Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Genesis of Darwinian Fundamentalism

References are marked by italics while my remarks are in standard form. The first four paragraphs from an article appearing at ID The Future provide commentary about the relevancy of rationalism to those supporting standard versions of theories attempting to explain the origin and diversity of life. My comments are added.

'Why Evolutionists Can't be Neutral'
Cornelius Hunter

"Rene Descartes hated doubt and wanted to know what he knew with certainty. Descartes wanted to find a method for proving universal truths, and he had just the thing: geometry. Centuries before the ancient geometers had constructed elegant proofs based on a few fundamental axioms. They had discovered a method—logical reasoning based on few rock solid premises—that produced new truths.

For Descartes, one of the great rationalist thinkers of modern times, method was crucial. Euclidean geometry was the template that Descartes would use. Begin with some simple axioms that everyone could agree were true, and then reason your way to new truths. After Descartes, the Cartesians continued to refine and apply rationalism in philosophy and science.

Rationalist approaches hinge on their axioms. Bad axioms lead to bad conclusions, so rationalists need to caveat their conclusions. Instead of claiming a conclusion to be true, they need to make it clear that the conclusion is true if the axiom it relies on is true."

True, but a little too idealistic. Axioms tend to blind those holding them as to the contingency nature of inferences drawn from them. They have a tendency to become articles of faith rather than assumptions open to question.

"In practice, however, things are not so simple. Once rationalism gets rolling it takes on a life of its own. The axioms are taken for granted and assumed to be universal; the conclusions are taken as new truths, method is crucial, and anyone who disagrees must be naïve or nefarious."

Confusing axioms with universal truths leads to Darwinian fundamentalism which frequently surfaces in unmoderated discussion forums. Here is an example.

"A message posted on the Kansas Citizens for Science website by Liz Craig, an officer and public relations contact for the group, outlines the strategy opponents used in 1999 and in the most recent debate.

My strategy at this point is the same as it was in 1999: notify the national and local media about what's going on and portray [advocates] in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled bullies, etc."

Sounds like a true believer who in the name of a cause can justify manipulating the media through funneling a deliberate stream of ad hominem hate words, which if directed at ethnic or sexually oriented targets, would result in censure at best and legal repercussions at worst.


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