TalkingSnake

If the first talking snake had kept shtum, we wouldn't be here. Eve wouldn't have eaten the forbidden fruit. But she listened and was curious. So she fell into humanity, thank God. Good old snake, say I. I celebrate its independence of mind. Satan? Neh, that's a later interpretation. The snake was part of the divine purpose. God allowed it into the garden, aware of its linguistic abilities. He knew what would happen. Jesus commended dove-like innocence. AND the wisdom ... of the snake.

Friday, May 19, 2006

That Richard Lewontin quote

Here’s a quotation I’ve come across a few times. Creationists use it to prove that evolutionary scientists are ideologically compromised. It’s from a review of Carl Sagan’s posthumously published book, Billions and Billions, and the writer is the geneticist Richard Lewontin of Harvard. So it's not as if he's particularly intelligent, then.

"Evolutionists ... have a prior commitment, a commitment to naturalism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door"

That’s strongly put, but I don’t see why Christians should find it threatening. I take Lewontin to be saying: the moment we concede a role for the supernatural in scientific enquiry, however small, the process becomes fatally contaminated. It may be tempting to reach for supernatural explanations, which may seem more plausible, but the temptation must be resisted even when the materialist explanation honestly arrived at seems crazy. And that’s true. God is not in the little bits of the world that don’t make sense unless he is part of the equation; to say this leaves you nowhere to run when someone comes up with a better equation. God is in the whole fabric of the universe or he is nowhere.


Here’s a typical creationist reaction. First, Lewontin is supposed to have "let this slip", as though it’s some kind of guilty secret. Then:


Just as we thought all along! You must find a way—organic evolution—to rid yourself of that "Divine Foot in the door." Nice to see you finally admit it. Well, once again, gentlemen, I have news for you. God’s foot is in the door, whether you like it or not—all your attempts to prevent it notwithstanding. And there is nothing you can say or do to stop it, because neither He, nor we, will be going "quietly into the night." Not now. Not ever. Yes, the attack is on. But we are at the vanguard of that attack. You are losing the battle—and you will lose the war! Truth always triumphs over error.

(from a report posted at ApologeticsPress.org)

Psychosis again. "Truth will always triumph over error", indeed. The possibilty that mainstream science might actually be the truth, and creationism a load of manure, never crosses this poor writer’s mind.

2 Comments:

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Blogger John D. Modgling said...

Apparently, the opposite didn't cross your mind either.

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