages, the age of superstition — to an enlightened, secular future. And his version of the theory fit right in to this. In other words, if you believe this, you realize you don’t need God anymore. That has been the effect: it has become entrenched in the scientific establishment.

Ah! Darwin was part of the satanic plot we call the Enlightenment — an evil scheme that diverted us from the perfect joy of the Dark Ages. Observe carefully, dear reader, not only what these people are saying, but what they’re not saying. There’s nothing here about evidence or reasoning. There’s no science being discussed. It’s all about atheism, allegedly caused by the Enlightenment. Got it? These people (we think it’s all Wiker, really) hate reason, they hate freedom, they hate science, and they probably hate you too. Are they wannabe witch burners? That’s another one for you to decide.

We continue:

Georgene: You make the point that this has distorted our understanding of the scientific evidence and debates about it. It’s just as distorting to science as idealistic Marxism is to the study of economics.

Wiker: That’s the kind of connection I want people to make. …

No need for us to comment. Well, see: Marx, Stalin, and Darwin. Okay, here’s more:

Georgene: In your opinion, the worst lie was the one Darwin told himself: that he could have his moral cake and eat it too, pushing forward a Godless account of evolution that made morality a mere transient effect of natural selection, and at the same time, holding up particular moral traits.

Wiker: This is an interesting story. “The Descent of Man” was written a little over ten years after “Origin of the Species”. It came about because Darwin’s own allies pointed out to him that his theory of natural of selection did not explain the development of human beings — their moral and intellectual development … . But Darwin attempted to explain it — that’s “The Descent of Man” — it made him reduce morality to the survival of the fittest. When you do that it turns out pretty ugly. For example, he hated slavery, but his own theory supported it.

Let’s see now: According to this Discoveroid “senior fellow,” Darwin’s myth-making was intentionally devised to support atheism, Marxism, and even slavery. Moving along:

Georgene: You point out that his family heritage allowed him to breathe in evolutionary doctrines that had been in the air for almost a century — his upbringing sort of spawned the man he was and the way he moved his theory forward.

Wiker: Once you tell his story, you see why he came out with his theory. What’s his background — religion? No, he was a third generation enlightenment skeptic. Erasmus, Robert and Charles were all part of the radical intellectual set. The notion that he was a secret or open Christian is nonsense.

Right! We’ll just overlook the fact that, at his father’s insistence, Darwin studied theology at Cambridge as preparation for a career as an Anglican churchman. Okay, here’s the last excerpt:

Georgene: “The Descent of Man”, which was an irrational reflex of ignorance in his treatise on religion was simply a revival of ancient Greek and Roman pagan philosophical views that downgraded religion as superstition and that was revived during the enlightenment and used directly against Christianity, so even that was not really original with Darwin.

Wiker: He had a ready made account of the rise of religion that itself was independent of evolutionary theory, and he put it out there as if it depended on natural selection when, in fact, it did not. Again, that’s part of his radical skeptical upbringing.

There you are, dear reader — now you’ve seen the thinking of a Discoveroid “senior fellow,” one who was trained in Theological Ethics. You may see things differently, but in your Curmudgeon’s humble opinion one can obtain more accurate information by hanging out at the Flat Earth Society.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Discovery Institute: Darwin, Atheism & Marxism

  1. Fool. Everyone knows Anglicans ain’t Christians.

  2. I love the Flat Earth Society. They are a wonderful spoof on how creationists “think” and try to refute hard evidence.
    “Deprogramming the Masses since 1547” . . . You gotta love it. . . . .

  3. Curmudgeon wrote: “THE article we’re writing about today is such an incredibly tangled mess that it’s difficult to determine whether it’s the random result of impending brain death or if it’s an example of intentionally designed obfuscation. We’ll let you decide.”

    As usual I vote the latter. Taking a radically different approach to discredit “Darwinism”, Dembski is touting another “peer reviewed” “scientific” publication. Yet both have in common the DI’s curious avoidance of addressing – and thus by default conceding to mainstream science – what the designer did, when and how.

  4. Mr. Wiker says: So he deliberately left God out of his version of evolution known as Darwinism.

    That sort of presupposes that in fact there is a God, and furthermore, that the God would do things with evolution, and then even furthermore, that Darwin would notice it and then leave it out, doesn’t it?

    Has Mr. Wiker ever heard of putting shoes on before the socks? Carts before the horses? The chickens before they’re hatched? You have to wonder if Mr. Wiker has ever heard of those sayings.

  5. “What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
    Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
    You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
    A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
    And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
    And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
    There is shadow under this red rock,
    (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
    And I will show you something different from either
    Your shadow at morning striding behind you
    Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
    I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

    TS Eliot “The Wasteland”

    (seemed apropros)

  6. 386sx wrote: “You have to wonder if Mr. Wiker has ever heard of those sayings.”

    Sure he has. Gotta know something about it to keep the rubes fooled. But it also helps to have someone like Dembski on your side to keep the scientists and philosophers distracted while the Wiker types (& Ben Stein et al) keep the non-technical types fed with feel-good sound bites.

  7. From what I understand of Wiker’s intellectual background, he doesn’t take himself to be running a scam (“keeping the rubes fooled”).

    He’s trapped within the prison of a false dichotomy: either Christianity or Epicureanism: either ethics is firmly grounded in our relation with a transcendent, supernatural person, or there’s no foundation for any ethics whatsoever. Either theism or nihilism, etc.

    There’s no room for any alternatives or compromises. That’s his intellectual universe, as I understand it, and I imagine that it reaches down into the very core of his being. But it doesn’t hurt that he lives and works in a huge echo-chamber, either.

  8. Carl Sachs: “From what I understand of Wiker’s intellectual background, he doesn’t take himself to be running a scam… He’s trapped within the prison of a false dichotomy: either Christianity or Epicureanism.”

    If that’s so he has lots to talk about with another DI fellow, and Orthodox Jew, Michael Medved. Or David Klinghoffer, Ben Stein, etc. Unless you mean fundamentalism in general instead of Christianity.

    I have no reason to doubt the honesty of any DI fellow or close associate that the “masses” must take scripture in any of the mutually contradictory “literal” interpretations in order to behave properly. I am much less convinced that any of them personally believe any of those stories, and if they do, it’s “on faith, in spite of the evidence (e. g. Omphalos).”

    I’m not sure about Wiker, but other DI folk, whenever asked what the designer did, when and how, either grugingly concede most of it to mainstream science, or play “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They know that the evidence does not converge on any promising alternative that would be any comfort to most Biblical literalists, but they’s never admit it in so many words. That’s what I mean by “in on the scam.”