Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Economist nails the accomodationism debate almost by accident

In The Economist's review of the book The Selfish Genius: How Richard Dawkins Rewrote Darwin’s Legacy by Fern Elsdon-Baker, the reviewer gives us, almost as an aside, what I think is one of the most balanced and insightful characterizations of the accomodationism debate that I have yet to come across.

After a largely negative review in which Eldson-Baker's arguments are mostly dismantled, the final paragraph reads:

What is left, once these attacks are dismissed, is a critique of Mr Dawkins’s proselytising atheism. It is true this wins him few converts, when a collaboration with religious moderates against the creationists might bear weightier fruit. But if his intellectual rigour forbids him making common cause with people he thinks are wrong, that perhaps only shows he is indeed the rottweiler of legend.

Hear hear. What the "militant accomodationists" (heh) like Mooney are failing to understand is that it doesn't even matter whether pragmatism recommends a strategy of accomodation. While certainly there are many disparate voices in the non-accomodationist side, the one thing they all have in common is that they refuse to say something they think is plainly untrue in order to further a political purpose. We can debate how realistic it is to take such a principled stand, but to act like it is somehow unreasonable to feel that way... that's just crazy!

The accomodationists should just come out and admit it: They want us to Lie For Science. Maybe they're right, but let's not pretend the request is anything else.

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