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August 1, 2005

Credit Where Credit is Due

You may recall my previous bemoaning of the sorry intellectual state of contemporary American conservatism. I did, however, note that there were a couple of exceptions to the general pattern of cravenness and confusion among the right-wing thinkers and pundits interviewed on the subject of Evolution and Intelligent Design.

Charles Krauthammer and Richard Brookhiser said sensible things. And, now, Krauthammer has written an essay expanding on his response.

How many times do we have to rerun the Scopes “monkey trial”? There are gaps in science everywhere. Are we to fill them all with divinity? There were gaps in Newton’s universe. They were ultimately filled by Einstein’s revisions. There are gaps in Einstein’s universe, great chasms between it and quantum theory. Perhaps they are filled by God. Perhaps not. But it is certainly not science to merely declare it so.

To teach faith as science is to undermine the very idea of science, which is the acquisition of new knowledge through hypothesis, experimentation and evidence. To teach it as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of religious authority. To teach it as science is to discredit the welcome recent advances in permitting the public expression of religion. Faith can and should be proclaimed from every mountaintop and city square. But it has no place in science class. To impose it on the teaching of evolution is not just to invite ridicule but to earn it.

Bravo, Mr. Krauthammer! The weight of redeeming the intellectual respectability of American conservatism appears to rest on your shoulders. I hope you’re up to it.

Update (8/2/2005):

As Chris Mooney points out, you’ll be joining the loneliest man in Washington. Good luck!

Update (8/10/2005):

That didn’t last long. Krauthammer now says that teaching creationism is just fine, since it shores up support among the base.

If you look at this purely as a cynical political move, it will help in the heartlands and people of my ilk care a lot more about Iraq than about textbooks in Kansas.

The inimitable Kung Fu Monkey delivers the smackdown [via James Wolcott, who has his own choice words about the deluded cynicism of Krauthammer and his ilk].

Posted by distler at August 1, 2005 9:54 PM

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5 Comments & 1 Trackback

Re: Credit Where Credit is Due

Enh.

Still doesn’t change my belief that Krauthammer is the Noam Chomsky of the right.

Posted by: Aaron Bergman on August 1, 2005 11:01 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Not a cheery thought

You know things are really bad when “the Noam Chomsky of the right” is the best they have to offer.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on August 2, 2005 12:17 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Credit Where Credit is Due

Come on, its kinda easy to take anecdotal evidence and claim there is some gigantic intellectual gap amongst *conservatives*.

Many conservatives (I would classify myself as Libertarian) simply don’t respond to garbage like creationism b/c its a tired subject that has thoroughly been debunked since, well before I was born.

It would be like if I singled out wackjob environmentalists who hate and distort all things related to Nuclear fission, and claimed the left were anti science and anti intellectual. Were is the outrage I ask you?

The fact of the matter is that a politicians motto and proffession is to agree with everything and everyone, until the signing day comes when a stand needs to be taken (and even then, they try to have it both ways). I for one am not going to fault them on the realities of that life, b/c I have no experience ro desire to be a part of it.

So the case stands, for every conservative who has a bizarre belief system w.r.t the question of ‘God’, I can find you a Liberal with distorted notions of some other aspect of science. Or do you disagree, perhaps the case would be better made with ample statistical case studies on a wide range of ‘hot topics in science’?

Posted by: Haelfix on August 2, 2005 4:50 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Too late

Straining hard to think of anything remotely comparable on the Left, aren’t we?

I wish I could help you out, but

  1. Times have changed.
  2. We’re not talking about some random Right-wing “whackjobs”. These are the cream of the crop.
  3. The President has spoken.
Posted by: Jacques Distler on August 2, 2005 8:44 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Credit Where Credit is Due

Another exception to the rule of conservative intellectual bankruptcy is John Derbyshire (author of “Prime Obsession”). See for instance his essay “But Is It Science?”.

But then, Derbyshire is a pretty eccentric conservative by todays standards.

Posted by: Levi on August 2, 2005 9:19 AM | Permalink | Reply to this
Read the post The reaction to Bush's statements
Weblog: The Panda's Thumb
Excerpt: In response to George W. Bush's statement that he supports teaching Intelligent Design creationism in our public schools, I wrote my own reply, and also volunteered to collect links to other people's criticisms.
Tracked: August 3, 2005 8:29 AM

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