At the New York Times, It's Another Day, and Another Occasion to Pretend the Scientific Debate About Darwin Doesn't Exist
Bloviating on a Pew survey revealing a purportedly growing "evolution gap" between Republicans and Democrats, NY Times columnist Charles Blow stepped in it over the weekend, as Andrew T. Walker points out at National Review Online:
There are no better enforcers of civility and tolerance than editorialists and opinion writers who peddle these virtues while policing the terrain for intellectual nonconformity. New York Times writer Charles Blow has long been a member of good standing in this cabal, but his piece in Saturday's Times outdoes even himself in ascending to increasingly new heights of arrogance. Titled "Indoctrinating Religious Warriors," Blow reduces the entirety of the Christian faith and its apparent lagging acceptance of evolutionary naturalism to evidence of a culture-war mentality bent on creating a reliable political infantry:
But I believe that something else is also at play here, something more cynical. I believe this is a natural result of a long-running ploy by Republican party leaders to play on the most base convictions of conservative voters in order to solidify their support. Convince people that they're fighting a religious war for religious freedom, a war in which passion and devotion are one's weapons against doubt and confusion, and you make loyal soldiers.
There has been antiscience propagandizing running unchecked on the right for years, from anti-gay-equality misinformation to climate-change denials.
Personally, I loved this line, which is dripping with self-approval:
I don't personally have a problem with religious faith, even in the extreme, as long as it doesn't supersede science and it's not used to impose outdated mores on others.
Blow's comments are shockingly disrespectful and condescending towards a large swath of the American population that happens to not think like him. Undermining civic fraternity and a healthy pluralism, Blow reduces religion to sentiment, suggesting, in essence: Be religious, but don't let it actually mean or affect anything. Don't attach ethics or a worldview to it.
As a corrective to Walker no less than to Blow, I would say that they both leave out of their analysis the fact that many thoughtful people doubt Darwinian theory -- which explains evolution as being fully "due to natural processes such as natural selection" (as the Pew poll put it) -- not because of religious belief but because of their own independent judgment of the scientific evidence.
Walker is right that Blow comes off as wildly condescending to people of faith, but like Blow I too wouldn't want to see religion dictating scientific conclusions. That is the defining trait of creationism, as creationists themselves will tell you, and it's one reason I'm not a creationist. (See my post of last year, "Speaking for 'Answers in Genesis,' Creationist Georgia Purdom Hits a Nail on the Head.") It's also a characteristic of Darwinism, where materialist faith dictates scientific conclusions.
By asking Charles Blow to respect doubts about "evolutionary naturalism" as a way, or a subset, of respecting faith, I think Mr. Walker does a disservice to the actual science that underlies such doubts. I would love to see the column where Blow wrestles honestly with that evidence -- tells us why he thinks it fails in objective terms -- rather than using another political screed as an excuse to pretend the science doesn't exist.
Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath.