While I am very critical of political correctness, it is important to remember that no group is 100% wrong about everything. Case in point – complaints about Darwin Day.
A blog post by Zuleyka Zevallos for Latino Rebels that complains about the March for Science comes close to the problem:
My analysis of MfS’s early social media also shows that in the first two weeks of Black History Month, MfS tweeted only twice about this significant cultural event. In the same period, there were no Facebook posts in commemoration of Black history. By contrast, on February 6, MfS published 12 tweets about SuperbOWL (a celebration of owl facts on Superbowl Sunday), and 23 tweets on Darwin Day. Darwin is an important scientist; but if MfS can find the time to highlight his achievements, as well as elevate the study of owls, surely they can do more to focus on other scientists who are not White, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied men. Diversity does not have to be a zero-sum game: there is room to celebrate scientists from various backgrounds.
Yet that’s the sticking point: Darwin can be celebrated over and over without this being “political” not simply because of his tremendous contributions to science, but specifically because he is the unquestioned embodiment of “science.” Darwin’s story is recognized and remembered because he is the taken-for-granted norm: he is a White, cisgender, able-bodied heterosexual man of Christian background. Darwin’s intersecting identities (his race, gender, able-bodied status, sexuality and religion) are not seen as “identity politics,” even though these characteristics enabled his education and career success.
Yet notice that even Zevallos never really questions whether it should be Darwin who is celebrated as the embodiment of science. Isn’t it odd that in the middle of Black History Month, people want to celebrate a “White, cisgender, able-bodied heterosexual man?” Are there no Black scientists from history who could possibly fill this role?
Let me propose that to celebrate science, instead of having a Darwin Day, we should have a George Washington Carver Day. Hear me out.
As you probably know, it is not uncommon for an atheist to cite some survey which shows that atheism is positively correlated with a college education. This is supposed to support the subtle narrative that since intelligence and education are correlated with atheism, God does not exist. After all, if God did exist, wouldn’t highly intelligent and educated people be among the first to figure this out?
But why assume a true education has occurred simply because someone has had a college education? Could it be possible that most of the “education” that occurs on a university campus is a carefully filtered distillation of reality such that it is more akin to indoctrination? After all, if a form of secular, a-theistic indoctrination occurs on most campuses, of course such a positive correlation exists. And given that professors and scientists require a college education to become professors and scientists, we would predict that compared to non-college educated people, more professors and scientists would be atheists. This would then set up a positive feedback loop to perpetuate and expand the indoctrination, stealthily portrayed as “education” to the wider public.
So is this happening? While I can’t say for sure, the hypothesis becomes more plausible when we note that indoctrination does occur in the universities.
Robert Boyer, a professor of English at Skidmore College, wrote an excellent essay for the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “The Academy’s Assault on Intellectual Diversity.” While Boyer doesn’t address the issue of atheistic indoctrination, he does help illustrate that the university setting has become a culture of indoctrination. Consider some excerpts:
I really enjoyed this video. If you are pressed for time, you can begin at about 6 min in.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative. At least as far as activists go, that is. A nice example of this is atheist activist Hemant Mehta. He recently posted a blog entry entitled, A Pennsylvania Mother Assaulted Her Daughter For Not Regurgitating Bible Verses Correctly. Mehta informs us, “This is your daily reminder that holy books can be a cause for abuse just as much as it can bring people comfort.” In other words, the activists daily dose of confirmation bias and sloppy thinking.
He then quotes an excerpt from this disturbing story:
Shoffner became enraged and yelled at the victim, telling her “to get on her (expletive) knees,” police said.
The girl complied, and Shoffner began quoting Bible verses, expecting the victim to repeat the lines verbatim, according to police.
Shoffner asked her daughter, “What did God tell the man to do with his son?”
When the girl said she did not know, her mother said, “God told the man to kill his son.”
Instead, the victim said, “God said to forgive his son,” and Shoffner grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head into the wall, police said.
Each time the girl incorrectly recited a verse or gave her mother a wrong answer, Shoffner slammed her head into the wall, police said. Shoffner slammed her daughter’s head into the bathroom drywall at least five times, according to police. [emphasis added by Mehta so you don’t miss the narrative]
While you are supposed to get the impression that this is some hyper-fundamentalist Christian going way overboard on their religiosity training with this selective quote, check out what Mehta carefully omitted from the story:
Sam Harris does a two hour podcast with Jordan Peterson after getting a flood of requests for such a show from his listeners. In fact, Harris tells us
“I’d received more listener requests for him than for Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Edward Snowden—or, indeed, any other person on earth.”
This is understandable. Peterson has become something of a rock star because he is a very intelligent man who firmly stands his ground in his disputes with the PC police. I would imagine that many of Sam’s listeners thought it would be great to hear Harris and Peterson tag team on this whole issue of political correctness, an issue that is always in the news. Maybe the two them together, swapping war stories, will come up with some really stinging criticisms.
But what did they get? Harris begins the talk by making it clear he is not all that interested in talking about the PC issues. He claims they would be in agreement so there would not be much to say. Are you kidding me? The thing that has people excited about Peterson makes Sam yawn? I am under the impression that most of Harris’s podcasts that interview people involve lots and lots of agreements between Sam and his guest. Why is this so different? After letting Peterson do most of the talking in the first 10 minutes about the PC issues, Sam wants to talk about areas of disagreement. And from there, they spend a whole hour and fifty minutes debating……….the meaning of truth from a pragmatist vs. realist perspective.
In his discussion with Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris makes a very interesting point at 38:45:
There is just the fact that within the Darwinian conception of how we got here, there’s no reason to believe that our cognitive faculties have evolved to put us in error free contact with reality. That’s not how they evolved. We did not evolve to be perfect mathematicians, or perfect logical operators, or perfect conceivers of scientific reality at the very small subatomic level or the very large cosmic level or the very old cosmological level. We are designed, by the happenstance of evolution, to function within a very narrow band of light intensities and physical parameters. The things we are designed to do very well are to recognize the facial expressions of apes just like ourselves and to throw objects in parabolic arcs within 100 meters and all of that. The fact that we are able to succeed to the degree that we have been in creating a vision of scientific truth and structure of the cosmos at large, that radically exceeds those narrow parameters, that is a kind of miracle. It’s an amazing fact about us that seems not to be true, remotely true, of any other species we know about.
As an evolutionist, I could not agree more with everything Harris says.