ENV: Darwinism is fiercely guarded by a scientific guild. What does the guild have at stake in this? Prestige? Money? To some observers, the defense seems impermeable. Do you see cracks in the fortress wall opening up?
DB: Fiercely guarded, but not, mind you, effectively guarded. If the Darwinian Guild, to adapt your phrase (since science has nothing to do with it), was interested in rational self promotion, the Guild would have never allowed its members to display in public their characteristic attitude of invincible arrogance and sheep-like stupidity. Just listen to them as they limber up in the insult room: Dumbski, Little Mikey Behe, Stevie Meyer (a regression to school yard taunts irresistible at both the Panda’s Thumb and Talk Reason), the creationist playbook, creationist pablum, creationism in a cheap tuxedo, tired creationist canards, creationist cranks, ID'iots, creotards, creos, sky fairies, liars for Jesus. I've even seen Disco'Tute, this the invention of an elderly fellow at the Panda's Thumb who, like Polonius, imagines that he is the soul of wit. One lunatic named Quick or Quack — or is that simply the sound of his posts? — has become fond of the phrase "mendacious intellectual pornography" and has so overused it that his fellow bloggers have taken to attacking him. When they do, Quick as a Quack responds that they are guilty of "mendacious intellectual pornography". The gabble is as unedifying as it is unending.
What is wonderful, I think, is the way in which membership in the Guild so runs to type, P.Z. Myers, to take the loudest case, reveling in his role as the hearty American rustic, a man prepared as circumstances demand either to desecrate the Catholic wafer or at dinner to immerse his feet in a platter of boeuf bourguignon. If in public he now refrains from withdrawing long spools of lint from his navel and examining them studiously that is because Richard Dawkins has advised him that at Oxford, it is no longer done.
When it is late at night and my old war wounds ache, I very much enjoy chasing down discussions on the Panda’s Thumb in which members of the Guild begin to abuse one another, their indignation discharging itself in a series of menopausal hot flashes, the discussion skipping from disagreement to disgruntlement to peevishness and finally to insult, until at last someone stands accused of being a lying scum for Jesus.
I offer nothing as invention. I have made nothing up.
What I find most remarkable about the Darwinian Guild is what is least remarked. There is not a single first rate intelligence in the bunch.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The author of the splendid book The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions answers a question: