Friday, August 12, 2005

Mooney on Fire

But pride of place in this round-up must surely go to the superlative Chris Mooney, who has published this essay, adapted from his forthcoming book The Republican War on Science, over at the website of The American Prospect. He writes:

The Dover case was ?led on church-state grounds, and the Dover school-board member who drove the policy in question made his conservative Christian motivations clear in widely reported public statements (which he now disputes having made). And yet, curiously, members of the national ID movement insist that their attacks on evolution aren’t religiously motivated, but, rather, scienti?c in nature.

That movement’s home base is Seattle’s Discovery Institute, whose attempt to lead a speci?cally intellectual attack on evolution -- one centered at a think tank funded by wealthy extreme conservatives and abetted by sympathetic Republican politicians -- epitomizes how today’s political right has developed a powerful infrastructure for battling against scienti?c conclusions that anger core constituencies in industry and on the Christian right. Just as Charles Darwin himself cast light on the present by examining origins, in the history of the Discovery Institute, we encounter a narrative that cuts to the heart -- and exposes the intellectual sleight of hand -- of the modern right’s war on science.

His essay concludes with this apt summary:

But just like creation scientists of yore, ID hawkers have clear and ever-present religious motivations for denying and attacking evolution. And like creationists of yore, they have failed the only test that matters: They simply are not doing credible science. Instead, they are appropriating scienti?c-sounding arguments to advance a moral and political agenda, one they hope to force into the public-school system.

That is where the true threat emerges. ID theorists and other creationists don’t like what the overwhelming body of science has to tell us about where human beings come from. Their recourse? Trying to interfere with the process by which children are supposed to learn about the best scienti?c (as opposed to religious) answer that we have to this most fundamental of questions. No matter how many conservative Christian scholars Chapman and the Discovery Institute manage to get on their side, such interference represents the epitome of anti-intellectualism.

The material in between is absolutely fascinating. I've been a serious creationist-watcher for some time, but I found myself learning a lot from Mooney's essay. Go read it! Right now!