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RE: [SACC-L] Re: SACC-L: Evolution and ID: Time, Harpers, and More

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  • Donohue-Lynch, Brian
    There are several interesting twists here, too. Stanley Fish has an article in a recent issue of Harpers-- about what the Right has learned from the Left ;
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 8, 2005
      There are several interesting twists here, too. Stanley Fish has an
      article in a recent issue of Harpers-- about what the "Right" has
      learned from the "Left"; his point is that the promoters of "Intelligent
      Design" are taking a page (supposedly) from the "Liberal Left" (I'm not
      quoting here, but summarizing from memory) by arguing that we need to be
      open and flexible to hearing "all voices." (This is where the "teach
      the controversy" strategy comes in, as if the real issue is that the ID
      promoters are only trying to be open-minded, to "hear all sides.") I
      might not be doing full justice to Fish here, so I would encourage
      people to read it in Harpers (Dec. 05).

      A second twist is that what the ID promoters are actually engaged in is
      as much pseudo-postmodernism as it is pseudo-scientific! At one and the
      same time they are making a pitch for the legitimacy of different ways
      of knowing--ID is just as "good" as scientific explanation--even as they
      make the half-hearted intellectual effort to say that it really really
      really is science. They won't accept the premise, for example, that
      these represent several different "ways of knowing" that don't
      necessarily negate each other(a premise that a number of people on this
      listserv and elsewhere have been trying to suggest); they want to argue,
      instead, in the same breath that ID is science--so it is an equally
      valid explanation as evolution-- but also that it is "another
      perspective" that deserves to be heard (can you hear postmodern echoes
      here of "don't privilege the rational, scientific explanation over other
      ways of knowing" ?) They can't, after all, muster enough "real" backing
      to verify the science of it--it isn't the scientific community that is
      somehow clamoring to let in some body of evidence that has been
      illegitimately excluded from consideration. So while they make the
      flimsy "case" for ID as science, they also bring in a post-modern
      promotion of multiplicity of voices.

      But ultimately, they aren't really trying to be postmodern, any more
      than they are trying to do science; as Lloyd is saying, theirs is a
      political agenda--not to undo the privileged position of science in a
      fit of postmodernism, but to replace it instead with "faith" and
      "belief." And if you want to see how rigid and dogmatic this is, watch
      for the creationist/ID responses to other theologians (small t) who have
      tried to make a reasoned case for the compatibility of reason,
      scientific evolution theory, and faith. At least one prominent voice
      has, in this vein, warned Catholic authorities that they are on the road
      to perdition for having made such an argument! (I am not saying here,
      that faith and belief are necessarily negatives, nor rigid and dogmatic;
      I am instead suggesting that the ID promoters are driven by a dogmatism,
      rigidity, and literalism of "faith"--their court cases, their arguments
      for scientific credibility, their promotion of "teaching the
      controversy" so that "all voices can be heard"--are their latest and
      ongoing strategies.)

      And I would agree with Lloyd: I wouldn't spend a minute "defending"
      evolution; I will spend time instead(in and out of class) engaging
      others in considering that theologians should stick with their
      theologies, and scientists with their science.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Lloyd Miller
      Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2005 8:35 PM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: SPAM: 9.0 SpamScore - RE: [SACC-L] Re: SACC-L: Evolution
      and ID: A TIME Essay

      Brian, thanks for the website. I too was wondering where I'd get a
      copy of a November TIME magazine. I think the article is excellent.
      As Bob points out, it makes the most important point that there is not
      nor should there be any conflict between holding religious beliefs of
      any kind and being a scientist.

      However, I think there's a larger issue that we anthropologists,
      academics and scientists should be aware of: politics. From everything
      I've read, I've concluded that a number of right-wing extremists, often
      referred to as the religious right (but I'm not sure all of them are
      religious), are determined to discredit science and make the U.S. a
      theocracy. One of their principal strategies is to create
      pseudo-controversies in science, and they pick on evolution because it's
      most vulnerable and gets a lot of press. The more we talk and write to
      defend evolution as valid, the more we play into their hands. But
      evolution is only the tip of the iceberg. They challenge global warming
      theory (and others relating to medicine and health care) by saying
      simply that "scientists disagree; therefore more research needs to be
      done; therefore we can't use junk science (their name for legitimate
      science) to make policy decisions." They call what they do sound
      science; imagine! President Bush's bully pulpit and Republican
      legislative majorities allow them more credence than they deserve. And
      they're able to manipulate many of the lay public into believing that
      their own religious beliefs are threatened by science. A
      well-documented source on all this is Chris Mooney's The Republican War
      on Science.

      I'm not saying that we shouldn't continue to defend evolution and
      science. Rather, we should take every opportunity to do so in class and
      before the public, but when we do, we should also include discussions of
      the politics of all this.


      On Dec 8, 2005, at 1:18 PM, Bob Muckle wrote:

      > In a similar vein to the 'Time' article, is one by Stephen J. Gould,
      > published in 'Natural History' (March 1997). The article is called
      > "Nonoverlapping Magisteria," and essentially discusses the fact that
      > science and religion can co-exist quite nicely (as logn as scientists
      > don't try to do theology and theologians don't try to do science)
      > It too
      > is s widely available to download from the internet (just google
      > nonoverlapping magisteria). I sometimes use it when teaching
      > classes on
      > human origins. Many students seem relieved to know that according to
      > many scientists and theologians, it is okay to have religious beliefs
      > and be a scientist. I remember Gould getting some flak from some
      > hard-line scientists for writing the article.
      > Bob
      >>>> bdonohue-lynch@... 12/8/2005 7:50:51 AM >>>
      > Seems that on the Time site it has suddenly become "premier content"!
      > (I
      > just looked at it a short time ago, then when I went back it said I
      > had
      > to have a subscription!)
      > But here is another link (one of many) that has reprinted the thing.
      > I
      > don't know about the site it comes (just a random selection)... But
      > the
      > article is all there.
      > http://contanatura.weblog.com.pt/arquivo/2005/11/what_was_god_th.html
      > Brian
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      > Of John Giacobbe
      > Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2005 10:39 AM
      > To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [SACC-L] Re: SACC-L: Evolution and ID: A TIME Essay
      > Hi guys: Anyone have an electronic version of this article, or a
      > subscription to Time magizine and can access the article through the
      > web
      > page? I'd like to use it in my class, but since I'm obscenely lazy and
      > cheap, I don't want to buy the magazine.
      > Thanks for enabling me
      > john giacobbe
      > cerci1@...
      > From: Chuck Ellenbaum <ellenbaumbridge@...>
      > Subject: Evolution and ID: Worldviews of Science and Theology: A
      > TIME
      > Essay
      > Colleagues
      > Given the discussion in SACC-L and in the various news media on
      > Evolution and Intelligent Design, I'd like to call your attention to
      > an
      > essay in the 11/14/05 issue of TIME magazine by Eric Cornell (2001
      > Nobel
      > Prize for Physics) entitled "What Was God Thinking? Science Can't
      > Tell". He discusses how theology should not be trying to do science
      > and
      > how science should not be trying to do theology.
      > It is concise and well-written. I recommend it as a heuristic essay
      > on
      > the subject.
      > If you read it, I would be interested in your reaction to it. Do you
      > think anthropology and the other behavioral sciences do violence to
      > science when we claim a scientific rigor and methodology that might
      > not
      > be there? What are the proper epistemological boundaries for
      > anthropology? Just as they exist for science and theology, they exist
      > for us.
      > Chuck ><>
      > Charles O. Ellenbaum
      > 707 Shady Avenue
      > Geneva, IL 60134 USA
      > Cell: 630-404-1261
      > Home: 630-262-1281
      >> ellenbaumbridge@...<
      > De Colores and Ultreya
      > "The sea never changes, and its works, for all the talk of man, are
      > wrapped in mystery." Joseph Conrad
      > "When beholding the beauty of the ocean skin, one forgets the tiger
      > heart that pants beneath it." Herman Melville
      > ______________________________________________________________________

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