Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Evolution of an agenda

Well, Archbish Williams is at it again. He's decided to pit his huge Mekon-sized intellect against evolution. And came out of it looking like a complete fuckster. His learned opinion on evolution is:
"It's a limited theory about certain limited phenomena which is very plausible as far as it goes but it's not a complete philosophy."
Wow. He's managed to stuff so much bollocks in one sentence. I mean, how the very fabric of reality doesn't fall in on itself with such a high bollocky mass is remarkable.

Evolution: "It's a limited theory...." Backed by mountains of scientific evidence, so presumably not as limited as the "god did it" theory.

"...which is very plausible as far as it goes..." What kind of woolly nonsense is this for an intellectual, if only to play the doubt card? This argument is along the lines that global warming deniers or flat-earthers would use: "It sounds plausible, but..."

"...but it's not a complete philosophy". No shit sherlock - it's science.

You know, it's so obvious it's pathetically easy to knock his argument. So what's he really saying?

Hidden in the measured language lies zealotry with an agenda.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think science should only be the preserve of the high priests of science (ouch, I'm going to get it for that one). Too many people are becoming too disassociated from science as it is. Similarly, examination of religious belief isn't the preserve of the high priests of faith. The difference between the two is that science is built upon evidence and reason, and faith is supported by, well, faith.

Okay, Williams isn't a stupid bloke, so this has got to be a little more than a Southern baptist style attack on natural selection. The whole evolution whinge is is more likely another Williams-brand straw man. It's not really about evolution, as much as his Sharia law nonsense wasn't really about Sharia law. This issue is about science as whole, and the high priests of faith want to take science down a couple of pegs, by casting doubt of a key scientific theory not on it's evidence base, but on it's 'philosophy'. What folks like Williams really mean by 'philosophy' is a religious moral code.

The thing is, science doesn't have a religious moral code, and that's what zealots like Williams can't accept.

Williams' comments were prompted in part by the debate over the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which is going through Parliament (and partly to do some Dawkins-bashing). Similar to his last agenda piece on law, he wants the religious elite to be given the power to judge and influence scientific advancements through moral guidelines, based upon his giant religious brain. Here's what he says:
"The problem is with our own inability as a society to know what to do with discoveries of science."

"Man playing God is not a problem about science. It's a problem about our decisions about the results of science and we shouldn't be so much afraid of science as we should about our own inability to have a clear moral perspective on these matters."

"We haven't as a society got a sufficiently clear notion of what constitutes a human organism. My own view is that an embryo is a human organism but that requires some argument, which isn't something that can be settled simply by science alone."
We can ignore his casual bandying of terms like 'human organism' - they're just distractions. He's saying we should be afraid of 'our' (by which he means normal plebs) inability to make the right moral choice, presumably at least according to his moral code. In a nutshell - too much science and not enough god. Also note Williams doesn't use the term 'ethics'.

He's clear - 'moral perspective' is what he wants - and his particular religious moral perspective.

Fortunately though, science is done in a laboratory, not in a pulpit.

There are ethical issues raised in the Bill, and in the application of science. But they shouldn't be dominated by a subjective moral code which relies on belief in a deity.

1 comment:

punkscience said...

Small point to make me old badger, science certainly does have a moral code. It may be the child of the government's Chief Climate Change Denialist, Sir David "Arch-Cockweasel" King but an ethical code it is.


It is both democratic and accountable, unlike Rowan Williams.