Klinghoffer Finds Evidence — In a Play!

They’re so desperate at the Discovery Institute that they’ll seize anything, grasp at any straw, in order to promote their “theory” of intelligent design. You gotta give the Discoveroids credit for one thing — they’re unrestrained in their quest for evidence.

Today at their creationist blog we find Thomas Nagel’s Evolutionary Critique, on London Theatrical Stage? It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger.

Who is the Thomas Nagel mentioned in Klinghoffer’s title? He’s a philosopher of whom most of you never heard, who recently — presumably upon entering his dotage — became enamored with the supernatural, and therefore said some kind words about the Discoveroids’ “theory.” The first time we wrote about him was more than five years ago: Discovery Institute: How They Spent Kitzmas.

Now it appears that someone has written a play in which one of the characters espouses Nagel’s viewpoint. This is a big deal for the Discoveroids, so Klinghoffer is writing about it. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

I read about the new Tom Stoppard play The Hard Problem, now at London’s National Theatre, which dramatizes a familiar clash of ideas in the person of a God-believing psychology undergrad student, Hilary, and her Dawkins-like academic supervisor, Spike, who’s also her lover.

The playwright presumably chose those names with care. The student is Hillary — a name with unavoidable connotations, suggesting that she’s sensitive, caring, and intelligent; while the “Dawkins-like academic” is Spike — a name that reeks of harshness, cruelty, and unthinking dogmatism. Not much subtlety there. Then Klinghoffer says:

The “hard problem” [in the play’s title] refers to the difficulty, given materialist premises, of accounting for how meat in the form of the brain can give rise to mind.

The Discoveroids have a long history of pointing to consciousness as something at “materialist Darwinism” is unable to explain, so it must be a gift from the intelligent designer — blessed be he! The first time we wrote about it was Discovery Institute Revives Mind-Body Dualism. Back to Klinghoffer:

For Hilary, consciousness is the dilemma on which purely materialist science unravels. Leroi [a friend of the playwrght] professes not to know on which side of the debate Stoppard comes down, whether in denying the Darwinian model (as Nagel does), or with Dawkins in affirming it.

But the audience is already preconditioned to sympathize with sweet Hillary in her conflict with the brutally-named Spike. Let’s read on:

The hostility of some of the reviews Stoppard has received would suggest that the reviewers sense Stoppard is more sympathetic to Nagel, and that such sympathy is not allowed.

That’s obviously due to the wicked influence of the Darwinists! Klinghoffer continues:

The play doesn’t directly mention intelligent design — for whose theorists the atheist philosopher Nagel has expressed admiration, earning him denunciations across academia. But Stoppard’s protagonist Hilary says at one point that she’s working on a paper whose equations cast doubt on aspects of human evolution and specifically whether the conventional account allows sufficient time for it.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! A fictional character in a play says “she’s working on” some equations. Wowie — that’s evidence for intelligent design! Here’s more:

By the end, she has announced that she is making plans to continue her research and studies at New York University — where, the audience may or may not realize, Nagel himself teaches. That is sly on Stoppard’s part. Nagel is not cited by name, but he is in the program notes.

Everything about this play seems exquisitely subtle. Moving along:

I’m unaware of plans to mount the play in Seattle, so I don’t anticipate getting to see it anytime soon. However it sounds like a thoughtful and critical consideration of evolutionary themes.

Yes, it’s a thoughtful play — about as thoughtful as one in which Jack the Ripper is portrayed as having been influenced by Darwin. Here’s the end of Klinghoffer’s little essay:

Well, it’s easier for a famous playwright like Stoppard to go off the reservation on these issues, for the same reason it’s easier for a distinguished philosopher like Nagel. You reach a certain pinnacle of achievement in your field, and you no longer have to worry about sniping colleagues or tottering status. It’s a nice thing about being venerable. You can say what you want.

So there you are, dear reader. A “venerable” playwright has dared to say what he wanted to say, and he’s not worried about the sniping of Darwinists. It’s a story that will bring tears of joy to every creationist’s eyes. And it will bring satisfaction to the Discoveroids’ generous patrons, who will see this as evidence that that their largesse is paying off, because the Discoveroids are penetrating the popular culture. Exciting, isn’t it?

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Klinghoffer Finds Evidence — In a Play!

  1. Diogenes' Lamp

    Hey, they’re winning in fiction! They finally presented some equations showing that evolution is impossible, after decades of us asking. They’re fictional equations, but beggars can’t be choosers.

  2. Diogenes' Lamp

    Oh, now Klinghitler says that the “venerable” can afford to question evolution. 22 years ago, Intelligent Design was sold as a rebellion of “young scientists.” Only not so young, then or now, and almost never actual scientists.

    Let’s test Klinghitler’s thesis. Among scientists, who are the most venerable? In the US, it’s the National Academy of Sciences. Is there even one living member of the NAS who supports either Intelligent Design or Young Earth Creationism? (Phillip Skell died years ago.) Just one? One? Bueller?

  3. I also heard there’s a new movie coming out that confirms the belief that little green dudes can pull X-Wing Fighters out of swamps. With just their minds!

    As venerable roboticist R2-D2 once said, “Beep Beep Boop.”

  4. WOW! our magnificent brains were designed! Well if true then once again the designer was completely incompetent!!! Get any book on illusions and see how badly our brains work! And this true for all the senses! And our consciousness is not that great either as I know many people who are barely conscious!

  5. Diogenes' Lamp

    Can someone please explain to me how *supernatural immaterialism* explains consciousness? How? As I understand their “explanation”, there’s a ghost or spook and each of us has one, but we can’t see it– it’s hidden from us– God put it in another dimension or something, outside of time and space, let’s say in the “Empyrean.” So we can’t investigate it or show that it’s real. But out there in the Empyrean, the spook creates consciousness, like the way your scrotum makes scrotecheese. How exactly? Why can a spook create consciousness, but a meat robot cannot?

    For creationists, the meat robot has the disadvantage (for them) that we know it’s real and we can investigate it, but the spook has the advantage (for them) that it’s invisible and we can’t investigate it. But how come the spook can make consciousness, but the meat robot can’t? What is so special about the spook?

    Let’s admit it: every time you try to visualize the spook creating (secreting or excreting) consciousness, you *always* visualize the spook as a little machine putting out… a movie projection, or radio waves or something. So since you visualize the spook as a little machine anyway, why allege that the meat robot that we know is real, is totally incapable, ever in principle, of doing what you just imagined the spook doing? What is the advantage of the spook?

    And then there are other problems, like how does the spook cause your nerve cells to fire when you execute “free will”? It’s not made of matter; how do spooks do that?

    And if the spook is not made of chemicals and is outside the universe and space and time, why is it that when I put alcohol in my meat robot, the spook not made of matter, outside all time and space, is suddenly more willing to sleep with ugly women?

  6. This is not a question of evolution. I have speculated that the creationists would turn their attention from evolution to the problems posed by the sciences of brain function. Those ought to be more problematic to traditional theistic philosophy.

    But this is just another one of the examples of something which is being claimed as not compatible with nature, and therefore requires something which demands the supernatural. Like the “second law of thermodynamics” or the “law of conservation of information” or the “improbability to the point of impossiblitiy”. Something incompatible with the “anthropic principle”, that nature is designed to make possible life as we know it.

  7. Diogene’s Lamp asks the 64 thousand dollar question:

    why is it that when I put alcohol in my meat robot, the spook not made of matter, outside all time and space, is suddenly more willing to sleep with ugly women?

    But there is an even more profound questiont that needs to be asked, the 64 billion gallon question, to wit:

    Could there ever be enough alcohol in the entire cosmos to ever induce any woman to sleep with our Curmudgeon?

  8. Megalonyx, it is impossible for you to think about such things, because all you have is your own dismal experience to guide you.

  9. The Klingon pontificates: “The hostility of some of the reviews Stoppard has received would suggest that the reviewers sense Stoppard is more sympathetic to Nagel, and that such sympathy is not allowed.” Of course, following Ocham’s razor, the simpler explanation is the reviewers didn’t like the play very much.

    Oh, and those equations she’s working on. Are they as invisible as the sky fairy?

  10. Pete Moulton

    “Oh, and those equations she’s working on. Are they as invisible as the sky fairy?”

    They’re at least as invisible as Paul Nelson’s calculations of ‘ontogenetic depth.’

  11. docbill1351

    Once again, the fabulous They’re Made Out of Meat

    @DL I’ve come to believe that the single thing (besides money) that unites the Tooters is a belief in mind-brain dualism. I’ve observed the Tooters disagreements among themselves on many details, but not this one.

    Some years ago with Egnor came on the scene he wrote a piece that likened the brain to a cell phone and God as ATT. Now, you have to admit, God as ATT isn’t much of a stretch but the rest of the analogy confused me. Was I a Nokia or a Samsung?

  12. michaelfugate

    What I am wondering is – If Adam and Eve were unconscious before eating the apple, then isn’t it sin that led to human exceptionalism? So by glorifying human exceptionalism aren’t the DIers glorifying sin?

  13. Reminds me of how the movie “Capricorn One” about a faked Mars mission is sometimes used by moon landing conspiracy nuts as proof that the Apollo missions were faked.

  14. I don’t understand why consciousness is supposed to be so impossible that it requires a supernatural “explanation.” The brain receives input from all our sense organs. At some early stage of animal evolution, maybe because of some crossed wiring, it developed the ability to sense some of its own activity. It became a sense organ. Organisms with that mutation had a dim form of self-awareness.

    It’s far more complicated in our brains compared to what little goes on in the brain of a fly, and sometimes it malfunctions and people hear voices that aren’t there, but it seems reasonable that our consciousness and thinking is an evolved elaboration of that original crossed wiring.

  15. If our ability to think is the product of development, a material process, following laws of physics and chemistry and biology, then what is the difficulty in accepting evolution?

    Our ability to think is affected, not only by ingesting alcohol, but many other things. Observe the effect of sugar on kids! Also low pressure of oxygen, lack of sleep, blows to the head, lack of sensory simulation, …

  16. Great Scot!

    I have been a huge fan of Stoppard, from the intellectual playfulness of his early works (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, Jumpers, Travesties, The Real Thing) through to what I consider one of the finest of his plays and one of the finest of modern plays, Arcadia. Sad that it appears his intellectual rigour (at least based on the reviews I have read) appears to have deserted him in this play. The subject of consciousness is indeed a fascinating one but it rather looks like he swung and missed with this current work. I am sure he would be mortified to think that the professional liars and intellectual pygmies of the Dishonesty Institute have been able to leech onto his oeuvre and use it as part of their ongoing battle against science, reason and reality.

  17. TomS notes the deleterious effects on the brain of

    low pressure of oxygen, lack of sleep, blows to the head, lack of sensory simulation, …

    …visiting the Creation Museum, reading Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, excessive viewing of Fox News, trepanning…

  18. If our mind is separate, how is it that we treat anxiety and other mental problems with drugs – which act exclusively on the “meat” part? Those drugs change the “mind” as perceived by people who take them. Of course, senility and alzheimer’s are conditions of the “meat” part, with very real consequences on the mind.

    If the separate mind is so dependent on the physical condition and operation of the meat part, what evidence is there that it is separate at all?

  19. You know it’s going to hit the fan when humans can reproduce the phenomenon of consciousness in a machine.
    On the other hand, they’ll probably point out that since humans can create consciousness, than our own must be created as well.