A Darwinist tries to understand the durability of the intelligent design community – and gets something right
|November 28, 2011||Posted by News under Culture, Darwinism, Intelligent Design, News|
Here, Jack Scanlan (“Naon tiami”), an Australian biology student, holds forth, from decades of experience:
In ecological terms, the ID movement is far better adapted to the current climate surrounding religion and evolution than the more classical varieties of creationism are or ever were. It easily outcompetes young-earth creationism for access to vital sources of attention and publicity (things that all movements need to survive) in the niche defined by moderately to slightly religious members of the public, because it – for most of its public endeavours – has abandoned the overtly religious language and appeals of scripture that creationism can’t do without, which tend to drive away those who are put off by fundamentalism. Most importantly of all, however, is its strict grounding in public relations and image control. While classical creationism is hampered by a need to proselytise and spout apologetics for evangelical interpretations of religion, ID prides itself on seeming to be a legitimately scientific program. It uses the right type of language, it shows off its shiny PhD-brandishing experts, and it sneaks religious ideas in under the guise of appealing to human design analogies, which are extremely seductive at first glance.
ID’s tight awareness of its public image is also the reason why it is perfectly suited to exploit the anti-creationist attitude of most scientists. The academic community has long known of the real history and motives of the ID movement, and because of this, it routinely places ID in the same category as other varieties of creationism and subjects it to a similar mocking. As mentioned, that strategy may sometimes work for movements that have a self-defeating image, but against the slick-looking rhetoric of organisations like the Discovery Institute, it backfires horribly.
Intelligent design is rhetoricotrophic: it gains nourishment from the rhetoric used against it.
– “Why scientists are feeding the rhetoricotrophic beast of intelligent design, and why they need to stop,” November 28th, 2011
The rest of the outburst is just Darwin’s bilge pipe’s runoff, maybe written to impress his Darwinist profs, so we’ll leave that aside.
However, when Scanlan said that ID “gains nourishment from the rhetoric used against it,” he’s quite right. What he doesn’t see (and probably can’t) is that the situation he resents prevails only because the Darwinist rhetoric sounds hollow to begin with. Suppose a Darwin pressure group hires a flack to tour the country, shrieking, “Darwin is always right! And Uncommon Descent is a front for a proposed right-wing Christian theocracy.”
The first time an undecided person hears that, he thinks, “Holy smokes! There are already 3,000 proposed right-wing Christian theocracies, if you go by News from Nutware. What makes them think they’ll get face time?”
He hears it again, and thinks, “Maybe they’re a threat after all.” Then he checks it out.
Then he thinks, “Maybe listening to Shriekie Flack is a waste of time.”
If he hangs around here for a bit, he will discover many perfectly good, current reasons for doubting Darwin and his loyal heirs. Reasons shared by many scientists working in the area who are not design theorists.
And that is how we grow, folks.
It’s so simple and obvious, it was bound to be invisible to Darwin’s loyalists. They probably can’t even begin to imagine that it would have been better not to make a road show out of Shriekie Flack. Which works out well for us. Darwinists pay, we benefit.
In fact, that’s how we get some of our wasted taxes back.
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