Creationists vs. Western Civilization

John Derbyshire of National Review wrote this column on Expelled which is highly critical of the creationist/intelligent design movement. For example, he wrote:

When talking about the creationists to people who don’t follow these controversies closely, I have found that the hardest thing to get across is the shifty, low-cunning aspect of the whole modern creationist enterprise. Individual creationists can be very nice people, though they get nicer the further away they are from the full-time core enterprise of modern creationism at the Discovery Institute. The enterprise as a whole, however, really doesn’t smell good. You notice this when you’re around it a lot.

Derbyshire goes on to give examples, as well as recommending the Expelled Exposed website from the National Center for Science Education. Derbyshire sees this attack on evolution as an attack on our culture and Western civilization:

The “intelligent design” hoax is not merely non-science, nor even merely anti-science; it is anti-civilization. It is an appeal to barbarism, to the sensibilities of those Apaches, made by people who lack the imaginative power to know the horrors of true barbarism. (A thing that cannot be said of Darwin. See Chapter X of Voyage of the Beagle.)

And yes: When our greatest achievements are blamed for our greatest moral failures, that is a blood libel against Western civilization itself. What next, Ben? Johann Sebastian Bach ran a slave-trading enterprise on the side? Kepler started the Thirty Years War? Tolstoy instigated the Kishinev Pogrom? Dante was a bag-man for the Golden Horde? Why not go smash a few windows in Chartres Cathedral, Ben? Break wind in a chamber-music concert? Splash some red paint around in the Uffizi? Which other of our civilizational achievements would you like to sneer at? What else from what Waugh called “the work of centuries” would you like to “abandon … for sentimental qualms”? You call yourself a conservative? Feugh!

For shame, Ben Stein, for shame. Stand up for your civilization, man! and all its glories. The barbarians are at the gate, as they always have been. Come man the defenses with us, leaving the liars and fools to their lies and folly.

Not surprisingly many right wingers have been attacking Derbyshire over this. He responded at The Corner:

What I am doing is, heaping well-justified abuse on the heads of people who, for “sentimental qualms” and from a position of ignorance, trash scientific method, the greatest achievement of our civilization.

And uniquely of our civilization. A mature scientific theory is as much a glory of our civilization as is a cathedral or a university; and it is uniquely of ours. Other civilizations had temples, universities, systems of government, literature, philosophy; but only we of the West came up with scientific method, and the whole world owes the innumerable fruits of that method to us.

I am a huge fan of Western civilization. Thus, when people — well-educated people, who ought to set an example for the general — sneer at and spit on these majestic creations of the human intellect, I get mad. They are taking sides with barbarism. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. Ben Stein ought to be ashamed of himself. And no, I won’t sit through his wretched movie.

Derbyshire got it right in seeing that intelligent design is not an alternative science as the creationists claim. It is an attack on the scientific method, an attack on reason, and yes, an attack on Western civilization. Creationists are the ultimate reactionaries who would return us to the mindset of the dark ages. I noted this previously in this post which responds to a conservative who provided a good example of this mindset when he claimed, “We have reached the end of the Age of Science.” Fortunately there are conservatives such as Derbyshire as well as liberals who are willing to defend science and reason against the attacks from the religious right.

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