Darwinism as Religion in a Holy War
It might be expected that media attention on Darwin would be exceptionally high this month because of his bicentennial, but some of it seems downright religious. The adulation he has been receiving is almost embarrassing sometimes. It is only exceeded by the righteous indignation Darwin’s fans frequently express against intelligent design. In any other context, their fighting words would be described as hate speech. Here are some recent examples:
- Shrine to Darwin: That was Science magazine’s title for a short entry in “Random Samples” this week.1 “Will Charles Darwin’s house and its gardens soon be mentioned in the same breath as Stonehenge and the pyramids?” the article began. “Following a �1 million refurbishment, Down House in Kent, U.K., has been put forth by the government for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.” Darwin’s desk, his sand path where he took daily strolls, and his chair are to be exhibited. Sarah Coelho reported on this in more detail on Science’s origins blog, Origins.
The Down House shrine, if declared, will be in addition to Darwin’s crypt in Westminster Abbey and the Darwin Station at the Galapagos. It might be noted that Stonehenge and the pyramids were both constructed for cultic reasons.
- Darwin Rap: English Lit students of the future may be switched from reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to a new classic, something like Charlesbury Tales. Rap artist Baba Brinkman has turned to Darwin for inspiration, reported Science in its Newsmakers segment.2 Microbiologist Mark Pallen (U of Birmingham) approached Brinkman with the idea of recasting the rap artist’s version of Chaucer with an evolutionary twist. Brinkman latched onto the idea and “immersed himself in Darwin’s words and recent books on evolutionary biology,” the article said, “and has been honing rhymes on sexual selection, altruism, and the battle with intelligent design.”
The result: “He swallowed the idea and turned it into a work of genius,” according to Pallen. Viewers of the rap videos are treated to icons of Richard Dawkins reading from The Origin of Species, while the rapper chants artistic lines of genius like these from Natural Selection:
Okay, it’s time to reveal my identity
I’m the manifestation of tens of millions
Of centuries of sexual selection, best believe
I’m the best of the best of the best of the best
Of generations of competitive pressure genetically
But don’t get upset, ’cause we’ve got the same pedigree
You and I will find a common ancestor eventually
If we rewind geological time regressively
And I could say the same for this hibiscus tree
And this lizard and the flea and this sesame seed.
The comparison with Do the Evolution seems apt (see 08/31/2006) with its similar references to progress, survival of the fittest and selfishness. This one adds the phrase, “best believe.”
On the Science blog Origins, Brinkman answered some questions about his work. Asked what the most difficult evolutionary topic to rap about, he said, “Evolutionary topics are not so much of a challenge as anti-evolutionary topics.” He added, “my biggest challenge was to engage with Darwin’s detractors in a way that was not overly derisive, while at the same time speaking plainly about the misconceptions that are still attached to his work.” It’s apparently OK to be derisive – just not overly so. Brinkman’s education included works by staunch Darwinians and ID critics Jared Diamond, E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, and David Sloan Wilson, in addition to Darwin’s own holy writ.
A previous entry about Brinkman on Origins touted his concert tour as one of the hottest gigs in the Darwin-satiated London. It includes lyrics of more of his songs and some video clips, too. One of them overtly attacks the Genesis story and intelligent design in its religiously-zealous presentation of Darwin’s theory: “the truth shall set you free” (an non-subtle twist on the words of Jesus). The clip ends on a note that could have had Malthus, Spencer, Haeckel and Galton tapping their feet:
What do you know about Natural Selection? Go ahead
And ask a question and see where the answer gets you
Try bein’ passive aggressive or try smashin’ heads in
And see which tactic brings your plans to fruition
And if you have an explanation in mind, then you’re
Wastin’ your time, ‘cause the best watchmaker is blind
It takes a certain base kind of impatient mind
To explain away nature with “intelligent design”
But the truth shall set you free
From those useless superstitious beliefs
In a literal Adam and Eve, and that Edenic myth
‘Cause their family tree is showin’ some genetic drift
Take it from this bald-headed non-celibate monk
With the lyrical equivalent of an elephant’s trunk
It’s time to elevate your mind-state
And celebrate your kinship with the primates.
The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on?
We lived in the dark for so long
The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on
Creationism is dead wrong.
Science described his lyrics as “sometimes sly, often hilarious, and always smart and thought-provoking.” Reporter John Travis sounded like a salesman on steroids: “Brinkman gave a mesmerizing performance, one that would probably do more to convince school children of evolution’s validity than any BBC or PBS special could…. Scientists, science teachers, and anyone evolution has provided with an open mind and a hint of musical rhythm should rush out to see this show if they’re fortunate enough for it to make an appearance nearby.”
- Not in your back yard: Better not let your governor sign an Academic Freedom bill: the Darwinians are likely to pull up their stakes and move their conference dollars elsewhere. The Science blog Origins reported that the “Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology announced it would not hold its 2011 annual meeting in New Orleans because of the state’s antievolution policies.” Governor Bobby Jindal last year had signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, preventing critics of evolution from being censored or harassed for their views. The bill had passed unanimously in the state senate and 93-4 in the state legislature, indicating overwhelming bipartisan support (see Evolution News).
- A time for anger: Robert Pennock has long been an opponent of intelligent design, but in an essay for US News he really let the fur fly when responding to an earlier editorial by Casey Luskin in US News. Pennock titled his piece “Creation of Christian Soldiers a Chilling Sidelight of Darwin Bashing,” scaring readers at the vision of an army of fundamentalists destroying the whole institution of science. In the article he challenged statements by Phillip Johnson, Ralph Seelke, Casey Luskin and others associated with the Discovery Institute, calling them propagandists, false martyrs and fomenters of violence by the mentally unstable – all while denying charges he was writing with a poison pen of intimidation. Portraying the Darwinians as defenders of truth, and abandoning any appeal for negotiations, he ended by calling for a holy war:
As I wrote in a recent op-ed about Expelled and the ID culture wars, it is hard to know how to respond in a civil manner to such ignorant extremism. Let me go further here: Such views (and I do here mean views, not people) do not deserve a civil response. They deserve more than disapproval and ridicule. They deserve the moral outrage of all who are friends of reason and truth.
Darwin shares his birthday with Abraham Lincoln, and the famous conclusion of Lincoln’s first Inaugural Address3 is relevant to the culture war that creationists and other extremists would inject into our children’s science classes. Let us forthrightly reject those false and polarizing views and hope that the better angels of our nature will eventually prevail and bring this war to an end.
Pennock’s did not explain how righteousness, truth, morality and conscience (“better angels of our nature”) arose by a Darwinian mechanism of blind selection acting on mutations.
- Expelled star expelled: Has it come to this? A champion of free speech and academic freedom has been expelled from an academic platform. Sure enough, Ben Stein, the lovable droll professor, usually seen on economic panels, has been shafted from a commencement speech opportunity at the University of Vermont. President Dan Fogel reversed his invitation because of Stein’s “highly controversial views” about “evolutionary theory, intelligent design, and the role of science in the Holocaust,” as shown in last year’s documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Read the whole account of what happened on Evolution News #1, #2 and #3. Stein’s primary message in the film was to open up discussion on Darwin and break down the barriers that insulated Darwinism from criticism and forced critics of Darwinism to remain silent lest they lose their jobs. His ending appeal was focused on freedom of speech in academia. Now that he has been denied his opportunity to speak to the students, the University selected someone they apparently felt was less controversial: Howard Dean (#4).
Speaking of Expelled, Casey Luskin has put together a long list of rebuttals to the criticisms of the movie put forward on the NCSE website “Expelled Exposed.” Called “’Expelled Exposed’ Exposed,” Luskin’s list is available on Evolution News and Views. Luskin also on Evolution News took on MSNBC’s pro-Darwin reporting, which he called “three puff-pieces about the evidence for evolution.” He said, “With Darwin’s 200th birthday recently upon us, the media is pushing Darwinism harder than ever.”
1. Random Samples, Science, Volume 323, Number 5917, Issue of 20 February 2009.
2. Newsmakers, Science, Volume 323, Number 5917, Issue of 20 February 2009.
3. “I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” (Bartleby.com.)
Is there any doubt that Darwinism is a religion? Look at this. We should save the word hysteria for milder situations. Darwinists are beside themselves with euphoria over their bearded Buddha and with rage over anyone who would shine some reality on their religious experiences. While claiming to be champions of truth, they tell lies. While claiming to be victims of harassment, they persecute. While claiming to be naturalists, they steal Christian armaments like truth, morality and righteousness and wield them against those who do not bow down at their shrines. We should also save the word hypocrite for milder cases than this (see David Klinghoffer’s piece on Evolution News, “What is hypocrisy, after all?”).
If you are confused over this scuffle and can’t see the light for the heat, notice one thing. Here at Creation-Evolution Headlines, we constantly read and report the very best the Darwin Party has to offer (excluding P.Z. Myers, because, this being a family site, we don’t wish to expose the young to profanity). We quote more top evolutionists here than ID or creationist sources. We analyze and examine as charitably as possible all their very best arguments from their very best thinkers, and provide you with extensive quotes and links to original sources where you can read them and make your own decisions. Our cartoons and humor may be satirical, but they are not hateful and vindictive – and you can easily see from the context when it was deserved (e.g., we award Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week, not Stupid Evolutionist of the Week). What do they do? They prevent you from hearing the other side, and misrepresent it in sound bites intended for instant emotional reaction. They use intimidation, ridicule, fear-mongering, symbolism over substance, card stacking, sidestepping, and subversion — all geared to make people hate intelligent design before even knowing what it is. The put “Creationism is dead wrong” to a rap beat. They tell the media that their opponents are not even worth the expenditure of their contempt (05/12/2008 bullet 5). They use profanity (see recent despicable example reported on Evolution News). They show no shame for silencing opposition – indeed, they pride themselves on their bigotry (yes, bigotry: see 12/16/2008). They apply to themselves silly self-contradictory labels like “anyone evolution has provided with an open mind” while refusing to allow other people to exercise their God-given open minds. They appeal to the “better angels of our nature” when they believe neither in spirits nor in conscience. And while worshiping at holy shrines of the bearded Buddha, they say that the “ignorant extremism” of Darwin doubters is “not even worthy of a civil response.” Let the better angels of your nature enlighten you to what is really going on.