Klinghoffer: Darwin Has Stolen Our Grief

We recently dared the Discovery Institute’s David Klinghoffer to do what he does so well — blame the Boston bombings on Charles Darwin. See Darwin, Evolution, & the Boston Bombing.

Well, he hasn’t done that — not yet anyway, but he’s approached the subject. He just posted this at the Discoveroid blog: If Darwinists Won, What Would They Say to Impart Comfort, Meaning to Those in Grief? It’s ghastly, even for the Discoveroids’ blog, but David is doing his best. He begins by claiming that:

“Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature” (as Nagel puts it) would, if triumphant, deprive us a whole tradition of seeking meaning, comfort and consolation in pain.

That’s the theme of his essay — if Darwin were to triumph, we’d be wandering around in a materialist fog, unable to deal with the grief of what happened in Boston. So although Klinghoffer hasn’t yet blamed the event on Darwin, he’s accusing the evil Victorian naturalist of stealing our humanity. It’s quite a claim! Then he adds a personal touch, attempting to involve you at an emotional level:

As I was driving kids to school today we listened to the interfaith service in memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. President Obama spoke well, beginning with an apt citation from the Bible, and several clergy of a variety of faiths were very moving.

That’s very touching. Now that Klinghoffer thinks you’re sucked in, he starts to really shovel it. Here it comes, with bold font added by us:

So imagine if Darwinists won the day. Jerry Coyne writes at Why Evolution Is True about how he’s studying up on theology in order to knock it down. The man’s immaturity as a writer and thinker is so evident that I can’t see any genuine threat on that front.

Klinghoffer really dislikes Jerry Coyne. He doesn’t provide a link, but he’s probably referring to this at Coyne’s blog, A (formerly) reputable publisher sells out to creationists, which attacks Stephen Meyer’s new book. None of that is relevant to our post about Darwin and Boston, but we thought we’d provide the link — because it bothers Klinghoffer.

Okay, let’s see what Klinghoffer means by asking: “So imagine if Darwinists won the day.” What’s he talking about? It’s hard to believe, but this is his way of connecting Darwin to the Boston bombings. Get this:

Imagine how impoverished we would be not least in a time of crisis. Take away the language and themes of spiritual counselors like the ones who spoke in Boston today. What have you got now?

Are you still with us? Are you shaking your head in wonderment? Is Klinghoffer literally saying that if Darwin’s theory is universally accepted, we’d be unable to conduct an appropriate funeral? Yes, that’s really what he’s saying. He continues:

Put in their place some midget of a Darwinian — what? Would would you call him? Not a minister. I don’t know. Sort of a social worker I guess — I mean no disrespect to MSWs, my mother is one, but that is about the best you could expect in a world where Darwinian materialism was triumphant.

MSW probably refers to “Master of Social Work.” We didn’t realize there was such a degree. Anyway, in Klinghoffer’s peculiar view of things, if Darwin’s theory prevails (and intelligent design “theory” collapses in a foul puddle of goo), then life would have no meaning and only “some midget of a Darwinian” — a sort of social worker — would be available to preside at a memorial service.

We’re deeply troubled, dear reader. As a blogger, we’ve slogged through a lot of nonsense in your service, but this Klinghoffer essay is so strange that we have doubts about our comprehension. Is Klinghoffer really saying what we think he’s saying? If he is, then things are worse at Discoveroid headquarters than we ever imagined. Anyway, here’s more:

A tragedy occurs and this Darwinian social worker gets up to advise and conciliate an anguished city and a grieving country. What in the world does he say?

Who knows what such a person would say? Perhaps Klinghoffer should ask his mother — she’s got the MSW degree. Moving along:

Does he show them a PowerPoint presentation of videos of cute cats?

That’s yet another swipe at Jerry Coyne. This is a really a weird Discoveroid essay! The good news is that we’re getting to the end now:

What then? Man needs meaning. We crave it, especially when faced with adversity. I challenge any Darwinist readers to write some comments down that would be suitable, not laughable, in the context of speaking to people who have lived through an event like Monday’s bombing. By all means, let me know what you come up with.

Amazing. That’s how it ends. We were expecting Klinghoffer to blame the Boston bombings on Darwin, but so far he hasn’t been able to do that. Instead, the best he can do is claim that Darwin’s theory takes away our ability to properly grieve after such an event. In a world without creationists, all he can think of to officiate at a public ceremony is either a biologist or a social worker. The scientific worldview eliminates all other options. And those people would have nothing to say, because without creationism to give meaning to our lives, what else is there?

Klinghoffer seems unaware that the literature of Western Civilization is loaded with superb funeral oratory — without creationism. But there’s much about patriotism, tradition, honor, bravery, character — you know, trivial things like that — and such orations have been delivered by statesmen like Pericles, or by generals (see Funeral Oration for George Washington by Major-General Henry Lee). And although it may shock Klinghoffer, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address somehow didn’t mention creationism, and it was written and delivered without the assistance of either a biologist or a social worker.

So don’t worry, David. When creationism vanishes like so many other failed ideas — the miasma theory of disease, vitalism, phlogiston theory, the luminiferous aether, the geocentric universe, the flat Earth, the four bodily humours, alchemy, astrology, etc. — we’ll still be able to handle the situation. In fact, without creationism we’ll be more human, not less.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “Klinghoffer: Darwin Has Stolen Our Grief

  1. Well he has been steeped in lies for so long that try to say anything true is beyond his comprehension. As we all know anything a religious person says in comfort is nothing more then pretty lies or wishful thinking. But then again that is what 85% of people like to hear. And they are incapable of saying something that is helpful (for the most part) because they have never really tried or even thought about it as it is SOOOooooo much easier to just say ‘they are with jesus now’.

  2. Yes, after a tragedy perpetuated in part by religious strife, now that we know the two brothers responsible for the bombing are Muslims from Chechnya, we should seek solace in the same misguided religious nonsense that got us into this mess in the first place! Talk about perpetuating your attachments!

  3. Pete Moulton

    “I challenge any Darwinist readers to write some comments down that would be suitable, not laughable, in the context of speaking to people who have lived through an event like Monday’s bombing. By all means, let me know what you come up with.”

    Writes the religious clown at a website that doesn’t allow comments.

  4. President Obama spoke well, beginning with an apt citation from the Bible, and several clergy of a variety of faiths were very moving.

    I wonder how many of the speakers were creationists like Kling, and how many were from faiths that accept evolution. For example, Obama most likely accepts evolution, given his stance on science in general. To the extent the other speakers were from mainstream faiths, they probably also accept evolution. So, in response to Kling’s challenge to his reader(s), he has already heard comments from “Darwinists” that he has judged suitable.

    Of course he challenges his reader(s) to come up with comments on a site that doesn’t allow comments.

  5. The man’s immaturity as a writer and thinker is so evident that I can’t see any genuine threat on that front.

    Klinghitler is writing about himself here. Talk about an immature sociopath, Klinghitler is the poster child. I would ask Klinghitler to look within and ask himself what parent would want to raise their child to be Klinghoffer, a social misfit, a contrarian, friendless and reviled, whose only function in life has been to spread malice.

    Rather, drawing from the Buddhist tradition I would quote a Darwinian view:

    “Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.”

  6. “What then? Man needs meaning. We crave it, especially when faced with adversity.”

    Just because something is needed does not mean that it is available. Bite me.

  7. Colonel Klinkhoffer is clearly a very sick, dillusional individual who desperately needs help. His colleagues fall into that category as well.

  8. Ceteris Paribus

    Humanists, such as Darwin, are willing to grieve equally for all people of the earth. But Klinghoffer’s creationist supporters believe in grieving only for those they anoint as sufficiently righteous and holy. And in their spare time look around for opportunities to rejoice in causing still more grief to others.

    From the creationists literal bible – Psalms 137:7-9 [NIV]

    7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
    on the day Jerusalem fell.
    “Tear it down,” they cried,
    “tear it down to its foundations!”
    8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
    happy is the one who repays you
    according to what you have done to us.
    9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
    and dashes them against the rocks.

  9. You better check out ENV today. Youngkin has gone nuts over the Jindal admission. Very entertaining.

  10. The whole truth

    The Boston murderers were/are muslims. What a surprise. NOT.

  11. Ian Hyland says: “Youngkin has gone nuts over the Jindal admission.”

    Right. I’ll get around to it, if not today, then tomorrow.

  12. So Klinghitler is calling us “midgets” now. What will he call us tomorrow– pygmies and Negroes? That’s the level of the creationist imagination.

    What sort of “words of consolation” would the Discovery Institute offer to victims?

    “We are there to commemorate your dead babies, by telling you that there is no Global Warming; lying scientists commit fraud; please let corporations damage your environment and the health of whatever children haven’t died yet. Peppered moths don’t rest on trees; lying scientists nailed them there. Nebraska Man was a hoax. Sex before marriage will kill you. Darwin invented racism. Margaret Sanger planned the Holocaust. Orgasms lead to Auschwitz; if you come, you’re a Nazi.

  13. Retired Prof

    Isn’t Klinghoffer’s point another example of the argument from ignorance? “I can’t think of anything consoling to say to a grieving person outside my own Christian ideology. Therefore there is no way to give any comfort at all.”

    Klinghoffer ignores the funeral orations SC mentions, all of which should be familiar to him as an educated person. His ignorance must be willful. He also ignores the myriad of non-Western cultures across the globe, all of which include customs to help their members manage their grief.

    Even members of other species. Elephants grieve. Klinghoffer would vehemently deny they know anything at all about his Christian ideology. Yet their animal nature does not prevent them from (apparently) experiencing deep loss on the death of a fellow herd member, and (apparently) paying their respects to the departed.

  14. Retired Prof,

    Klinghoffer is Jewish.

    Religiously, the Discovery Institute is very inclusive. It includes Protestants who really hate atheists, Catholics who really hate atheists, and Jews who really hate atheists.

  15. Retired Prof says: “Klinghoffer ignores the funeral orations SC mentions, all of which should be familiar to him as an educated person.”

    We can also add President Bush’s Memorial Speech for the Columbia Astronauts. Another Darwinian midget with nothing to say of any value. Klinghoffer is right — funeral orations are impossible without creationism.

  16. Our Curmudgeon notes:

    we’ve slogged through a lot of nonsense in your service

    And we appreciate your sacrifice.

    Greater love hath no skeptic than that he wade through reams of DI bullpockey for his fellow man…

  17. Curm,

    I hope you will do a post on the surreal (no, really surreal) DI response by Joshua Youngkin to Bobby Jindal spilling the beans about how ID = creationism.

    It’s hilarious– he basically says that we’re wrong for pointing out that the GOVERNOR of Louisiana interprets the LSEA means “teach ID = creationism”, we’re wrong because, uh, we’re not lawyers and we don’t “know our role.”

    A few choice bits below. It’s full of italics. We’re defeated by his italics. I’ll preserve his italics below.

    Youngkin: “The non-lawyers of the repeal camp are constantly giving in the media their legal opinion of the LSEA. And for whatever reason the press just can’t get enough of that. Now in strange unison the repealers publicly chime in on the legal significance of a post-enactment TV interview…

    The TV interview is not legislative history. It can’t be used by courts to construct the legislative intent behind the statute

    …NBC has not yet provided a transcript, so I’ve done the other side a solid by transcribing the key parts of the interview below…

    …Note that Hoda [the interviewer] asked Jindal whether creationism should be taught in public schools. “Should” here signifies a question of policy preference, not statutory interpretation. Hoda did not ask whether creationism or any other form of religion is allowed in public schools under the LSEA…

    …Jindal sets detail aside to cast a vision… He is talking about what he’d like to see one day in his state [not about the LSEA]…

    Like the critics of the LSEA, Governor Jindal is not a lawyer. He delivers no legal memo. However, unlike the critics of the LSEA, Governor Jindal is a Rhodes Scholar with a degree in biology, an experienced politician who knows what his role is

    (Failing to grasp your role is not just a problem with critics of the LSEA. An astronomer just declared vouchers in Louisiana illegal.)” [Youngkin at ENV, italics in original, boldface added]

    So there you go. We have “failed to grasp our role”. If Jindal violates the First Amendment, how could we dummies possibly know? He could torture us, and if he did, how could we dummies know if our rights had been violated? If we complain, we have “failed to grasp our role” as the Discovery Institute has assigned it to us. This non-scientist a-hole at the DI will tell us our “proper role.”

    And hey, who’s opposed to the LSEA? Just dozens of Nobel laureates. Youngkin reminds us they don’t have the qualifications of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has an undergraduate degree in biology, and who thinks exorcisms can treat people with mental disorders.

    Is this Youngkin even a lawyer? I don’t know, but I know he is a… a great addition to the Discovery Institute! He reveals the actual level of their intellectual argument. “Shaddap. Quit witcher squawkin about yer rights. We’ze smarter than youze.”

  18. Diogenes says: “I hope you will do a post on the surreal (no, really surreal) DI response by Joshua Youngkin to Bobby Jindal spilling the beans about how ID = creationism.”

    It’s coming. Probably tomorrow. I already did Klinghoffer today, so I need to recover.

  19. As others have noted, Klinghoffer asks for comments, but there is no “Comment” button on his page. I sent a version of the following to his e-mail, but I guess I’ll post it here, too.

    Here in largely secular Norway, the few creationists we have are mostly considered religious cranks, and society in general considers evolution as uncontroversial scientific fact. (Not that I would insist that most laypeople properly understand it or the evidence supporting it — but then again, how many people know just what astronomical observations are required to prove that Earth really does orbit the sun rather than vice versa?)

    In July 2011, one Anders Behring Breivik took it upon himself to “defend Christianity” from a supposed covert Islamic invation encouraged by evil “cultural Marxists” (a.k.a. the Labor Party). This dire threat our brave Christian crusader addressed by killing 77 people in one afternoon, first by pulling a Timothy McVeigh on the government building in Oslo, then by gunning down as many teenagers as he could find at the Labor Party youth camp. (Just what we needed to fight fanatical Jihadists – an equally fanatical and murderous ‘Christian’ anti-Jihadist.)

    So how did we secular Scandinavians react? Did we tear off our hair in desperation, wailing: “Oh no, now we realize that life is completely meaningless, just as Darwin has taught us! We can’t even properly grieve, since most of us accept evolution!”

    As it happens, there were mountains of flowers and candles building up; there were memorial parades with people carrying roses and torches, there were songs and tears and moving speeches. But there wasn’t a lot of Bible quoting, hardly any public speculation about the afterlife of the victims, and no politicians exhorting anyone to “pray for” anybody. In this country, politicians who want to be taken seriously just don’t talk like that.

    Of course, most of the victims were eventually buried with clergymen going through the motions — but in Scandinavia, the overtly religious stuff is mostly considered a special intrerest phenomenon to be kept in the private sphere (if you are into that subculture). As a society, we seemed quite able to mourn the dead, and honor their memory, without loads of mumbo-jumbo. In fact, many visiting reporters commented on what they perceived as great dignity and maturity displayed by our society in a difficult situation.

    I don’t want to go into nationalist self-praise, nor do I intend to paint Scandinavia as some kind of secular paradise. But any suggestion to the effect that a generally secularized society cannot properly grieve following a national tragedy, and that life is empty and meaningless if one accepts that we are products of evolution, would sound ludicrous to most people in my country.

    It is not a hypothetical question to us. Courtesy of Behring Breivik, self-appointed defender of ‘Christian’ culture, we’ve been there, done that. He killed over 25 times more people than the Boston bombers; yet our secular evolution-accepting society was able to manage, to grieve and finally to move on.

    Surely American society has the potential to move beyond puerile concepts as well. But the efforts of ID proponents and creationists will not be helpful.

  20. Very good, H.K. Fauskanger. But don’t expect a response from Klinghoffer.

  21. Retired Prof

    “Klinghoffer is Jewish.”

    Oops. Thanks, Diogenes. I had read that, but it slipped my mind. There’s no good excuse for such profiling, either; I am personally acquainted with YEC’s in both faiths.

  22. Well said, Fauskanger.

    But let’s remember Breivik justified his violence via Bible quotes he copied and pasted from the American creationist rag WorldNetDaily.

  23. No matter what your belief is about an afterlife if someone you care about dies you will grieve. I suspect that is because the afterlife delusion is mostly mental and a coping mechanism that does not function at a visceral level. To use an analogy this would be like saying we should all believe in Santa Clause because it makes us all fell better. A scientific theory’s validity should never depend on how we want the universe to work, it is supposed to be about how it actually does work.

  24. If comfort upon the death of a loved one is your standard for truth, then everyone must become Mormon or Muslim. If you’re Mormon you get a planet when you die. If you’re Muslim you get 72 women to have sex with. Both of these beat Christianity and Judaism.

  25. Diogenes says: “If you’re Muslim you get 72 women to have sex with.”

    I worry that I’m not up to the challenge. I could easily handle 40, maybe 50, but 72? I donno …

  26. “I worry that I’m not up to the challenge. I could easily handle 40, maybe 50, but 72? I donno …”

    Curm, they’d be virgins. They’re easily impressed.

  27. Techreseller

    From Lurker above:
    “What then? Man needs meaning. We crave it, especially when faced with adversity.”

    Just because something is needed does not mean that it is available. Bite me.

    Well said Lurker. However I do need a self driving, self gas refilling Ferrari. Please have it delivered next Wednesday. But I Need it.