Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Is Darwinism a Cult?

Philosopher of science Cornelius Hunter thinks so:
One day while walking to the life science library I was stopped by a cultist who wanted me to join. Having spoken with cultists before, I was able to explain his problems to him. The cult’s beliefs entailed several obvious contradictions, its leaders had well-documented ulterior motives, and so forth. But the fellow was undeterred. He was certain that his cult held the truth, in spite of the obvious problems.

Later I thought about some of the things he said. They revealed even more problems and I wished I had pointed them out. A few weeks later I saw him again and so I engaged him in conversation. Not only were there the problems I pointed out the first time we had spoken, but now I added several more. But again, the fellow was undeterred.

People have a remarkable capacity to hold bizarre beliefs. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not referring to beliefs that are not provable or don’t adhere to some logical formula. I’m referring to beliefs that are downright false. The cultist I spoke with was sure, and it is this unjustified certainty that revealed the problem, not the beliefs themselves. Who knows, maybe his cult did hold the truth, but his reasons provided little confidence. Between his assurance and his facts there was a wide chasm.

It is the same with evolution.
Hunter goes on to explain why he says this. I don't know that Darwinians comprise a cult, but they sure do seem dogmatic given the quality of their arguments.

It should be noted that a Darwinian is one who believes that the process of evolution is a completely physical, natural process requiring no intelligent agency at any point. Not all evolutionists are Darwinians but all Darwinians are evolutionists. Hunter doesn't make this distinction clear in his post, but rather tacitly conflates evolution, which could be an intelligently guided process, with Darwinian evolution which is not.

Movies in 2011

I didn't get to watch as many movies in 2011 as I might have liked but many of those I did see were very good and/or quite enjoyable. Here's the list. Four stars indicates excellent, three is good, two is not really worth watching, and one is avoid at all costs. Thankfully, there are no ones:

The Tree of Life *** A film about the meaning of life, I think.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days **** The gripping story of a young woman whose faith and courage in resisting the evil of Nazi Germany made her a national heroine.

The Rite *** Interesting depiction of possession and exorcism in the Catholic Church and how a faltering young priest has his faith restored by his experience with it.

Mugabe and the White African *** A documentary of one family's brave fight to save their farm from Mugabe's expropriation of land from white landowners in Zimbabwe.

True Grit *** A good remake of the classic John Wayne story of a young girl's courage and determination to gain justice for her father's murder. Much better acting than in the original.

Harry Brown ** A Death Wish-style movie of a retiree's attempt to avenge his friend's murder by street thugs.

About Schmidt *** A retired insurance salesman seeks to find meaning in a life filled with absurdity. Darkly funny but tragically sad.

The King's Speech **** Excellent telling of the battle waged by King George VI to overcome a speech impediment.

Waiting for Superman **** A documentary about the difficulty young urban kids have trying to escape deteriorating public schools and get a safe, quality education in private and charter schools. A must-see for every parent and educator.

Secretariat *** The moving story of the legendary racehorse.

Inception *** Mind-bending sci-fi tale that raises fascinating questions about the distinction between subjective and objective reality.

Unthinkable *** A must-see film for anyone trying to decide, or has decided, his or her position on the use of torture.

Avatar *** The story is diminished for me by its obeisance to the tired trope of evil Americans killing off peaceful, bucolic indigenous peoples and despoiling the natural beauty of the world.