Discovery Institute Snatches Another Corpse

Today we have a good indication of the increasing desperation 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).

The latest post at their blog is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Intelligent Design Advocate. There are two critical facts to be gleaned from it. First, Rousseau seems to have believed in some kind of Oogity Boogity. Second, Rousseau died in 1778 — nearly a century before Darwin published Origin of Species.

In Rousseau’s time, no one knew of a scientific argument for evolution, and therefore — to the extent that they bothered to think about such things — they could only think in terms of the various religious and philosophical “explanations” then extant to make sense of the world around them. We frequently encounter lists compiled by creationists purporting to show famous thinkers like Isaac Newton who were creationists, and invariably the big names are almost all — like Rousseau — pre-Darwinian. But their lists of notable creationists who are now alive are pathetic. We discussed the Discoveroids’ list of contemporaries in NCSE’s “Project Steve” Now Has 1,200 Steves.

To compensate for the dismal status of creationism today, the Discoveroids from time to time dig up the corpse of a respected — but very dead — person who predated Darwin and try to absorb his essence into their movement. We’ve written about such philosophical necrophilia before, usually involving Thomas Jefferson. See Discovery Institute: Usurping the Fourth of July, and also Another July 4th Hijacking (same thing a year later), and also Thomas Jefferson Joins The Discovery Institute!, and also Discovery Institute’s False Fourth of July (same thing in 2010).

Well, they’re at it again, and this time the stiff they’re adding to their collection is Rousseau. Here’s what they say, with bold font added by us:

According to a familiar accusation from critics of intelligent design, ID is nothing more than a recent invention of the Christian Right. This is, of course, nonsense.

We agree entirely. There’s nothing new about creationism; it’s as old as humanity. The ID facade, however, is indeed a recent contrivance which attempts to make creationism appear to be new and secular — but it’s really not new at all. ID is creationism wearing an ill-fitting codpiece — but no one is impressed.

The Discoveroid article continues:

Ancient philosophers including Plato and Aristotle advocated early versions of ID theory.

Wowie! Plato and Aristotle were Discoveroids too! Let’s read on:

For now, though, let’s take a closer look at a particularly colorful example of a premature ID advocate of the 18th century, someone who, in this context, most people have overlooked: the enigmatic philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778).

We’ll spare you the details of the Rousseau hijacking by the Discoveroids. They pick through his writings and purport to quote a few things they can align with their own views. We haven’t bothered to check the quotes for accuracy or context. It doesn’t matter, really, any more than if he had speculated about the age of the sun or the origin of the universe. He was living at a time when no one knew about such things.

But if it makes the Discoveroids happy to add one more cadaver to their collection of creationist forebears, that’s okay with us. It’s a gruesome hobby, but harmless.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Discovery Institute Snatches Another Corpse

  1. One might add Voltaire to the list of people who used the analogy of the design of a watch.

  2. docbill1351

    Maybe we should start an ID Cemetery list of all the dead people who would have been ID supporters if only they were still alive, gosh darn it!

  3. “ID is creationism wearing an ill-fitting codpiece . . .”

    The best description of ID I’ve seen.

    The IDiots’ practice of, as you put it, “philosophical necrophilia” reminds me of that peculiar Mormon practice of baptizing dead folks.

    *Shrugs*

  4. docbill, brilliant idea!

    We could even make Casey Luskin an honorary caretaker!

    All the rest of ’em could be honorary pall bearers . . . . .or something.

  5. docbill1351

    Ride in the Wayback Machine to 1987 when “intelligent design” was created by the Religious Right. (Thanks for the projection, Klinghoffer!)

    Happy Birthday, ID!

  6. According to a familiar accusation from critics of intelligent design, ID is nothing more than a recent invention of the Christian Right. This is, of course, nonsense.

    Instead, the Discovery Institute wants us to believe, it is really based on religious musings of a man who lived over 300 years ago, and knew nothing of modern science.

    This is supposed to help their credibility, how?

  7. docbill1351

    According to a familiar accusation from critics of intelligent design, ID is nothing more than a recent invention of the Christian Right. This is, of course, nonsense.

    Right on, bro!

    As the father of “intelligent design”, Phillip E. Johnson, said in 1999 and 1997:

    Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.

    This isn’t really, and never has been a debate about science. Its about religion and philosophy.

    And, of course, the Wedge Document (yes, that old thing that the DI can’t seem to quite disavow) written in 1998:

    “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God”

    All science so far!

  8. retiredsciguy

    docbill says, “Maybe we should start an ID Cemetery list of all the dead people who would have been ID supporters if only they were still alive, gosh darn it!”

    You can bet that the DI is happy these great thinkers died before Darwin published. It’s almost a “dead” certainty that Rousseau, Plato, Aristotle, and probably even Moses would have been supporters of evolution by natural selection if they had heard of the idea.

  9. Rousseau has always been on the Enemies List of religious conservatives. Kind of funny that the Disco-Toot now wants to claim him as one of their own.

  10. Doctor Stochastic

    There’s a section in Aristotle’s wriitings wherein he discusses natural selection as a “force” in biological determinism. (I don’t remember where, maybe in Physics.)

  11. Doctor Stochastic says: “I don’t remember where, maybe in Physics.”

    Yes, Physics, part 8.

  12. @meh – The clockmaker analogy is a signature of deism.