Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ruse Weighs In

Since I've been bashing Michael Ruse quite a bit lately, it's nice to be able to link to this interesting essay from Science and Spirit magazine. In it Ruse comments both on the Court's ruling in the Dover evolution case, and also on the Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. He has nothing but praise for the former, but criticizes the latter for not being more rigorous in presenting Darwin in the context of his times as opposed to a stand-alone genius. I especially liked this quote:


Jones was unambiguous. ID is not science, he wrote; it is religion. More than this, the judge took great umbrage at the tactics of the school board and its supporters, accusing them of telling untruths and of being morally bankrupt in the ways in which they justified their case for teaching ID. What made his ruling all the more impressive is that Jones is no bleeding-heart liberal, but rather a solid conservative, a churchgoer who was appointed to his post by the Bush administration.

Basically, Jones told the world that Pennsylvanians have standards, and he was outraged that the children of his state were to be fed a load of neo-fundamentalist religion because of the ideological beliefs of a group of unscrupulous fanatics. This is not a question of right or left, he seemed to be saying, but rather a question of right and wrong—and we in Pennsylvania know the difference. Apparently, the citizens of Dover were on the same page as the judge because, even before the verdict came down, eight of the nine existing school board members were voted out in favor of a new group whose first act was to unanimously rescind the policy on ID.


I recommend reading the whole article.

5 Comments:

At 7:14 PM, Blogger John Farrell said...

Excellent piece, Jason. I actually have a book review in that issue of S&S.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger DMcKeon said...

You made an interesting comment here about Darwin and his times. That Darwin was a man of his time is so obvious that it is hardly disputed anymore. That evolution was his great "discovery" is also a myth. The philosophical idea goes as far back as the arguments among Parmenides and Heraclitus. It's philosophical underpinning trace all the way through to Hume (the happy skeptic), Lamarck, and Darwin's own family to name just a few.

For a modern treatment, read Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadence" the chapter titled "Things ride mankind" (around p.550). Feel free to read Lukacs "The End of an Age" as well.

Ideas, generally, don't just appear out of the sky. Of course Darwin was a man of his time. Just as you and I are, in part, a product of ours.

Our age is not as enthusiastic about the machine, automation, material, etc. Most but a few diehards realize "The ball doesn't just roll downhill" with no cause. There already is a serious re-
evaluation of the nature of evolution. Even in Dennett's classic "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" he acknowledges this where he discusses the arguments in his chapters there in "Skyhooks and Cranes", "Who's afraid of reductionism?" and elsewhere (can't give you specifics since its been awhile since I read it).

Even Dennett, if you notice, constantly references Dawkins, himself, and far too many 19th century scientists. Dawkings argues against Christian caricatures. It's kind of a self referencing chain. I hope your not seriously building your worldview and how you live your life on this!

-Dennis

 
At 12:26 PM, Blogger DMcKeon said...

P.S. I wouldn't necessarily add the vitriol that Jones did but I tend to agree with him, for what it's worth.

 
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