Sunday, November 20, 2005

Intelligent Design, Darwin, and a Gay's visit with the Dentist

Peter Tatchell has a website and you'll find this in his bio,

Involved in the GLF campaign against the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness, in 1972 he was violently manhandled by doctors and psychologists when he disrupted a lecture by one of the world's leading psychiatrists, Professor Hans Eysenck. The professor had endorsed the use of electric-shock aversion therapy to "cure" homosexuals, dismissively claiming that the treatment was no harsher than "a visit to the dentist". As a result of this and similar protests in Harley Street, the medical profession eventually abandoned its pejorative designation of homosexuality.
The leading authority reference here got me thinking to the authorities telling me Intelligent Design isn't science.

I fear the Gods to much, to tell them they're Intelligent.

I find mystery --not design-- in Creation.

So, while not sure of the science, Intelligent Design seems bad Theology to me.

But when Churchill spoke of his fear Europe ...will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science in June of 1940, he was talking about perverted Biology. The same kind of perverted Biology that empowered a leading Psychiatrist to suggest 'cures' for Homosexuality with a jolt to the brain.

Biologist have allowed their science to be perverted too many times during the past century. Great crimes have been committed with the Biologist's authority.

My kids tell me the ID vs evolution debate does not come up in their classes. What I would prefer they learn in Biology, is a bit about William Jennings Bryan, and why he opposed Scopes.

Bryan may have got the Science wrong, but I'm certain the 20th century would have been different had Biology classes in Germany, and Japan begun with some readings of America's William Jennings Bryan.

From Andrew Varnon's Fundamentally Progressive

I may disagree with Bryan on whether or not evolution should be taught in the public schools, but on almost every other issue (save perhaps Prohibition), I find myself thinking, "I'd vote for him." In short, given our current state of politics, he sounds like the kind of guy I'd like to sit on a porch with and ask where it all went wrong.

Bryan's opposition to evolution wasn't separate from his progressive politics. In fact, he saw Darwinism as being part and parcel of the rising laissez-faire capitalism in America. "Evolution is the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak," he said. That was contrary to the Bible, which he said taught the "law of love." And indeed, it was the social Darwinists who opposed and defeated Bryan in many of his progressive causes, although the battles he begun would later be won by his successors.
I think it all went wrong when the deeper truth (or Law if you like) in Bryan's message was supplanted with an easily perverted Science.

Worlds paid a huge price with trust in leading Scientific authorities.

I'd rather place my trust in a local School Board in Tennessee.


Robin Edgar said...

Here is some mystery AND design in Creation. . .

Andrew Varnon said...

I'm flattered that you chose my story to illustrate Bryan and his actions at the Scopes Trial, but I must admit, I'm a little baffled at your conclusion. By saying you'd rather put your trust in a local school board, you're siding with Bryan. In Scopes, Bryan was arguing that local school boards had the right to choose what would (and wouldn't) be taught to their kids, but by extension, he was arguing that local school boards could determine what science was. Putting politics above science was exactly what Churchill feared from his Nazi foes -- and for good reason.

Bill Baar said...

Not much time for the response so I'll revist this.

Yes, bottom line is I side with Bryan. I wish Germans had put politics above science because what they taught instead was a perverted science that preculded any alternatives (they weren't scientific).

Read Bryan's essay on teaching Darwin in schools. It holds up pretty well today. I'll hunt for a link.

If I were sitting on a school board today, or if this topic came up in my schools, I'd argue for teaching William Jennings Bryan instead of putting ID and Evolution against each other. I'd explain all the perverted racialism and perverted genticism that dominated Bilogy in the 1930s and the great crimes committed in its name. That's what I'd take time out to teach. Bryan looks better and better when you seem him in terms of the history of science. Science over reaches and Bryan puts it back into place.

andrew varnon said...

I would tend to agree with you that Bryan deserves more study than he gets, as he is often painted as a one-dimensional character based upon his role in Scopes. And I think the biology you're referring to is Eugenics and the related ideas about race and genetics. But I remain skeptical of your suggestion that somehow it was scientists who lead Germany down the path to Nazi-ism. Instead, it was a twisted politics that expelled independent thinkers, including scientists, and brought those remaining to heel. Similarly, in Russia, there was Lysenkoism. This, however, is the triumph of politics over the free inquiry of science, rather than the reverse.

The Emerson Avenger said...

I do like that bit about how it was a twisted politics that expelled independent thinkers. . .

Bill Baar said...

I'm reading Hew Strachen's The First World War: To Arms on the outbreak of the First World War. He comments on how so many German Generals believed in Social Darwinism and while they understood the risks of war and Germany's poor chances they caved into the pro-war parties because they believed "suvival of the fitessed" was the nature of things and the war inevitable.

Germany was the leading Scientific nation of the day then. This pre dates Nazism. It was a broader world view than Eugenics. It was bad science that overcame political common sense.

It's interesting to me that this ID vs Darwin debate never seems to pop up in Physics and Cosmology. I believe it's just that Biology seems uniquely suited to getting perverted and transformed into power politics.

It's not that politics takes over biology, but a nasty perversion of biology can take over politics.

So you get the most educated military minds of the pre-1914 world --and the Germans were when compared to their French and especially British counterparts-- and you get a group of guys who over look the political realities they understood because they believed a screwy Biology that over reached.

So I like the idea of injecting a littly of Bryan's politics into Biology as alternative to the ID vs Darwin debate because while Jennings got the biology wrong he sure got the politics right.

LaReinaCobre said...

But what made the bad science "bad" in the first place?

Bill Baar said...

Asking just that question: what is bad science or better yet what's quack science, is what I'd have the bio students spend some time thinking about.

I'd have kids do a quick study of social darwinsims, and eugenics, and racialism, and how biology let it self get hijacked by these folks.

When Darrow drove Jennings out of the class room he didn't drive politics out of Biology; just the progressive Democrat who would have stood up for univseral human rights even if he mangled the science. That was a huge loss for the 20th century I think.