Fundamentalism

July 1, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Biology, Society

For a while four years ago I was tracking the growth of the phrase “intelligent design” in Google to get an idea of how fast the concept, using those particular words, was attracting attention.

“intelligent design” 8/25/04 Google 174,000
“intelligent design” 9/28/04 Google 201,000
“intelligent design” 3/18/05 Google 671,000
“intelligent design” 7/4/05 Google 940,000

I recently revisited the phrase, discovering it had jumped to 6,400,000.

Clearly, it’s a concept that is acquiring a following or at least a lot of attention.

Though this blog spends a lot of time discussing human evolution theory and the repercussions of differences in theories, I spend little time focusing on the fundamentalist Christian battle to have Jewish origin myths integrated into science classes.  Stephen J. Gould’s work in this area was superb.  Richard Dawkins’ lectures on the subject make me cringe.  Ken Wilber has written a lot regarding the differences in world views between fundamentalist Christians and agnostic/atheist scientists.  In my opinion, it takes a spiritual relativist like Ken Wilber to make sense of the differences between Christian fundamentalists and natural selection evolutionary psychologist fundamentalists, both seeming to have difficulty embracing multiple paradigm perspectives.

It seems there are few pluralists in the battle between god and science.

While media concentrates on the battle between the creationists and believers in natural selection, another less visible battle is underway between the natural selection fundamentalists and theorists proposing that the theory of natural selection alone fails to explain the world we live in or how it evolved.

There is a deliberate confusing of the theory of natural selection with the fact that there is evolution.  The intentional blending of the two by the natural selection fundamentalist community, sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists, displays an arrogance disturbing to theorists specializing in the several complementing theories.  This contributes to the confusion in the media that constantly refers to the theory of natural selection and evolution interchangeably, and muddies the interchange between creationists and scientists by excluding all other theories of evolution from the discussion.

When Stephen J. Gould put back on the map the theory that neoteny was the process most responsible for recent (postdivergence from our chimpanzee cousins) human evolution, identifying heterochronic theory as possibly integral to the process of biological evolution, Gould was noting that there are alternative ways of viewing evolution.  Gould believed these alternatives were complementary to the theory of natural selection.  Yet, even Gould in his defense of evolution against the proponents of intelligent design hardly mentioned the powerful complementary principles of evolution which include heterochrony (which includes neoteny), sexual selection and Lamarckian selection in its modern guise, evolutionary developmental biology.

In other words, one of the reasons that intelligent design continues to make inroads into what seems conventionally acceptable is that evolutionary biologists display little humbleness for the vast variety of ways that evolution operates.  Instead they opt for arrogance, suggesting that the complexity, subtleness and beauty of our world are all derived by mistake, according to the principles of natural selection.  It is proclaimed that survival is the only criteria for success.

Both religious and science fundamentalists elevate themselves to such ridiculously high heights that it is impossible for them to explore the assumptions upon which they stand.  It’s time we demand our theorists come down to earth.  Leave the mountaintops to those embracing myth.


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