They’re talking again about “human exceptionalism” at the Discovery Institute. That issue of theirs has always been a bit of a mystery to us. If their transcendental designer — blessed be he! — created all living things, and each species is the result of the designer’s special attention, wouldn’t that dilute the exceptional status of humans?
The phrase seems to be more than a thinly disguised claim that humans aren’t related to other animals, and therefore, as the creationists always say: “I ain’t no kin to no monkey.” They also invoke human exceptionalism when they rant about abortion and euthanasia, two practices they routinely blame on Darwin and his diabolical theory.
We always suspected the phrase was Discoveroid code for “In His Image,” but originally they avoided making that claim. Recently, however, they said it — see Intelligent Aliens Terrify the Discovery Institute, so “In His Image” is another concept that fits under their human exceptionalism umbrella. Nevertheless, as is typical with pseudo-science, the actual meaning and purpose of the phrase has been elusive.
Well, the Discoveroids are beating the human exceptionalism drum again today. At their creationist blog they just posted Intelligent Design and Human Exceptionalism, written by David Klinghoffer, their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.
Does an understanding of humankind’s unique dignity and worth depend on religious arguments and religious faith? Our friend and colleague Wesley Smith forcefully argues no — and I agree with him. He makes the secular case for human exceptionalism in a concise podcast, [link omitted] based on a rational surveying of mankind’s gifts that distinguish us from all other known life.
Well, duh! Of course we’re different from every other species. We have abilities they don’t have — notably our hands and our brains. But other species — also unique — have abilities we don’t have — better hearing, eyesight, strength, ability to fly, regeneration of lost parts, etc. Evolution results in a lot of trade-offs, but we’ve got a pretty good deal. Anyway, after announcing the astounding fact that we’re different from all other forms of life, Klinghoffer says:
Wesley, however, if I understand correctly, says mankind’s unique endowments argue for human exceptionalism whether they are the product of “blind evolution” or intelligent design. I’m not sure I agree with that.
Ah, now maybe this will get interesting. Let’s read on:
The question is always: What should we do with our gifts? What inference should we draw from them?
That’s always the big question? Klinghoffer continues:
Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you know two very wealthy people. One came by his wealth via a lottery, a blind process, and he sees no purpose or intention behind it. It was the luck of the draw. The other, whether he inherited his wealth or came by it through enterprise, perceives it as a gift motivated by an underlying design. His fortune is not by the luck of the draw. It was given to him on purpose.
Okay, now what? Klinghoffer tells us:
Both individuals are exceptionally wealthy. Which is likelier to use his money to advance good causes, to share it with others, to see himself as, in some sense, deputized to put his fortune to noble uses?
We’ve seen examples of charitable behavior from both types. We’ve also seen examples of tycoons who never give a dime to charity. Klinghoffer thinks he’s scored big with that one, so he’s ready to move along:
Another point: All of mankind’s unique gifts are functions of consciousness. They aren’t as evident when a person is unconscious or cognitively impaired. In an evolutionary scenario, perhaps human dignity is partially or wholly surrendered when the condition (consciousness) that makes us exceptional isn’t there.
If Klinghoffer isn’t careful here, he’ll make the case for euthanasia. Oh wait — he deals with that next:
On the other hand, against a backdrop of intelligent design, which is a scientific not religious argument for purpose behind nature [Hee hee], impaired cognition would not rob an individual of his profound significance.
Really? What’s the “profound significance” of a permanently brain dead person? Never mind. Here’s another excerpt:
Even in the absence of religious understanding, the observation of design — that the universe was somehow prepared with our privileged species in mind — endows human life with a glow of intention that can’t be denied.
Yes — oh yes! We have “a glow of intention that can’t be denied”! Having brilliantly dealt with all the issues, Klinghoffer ends his article with this:
That would seem to be true whether we are conscious and in possession of all our faculties, or not. In short, I would say, design helps make the case for human dignity. Evolution doesn’t.
We can’t think of a thing to say — except BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
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