[2007/03/08] Deconstructing Darwinese: Delighting in Ignorance
Deconstructing Darwinese: Delighting in Ignorance 03/08/2007 When is ignorance a good thing? When is confidence in one’s answers a bad thing? One science writer expressed his desire for mystery over explanation – as long as the mysterious allowed room for lucky breaks without design. Science writer Ben Shaberman got to share his views on the last page of the April 2007 issue of Sky and Telescope: “Knowledge can be enlightening, but so can mystery.” He first described his rapture at hearing Adam Reiss speak about dark energy and multiverses. Then he described those who disagree with the vision:
Those who profess creationism or “intelligent design” think they have the answer to why things in the universe work out so well. But for those seeking a scientific explanation, the anthropic principle offers another possibility. It suggests that we simply got lucky: there have been a zillion Big Bangs, and the one that created our universe just happened to work out. In other words, we hit the cosmic jackpot. The idea has both its supporters and critics, and it’s utterly fascinating.
Fascinating indeed. Imagine winning the universal lottery without spending any money on tickets. Ben went on to praise the glories of the unknown, the mysterious, the uncertain: “At a time when politicians and the media espouse so much certainty about virtually everything, it was refreshing to hear an intelligent and levelheaded guy acknowledge all the stuff that baffles us.”
Darwinese is more than just a language foreign to the majority of people who live by common sense and know an intelligent cause when they see it. No, Darwinese is a complete communication system that includes a set of protocols. One requirement is the secret handshake. This is the motion of sweeping away creationism with a wipe of the hand, and putting “intelligent design” in scare quotes. In evolutionary parlance, it is taboo to actually consider the arguments of these dimwits. The structure of Darwinese, as in 1984, actually inhibits formulating thoughts contrary to Darwinese protocol. Whatever celebrates Darwinian ideas is goodthink; whatever attributes validity to intelligent design is crimethink. The syntax and semantics force thoughts into naturalistic molds – except when Christian terms are borrowed temporarily to get around difficulties (e.g., 07/15/2005). A second requirement is to reinforce the false dichotomy between design/creationist views and “scientific explanation.” The word science must never be used in the same sentence with intelligent design. It is a word reserved strictly for Darwinian materialists, even when the context appeals to mystery, the unknown and the unknowable. Claiming to know the answer is design, and being able to prove it, spoils all the fun of remaining ignorant. He said, “That hour-long lunch helped me appreciate the beauty of the mysterious world we live in.” A third requirement in Darwinese is to pretend to be honestly curious and to demean certainty while actually maintaining a dogmatic position. To prove that Shaberman is an accomplished Darwinese speaker, ask him if evolutionary theory itself is up for debate. Imagine what would happen if an interlocutor were to argue that invocations to unknowable Big Bangs and multiverses constitutes a tacit appeal to the supernatural. The Darwinese protocol in such instances is to chant Evolution is science! Creation is religion! as long as necessary to get the interlocutor to leave. News reporters watching on the sidelines will promptly report that the Darwinese speaker achieved a great victory against ignorance and superstition. A feeling of awe and wonder at things too big to be understood does have its share of euphoria. Mystery can spur one on to seek an explanation. In that sense, it can be a good thing. But mystery is not an end in itself, lest it become a mystery religion. Shaberman just preached a little sermon for the Cult of Lady Luck, one of the denominations of Charlianity. Darwin would be pleased to know that his doctrine of contingency has been extrapolated all the way back into prior worlds of the imagination. This completes his systematic theology: ultimate origins, the present, and ultimate destiny. He is gratified that his completed system produces such warm feelings in the hearts of his disciples. Now that he controls the Ministry of Truth, having ruled all competing ideas out of bounds, he happily pays out his lottery winners in monopoly money. Whatever keeps his devotees hooked enraptured in the realms of eternal ignorance is not too high a price to pay.