Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fight, fight!

The Guardian carries details of an email conversation where a disagreement over the best way to combat creationism results in some splendid departures from the normal air of disembodied reason that philosophers usually like to assume for these occasions.

Michael Ruse, a British philosopher, while believing evolution to be true, is critical of people like Richard Dawkins - in this case with his friend Daniel Dennett - for their militantly-atheist stance.

Excellent insults abound, like this one from Ruse (whose ideas Dennett dismissed as "a transparent example of a well-known cheap trick"):
"Let's face up to it: all Dan was doing was slagging me off. He has had an absolutely brilliant career - he is regarded as something of a demigod in the philosophical community. I think he finds it very difficult when people don't say to him, 'You were fantastic. Can I warm the bog seat for you before you take a crap?'"
Yet behind all this entertainment, there's a serious point I found myself saying yes and amen to. Ruse wrote:
"I think that you and Richard [Dawkins] are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design ... neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas - it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims - more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of goodwill."
Absolutely! For let it never be forgotten that our church, which includes not only the unbelieving but also the doubtful, the sceptical and the indifferent, is the widest of communions; it invites all to shelter in the cathedral of secular democracy, demanding only that you surrender the urge to compel others down the path of salvation that you have chosen for your own soul.

Hat tip: Norm

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