Sunday, May 6, 2007

George Will: Evolution Debate & The Oddness Of Everything

Included are a couple of links to old George Will articles, one last year about the evolution debate, and the other from a few years ago with striking observations about humans and the universe.

George Will posed a few expressions of incredulity at the acknowledgment in The Republican debate by three candidates, that they have questions about the truth of evolution. On ABC’s “This Week,” today, after a couple of comments that Mike Huckabee had shown well, Will just included that Huckabee was among those three, and that that was not going to help in middle-class suburbs. Obviously, it will help with some people and hurt with others. I’ve seen the unrefined scorn and mocking on the blogs. Will may be better situated than I am to gage the balance of those political reactions. And, maybe politics is the great part of the reason for the comment.

A little curious, I went to the web, looking for Will’s comments on the subject of evolution. I enjoy engaging with ideas. I must be honest: I don’t enjoy reading so much for its own sake, and never read fiction after I was grown. I guess it’s sort of like the typical man who doesn’t like to dance, unless it’s with the right woman. But, Will is always explorative and thought-provoking. I found an article on the human origins debate about, of course, the Scopes Trial, among Will’s archived articles for “Newsweek” magazine. I read it and, as I recall, it was consistent with his past comments about evolution. In this case, he makes reference to the tension between “science and religion,” while acknowledging that he understood that religious people’s concerns were not entirely unfounded. Will always seems to have a sort of Episcopal modesty about expressions of passion about God (Instead, his passions shine about…baseball? - I like it, but it ain't God)

You wish you had his cell number and could just call him up: “Yo, George…What’s up with you and this evolution thing? I know you don’t see it as your business to argue about science and religion, but…” I’m not interested in arguments abut religion and science, either, though I took a graduate seminar in “Religions And Sciences.” And Will notes that William Jennings Bryan’s prosecution of Scopes was not about that, either. He quotes Bryan, “It’s not about what should be taught, but who should decide,” (Bryan argued the right of the community to control its school), which is also my concern when it comes to public school teaching policy. The communities should decide what should be taught, whether evolution, creation, both, or some other community concern. And it should be noted that, I assure you, it is much more the naturalist evolutionists than the religious creationists who insist that their story must be taught, exclusively, to everyone’s children.

But, I would ask Will if there is anything beyond a curtsy to pop-culture provincialism that bars him from the barest statement about the integrity of the evolution argument. I know Will studied philosophy in college and as arguments go, the evolution argument is…not good, and that’s being kind. I understand that people who have no interest relative to God really have no superior options. But, just as a case argument, especially if you aren’t forced into it by theistic skepticism, the argument does not hold together and defies common sense and basic physics. I know I’m not going to argue an unbeliever into belief. But to me, mere honesty says that he is saddled with a weak case, the only strength of which is that a priori philosophical posture of skepticism about God. I’m not mad about it. But, not being mad about it doesn’t make the argument any stronger. Religious people shouldn’t feel intimidated and skeptics shouldn’t be emboldened by popular culture’s showcasing of a bad argument.

I also read Will’s older, “The Oddness Of Everything,” which at least gives some imposing perspectives about human contingencies and the grandiosity of the universe:



Chuck F said...

Naturalist evolutionists simply insist that what science has learned be taught in science classes, not non-science. Creationism can be taught in church schools and, in some allowing schools, in courses about religion. Students aren't required to believe what they are taught but to understand what is taught. Teaching the principles of communism does not require accepting it.

Chuck F said...

I can't follow your critique because you do not make clear what you are referring to. "The evolution argument is not good" refers to the argument for/or against evolution? If "for" is your opinion you need to study the principles more diligently. The process is logically well founded. What is the "case argument" you feel is weak? Will's view of evolution?
"Mere honesty?" See above.

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Bill said...

Evolution is irrefutable scientific fact. Any one suggesting differently loses all academic/intellectual credibility and respect. More simply, denial of evolution reveals to the world you are a pure idiot.