Parody: Darwin as a Drug
An article appearing on a science news site portrayed Christian megachurches as a drug. What if the tables were turned?
The article on PhysOrg analyzed the Christian megachurch phenomenon in terms of its psychological and sociological influence. Without commenting on the validity of its claims, is this a proper subject for science? What if theologians analyzed the scientific consensus on Darwinism in similar terms? It might look like the following.
Darwin as a Drug: The Rise of Scientific Consensus on Evolution
Pro-Darwin scientific societies use policy statements, emotional rhetoric, charismatic leadership and a domineering, unchallenged vision of evolution to provide their members with a powerful emotional pseudoscientific experience that discourages dissent, according to research from the Department of Sociology of Science at G. K. Chesterton Seminary.
“Membership in scientific societies is one of the leading ways evolutionists maintain unanimity these days, so, therefore, these societies should be understood,” said James Weller, associate professor of sociology of science at Chesterton. “Our study shows that — contrary to public opinion that tends to pass off the Darwin movement as harmless atheist dogma — scientific societies are doing a pretty effective job quelling dissent and influencing education, politics and the courts. In fact, society members speak proudly of their lack of dissent.”
Pro-Darwin scientific conferences have grown in number, size, and influence in recent years, coming to virtually dominate the scientific consensus on origins. More than half of all research scientists now attend the largest pro-Darwin conferences.
Society conferences feature a highly-programmed atmosphere, techno music, workshops on just-so storytelling and what Weller calls a “multisensory mélange” of visuals and other elements to stimulate the senses, as well as small-group participation and a shared focus in the keynote speech from a charismatic society president.
The researchers hypothesized that such rituals are successful in imparting emotional unity in the society setting — “creating membership feelings and symbols charged with emotional significance, and a heightened sense of scientism,” they wrote.
As part of their study, Weller, Corky, and Stocky analyzed 470 interviews and about 16,000 surveys on society members’ emotional experiences with the conferences. Four themes emerged: materialism/scientism, conformity/unity, admiration for and desire for acceptance from peers, and a sense of duty to fight creationism in public outreach.
The researchers found that feelings of consensus felt in the meetings far exceed the powerful but fleeting “maverick thinker ideal” for which scientists are often stereotyped.
Many participants used the word “contagious” to describe the feeling of a society meeting where members arrive hungry for ways to answer creationist evidence and leave brainwashed. One society member said, “The unity goes through the crowd like a football team doing the wave. …Never seen it at any other conference.”
Weller said, “That’s what you see when you go into pro-Darwin society conferences — you see determined people; people who are talking around the snack bars, and, in one San Diego conference, a solid-leftist political stripe I’ve never seen anywhere in my time doing research on scientific conferences. We see this experience of unalloyed rage at creationism over and over again in society meetings. That’s why we say it’s like a drug.”
Weller calls it a “bad drug” because the message stifles debate, such as discouraging dissent from Darwin, punishing students, and venting hate speech against creationist enemies or ID advocates. Societies also discourage their members from thinking independently, such as by stating firmly, “There is no evidence against Darwin,” he added.
This stultifying atmosphere also is a key to societies’ consensus, Weller said. “How are you going to dominate science? You give them a generalized form of evolution that’s uncritical, question-begging, and domineering.”
The researchers also found that the large size of scientific societies is a drawback rather than a benefit, as it results in propaganda for state-of-the-art technology — amplifying the emotional intensity of consensus — and the fear to hire more independent thinkers who might challenge society leadership.
Weller said, “This isn’t just same-old, same-old. This is not like historical scientific research by the individual. It’s a new, totalitarian form of science that’s mutating and separate from all the traditional practices with which we usually affiliate science.”
Scientific societies, which rarely refer to problems with Darwinism, are worlds away from the sober, rigorous scientific objectivity of long ago, Weller said.
Weller will continue studying the topic of the new Darwinian consensus-building with a book-length profile of American anti-creationist Jerry Coyne due out in late fall, and a book in 2013 titled “High on Darwin: How the Evolution Consensus Destroyed Critical Thinking.”
A grant from the Society for the Theological Study of Darwinism funded the project.
Darwinists and sociologists are only human. If they can analyze Christians, Christians can analyze them back. What’s good for the goosed is good for the candor.