Amateur night at the Anti-science Fair

Karen Armstrong is a former English teacher and current religious apologist with a strong dislike of science; she has found a novelist who also has a strong dislike of science, and who was invited to give some lectures on the subject at Yale. (Yale invites some very odd fish to give lectures on subjects they don’t seem to know much about. Terry Eagleton for instance, and now Marilynne Robinson. Why does Yale do that?)

[T]he novelist Marilynne Robinson argues that positivism, the belief that science is the only reliable means to truth, has adopted a “systematically reductionist” view of human nature.

Oh yay, a much-needed critique of the reductionism of positivism and the folly of thinking that science is better at finding out things than more amateurish brands of inquiry. That will be new and different.

Armstrong summarizes Robinson in several excruciating paragraphs of uncomprehending formulaic nonsense, then winds up with a final deepity:

If we are indeed completely in thrall to the selfish gene, why not throw all constraint to the winds and just be selfish – individually and collectively, in our politics, social arrangements, financial and economic dealings? We saw during the 20th century (not to mention the first decade of the 21st) what can happen when the “me-first” mentality is given free rein.

She seems to have derived her understanding of the selfish gene from Mary Midgley, or perhaps the back of a cereal box. The whole review is warmed-over Midgley, which might as well be warmed-over Charles Windsor, which might as well be warmed-over Marilynne Robinson. They all peddle the same line of annoying uninformed grandiose New Agey bullshit, and they give me a pain.

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