Two new articles at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog are rather hilarious when considered together. The first is Save John Harvard. It’s by
Bruce Chapman, whom we affectionately call “Chappy.” He’s not only the founder and president of the Discovery Institute, he’s also the Lord High Keeper of the Discoveroids’ wedge strategy, so we always pay attention to what he says.
There’s not much to Chappy’s post, really. He points out that Harvard was founded and endowed by John Harvard, an English clergyman. And then he complains about the ungodly stuff that’s going on there now — he’s especially upset by evolutionary psychologist and Harvard professor Steven Pinker. Then he says:
This surely is one of history’s classic cases of violating “donor intent.”
To explain that, he says:
John Harvard meant his legacy to sponsor the teaching of Puritan clergy.
It’s certainly true that Harvard has grown beyond being a colonial bible college. But although Chappy doesn’t disclose it, Harvard still has a Divinity School which traces its history back to John Harvard.
Despite Chappy’s disgust that Harvard has somehow betrayed its founder’s vision, it’s a fact that institutions grow and evolve, sometimes radically so. One of the best examples is when Henry Ford II quit the Ford Foundation which his family had created, because of the direction that institution had taken — see Letter of Resignation by Henry Ford II.
And for what relevance it may have, consider what Thomas Jefferson said in 1789 in a letter to James Madison:
[N]o society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation.
Anyway, now we turn to the second item at the Discoveroids’ blog: No Need to Save Nicholas Brown. This one is by Klinghoffer. He refers to Chappy’s article and he says:
Bruce Chapman observes that despite his alma mater’s having been named after a minister and preacher, John Harvard, recent sentiment among the faculty goes against Harvard’s religious heritage: [quote from Chppy’s article].
We would expect Klinghoffer to agree with his boss, and maybe he thinks he does. But he actually contradicts him when he tells us:
I thought as I read Bruce’s reflections, however, that my own college’s name and namesake seem more secure. For whatever that’s worth. The Brown family of Providence, RI [benefactors of what has become Brown University], made their fortune in the 18th-century slave trade.
Huh? Is Brown University dedicated to the slave trade, in the tradition of its benefactor? Probably not, in which case it’s yet another example of an institution that (like Harvard) has grown beyond its origins. In Brown’s case, this is unquestionably a good development. Then Klinghoffer briefly jumps the tracks and takes a swipe at Darwin:
While Darwin was emotionally committed to abolitionism, there’s no question that one unambiguous thrust of his theory confirmed a view that justified the business of slavery: that the human races are unequal as the predictable outcome of natural selection.
Darwin’s theory “justified the business of slavery”? It was all but over by the time Darwin published his theory in 1859. Well, not entirely in the US; but the Confederacy was soon to die. We’re not aware that anyone (except the Discoveroids — see Discovery Institute: Civil War Was Darwin’s Fault) blames the Civil War on Darwin. Klinghoffer is babbling pure Discoveroid trash — see Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin.
So what was Klinghoffer’s point? Does he agree with Chappy that an institution should remain true to the views of its founders? What was Chappy’s point — that Harvard should still be a bible college? We can’t figure it out. Can you?
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