Intelligent Design (ID) advocate David Klinghoffer, an Orthodox Jew, spends a lot of time attacking me on the Discovery Institute Website Evolution News. It’s almost an obsessive animus, for he regularly trawls this site looking for ammunition. But I pay little attention to the man.
First of all, his criticisms of me have nothing to do with science, but are recycled tropes about how horrible atheism is. That’s because Klinghoffer and his ID cronies have no scientific ammunition against evolution, and so are reduced to ad hominems about evolutionists or criticisms of unbelief or moans about the destructive effects of accepting evolution. He also beefs endlessly about my “tone”. Sorry, but Liars for Moses—or Jesus—don’t deserve respect. Klinghoffer is irrelevant in any serious scientific discourse.
In the end, it’s almost amusing how desperate people like Klinghoffer have become. It’s now twenty years after the ID “Wedge Document” was leaked, with its timeline proposing that within two decades they would make ID and anti-materialism the dominant paradigm in science. Ultimately, their goal was to bring Jesus into the public schools, although I suppose that even Orthodox Jews like Klinghoffer can piggyback on Christianity. But they’ve failed at both endeavors, and so are reduced to flailing about in their pages.
Here’s one example (click on screenshot). It’s a very short read:
Klinghoffer quotes author and radio host Eric Metaxas, who himself appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show, where Metaxas said this:
Nobody really says this because it’s too ugly, but if you actually believe we evolved out of the primordial soup and through happenstance got here, by accident, then our lives literally have no meaning. And we don’t want to talk about that because it’s too horrific. Nobody can really live with it. But what we does is, we buy into that idea and we say, “Well then, what can I do? Since there’s no God, I guess I can have guilt-free pleasure. And so I’m going to spend the few decades that I have trying to take care of Number 1, trying to have as much fun as I can. By the way, having kids requires self-sacrifice. I don’t have time for that. I won’t be able to have as much fun.”
Ugly indeed. To which Carlson agreed:
But what a lie. What a lie. As you lie there, life ebbing away, you think, “I’m glad I made it Prague.” Actually people don’t think that as they die.
And so to the question that Klinghoffer thinks will flummox and destroy Darwinists (my emphasis)
Carlson asks: “Then what’s the point of life? Going on more trips? Buying more crap? Clothes? I’m serious. What is the point?” It’s a good question to ask the next Darwinist with whom you have the opportunity to chat. Or the next theistic Darwin-appeaser who soothes us with the assurance that there is nothing terribly corrosive about the evolutionary perspective.
This is bizarre, and the rebuttals come easily to mind. The idea that being an atheist turns you into an amoral hedonist, too self-absorbed to even have children, is ridiculous. Nonbelievers may have fewer kids than, say, Mormons or Orthodox Jews, but it is the custom of those faiths to propagate. Nearly all of my atheist friends have kids.
Beyond that, the article is circular in its implicit assumption that because true meaning and purpose can come only from accepting God (and presumably following God’s Plan), then without God you are without purpose. And this is somehow supposed to be a reason for us to accept God, even though he doesn’t show himself these days.
And that’s a crock. In one of the most popular threads that ever appeared on this site, “What’s your meaning and purpose?“, I asked nonbelieving readers to tell me what they considered the purpose and meaning of their own existence. Almost all respondents (there were 373) found their meaning and purpose in their jobs, their avocations, their children, and so on, and not in worshiping a fictitious deity. The “Darwinian Perspective,” or at least the atheistic one, hadn’t at all proved terribly corrosive. Indeed, people found it liberating.
The idea that without God life has no meaning is patronizing, bogus, and wrong, and refuted by simply looking at the many atheists (or atheistic areas like Scandinavia) for which lack of meaning and purpose is not an issue.
Worse, Klinghoffer, Metaxas, and Carlson’s views boil down to something like this: “Believe in a god, even if there’s no evidence for one, because without it life has no meaning.”
But can you really force yourself to accept fiction solely on the grounds that it gives you a purpose? I can’t, and I doubt that most readers can. You’re either brainwashed from the get-go, and thereby get an automatic meaning, or you accept that there’s no evidence for a God and come to terms with it—just as we come to terms with our own mortality. As Plato recognized in the Euthyphro Dilemma, people really do get their morality (in Plato’s case, “piety”) not from God’s dictates but rather from non-goddy considerations—in other words, secular considerations.
This is why I find Klinghoffer and his ilk so ridiculous. They’re supposed to be supporting Intelligent Design, but since they can’t do that, they blather on about how Darwinism and atheism turn adherents into selfish, amoral nihilists. But there’s as little evidence for that as there is for ID itself.