Thursday, April 03, 2008


...nobody knows. Nobody knows if D'Souza's real problem is self-delusion, political pandering or plain ignorance. It's probably a complex combination of all three, demonstrated colorfully as in his latest piece, "The real problem with Darwinism". Note that by saying "Darwinism" in the title D'Souza has already created the illusion that it is some dogmatic school of thought like postmodernism. D'Souza's contention is commonly trotted out by religious conservatives these days since it conveniently sets up a limp straw man which these brave defenders of truth then pummel to death.

The rest of D'Souza's piece proceeds along similar insipid lines. The opening statement sets the tone:
"The real problem with Darwinism in the public school classroom is that it is often taught in an atheist way. Textbooks by biologists like William Provine and Richard Dawkins routinely assert that evolution has done away with the need for God"
Ok, now there are two issues here. Firstly, no biology professor in his right mind would rant about atheism in a science class. However, the real important point is that a careful study of evolution must lead, and in fact beautifully leads to the conclusion that you don't need to believe in a supernatural creator of the world to understand the diversity of life. In so far as that conclusion is "atheist", teaching evolution without explicitly stating that conclusion nonetheless can lead any intelligent person to believe in atheism, at least as it applies to the creation and functioning of the world.

And as far as D'Souza's second statement is concerned, D'Souza must be confusing the good professor with someone else. At least I am not aware of any school biology textbook written by Dawkins. The least this exuberant intellectual can do is get his facts right, right?

Moving on, there is one thing on which I wholeheartedly agree with Dinesh, that Christian evangelicals have not made any dent in the teaching of evolution (although their efforts are admirable):
"Typically evangelical Christians seek to counter this atheism by trying to expose the flaws in the Darwinian account of evolution. This explains the appeal of "creation science" and the "intelligent design" (ID) movement. These critiques, however, have not made any headway in the scientific community and they have also failed whenever they have been tried in the courts. Fortunately there is a better way."
Just one thing, this ineffectiveness in getting religion across is not because of some dogmatism on the part of scientists but because of the sheer bullheadedness of the evangelicals' wayward arguments. But is there really a better way for evangelicals to forcibly impose their views upon secular education? I am all ears now...

Yes!, says our resourceful Dinesh:
"I'd like to see Christian legal groups suing school districts for promoting atheism in the biology classroom. No need to produce creationist or ID critiques of Darwinism. All that is necessary is to parade the atheist claims that have made their way into the biology textbooks and biology lectures. The issue isn't the scientific inadequacy of evolution but the way in which it is being used to undermine religious belief and promote unbelief. If the case can be made that atheism is being advocated in any way, then the textbooks would have to be rewritten and classroom presentations changed to remove the offending material. Schools would be on notice that they cannot use scientific facts to draw metaphysical conclusions in favor of atheism.
Note how D'Souza flippantly mentions the "scientific inadequacy" of evolution as if it were a given. This is about the time when sensible people give up reading but let me make a feeble effort to react before I walk away with disgust. First, prove your goddamn assertion! Don't just say that biology professors "teach atheism". I have a proposition; sit in biology classes around the country for a year, maybe you can even send undercover students to do your dirty job, and note how many professors "preach atheism". However, this is really another straw man, a favourite staple of D'Souza. As I mentioned before, a careful teaching of evolution and examination of the evidence compellingly leads to the conclusion that the world has no need for a supernatural designer to prove its existence. So now D'Souza wants to sue us even if it's the evidence and not our beliefs or opinions that lead to atheism.

"Schools would be on notice that they cannot use scientific facts to draw metaphysical conclusions in favor of atheism"??
No, schools don't use scientific facts to draw metaphysical conclusions in favor of atheism. All they do is draw logical conclusions based on the very much physical world. If these conclusions inevitably point to a world without design, it's not our problem that they bother your timid, paranoid minds. Grow up.

Past posts on D'Souza's dazzling erudition: 1, 2, 3

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