Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dennett temporarily pinned to a card

Stephen Barr writes in "On the Square: Observations and Contentions" (the December 13, 2005, post of the First Things blog):
The philosopher Daniel Dennett visited us at the University of Delaware a few weeks ago and gave a public lecture entitled "Darwin, Meaning, Truth, and Morality." I missed the talk -- I was visiting my sons at Notre Dame and taking in the Notre Dame -- Navy football game. Friends told me what I missed, however. Dennett claimed that Darwin had shredded the credibility of religion and was, indeed, the very "destroyer" of God. In the question session, philosophy professor Jeff Jordan made the following observation to Dennett, "If Darwinism is inherently atheistic, as you say, then obviously it can’t be taught in public schools." "And why is that?" inquired Dennett, incredulous. "Because," said Jordan, "the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution guarantees government neutrality between religion and irreligion." Dennett, looking as if he’d been sucker-punched, leaned back against the wall, and said, after a few moments of silence, "clever." After another silence, he came up with a reply: He had not meant to say that evolution logically entails atheism, merely that it undercuts religion.
Mark Shea, commenting on Barr's observation, remarks:
You see, this is the sort of thing that just fills me with skepticism when I'm assured that Darwinism is a philosophically and religiously neutral project that just wants to do pure science and has no interest in attacking the Christian revelation. I find it... hard to credit when I am constantly assured that people like Dennett... and Dawkins, and Sagan... oh, and virtually every other public spokesperson for Darwin are just crude "popularizers" and don't really reflect a larger philosophical agenda. One does get the rather distinct impression that the philosophy they routinely (and triumphantly) espouse is, well, what the project is in large part about.
[Gratias tibi ago, Kirk Kanzelberger]

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