Friday, November 09, 2007

Designer Victimhood

There's no person more insufferable than the self-identified victim. Victimhood is the new cool. If you can contrive some rationalization for believing that you are being opressed by the majority culture, no matter how implausible the leaps and backflips of logic involved, you can tap into a wellspring of righteous satisfaction that once demanded some actual accomplishment to acheive.

So it was inevitable that the proponents of Intelligent Design would play the victim card. How else to explain the lack of progress that this pseudo-scientific fairy tale has been able to acheive among the academic elites that rule this country? Its a conspiracy, of course, and those that recognize the truth are the victims of it.

Just take a gander at this laughable web site set up by annoyingly talentless para-entertainer Ben Stein. On Ben's blog, he lets out this whopper of a diatribe:
Darwinism, the notion that the history of organisms was the story of the survival of the fittest and most hardy, and that organisms evolve because they are stronger and more dominant than others, is a perfect example of the age from which it came: the age of Imperialism. When Darwin wrote, it was received wisdom that the white, northern European man was destined to rule the world. This could have been rationalized as greed–i.e., Europeans simply taking the resources of nations and tribes less well organized than they were. It could have been worked out as a form of amusement of the upper classes and a place for them to realize their martial fantasies. (Was it Shaw who called Imperialism “…outdoor relief for the upper classes?”)

But it fell to a true Imperialist, from a wealthy British family on both sides, married to a wealthy British woman, writing at the height of Imperialism in the UK, when a huge hunk of Africa and Asia was “owned” (literally, owned, by Great Britain) to create a scientific theory that rationalized Imperialism. By explaining that Imperialism worked from the level of the most modest organic life up to man, and that in every organic situation, the strong dominated the weak and eventually wiped them out,

Darwin offered the most compelling argument yet for Imperialism. It was neither good nor bad, neither Liberal nor Conservative, but simply a fact of nature. In dominating Africa and Asia, Britain was simply acting in accordance with the dictates of life itself. He was the ultimate pitchman for Imperialism.

Now, we know that Imperialism had a short life span. Imperialism was a system that took no account of the realities of the human condition. Human beings do not like to have their countries owned by people far away in ermine robes. They like to be in charge of themselves.

Imperialism had a short but hideous history–of repression and murder.

But its day is done.

Darwinism is still very much alive, utterly dominating biology. Despite the fact that no one has ever been able to prove the creation of a single distinct species by Darwinist means, Darwinism dominates the academy and the media. Darwinism also has not one meaningful word to say on the origins of organic life, a striking lacuna in a theory supposedly explaining life.

Alas, Darwinism has had a far bloodier life span than Imperialism. Darwinism, perhaps mixed with Imperialism, gave us Social Darwinism, a form of racism so vicious that it countenanced the Holocaust against the Jews and mass murder of many other groups in the name of speeding along the evolutionary process.

Now, a few scientists are questioning Darwinism on many fronts. I wonder how long Darwinism’s life span will be. Marxism, another theory which, in true Victorian style, sought to explain everything, is dead everywhere but on university campuses and in the minds of psychotic dictators. Maybe Darwinism will be different. Maybe it will last. But it’s difficult to believe it will. Theories that presume to explain everything without much evidence rarely do. Theories that outlive their era of conception and cannot be verified rarely last unless they are faith based. And Darwinism has been such a painful, bloody chapter in the history of ideologies, maybe we would be better off without it as a dominant force.

Maybe we would have a new theory: We are just pitiful humans. Life is unimaginably complex. We are still trying to figure it out. We need every bit of input we can get. Let’s be humble about what we know and what we don’t know, and maybe in time, some answers will come.


Dream on, Stein! If Darwinism was the biological paradigm for the Age of Imperialism, then Intelligent Design is obviously the biological paradigm for the Age of Therapeutic Narcissism. How could any child brought up to believe that he/she is the center of the universe and deserving of all things ever stoop to believe that he/she wasn't brought into the world by an act of divine decree?

But Ben, you may be still trying to figure things out (and humility has nothing to do with it), but some things have been figured out. As far as its ability to explain the facts as we know them, Darwinism is one of the most successful scientific theories of all time. Although no actual speciation event has been witnessed (I plead ignorance on whether this is the case), the fact of common descent of all living species is so well supported by all fossil and genetic evidence as to make its denial an act of, well, denial.

But enjoy your victimhood! I hope it is more satisfying than your entertainment career.

18 Comments:

Blogger Peter Burnet said...

That feel good, Duck? I'll bet they aren't sleeping well at the Vatican after that!

Darwinism is one of the most successful scientific theories of all time.

Sure it is. That's why it finds itself in court every few decades, needs to be constantly "tweaked" beyond recognition, causes endless controversies on school boards and can generate more angry and divisive debate in the blogosphere than George W Bush. Duck, why don't you do a defiant post defending germ theory or the heliocentric solar system and see how many hits you get?

Still, I have to admit that after a hundred and fifty years it still going strong in a protean kind of way and has lots of firm believers. Hang in there, only one thousand eight hundred and fifty to go and you will tie the Church.

November 10, 2007 3:15 AM  
Blogger David said...

One of the amusements of my new life is the high proportion of academic articles that try to give "evolutionary" explanations for organizational structure -- which are the most teleological structures possible. (Go to Google Scholar, (scholar.google.com), go to advanced search, put "evolution" in as a search term, check the box to limit your search to business articles, and take a gander of what you get in return.)

Darwinism has become the general theory of everything and, thus, the specific theory of nothing.

November 10, 2007 5:48 AM  
Blogger Mike Beversluis said...

Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?

November 10, 2007 7:45 AM  
Blogger joe shropshire said...

Duck, you have been caterwauling about what a meanie that mean old Jehovah is for half a decade now, pre- and post-Judd. As far as studied victimhood goes, Stein at least knows he's been evaluated by a professional.

November 10, 2007 7:48 AM  
Blogger David said...

I'm not sure why this didn't occur to me before, but here's the search I described.

November 10, 2007 8:16 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Duck, you have been caterwauling about what a meanie that mean old Jehovah is for half a decade now

Wrong. Jehovah doesn't exist, so I have not been calling him a meanie. You have to acknowledge someone's existence before you can call him a meanie.

November 10, 2007 11:05 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter, the Vatican doesn't have a problem with Darwinism.

Tweaked beyond recognition? I have no idea what you're referring to here. And since when was the success of a scientific theory dependent upon school board approval? If you think that school boards are the proper arbiter of objective truth, then I have feminist tracts that I'd like to share with you. Did you know that teachers overwhelmingly call on boys to answer questions over girls?

November 10, 2007 11:18 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

David,
The word evolution has a broader meaning aside from its specific application to Darwinian evolution. It just refers to the process of change over time. I don't see how the Google search indicates that the ToE has been corrupted by overuse. The word would have the same meaning even if the ToE was never proposed.

November 10, 2007 11:22 AM  
Blogger David said...

How 'bout natural selection?"

November 10, 2007 1:42 PM  
Blogger joe shropshire said...

You have to acknowledge someone's existence before you can call him a meanie.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were having an argument the other day, pretty much just for the hell of it, and at some point I said I can't believe you're mad at me over this. She looks at me and then puts Her arms down on the kitchen counter and Her head on Her arms and says: I. Amnotmad. Then a while later She lifts Her head and looks at me again and says: you're still here. Me and Jehovah, we get that a lot.

November 10, 2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

It just refers to the process of change over time.

Sure it does, Duck. That's why the many intellectual challenges to Darwinism are based on the principle that nothing has ever changed.

This is why we have to keep such a close eye on you guys. You put on your modest, diffident smiles and tell us Darwinism is just a synonym for change, but when we slip off to the bathroom, you started foaming at the mouth about Hairy Thunderers and how your narcissistic opponents are in denial.

November 10, 2007 2:43 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Whoa, Nellie!

Weren't we told by you that the scriptures about whose veritable truth moral arbiters were eager to consign skeptics to the flames have, over the course of time, been reinterpreted so that they are no longer what they once were? That the Big Spook either reveals himself gradually or actually recreates himself to fit the times?

The original principles of Darwinism are still accepted by all practicing biologists. Only the primitives that you want to dismiss from the broad advance of the religion can say as much when comparing their beliefs today with those of the 3rd century.

I call shenanigans.

November 10, 2007 7:07 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

You still here Joe?

November 11, 2007 6:53 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

You put on your modest, diffident smiles and tell us Darwinism is just a synonym for change

Ugh! Darwinism is not a synonym for change, evolution is. Look up evolution in a dictionary and see how many different uses it has that aren't related to Darwinism.

but when we slip off to the bathroom, you started foaming at the mouth about Hairy Thunderers and how your narcissistic opponents are in denial.

They are in denial.

But this is the part of Stein's rant that most irks me:

Alas, Darwinism has had a far bloodier life span than Imperialism. Darwinism, perhaps mixed with Imperialism, gave us Social Darwinism, a form of racism so vicious that it countenanced the Holocaust against the Jews and mass murder of many other groups in the name of speeding along the evolutionary process.

Now that the Church is square with Darwinism, does that make them complicit with Nazism after the fact? Is the recognition that Darwin's theory explains the overwhelming evidence for common descent make one a Nazi? It's a silly, childish position to take.

November 11, 2007 7:03 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

I think it is obvious we are stumbling on terms and definitions here. Time to haul out the old dictionary for a refresher. Can we all at least agree that the following definitions apply to any modern discussion of Darwinism?:

Darwinism (private)--a radically materialist theory that holds life is a cosmic, bio-chemical accident that evolved through random, purposeless, unguided increments;

Darwinism (public)--change;

species--anything that is in any way different from anything else;

random--a purposeless, accidental process that links purposeful, designed changes;

teleological--the ability to see thirty generations into the future with absolute precision;

gene--a very busy, but near invisible little critter inside us that is unconscious and driven by inexorable bio-chemical forces, but that is nonetheless 100% responsible for every shabby thing we do;

meme--an alchemic agent that transforms the unobservable, unmeasurable and unpredictable into legitimate objects of observing, measuring and predicting science;

natural selection-- A theory that takes pages of gobbledegook to explain why the life we see around us must have survived;

theism--belief in a non-material supreme being whose precise nature and will are defined in detail by atheists.

November 11, 2007 7:17 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter, spend some money and get a decent dictionary. I can't educate you unless you make a concerted effort to learn. I'll save you some money and give you the real definitions:

natural selection-- A theory that is surprisingly simple and intuitive once one gets over the personal objection that one's existence is the central, defining event of the universe.

theism--belief in a non-material supreme being whose precise nature is surprisingly similar to the self-image of the believer, despite the drastic differences between the believer's nature and the qualities that would be required of an immaterial, eternal,omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being.

Darwinism (private)--a radically materialist theory that holds life is a cosmic, bio-chemical accident that evolved through random, purposeless, unguided increments.
(This one is, surprisingly, pretty close. The adjective "radically" is unnecessary, as one would expect a material phenomenon like life to be explained by a materialist theory.)

teleological--a word used by people who see intention and conscious motive in unintelligent material phenomena ; see paranoia.

November 11, 2007 8:12 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Mutations are random, or usually so, but natural selection is not.

Therefore, 'Darwinism' is not random but also is not teleological. It is, as Mayr never tired of repeating, historical.

A Napoleon or a Luther were not random, nor foreordained, but not possible just anywhere or anytime either.

November 11, 2007 11:58 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

I have an addition to the dictionary:

snarkcasm noun. An entry, often, but not always, witty, in a blog thread that gives the appearance, but not the substance, of a response.

-------------

Evolution is more than just change. Everything changes; most things to not evolve.

Mountain ranges change. Languages evolve.

One has a feedback loop, the other doesn't.

Duck:

This rant:

Alas, Darwinism has had a far bloodier life span than Imperialism ...

Irked me also, but for other reasons.

First is the obvious: Let's take all those charges as stipulated. While they may have some bearing on whether one might desire to completely ban any discussion of naturalistic evolution, they are completely irrelevant to whether naturalistic evolution is valid theory.

Then the less obvious:

The implicit assertion Darwinism led to the creation of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism out of whole cloth. I call shenanigans.

I used to think Ben Stein pretty bright and well educated.

Can't be, and spout that kind of tranparent nonsense.


Peter:

[the theory of Naturalistic Evolution] needs to be constantly "tweaked" beyond recognition

Gosh, all that tweaking went right by me.

Perhaps you could help me out with a few examples showing how the theory is unrecognizable compared to, say, 75 years ago.

November 12, 2007 8:45 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home