“This will be a nice slap in their big fat face.”
The words sound like something you’d hear on a grade-school playground, but they actually come from someone a little higher up the educational chain: one Paul Mirecki, chairman of the University of Kansas religious-studies department. And just which faces does he delight in slapping? Why, the faces of Christians — and not just because he wants to see if they’ll turn the other cheek.
Mirecki, you see, is a faculty adviser to something called the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics. A few weeks back he e-mailed members of that group telling them he’d be teaching a class titled Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms [sic] and Other Religious Mythologies.” Note that last word, because Mirecki stresses it. “The fundies [fundamentalists] want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it in a religious studies class under the category mythology,” he smirked.
You may be wondering whether this is the sort of attitude befitting a man who claims to be “open-minded,” much less one who’s overseeing a whole department of religious studies. But it turns out to be par for the course for the good Dr. Mirecki: He likes to address e-mails to this group to “my fellow damned,” and to close with “Doing my part to ____ off the religious right, Evil Dr. P.”
For that matter, if he’s to be believed, it may be par for the course for the entire department. “The majority of my colleagues here in the dept. are agnostics or atheists, or they just don’t care,” Mirecki has written. “If any of [the other professors] are theists, it hasn’t been obvious to me in the 15 years I’ve been here.”
The same, alas, might well be true at many universities. Mirecki stands out, however, because someone posted his missive on a Yahoo! listserv — and when folks heard about it, they weren’t too happy. Lots of them protested, including legislators, and even KU’s chancellor called the comments “repugnant and vile.” Under fire and garnering wide criticism, Mirecki issued one of those weak “apologies” people give when they don’t want to apologize. (He called his e-mail “ill-advised.”) Somehow this didn’t strike people as an especially sincere expression of regret: “He’s not sorry he wrote it,” said one legislator, “He’s sorry he got caught.” So less than two weeks after his “ill-advised” scribbling, Mirecki cancelled the class and — whether by choice or under pressure is unclear — stepped down as head of the department.
Things take a turn for the weird after that: Mirecki said he was beaten up by a couple of strangers for his outspokenness. Some people have their doubts about his story, perhaps including investigators for the sheriff’s department, which Mirecki is threatening to sue, essentially for not taking him seriously enough. Only time will tell whether he’s telling the truth or making a ploy for public sympathy and martyrdom.
But regardless of the outcome of that investigation, it’s worth taking a good long look at what we do know about Mirecki, and others like him — for there are a lot of people like him. He isn’t just a classic atheist, but a classic evolutionist. He bubbles over with contempt for all who detect God in the world — not only for biblical creationists (people like me), but for anyone who believes in any sort of intelligent design at all. Anyone who’s spent time around hard-core evolutionists knows how many of them share Mirecki’s attitudes. It’s just that his have been exposed for all to see.
I think it’s fair to say that what I call the evolution lobby is atheistic to the core. Yes, I know: Not everyone who’s bought into evolution is an atheist. But I’m talking about the really committed Darwinists. I mean the ones who insist not just that there’ve been changes within species, but that all species evolved from other species, through unguided mutations. I mean the ones who say all this just had to take many millions of years because, with no Designer, it takes a really long time for all these random mutations to fall into place in the right way (more or less).
If you think about it, this position practically has to be atheistic. Everyone who takes it must demand that the making of the world can be explained entirely without God. If you buy that claim, the only “god” you can believe in is one who doesn’t do anything — not in the physical world, anyway, which is the only world science can recognize. Oh, maybe there’s some sort of vague, abstract, spiritual entity out there, but it doesn’t deal in material things: It doesn’t make anything. The only “god” who can exist, in short, is a disposable one: one who doesn’t have to exist.
For obvious reasons, Darwinists often shy away from making this point when dealing with the general public. They’re more likely to say that science and religion are just two separate fields, each with its own designated territory, and if each steers far clear of the other, we’ll all get along just fine.
That’s not how they talk among themselves, though. (More about that in a moment.) And from time to time, they let their real attitudes spill out in a way that’s — well, let’s just say “ill-advised.”
Case in point: The intelligent-design (ID) movement, which points to evidence that the world didn’t just come together by lucky accident. ID backers have marshaled a lot of arguments, and a growing number of legislators and school boards are interested in having those arguments taught in school. Darwinists are freaking out at the prospect, as you can tell by perusing many periodicals and Web sites: They say it amounts to teaching “creationism in disguise” or “creationism lite” — which, to them, is pretty much the ultimate insult.
It’s also pretty plainly false. ID advocates contend only that some intelligent force was at work, and they don’t attempt to name that force in their work.
Creationists, citing the Bible’s authority, take positions on when the world was made, how long it took to make, and Who made it. Moreover, they hold that the answers to all those questions are vital, since they address key theological issues (like the scriptural statement that there was no death in the world before sin), and since ID alone could be compatible with many religions. Those are hardly minor matters. Whatever you think on these issues, you can’t say ID and creationism are fundamentally identical. The most you might say is that they’re both theistic.In theory, ID wouldn’t even have to be theistic; it leaves room for theories that (for example) technologically advanced aliens guided the development of life on earth. But in practice, ID is widely understood to imply some deity at work as the most likely explanation.
To Darwinists, though, any sort of theism is an intolerable intrusion — which gets us back to how they talk among themselves.
Take Kansas State University professor Scott C. Todd, in the thoroughly evolutionist magazine, Nature (Sept. 30, 1999): “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.” Or take Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin’s discussion of a book by Carl Sagan, in the decidedly secular (and decidedly liberal) New York Review of Books (Jan 9, 1997):
The primary problem is not to provide the public with the knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of…. Rather, the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth…. We exist [solely] as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of material relations among material entities.
And that’s that: Nothing else will do. Sure, Lewontin admits, it leads to lots of theories that are kinda shaky. But that’s just the way things have to be — because “we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.”
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
Well now. Statements like this shed a lot of light on why Darwinists, for all their vaunted “open-mindedness,” are so utterly narrow-minded on the most important matters. As Lewontin says, it’s not science that drives them to deny God’s handiwork.
Nor is it reason. Pure reason, after all, would never conclude that the universe can be understood entirely through human reason, or through human science. Pure reason would recognize the uses of these things, but also their limits. Pure reason would never deny there could be a God beyond our comprehension. Pure reason would never assume (for example) that God could never have created separate species ex nihilo, simply because biological descent is the only way we’ve ever seen life come into existence. Pure reason would never declare that commonalities between different species must indicate common ancestors, when they might as easily reflect a common designer Who creates according to His will.
In short, a human who possessed pure reason could do no more than admit his incompetence to resolve such matters by his own faculties. But humans do have — in abundance — is that most basic of sins, pride.
And that, I think, is what’s really behind the narrow-mindedness of evolutionists. They just can’t abide a God Who works His will in ways and for purposes they can’t understand. All of us rebel against Him by nature, of course, but scientists have a special temptation. From an early age they soak up the conceit that they’re the smartest people around, and that their powerful minds can discern the secrets of the universe. They may not even concede this as a sin; they’re in a field which treats it as a virtue. (Besides, as they’re told since youth, all the smart people are evolutionists.)
No wonder they don’t want anything to do with the God of the Bible: He spoils the whole game of gaining knowledge that will make them, in some sense, “as gods.” As biophysicist Cornelius G. Hunter points out in his book Darwin’s God, Darwin and his successors proceed on their ideas of what they think God “should” have done based on what they would have done if they were God. They take no account either of how man’s sin corrupted all creation, or of God’s clear statement that “My ways [are] higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
The would-be smartest people around haven’t passed Christianity 101. And when we get right down to it, that’s not because they’re not smart enough. It’s because they just don’t want to take the course — and to submit themselves to the Instructor.
Copyright 2006 Matt Kaufman. All rights reserved.