Thursday, February 23, 2006

More about bullying

A commenter said, of my suggestion in a comment that people are being bullied into accepting the party line on evolution:
Bullshit. People who happen to be religious and practice science are not being bullied into parrotting the party line. Do you think people like Dr. Miller get up and give talks repeatedly - and testify in court - about the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design because they are being bullied into it?
Perhaps he would care to comment on this exchange between Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse, in which Ruse (a darwinist!) seems to be being warned about moving too far away from the fold.

In any case, bullying doesn't occur when people are in senior positions. It doesn't have to. Most dissent from a naturalistic science worldview is dealt with when people are much more vulnerable and impressionable - in high school, or when they are still undergraduates. I'm not talking about the serious bullying that leaves people crying in corners (though see the link below) - but just a continued intellectual assault on convictions that don't fit with the naturalistic worldview.

I went to university a creationist - I am not [in conventional terms!] one now, despite people's protestations otherwise. Within my first year I was made to feel that belief in anything other than straight-down-the-line darwinism was ridiculous and intellectually untenable. This didn't come through the lectures - in fact, I don't believe any evidence in support of evolution was presented in the course I was on (Natural Science, including Biology of Cells). It came instead in things like talks given to the CU, and the widespread respect in which people with naturalistic philosophies, such as Dawkins and Hawking, were regarded. Even this week, I had an email from an ex-university colleague "out of the blue" which suggested that only the mentally and religiously insecure had problems with evolution. (Incidentally, I pointed out that I don't have a problem with evolution anyway.)

Anyway, Ken Miller (or Coyne, the Vatican astronomer chappie) aren't "exceptions" that show there is no hard line. They are part of the system. Not because he sees it as his mission - but because he is pointed to by people like my commenter who then say: "Look, there's Ken Miller. He's religious and intelligent, and he's happy to be a darwinist. What's your problem?"

For more on more direct intimidation, see Denyse O'Leary's blog.