Klinghoffer: Darwinism is the Path to Putrefaction

We found something that is unintentionally revealing at the blog of 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).

It’s titled Evolutionary Psychology and Darwinism as an Idée Fixe, and it’s by David Klinghoffer — a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist). Almost all of our readers know who that is, so they can skip the next indented paragraph:

David Klinghoffer has previously posted a series of essays attempting to link Charles Darwin to: Hitler, and communism, and Stalin, and the Columbine shootings, and Charles Manson, and Holocaust Museum shooter, James von Brunn, and the Ft. Hood Massacre, and Mao Tse-tung, and Dr. Josef Mengele, and the Occult, and The Dark Side of Darwinism, and most recently James Lee, the Discovery Channel Terrorist.

In his latest blog post, Klinghoffer attempts to give us a large-scale philosophical view of the Discoveroids’ anti-Darwin crusade, but we think he lets a bit too much slip out. Judge for yourself, dear reader, but bear in mind that the Discoveroids’ guiding manifesto is their wedge strategy; that’s who and what they are. We’ve declared our position in one of this blog’s earliest posts: Discovery Institute: Enemies of the Enlightenment.

Now that you know where everyone stands, here are some excerpts from Klinghoffer’s latest, with bold added by us:

We need to remind ourselves from time to time that Darwinism is more than a scientific idea, and more than the seed of a social philosophy or worldview. It’s also a prime example of the kind of rigid thinking — the idée fixe or fixed idea — that bedevils seemingly unrelated fields having to do with diet, therapy, advice, and self-help, with results that are sometimes comic, sometimes more unfortunate than that.

What’s going on here — “diet, therapy, advice, and self-help”? Klinghoffer’s post is loaded with trivial applications of what he claims is the “fixed idea” of “Darwinism” applied to other fields — but that’s all nonsense. What he actually objects to is the scientific method, which is based on reason. That, not some silly fad he blames on “Darwinism,” is Klinghoffer’s actual target. Let’s read on:

A fixed idea is one that, for the believer, applies everywhere and to everything and under every circumstance no matter how wisdom, discernment or common sense might argue contrary to it. For instance, among those of us interested in advice for parents …

An excellent example of a fixed idea that bedazzled believers think is universally applicable would be the dogmatic insistence that everything, everywhere, is the product of intelligent design. But that’s not supposed to occur to us, and Klinghoffer never goes anywhere near his own anti-science obsession. Instead he babbles about several passing fads that are of no significance whatsoever — except to distract you from what’s really going on here.

We’ll ignore most of Klinghoffer’s proffered “applications” of his idée fixe theme, which include not only today’s stylish advice for parents, but also — where does he get this stuff? — the debate between the Atkins and South Beach diets. Then he continues:

Fixed-idea thinking maniacally jams all cases, facts, and individuals into the same rigid and simplistic interpretive mold, yielding a single model for evaluating behavior, therapeutic treatment, diet, or what have you.

You’ve already figured out where Klinghoffer is trying to take you with this thing. He’s going to say that “Darwinism” is the root of all this “fixed-idea” kind of “thinking maniacally.” You must understand that it’s not the Discoveroids’ creationism that’s maniacal, dear reader — oh no! It’s you and your diabolical, reason-based science. We’ll skip some more until we come to this:

[O]ther Darwinian leaps like the one based on research that got a rave the other day from the crew of homunculi at Panda’s Thumbs [sic]. This study from the local college (University of Illinois teaming up with the Chinese Academy of Sciences) deals not with undergraduates but with eelpouts. It tells a plausible story of how the Antarctic fish might, or might not, have evolved a gene for an anti-freeze protein from coding for a related enzyme with “modest” anti-freeze properties.

The reason this caught the attention of PT is because the evidence can be construed — if you really, really, really strain — to reinforce the meta-narrative, the grand fixed idea, under which all of nature’s development can be explained by the accumulation of such trivial genetic micro-fixes.

That anti-freeze gene is something we recently wrote about: How One Gene Becomes Two Different Genes. According to Klinghoffer, it’s just our rigid “Darwinist” thinking that causes us to imagine that such a gene is the product of evolution. If only we were free of our rigid fixed ideas and became really great thinkers — like the Discoveroids — then we’d know that the anti-freeze gene was the work of the magical designer. Moving along:

Where’s the harm in fixed ideas, whether Darwinian or otherwise? Some can indeed be harmless things, amounting to mere private obsessions.


Shoving individual men and women into a rigid ideological scheme, even if “for their own good,” insults the reality of who we really are, retarding the capacity for greatness.

Just when we got our irony meter fixed, it shatters again. Do people like Klinghoffer ever look in the mirror? Probably not. Okay, now he brings his essay to a conclusion:

Darwinism is the mother of all fixed ideas, corroding the picture of ourselves we carry in our heads with a vision of nature in its entirety reduced to flat, ultimately sterile and dead matter chasing round a cosmic drain hole. Yes, it very much matters who we think we are. If Darwinian reductionism is right, we’re nothing more than meat on its path to putrefaction.

And here’s the all-too revealing end:

Other, older and deeper views — various forms of theism, traditionalism, conservatism, call it what you will — hold out at least the hope that we are something not so easily defined, something greater, more mysterious and more noble.

There you are, dear reader — the Adversary has disrobed. Behold the Discoveroids in their theocratic nakedness. It’s not a pretty sight.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Klinghoffer: Darwinism is the Path to Putrefaction

  1. Treating similar evidence similarly is apparently a fixed idea.

    It’s so much more refreshing to see IDiots allow that similarity of organisms points to common origins, then with no evidentiary reason at all, to deny it when it just “goes too far,” and instead insist that it was all designed, without bothering to find any of the marks or principles of known design.

    It’s all due to that evil Newton, who thought that similar evidence should be treated similarly. What an unimaginative thinker, especially when stacked up against Klinghoffer.

    Oddly, however, their fixed idea of design not only applies to organisms, but even to the universe. I suppose because “fine-tuning” and evolution leave behind such similar evidence.

  2. Other, older and deeper views…hold out at least the hope that we are something not so easily defined, something greater, more mysterious and more noble.

    ‘Undefined as noble’ is so 19th century. Hasn’t anyone told him that in the computer age, being ‘undefined’ is a sign of an error?

  3. eric says:

    Hasn’t anyone told him that in the computer age, being ‘undefined’ is a sign of an error?

    You’re on the verge of blasphemy. Be careful how you speak of Oogity Boogity!

  4. CritcalEyes...

    How wrong this man is……………. IT’s RELIGION that STINKS!!!!!!!!

  5. The “fixed idea” in Klinghoffer’s story is the weird notion that if we are natural products of the universe, we have no meaning. It drives all of the DI’s efforts to invent crazy theories to bring God into science, the YEC’ers looney alternative universe, biologos’ efforts to somehow distort science into some deity-friendly philosophy, and on and on. That “fixed idea” applies to subjects well beyond science, and greatly dwarfs K’s petty complaint about evolutionary theory.

    And that “fixed idea” has terrible consequences, much worse than a few goofy evolutionary psychology stories.

  6. Worst of all, “Darwinism” keeps being productive.

    That just reinforces the horrible prejudices of the scientists.

    ID doesn’t lead to productive work at all. How very much more open-minded and unfixed a person must be to stick to an idea that isn’t even necessary or useful for science.

    Scientists just think that ideas in science need to produce “material results.” It’s a terribly fixed idea, one that keeps out desirable and spiritual conceptions just because they aren’t useful in explaining “nature.” The appalling nature of science is its fixed notions that we must utilize evidence, and ideas need to lead to tangible results, instead of happy magical thoughts.

    Let the magic flit through your mind, reject the boring sameness of science with its laws and set methods.

  7. Discovery Institute: More projection that your local megaplex!

  8. Oh, for Pete’s sake. I just read this and read the headline as “Darwin is the Path to Purification. Time for new glasses.
    Yes, my irony meter exploded. “Homunculi?” Klinghoffer is an idiot.

  9. Ellie says:

    I just read this and read the headline as “Darwin is the Path to Purification.”

    Hee hee. Actually, I stumbled over the word “putrefaction.” All my life I’ve been adding an extra syllable to it, thinking it was “putrefacation” (like multiplication). I thought Klinghoffer had it wrong, but when I checked to be sure I learned of my life-long error. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve used that word very much in conversation, so my embarrassment is minimal.

  10. I thought Klinghoffer had it wrong, but when I checked to be sure I learned of my life-long error.

    Ha, Klinghoffer knows about putrefaction, and don’t you forget it.

    It’s kind of a cottage industry at the DI.

  11. Klinghoffer appears to be blind to one of the most pervasive “fixed ideas “of them all: the alleged existence of an all powerful god. It is this fundamental idea — an all powerful and timeless deity — that all of the creationists, fundamentalists, and various holy-book pushers have as the central theme for much of what they believe. Not content just to just believe in their sky-gods, they tirelessly attempt to force-feed this nonsense (in various disguises, including IDiocy) to unsuspecting children.
    Darwin’s insights were nothing short of brilliant. Many subsequent discoveries after Darwin’s death — from viruses to DNA to the decoding of the human genome — reinforce Darwin’s basic theory, and further cement his reputation as a great thinker. Evolution is not a “fixed” idea — it is simply a “proven” idea,

  12. Right. And ID creationism isn’t a fixed idea? Puh-leez.

  13. I keep being struck by how much of what you post from these other guys seems to be about a strong desire to build a model of the world that’s ego-friendly and not about reality. Anyone who’s watched the “Wizard of Oz” should get why what Klinghoffer writes here is wrong. The man behind the curtain doesn’t give you the things you want to see in yourself or the world.

    hold out at least the hope that we are something not so easily defined, something greater, more mysterious and more noble.

    Meh. How much of the glory that’s there in everyday life already do people like this miss because they’re busy forcing everything through a cramped and dogmatic lens?

    If our existence wasn’t the central driving purpose of the universe (and I don’t think it was) — none of us is a lesser person for that. You can get your wonder quotient by trying to understand just how amazingly adapted for the world we live in we are, without needing a false reassurance that the world was magically adapted for you. You can get love, or a sense of awe, or an ethical purpose right here at ground level in the life you’re already living if you’re open to what’s already here.

  14. The literal interpretation of a collection of inalterable Bronze Age documents is clearly the balm our souls need after being corrupted by all those dogmatic “fixed ideas”.

    Klinghoffer uses the Atkins diet and trendy parenting advice as examples in his essay. This really tells me all I need to know about the kind of literature from which he acquired his scientific culture (the obsolete women’s magazines lying around in waiting rooms, apparently.)