Not This Again

Here we go again. I still don’t get it. I don’t understand the basic point.

Unlike many pro-evolution types, however, he agrees with creationists and intelligent-design advocates that evolution often operates as not just a scientific theory about species, but also as a worldview that competes with religion.

One: and? If evolution does ‘operate as’ a worldview that competes with religion – what of it? Why should the worldview of religion not be competed with? Because fundamentalists don’t like it, yes, I get that, but why else? Two, if evolution does provide a better (more coherent, more warranted, less full of holes) explanation of how we got here, then it does. Why is that not part of the science, and why is it to be frowned on? Other than because the fundamentalists don’t like it. We were just talking about not placating fundamentalists – in a different context, but it applies here too, I think.

Huxley, Ruse argues, felt he needed to build a rival “church” to defeat archaic Anglican and Christian beliefs, and put man, not God, at the center of life.Evolution became his “cornerstone.” With the help of philosopher Herbert Spencer, who extended “survival of the fittest” thinking to social theory, Huxley promoted evolutionary thinking as a worldview hostile to sacred religious truths.

And? Why not? There are no sacred religious truths, because they’re not true. Calling them sacred is just a way of declaring them off-limits. Well they can’t be off-limits. I know I’ve said this fourteen thousand times now, but – I’ll just say it again. Religious people don’t get to demand that other people believe (or defer to, or respect, or godalmighty teach) their sacred myths. They can believe whatever they like themselves, but they don’t get to force their beliefs on other people. (On the subject of respect for religion, Stuart told me about this Simon Blackburn pdf article yesterday. SB refuses to respect religion. Does a good job of it, too.)

Both books, however, undermine the notion that the evolution/creation dispute is simply hard science versus mushy religion. Simplistically, it may be, but not simply. As Ruse shows, it’s often more like secular religion versus non-secular religion, even if most of the “professional” science remains on the evolution side.

But that’s just crap. It’s just rhetoric. Evolution isn’t ‘secular religion’ because it isn’t religion. It may be used as an ideology by some people, but that’s not the same thing, and it is not, not, not useful to pretend it is the same thing.

George Johnson asks the pertinent Millean question in the NY Times.

So suppose there is a Great Intender, who mapped out the circuitry of living cells with the care an Intel engineer would bring to a new microchip. Where then did the creator come from? Was he created by another creator? Or did he evolve?

That’s what I’d like to know! And since those pesky creationists never answer, they need to go away and be quiet until they’ve figured it out.

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