17 December 2005

Welcome to the future

[source, source]

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.

Hahaha. I’m an evolutionist and an atheist and I think this is about the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks. As one of the commentors pointed out, if Dennett had spent any time on a good weblog, he would have had such an naive point of view beaten out of him long ago. It’s certainly symptomatic of the lack of self reflection of modern academics, to whom it would never occur to apply to themselves the same rules they apply to others.

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