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Monday, June 04, 2007

The Bad Pun At The Heart Of Creationism

by tristero

If [belief in evolution] means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

One word interests me here: "materialistic." Brownback, or rather, Brownback's ghost, is punning on the meaning of "materialism." Doing so is a small but important piece of standard "intelligent design" creationism rhetoric. And it highlights exactly how cheap a fraud it is.

Oh come on Tristero, even they can't be that crude and cynical can they ?

Oh yes they can

As for spirituality, Rove said, “As baby boomers age and as they’re succeeded by the post-baby-boom generation, within both of those generations there’s something going on spiritually—people saying it’s not all about materialism, it’s not all about the pursuit of material things. If you look at the traditional mainstream denominations, they’re flat, but what’s growing inside those denominations, and what’s growing outside those denominations, is churches that are filling this spiritual need, that are replacing sterility with something vibrant, something that speaks to the heart of the individual, that gives a sense of purpose.”

Actually, maybe "cynical" is too kind to Rove. He is trying to convince Jeffrey Goldberg, who is unlikely to fall for the equivocation. I think it is really possible that Karl Rove doesn't think there people can care about anything other than the quest for material things and religion (and he has said that he is not religious). Explains a lot no ?

The Rove quote via Matthew Yglesias who is brilliant as usual. Rove is also still on the internet high

The power of the computer has made it possible for people to gain greater control over their lives. It’s given people a greater chance to run their own business, become a sole proprietor or an entrepreneur. As a result, it has made us more market-oriented, and that equals making you more center-right in your politics.”

I'd say the fact that it's now more feasible for people to "run their own business, become a sole proprietor or an entrepreneur" means people are more interested in seeing the development of a policy agenda -- federal guarantees of health insurance, elder care, and basic child services -- that facilitate that sort of lifestyle.

So Yglesias argues that the Petit Bourgeousie are naturally leftist !?! This reminds me of the time he argued that the left is naturally non-ideological (OK he said liberals but he contrasted us with rightists). Rove is combining Friedman and Marx (the facial hair popular front). Yglesias notes that Generous Motors et al made it possible for US workers with steady jobs, health insurance and generous pensions to reject the welfare state, but that small (tiny) businessmen need the state.

So why is it that small businessmen have traditionally voted on the right ? Well when the left was organized labor this is understandable (I don't have to read history books or even remember to no, I live in Italy and the conflict between the interests of employees represented by trade unions and of small businessmen is a constant part of the policy debate). US trade unions are too weak to drive e-entrepreneurs to the Republicans.

Another issue is tax evasion. Tax evaders usually choose to convince themselves that taxes are theft. Everyone thinks everyone else is evading more than they are and feels cheated. Evasion limits revenues and programs. I am sure that tax evasion, anger over tax evasion, and sense of guilt over tax evasion is a major problem for the left in, say, Italy. It divides employees and small businessmen and prevents a broad social democratic coalition typical of Northern European countries with very few small businessmen.

I don't think the internet is going to aid Rove by making his natural opponents quarrel over tax evasion. It makes it possible to manage a tiny business. It makes it very very hard to hide transactions. It means less and less use of cash. It is not going to help Rove.

I think Yglesias is right and Marx and Rove are wrong. The changes in the US economy increase economic risk and reduce the role for employer based social insurance. Thus they help the Democrats.

Update: A link to this post.


Anonymous said...

Please explain a little what "materialism" is supposed to mean here. Materialism as opposed to what, immaterialism? I am lost.


Anonymous said...

Here is the permanent link to the uninteresting and incomprehensible essay:

May 31, 2007

What I Think About Evolution


Anonymous said...

Here begins the letters in response:

Faith, Reason and a G.O.P. Hopeful

To the Editor:

"What I Think About Evolution," by Sam Brownback:

Senator Brownback stated that he is willing to accept any part of evolutionary theory that does not conflict with his faith.

As a person of science who does not believe that sound reason must be "purified," I find his pick-and-choose approach to science very worrisome, as he might one day be responsible for making the most important decisions for this country.

We can only hope that he chooses to believe the facts when it comes to decisions about our health, national security, economic policy and education.

As science has yet to prove or disprove the existence of a divine power, and probably never will, I will use my gift of reason, be it from God or evolutionary serendipity, to inform my beliefs and decisions.

Claire Knezevic
Lake Bluff, Ill., May 31, 2007


Anonymous said...

What bothered me these last days was the "fairness" with which the exhibits of creationism museum were accorded by reporters. There is almost never an attempt by a reporter to describe what evolution might be as a foundation of biology. Do almost any reporters know or care?


Robert said...

Anne asks what "materialism" means. Digby's point is that Brownback and Rove deliberately conflate 2 meanings. The first is common usage in which materialism means, roughly, conspicuous consumption.

The second is the older meaning of the word as used by Philosophers. In the old meaning, "materialism" means roughly "nothing exists but atoms and space" -- Democritus. In the strongest form, materialists claim that there is nothing but matter, space and natural laws which govern the motion etc. of the matter in space.

A weaker version asserts (admits) that our view of our own minds is very different from our view of a rock, that is, we have our private mental and emotional experience which is not a logically necessary result of the motion of atoms in our brains. This can lead to Cartesian dualism which I don't know much about.

In any case, to be a materialist, one has to believe that everything which can be objectively observed consists of particles obeying unchanging rules of nature. No miracles allowed. No power of pure will and no divine intervention.

The Spiritual can appear as a sort of "phosphorescence of the material " -Thomas Mann. or it might just be our material brains viewed from inside (my view).

In any case strict materialism implies atheism and Brownback hates atheism (and Rove finds others' hatred of atheism very useful). The suggestion that atheists care only about wealth and consumption and are greedy and selfish is based on a bad pun.

Anonymous said...

There is the fine precision of Robert Waldmann. Nice.


Anonymous said...

Remember all the excellent fighting against, well, you know....

Sunni Guerrillas Announce Truce with Each Other
By Juan Cole

Two Salafi Sunni Arab groups, the Army of Islam and the Islamic State of Iraq, have been feuding and clashing in recent weeks, much to the delight of the US. They announced on Wednesday, however, that they had concluded a formal truce among themselves. This rapprochement suggests how dangerous it is for the US to depend on Sunni Arabs fighting each other; their faction-fighting is often temporary and does not amount to all that much.


Anonymous said...

So much for who is battling whom and my are we happy about that because, well, because we like who battling whom.