A Witch’s Brew
Evolutionists are certain that evolution is a fact. For if creation and design are false, then one way or another, the species must have evolved. Evolution, they say, is beyond all reasonable doubt. Evolutionists like to compare their theory with gravity, the roundness of the Earth and heliocentrism.
Given this level of certainty, it is not surprising that evolutionists do not suffer dissent gladly. In fact for evolutionists, those who disagree are typically viewed as undermining science and up to no good. This leads to value judgments and the assigning of motives of those who are skeptical of evolution.
So it is not surprising that evolutionists have no compunction about blackballing dissent. Evolution is good and right, and anyone who disagrees has nefarious motives. Here is how one philosopher described this dynamic (speaking of rationalism in general):
The typical rationalist will believe that theories that meet the demands of the universal criterion are true or approximately true or probably true … The distinction between science and non-science is straight-forward for the rationalist. Only those theories that are such that they can be clearly assessed in terms of the universal criterion and which survive the test are scientific … The typical rationalist will take it as self-evident that a high value is to be placed on knowledge developed in accordance with the universal criterion. This will be especially so if the process is understood as leading towards truth. Truth, rationality, and hence science, are seen as intrinsically good. [A. F. Chalmers, What is this thing called science? 2d ed., (Indianapolis, IN.: Hackett Publishing Company, 1982) 102.]
What is dangerous here is the tendency to identify ones theory, not merely as an explanation of the natural world and as explaining certain evidences, but with righteousness. And so those who doubt that the world spontaneously arose, by chance and on its own, are routinely subject to everything from innuendo and silent discrimination to ridicule and blackballing.
All this for an allegation which is patently false. Evolution may be true, but skeptics are certainly not surreptitiously attempting to undermine science. It would be laughable except evolutionists have ruined so many careers and misdirected so many textbooks and students. And like the Witch Trials, once blame has been assigned there is no acceptable defense except to admit to the imagined wrong-doing and accept the sentence.
Such high moralizing, unfortunately, is not limited to the life sciences. Its familiar pattern is too common in today’s cultural disputes and this week it appeared in the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.
The ruling was, in part, a response to pro traditional marriage propositions that were passed in California. The first one was declared unconstitutional by a judge, so the second (Proposition 8) made the necessary change to the state constitution. It too was overruled, this time by a gay judge in San Francisco.
In his decision the judge accused Californians who had voted for the proposition of bigotry. With the motives of millions of voters determined the judge was confident of his decision. Gay marriage was good and Proposition 8 supporters were bad.
In science there is an old saying, initiated by physicist Wolfgang Pauli, for theories that are not merely incorrect, but make no sense. Such theories are said to be “not even wrong.” The judge’s overturning of Proposition 8 was a legal ruling that was not even wrong. What was amazing was that the judge was oblivious to his own erroneous moralizing.
This week that bizarre opinion not only went uncorrected, but was reinforced when the Supreme Court doubled-down on such high moralizing, this time in its decision on DOMA. Not only did the high court strike down DOMA, it determined that those who disagree with them are out to “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings and citizens who are homosexual.
This ruling was not from a lone judge in a lower court but from five of the top judges in the land with a small army of clerks on their staffs. It is astonishing they could produce a judgment so irrational and false. Again, gay marriage was good and DOMA supporters were bad. It would be difficult to imagine a better example of out of touch elites pronouncing judgments from on high.
The status and definition of marriage is no doubt a complex legal issue. But this is not about technical legal details. Evolution’s negative theorizing and moralizing has set a pattern that now seems to be prevalent. What is frightening is that these prosecutors actually believe their charges. Whether we are talking about a scientist or a judge, whatever the color of the robe, they are certain and they are self-righteous.