I am firm, thou art stubborn, he is pigheaded

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Thrift is a virtue, right? No. Not when you see it in a member of a minority group. Then it is not thrift but stinginess.

At least that's the way many prejudiced people see it. An attribute that they consider a virtue in themselves is miraculously transformed into an evil in people they dislike. Thus, "I spend my money wisely; Jews [or whoever] are stingy." "I have a large circle of friends, and we all belong to the same church; Jews are cliquish." "I like to relax and enjoy my coffee breaks; blacks are lazy."

According to William Dembski, Phillip Johnson, and others, supporters of evolution know full well that the theory is in tatters, but they support it because of dogmatic adherence to naturalism. I argue, to the contrary, that Dembski and Johnson are in fact projecting their own dogmatism onto "Darwinists." Specifically, they see dogmatism as a virtue in themselves but not in their opponents.

The modern theory of evolution - what creationists ignorantly call Darwinism - is supported by a large body of evidence. Scientists draw certain inferences from the evidence and, on the whole, think the evidence supports a theory of evolution. You can argue with some of the inferences, but descent with modification is an observed fact, and scientists almost universally accept the theory of evolution as the best inference to explain that fact.

Dembski and Johnson admit freely that they are motivated by religious belief. A religious belief is fine as long as it does not clash with known facts. Dembski and Johnson, however, are dogmatic about their belief and have to adjust the facts, or at least the theory, to suit their religious beliefs. The vast majority of scientists, many of them religious, do not accept their adjustments. How do Dembski and Johnson respond? By saying, in essence, "We know that evolution cannot produce new species; scientists are too wedded to naturalism, too dogmatic to agree."

Now, we all put different interpretations on different claims. It has been said that an activist judge is one who issues judgements you do not agree with; a strict constructionist issues judgements you agree with. A person who holds firmly to a conviction you agree with is courageous; a person who holds firmly to a conviction you disagree with is pigheaded.

Why then are "Darwinists" firm, whereas creationists are pigheaded? Because the theory of evolution is based on observation, theory, evidence, and inference. William Dembski's statement, "As Christians, we know naturalism is false," is not even an inference (Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design, InterVarsity Press, Downer's Grove, Ill., 1998, p. 14) . It is a flat statement without a shred of supporting evidence. It is dogma.

For creationists to call supporters of evolution dogmatic is not the pot calling the kettle black; it is the pot calling the silver chalice black.

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A BBC TV series Yes, Minister (later Yes, Prime Minister) used to have the PM’s assistant, Bernard come out with such gems as

“It’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it?
I have an independant mind,
you are eccentric,
he is round the twist”

and

“That’s another of those irregular verbs, isn’t it?
I give confidential briefings,
you leak,
he is being prosecuted under Section 2A of the Official Secrets Act

I’m liberal, you’re radical, he’s a Communist I’m conservative, you’re reactionary, he’s a Fascist

I appreciate, You’re obsessed, He’s a fanboy.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 31, 2004 8:08 AM.

Brian Poindexter’s “The Horse’s Mouth” was the previous entry in this blog.

Routine coincidences is the next entry in this blog.

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