From: Sarah Berel-Harrop (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Sep 23 2003 - 23:12:51 EDT
Re: RFEP & IDIt blew past me that someone made reference to the
"divine foot" paragraph by Lewontin. I am not sure
whether he got it from an ID source or read the article.
Here is the article.
I think the ID people got a lot of mileage on a statement
that was easy to misinterpret if you don't read a lot of
L's work. There are a lot of ways to interpret what he
meant. First recognize that this in a certain sense a highly
negative review. He is not saying don't read the book but
he is saying that he thinks Carl Sagan is wrong to
popularize science using the angle he does. In that sense
what you have here is a somewhat sarcastic articulation
of Sagan's view. If you read the preface to _It Ain't
Necessarily So_ you will see L does this very same
thing over I can't remember the subject, maybe
genomania. So I think he's making fun of materialists
a little bit here. I don't think he's setting out a research
methodology, as has been portrayed by the ID'rs.
Here is another clue: look at the paragraph immediately
following, the divine foot paragraph, where he notes "The
mutual exclusion of the material and the demonic has not
been true of all cultures and all times." Remember, he
is a Marxist. He here and in other writings has noted
that the rules of science are situated in a social context,
and he's describing here the way it's played these days.
I don't think he's passing a normative judgement here,
in the sense that I think he would say ALL science
is socially situated, in fact I am pretty sure he has
stated (the comment, racists do racist science in
the review of Mismeasure of Man comes to mind).
And the juxtaposition of Newton and LaPlace is
interesting, not least because Newton was highly
religious albeit Arian and LaPlace also a devout
Catholic. Whether intentional or not, he shows here
Newton put God in the Gap and LaPlace took Him
out. Then back to the class thing.
And that is what I think this essay is really about. He is
saying it is wrong to take superstition - the "demon-haunted
world" or maybe Dr Nelson would say folk religion - and
replace it with a superstitious trust in science. It's wrong
because it doesn't change the situation for those who are
not in the elite, it just changes the master. The final
paragraph articulates that, how do we teach lay people how
to evaluate claims? And that is really quite an important
question that got lost in the hype over this quote.
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