IN PART 2 OF THIS SERIES, we saw how the Discovery Institute unabashedly endorsed its anti-scientific ‘supernaturalist’ manifesto with extreme forms of Creationism. So far from “ashamed to whisper”, in the 1990’s the Discovery Institute boldly proclaimed not only such Biblically-literalist doctrines as an earth only 6,000 years old and an historic Noah’s Flood, but also plenty of ‘roll-your-own’ armchair science, such as Walt Brown’s “Hydroplate Theory” to hurl comets from the earth into the heavens as well as the candid credo that, in Creation “science”, empirical data issues are “secondary”: primacy is instead afforded to discrediting materialistic “evolutionary theory.”
In 1997, the website for the DI’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture received a fresh lick of paint and a new Frequently Asked Questions Page. The page is more interesting today for its copious ADINCU’s (Answers the Discovery Institute Now Covers-Up):
#1. What is Materialism?
For these purposes, it has little to do with greed. Or wanting to buy too much at the mall to boost your self-esteem.
Materialism is the modern day philosophy that holds that matter is all there is. It’s the philosophy that says “If you can’t touch it, smell it, taste it or explain it through the hard sciences, it doesn’t exist.” Men are merely complex machines and not spiritual beings.
And it’s approved by most intellectuals around the world.
One other thing: we’re out to topple it.
There’s none of the tearful snivelling– now the hallmark of the Discovery Institute’s current plaintive blogs– about ‘persecution’ by the jack-booted “Darwinist Thought Police.” In 1996, the DI was boldly proclaiming Anti-Intellectual Jihad!
#2. What is Naturalism?
It’s another word for materialism. There are no discernible differences. Kind of like “soda and pop,” ” shrimp and prawns.” Naturalism states that nature is “all there is.”
We could, a tad pedantically, point out here that prawns and shrimp are only superficially similar and in fact belong to different sub-orders of Decapoda (Dendrobranchiata and Pleocyemata, respectively), but we’ll waive that quibble. No doubt the DI here was thinking in terms of Biblical baramins, or divinely-created “kinds.”
The FAQ’s then grow a bit more personable, though a touch patronising:
#3. OK, then what is Darwinism?
Darwinism is the belief that we evolved not only from the apes, but that we started from nothing other than purposeless mass. As late Harvard evolutionary biologist George Gaylord Simpson said, “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned.”
Charles Darwin is to Materialism like Karl Marx is to Communism. Like Adam Smith is to Capitalism. This is not to say that Darwin himself is responsible for the full course of Darwinism since his death. But he opened the door.
Darwin’s actual words (Origin of Species, Chapter 14) were
Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled.
But it is of no consequence to the Discovery Institute that Darwin himself offered no further speculation on the origins of life. Nor does the DI note that Darwin’s empiricism is nothing more than the proven scientific methodology of pioneering geologists in preceding generations (Hutton, Smith, Lyell and others) whose work had conclusively demonstrated the impossibility of a ‘Young Earth’ of the sort the DI would still be advocating in 1996!
All that mattered, to the DI-atollahs intent on rousing their hosts of Jihadis, was the naming of a Great Satan – and Charlie Darwin was their man.
The FAQ’s now get down and personal:
#4. Materialism, Naturalism, Darwinism, all these isms, what do they have to do with me and my life?
Materialism is a powerful philosophy of life today because it sets the boundaries for what is right and wrong in society. It explains the rules that govern our civilization. It goes to the very intellectual roots of society, the very foundation that our social and cultural institutions are built upon.
Indeed, if materialism is right — as most intellectuals propose — then God is merely a figment of our imagination. Therefore, God didn’t create man; man created God. Doestoyevsky once said that if God is dead then all things are lawful. Might makes right. The State is the ultimate enforcer of rules.
A gloss is hardly needed here. The DI has fingered the same culprits for societal ills as did Pol Pot – it’s those pesky intellectuals. We all know the sort – the John Lockes, Adam Smiths, Benjamin Franklins or Thomas Jeffersons and other such deniers of the ‘supernatural’ who oppose a system which enshrines “God” rather than the state as the “ultimate enforcer of rules” – or, to give it the rightful term, a theocracy.
FAQ’s 5-8 stoke up the Anti-Intellectual fatwa, informing us, inter alia:
Materialism teaches us that God is dead. It follows that divine revelation cannot be the basis of human law.
Human law can only be based on upon the current opinion of the people who have the power to make and interpret laws. In our society, that power rests in the hands of an elite class of judges, lawmakers and other experts.
If morals are relative and nothing is absolute, anything goes. It requires no deep intellectual digging to see how materialism has assaulted popular culture.
Popular culture seldom portrays religion favorably yet often with disdain. Those characters who seem to hold traditional or conservative values will surely be mocked, seen as “square” and even “oppressors” of some sort of unalienable right bestowed upon humankind from Hollywood.
In short: there’s too much sex around, let’s blame the movies. But we can fix it by replacing the ‘elite class of judges’ with God-fearing theocrats.
The final FAQ asserts the Discovery Institute’s own leadership role:
#9. What is the Center for the Renewal for Science and Culture?
The Center is the intellectual base for the effort to overthrow materialism. Recruiting leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center promotes the latest scientific research that undercuts materialism. Specifically, the Center awards fellowships for original research, hold conferences and briefs policy and opinion makers about the opportunities for life after materialism.
But, as we shall examine in the next part of this series, the message to “overthrow materialism” issued by this soi disant “base” (no doubt, they would have chosen a different term had Al Qaeda been a news item then) would soon be reduced to a whisper indeed. And the tactical reason for this curious self-censorship? The unveiling of the Creationist’s very own Trojan Horse: Creationism Mark II, aka Intelligent Design.