Archive for September 4th, 2010
The arrows of my title are not being directed toward Richard Dawkins, one of the two people engaged in this extraordinary conversation. My title is directed toward creationist Wendy Wright. Her obstructionist tactics suggest that it is simply not fruitful to discuss evolution by natural selection with someone who doesn’t understand it and doesn’t want to understand it.
I’ve pasted Part 2 of 7 of this exchange above. The other parts are available at Youtube. Richard Dawkins is a model of patience here. Ms. Wright repeatedly invokes a handful of tactics to stretch out this ostensible conversation endlessly. One tactic is to change the topic whenever Dawkins tries to focus upon real world facts. Another is to send out broad accusations, such as accusing Darwin of racism when, in reality, the Victorian world was filled with people who held views that would now be considered racist and, in fact, Darwin and his writings were notably not racist. In fact, Darwin expressed abolitionist views.
In a recent comment I wrote the following:
I’m tempted to begin a new “policy” from today forward. Those disparaging the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection must, in order to deserve a reply (other than a copy and paste of this comment) must, in their own words, describe the basic elements of the theory and at least a few of the many types of evidence supporting the theory. They must also make it clear that they know how a scientific theory differs from pure speculation.
It is my repeated impression that those attempting to criticize the facts and theory of evolution by natural selection are actually attacking some something else, something that biologists, geo-biologists, geneticists, botanists and other scientists do not support. In short, they are attacking straw men. The only reasonable reply to such attacks is to direct the commenter to set aside a few hours and to read a good book on natural selection.
There’s a lot more discussion about this video a website with a most extraordinary name: WhyWontGodHealAmputee.com. Soricidae’s Blog offers a play by play for one section of the Wright-Dawkins exchange.
Tom Ackerman has an provocative approach for dealing with a constantly simmering problem here in America: gay marriage. Whenever someone mentions their husband or wife (or their “marriage”), he makes a blunt statement that he “doesn’t recognize marriage.” His reason? “[N]obody should have marriage until everybody does.” That gives people who have been privileged with the ability to marry a bit of the perspective of those are aren’t allowed this privilege. Here’s how he does it:
Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.
She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”
The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,
“How’s your longtime companion, Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”
Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs.