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Old 12-20-2005, 02:42 AM   #6
SkinWalker
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To understand the anti-evolution crowd, you really have to look at their strategies and goals. There is the infamous "Wedge Strategy" of the mis-named Discovery Institute, which outlines very boldly some of these. We also get a look at some of the psychology involved with the anti-evolution movement.

I give you this essay for comment, but please forgive the length of the post.

The Wedge Strategy of Creationist Pseudoscience

The author of the Wedge Strategy (Johnson [alleged] ca. 1998) claims the creation of humans in the image of the Christian God to be the "bedrock principle" of Western civilization. This may be bedrock principle of Christianity, but Western civilization was built on the traditions of democracy, rule of law, and parliamentary procedure. Indeed, the very institutions in our own nation that are representative of these guiding principles reflect an architectural style of pre-Christian Greece, where much of our democratic tradition was born.

The author attributes most, "if not all," Western achievements in democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in arts and sciences to the Christian concept of God and religion, which is simply not the case. While a significant amount of art is influenced by the world's religions, the Christian God's impact on achievements of democracy, human rights, and free enterprise is minimal, especially with regard to the most significant advances in these areas. Indeed some of these achievements occurred in spite of Christian principles, most notably achievements in science! That's not to imply that religions –Christian or otherwise- haven't been positive influences in society or have not done their share of good. However, it would be incorrect to assert that Western society would be amiss without Christianity's input. Certainly the point is arguable, but the assertion that Western society is the result of the Christian God's influence on humanity is a bold claim, and, at best, it can only be demonstrated that it is the belief in this God that may have some minimal influence.

Undoubtedly, this is the sort of dismissive tone that the Wedge author would cite as an example of a "wholesale attack" that is being carried out by intellectuals in the name of science, and it is this "wholesale attack" that the author presents as a major, if not the primary, concern for him. In the Wedge, careful word-play neatly sandwiches Karl Marx between Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud -three obvious nemeses of Christian fundamentalism: Marx accused religion of being the "opium of the people;" Darwin demonstrated that environment influences speciation; and Freud slapped Christianity in the face with the hypothesis that Moses was an Egyptian in the grain of the monotheistic Akhenaton and that religion is an infantile obsession with the Father figure (God). The Wedge author's use of these figures is to villainize them, and those like them, for portraying humans "not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines," subject to the physical laws of the universe and nature.

The main fallacy of this is, of course, a non-sequitur. It does not follow that being an animal –we're certainly not plants- or being allegorically compared to machinery means that morality and spirituality are absent. It is, in fact, very obviously a part of humanity to be moral, since moral codes or laws exist in all cultures, regardless of whether or not they have a god or gods. So, too, is spirituality very obvious to anyone who has studied non-Christian cultures. The traditional Navajo, for instance, are deeply spiritual and hold that the land is sacred and live their lives accordingly.

The Wedge author goes on to deride all that do not conform to his narrow worldview with labels such as "materialist." The use of this label suggests that the physical world is somehow secondary to the metaphysical –and it may be. But the problem is that the metaphysical, by its nature, is unverifiable, un-testable, and eludes any consistency –even among individual believers who describe it.

The physical or the material, however, is measurable and observable. From it, we can draw conclusions and inferences and, occasionally, make predictions. Hope and belief are comforting, and one cannot disparage those for whom religion works. But these are not tenable methods of science. That the author of the Wedge is Phillip E. Johnson may or may not be true, but other works of Johnson are consistent with this document. The overall tone and accusatory nature that exists in the Wedge is present in his other works as well. Throughout several articles published in National Review, Commonweal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, Johnson uses terms such as "materialistic science," "scientific materialism," "philosophical materialism," "Darwinism," "neo-Darwinist," and "scientific atheism." The idea is clearly to paint the picture that there is an establishment of science, or at least a faction of science, that has some vested interest in abolishing religion and religious beliefs, most specifically, Protestant Christianity.

In The Religious Implications of Teaching Evolution (Johnson 1999), he writes the following.

"Real education requires that students be exposed to dissenting views about evolution in their strongest form, rather than merely to some caricature written by a scientific materialist."

There is no more valid a dissenting view of evolution than there is of gravity. And this is where the proponents of creationist rhetoric like "intelligent" design have failed with regard to the goals and objectives established in the Wedge Strategy. The strategy's author includes three phases of action, the first being "scientific research, writing & publication;" the second, "publicity & opinion making;" and the third, "cultural confrontation & renewal."

Among their goals for Phase-One, the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC) initially sought to establish research and scholarship that would stand on its own and provide evidence for the creationist point of view. The Wedge author stated, "Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade," and this is supported later by the CRSC (West 2004) with an opinion that the "materialistic world-view" has dominated Western society and needs to be defeated. The CRSC says, "[m]aterialism is a dehumanizing philosophy that has been used to justify genocide, infanticide and eugenics, among other evils. We want to see it discredited." Not only has the CRSC failed to produce any testable hypotheses in support of the creationist view point; not only have they ignored the preponderance of evidence that biology, geology, and anthropology have produced that not only verify past predictions regarding evolution but make new ones; but the creationists at CRSC continue with derisive labels like "materialism" as if this were a legitimate argument.

Rather than admit that human nature could possibly be responsible for atrocities like genocide or infanticide, or even acknowledge that religions, especially Christianity, have been driving forces behind such nonsense, CRSC issues a clearly biased rhetoric. It is also clear that the CRSC really means "the United States of America" when it refers to Western civilization and not the largely secular Western Europe, as Scandinavians, Germans, and Brits routinely laugh at the ignorance present in the so-called Superpower. So it would not be out of place to point out that all cases of genocide and infanticide in the U.S. appear to have more Christian influence than that of the so-called "materialist" science. That is, unless the U.S. Cavalry had naturalists in place of chaplains as it systematically wiped out thousands of Native American men, women, and children at places like Wounded Knee. Or perhaps it was physicists and geologists who organized lynch mobs to adorn Georgia peach trees with the "strange fruit" of black men, women, and children by their necks.

To conclude, the CRSC appears to have completely by-passed Phase-One of the Wedge Strategy, opting to pursue Phases-Two and –Three instead. The publications that have been produced consist only of apologetic books. Nothing substantial has been published by the so-called "intelligent" design proponents in peer reviewed journals such as Nature that provides any testable hypotheses or verifies any predictions of "intelligent" design. Indeed, the proponents of creationism clearly avoid peer-review and, instead, choose to appeal to the public directly with seminars, popular media, and books. Robert Park, author of Voodoo Science, reminds us in an article that ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education (2003) that pitching "the claim directly to the media" is the first warning sign of bogus science.





References

Johnson, P. E. (1999, 12/11/99). The Religious Implications of Teaching Evolution. Chronicle of Higher Education, 46(12), B9.

Johnson, P. E. [alleged]. (ca. 1998). The Wedge Strategy: Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture. Discovery Institute (alleged), ca. 1998 (Features). Retrieved 151205, from Antievolution.org: http://www.antievolution.org/features/Wedge.html.

Park, R. L. (2003, 31/1). The seven warning signs of bogus science. Chronical of Higher Education, 49(21), B20.

West, J. (2004, 8/1). The "Wedge Document": "So What?" Retrieved 181205, from The Discovery Institute: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vie...oad.php?id=349.


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