My Take on Ben Domenech
I think it is right to conclude that the guy isn’t all that bright as Jane Hamsher points out. She rightly points out that Domenech is a firm believer of intelligent design, but it is worse than that. On his own blog, Ben Domenech has written the following,
Will Saletan is normally at least evenhanded. But his offhand dismissal of the reasons for teaching Intelligent Design in public schools is full of holes. He can’t just dismiss intelligent design as “empy” or “full of lies or dogma,” when no less prominent an evolutionist than Stephen Jay Gould has lent weight to the theories of Michael Behe and his brethren. This is not to say that one should accept the doctrine of intelligent design–but biological evolution in the macro remains a theory, by definition. It is not true that, as one W&M prof frequently remarks, “evolution is as real as Cincinnati.” One can drive to see Cincinnati. One cannot drive to see the billions of years required by biological evolutionary theory.
This is outright intellectual dishonesty. Stephen Jay Gould was pompous and arrogant, but to even imply that he was a supporter of Intelligent Design is just outright nonsense. The article that Domenech links too even notes that this “support” is unintentional.
All of this is more or less true. But it’s also true that, over the years, Gould himself has lent real strength to the creationist movement. Not intentionally, of course. Gould’s politics are secular left, the opposite of creationist politics, and his outrage toward creationists is genuine. Yet, in spite of this stance—and, oddly, in some ways because of it—he has wound up aiding and abetting their cause.
The problem with Gould was that he was to some degree anti-Darwin (or more accurately he was opposed to the dominance that “neo-Darwinism” enjoys in current evolutionary theory). This had lead him to often write things that when taken out of context could be easily read as lending aid and comfort, if not outright support, for things like Intelligent Design. The way Domenech spins it is that Gould actually supports things like Intelligent Design when in fact the exact opposite is true. This leaves us with three explanations regardign Domenech,
- He is stupid.
- He is dishonest.
- He is both stupid and dishonest.
Given that Wright explains that Gould doesn’t support Creationism (and Intelligent Design is a form of Creationism) and that his appearant support for Creationism is due to Gould’s unusual view of evolution and evolutionary theory, it leaves us thinking that 2 and 3 are the best explanations. In any event, no matter how you slice it, this is a good thing for Liberals as Hamsher notes.
Now, it is one thing to believe in intelligent design. William Dembski does, and he is not stupid (I think he is dishonest, but not stupid). And one can believe in intelligent design and evolutionary theory (Kenneth Miller holds such a view if I am not mistaken). But what Domenech has done is to try and make it out that a respectable scientist and supporter of evolutionary theory thinks there just might be something to this intelligent design stuff. The truth is the exact opposite. Conservatives should not be promoting somebody who is so dishonest and/or stupid.
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