Science Marches On

Science marches on, leaving hidebound ideologues like PZ Myers in the dust. Is this a boon for creationism or intelligent design? I don’t care. As I’ve said before, only idiots obsess over popularity contests. The truth is still the truth, whether the crowd likes it or not.

Next year the non-ID, non-creationist anti-Darwinists will break out, starting with Susan Mazur:

Is neo-Darwinism dead? That’s really been established a long time ago. Lynn Margulis has talked about this a lot and University of California biologist Francisco Ayala as well. [Margulis told me that Ayala “was a practitioner of neo-Darwinism but advances in molecular genetics, evolution, ecology, biochemistry, and other news had led him to agree that neo-Darwinism’s now dead.”]

I’m reading a paper now from a Professor Avraham Hasofer, a mathematician, formerly the president of the Orthodox Association of Jewish Scientists in Australia – who debunked neo-Darwinism back in 1976 citing the earlier work of L.M. Spetner from 1964. But money continues to be thrown at neo-Darwinism and the idea that the accumulation of mutations results in new species….

It’s been kind of exhilarating – like being pepper-sprayed. I’ve been attacked as well as ignored. I really do think that bringing these issues up over the past year and a half or so has helped to shake things up. How do things move? That’s how they move by presenting information that jars the system, which is still rather complacent at the moment. I mentioned that I’ve been attacked on Pharyngula – this blog Pharyngula – PZ Myers.Astonishingly, he’s been on the cover of The Humanist magazine yet he eviscerates anyone on his blog who’s outside his “scientific” framework. The blog’s very crude….

As cell biologist Stuart Newman has pointed out: “The science is not where it should be.” The emphasis should be on sound science and the disseminating of that information rather than denouncing creationism.

In fact, a whole industry has sprung up around the denouncing of creationism. You’ve got all these evolutionary scientists, PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne – principal examples – who have become known for their battle with creationists rather than for their science. What does this say about their science?

It says that, just like so many creationism activists and ideologues, all they care about is scoring political points and making people worship them.

Yes, I know that the story of “The Altenberg 16” is actually old news, but the printed book by Mazur is actually coming out in February 2010. Also:

[Chomsky] was happy to see the book. Some of the people I interview in the book are former colleagues of his from MIT, like Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a cognitive scientist who has collaborated with philosopher Jerry Fodor on a book about adaptationism called What Darwin Got Wrong – out next year. Fodor also taught at MIT and is interviewed in the book.

MIT is the publisher of the book by the Altenberg 16 scientists – should be out next month.

Now then, let’s look at Mazur’s and Farias’ rhetoric in the interview I linked to. They go around and around the same issues:  the modern politics of science and the nineteenth-century politics of natural selection. Mazur is obsessed with the political and social implications of the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people were also obsessed with the political and social implications of TENS. The people who were most excited about it were excited about the political and social significance. Then there were the people who hardly knew anything about science but were obsessed with natural selection, racial superiority, and eugenics.  They were politically on the Left and the Right, and they loved the fact that TENS made them look smart and ethical, instead of bigoted and vicious.

My purpose is not necessarily to smear Mazur, but to show that evolutionary theory had a hook, a way to fasten onto the imaginations of everyone who wanted to create a perfect society in fulfillment of the Enlightenment promise. That promise was utterly crushed by the end of World War II, and the old hook of racial purification was discredited. But some liberals picked up the banner of evolutionary theory as the mark of the True Progressive and some conservatives picked up the banner of creationism as the mark of the True Christian, thus creating the phony dichotomy we see today in America.

However, there is a bit of cognitive dissonance in the modern liberal allegiance to science and evolutionary theory:  Everyone knows what happened last time people acted as if belief in evolutionary theory was essential to the establishment of the perfect society. And most people think that the attempt to develop a Master Race was a right-wing reactionary project.

Mazur and her cohorts are honest enough to admit that they can’t live with that contradiction, so they have to skip the nineteenth-century sociopolitical theories and find a new direction for evolutionary theory. Their answer is global evolution by saltational, emergent traits. It only works if there is some sort of “plan” inherent in matter itself; that is, if Nature is sentient. If Nature were sentient, it would in effect be God(dess).

Oh my, what a surprise:  Neo-Darwinism is to be supplanted by Neo-Pantheism. This prospect should make any scientist stain his pants. Surely their strong empiricism and materialism can stand up to pantheistic superstition, though?

In fact, I doubt that it can. The problem is that they have never succeeded in specifying the mechanism. I’ve read plenty of evolutionists claiming that they have nailed down the mechanism, but they just can’t back it up. There is genetic technology but there is no evolutionary technology. There are “models” and “explanations” and the development of variable traits, but there are no observations of “the origin of species.” So they say that really species don’t matter, that species are a phantom, a straw man set up by creationists; but in that case evolution would be truly irrelevant, because it could not draw distinctions.

If evolution were true but irrelevant, where would that leave all the masses of ignorant, ranting, Net-trolling science worshippers? They can’t all live close enough to Myers to sign up for his classes. They need a reason to live: something to comfort them during the Faux News broadcasts, a crutch to lean on when they are being beaten down by the religious imperialism of flashing neon Nativity displays and giant inflatable Easter bunnies. They need a natural goddess who loves transgender diversity and hates species extinction. They need complete moral anarchy within a completely sterilized, micromanaged, globally unified prison camp run by benevolent cable TV executives.

They need Gaia:  The Goddess for a New Generation of ignorant fanatics.

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