WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Open discourse, not disparaging remarks, best way to find answers. It appears in the Mansfield News Journal, a daily newspaper in Mansfield, Ohio.
This letter is written in the mode of some kind of new-age, sociological, spiritualistic psycho-babble, which is something we haven’t encountered from a creationist before. We’ll copy most of today’s letter, omitting the writer’s name and city, adding some bold for emphasis and our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. Here we go:
A learned man recently wrote the community here about the age-old debate on faith and reason. Instead of addressing it as such, the writer chose instead to make his case for one side and vehemently oppose the other. Alas, the age-old conundrum of ill communication again rears its ugly head.
Ah yes, it’s all just a problem in communication. Let’s read on:
It seems neither illuminating nor respectful to subject us to disparaging remarks about something so amazing as the pursuit of meaning in life. It’s no secret about Intelligent Design that it’s practically a re-fabrication of Creationism.
Are we understanding this correctly? The letter-writer admits that ID is nothing more than creationism, but then he says it’s “neither illuminating nor respectful” to speak disparagingly of it. Why? Once it’s conceded that ID is creationism, what is there to say in its favor? If we understand the letter-writer, it’s that creationists are in “pursuit of meaning in life.”
Okay. We continue:
To simply dismiss it in lieu of a materialistic view of the universe, however, is to me what William James once described as a simple-minded system of thought that works effortlessly to discredit the substantive value of our mental states as revealing of the truth — regardless of the strangeness of those thoughts, ID being one of them.
There are people who talk like that. You can go to college and get a degree in that kind of doublespeak. So let’s try to understand. We’re being told that it’s simple-minded to dismiss the “substantive value of our mental states as revealing of the truth.” Presumably, therefore, we should invite creationists and swamis into our science classes and our labs. They have truth of “substantive value” to offer.
Great letter, huh? Here’s more:
Feel free to challenge a man’s belief systems, but do so in the spirit of pursuing that greater purpose, not simply for the sake of ego or the pride that may be rebuffed by opposing viewpoints.
Jeepers, we thought we were acting for a greater purpose — “Conserving the Enlightenment values of reason, liberty, the scientific method, and free enterprise.” But we’ve been simple-mindedly ignoring the substantive value of our opponents’ mental states.
The letter continues, but be warned: Something amazing is coming next:
It appears to me that the “real” debate here may be about spirituality, something a learned man could explore beyond the search for absolutes that is really going on in the search for meaning. Why, for example, did Einstein dabble in alchemy? Why are physicists exploring parallel universes? Why are there writers trying to sell us on things like noetic science?
Aaaargh!! Moving along:
To paraphrase a learned man, letters and opinions about meaning and substance are desperate cries for clear thinking about the nature of the universe.
Here’s a statement from yet another learned man — your Curmudgeon: Letters and opinions from creationists are desperate cries for help.
Okay, on with the letter:
Rather than attempting to indoctrinate others — a necessary side-effect of something one truly believes in — we may better serve our own consciousness through open discourse among the disciplines, not through the base promotion of our own intellects.
And now we come to the end:
Fundamentally, we are the same, and can come together in this debate if it is to be relevant.
[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]
We respectfully disagree with the letter-writer. Fundamentally we are not the same. By that we mean that some people — and we say this with all due respect — are flat out crazy and have no place in any rational debate.
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