• When Materialism Turns on Its Own
  • These are dark days. Ideological campaigns against sanity deny everything from the objectivity of arithmetic and the binary of male and female to, more recently, the moral truth that promoting genocide of the Jews is unambiguously evil.But there is a small silver lining in this dark cloud.First some background. A cadre of atheist scientists, including cosmologist Lawrence.
  • Krauss and evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, have long worked to silence and deplatform scientists who hold to the theory of intelligent design (ID), the view that some things in nature are best explained as resulting from a designing intelligence, rather than from any purely mindless cause, such as Darwinian evolution.Some ID-friendly scientists have even lost their jobs, thanks to the efforts of such men. This has led the intelligent design community to advocate.
  • for the academic freedom to challenge modern evolutionary thought. Thus, Discovery Institute’s FreeScience.today website declares, “Every day, scientific discovery is held back as questions are stifled by intimidation, academic reprisal, and scientific orthodoxies,” and urges reform. Now, thanks to the bullying tactics of waking ideologues in higher education, the ID movement’s campaign for “free inquiry, open debate, and skeptical questioning” is getting
No, Krauss and Coyne haven’t embraced intelligent design. But take Krauss: the quote “free inquiry, open debate, and skeptical questioning” comes directly from the event page .
Free inquiry, open debate, and skeptical questioning are the cornerstones of healthy science. But does that describe science today? Arguably, no — those cornerstones are currently being eroded at universities and scientific institutions around the county. Can scientists pretend that science is immune to the ideologies that have conquered the humanities and are now sweeping through a broad range of disciplines in the science ecosystem? “No,” says Dr. Lawrence Krauss. Science is imperiled, and without scientists standing up for core principles, the vibrancy of scientific discovery and scholarship is in danger of following the liberal arts to a post-truth future.1
But as David Klinghoffer reports, before Krauss emerged as a defender of free speech, “silencing opponents with ideological bullying was among Krauss’s specialties.” Klinghoffer continues:
Krauss is among those who called for climate skeptics to be tarred as science “deniers,” a formulation applied many times over to proponents of intelligent design and intended, obviously, to create an association with
  • Jerry Coyne’s hypocrisy is even more palpable. Coyne, “renowned as a defender of evolution against proponents of intelligent design ,spearheaded a campaign in 2014 to cancel an interdisciplinary honors course, and not even at his own university but at Ball State University in another state. In “The Boundaries of Science,” Ball State physics professor Eric Hedin committed the sin of exposing students to scientific arguments both for and against intelligent design, rather than peddling only the unalloyed dogma of scientific materialism.
When asked what awards Coyne was most proud of, he named three. One of them was “Discovery Institute’s ‘Censor of the Year’ award…. they gave me a mock award for stopping the teaching of Intelligent Design at Ball State University in Indiana, a public college. They intended the award as criticism, but I was quite proud of it!”5 Now for the hypocrisy. Without so much as a blush, Coyne also decried Brandeis University in 2014 for revoking Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s honorary doctorate after she ran afoul of the woke mob. He called the university’s attack on her academic freedom “reprehensible and cowardly.”6 Why the inconsistency? As my Discovery Institute colleague David Klinghoffer noted at the time, “For Coyne, of course, the difference between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Eric Hedin is that Hirsi Ali is an atheist and critic of a particular religion, Islam.” Hedin, in contrast to Ali, is a Christian and was calling into question Coyne’s beloved scientific materialism.7 (Hirsi Ali has since announced that she has become a Christian.) Evolutionary behavioral ecologist Colin Wright is perhaps the highest profile case of an atheist scientist running afoul of the woke network. The College Fix summarizes the clash this way:When evolutionary biologist Colin Wright has debated Christian conservatives on the topic of creationism or intelligent design, he said they would frequently tell him he is “wrong or stupid, but my critics never called me a bigot.”
Not so for some on the academic left, who Wright argues have effectively derailed his career in academia by targeting him with cancel culture, mob-like tactics to potential employers who might consider him for tenure-track. Why? Because he refuses to stop saying this publicly: “Male and female are not social constructs, but are real biological categories that do not fall on a spectrum.”8
Wright labels those who reject modern evolutionary theory’s microbe-to-man story “evolution deniers,” the choice of wording (as Klinghoffer suggests above) a none-too-subtle way to associate their skepticism with Holocaust denial. But when he published an article in the Wall Street Journal decrying transgender pronoun diktats, he quickly found himself on the receiving end of guilt-by-association mudslinging. Michael Kasdan’s response to him dripped with sarcasm: Wright responded on Twitter: “First off, I’m not a Christian — I am an atheist. And, t’s fascinating how woke authors always list these intersectional labels to signal to their readers that they can ignore the substance of my arguments because of my skin color and sexuality.” The New Evolution Deniers.” After lazily caricaturing the intelligent design movement as the old “evolution deniers” (or no, that’s not fair — maybe he worked hard at the misleading caricature), he warns of “a much more cryptic … left-wing evolution denial ism”:
Social justice and hyper-militant trance activism now seems to act as a kind of anti-universal acid, and not merely a strong buffer solution. While the universal acid of evolution eats through old cherished beliefs [read: Judeo-Christian theism] and replaces them with deeper understanding and a clearer picture of reality, the anti-universal acid of social justice ideology is a recklessly destructive force, aiming to abolish scientific truth and replace it with relativistic postmodern nonsense.Bracket off the alternative view that evolutionary theory actually invites profound misunderstanding and a deeply distorted picture of reality. Consider instead that, in all this, Wright seems to miss a central irony: atheistic materialism offers no grounds for moral standards like fair play, respectful dialogue, or a studious commitment to truth. In aggressively pushing materialism into every corner of the academy and marginalizing the theistic intellectual tradition (crucial, it should be noted, to the birth of science), Wright, Coyne, Krauss, and others have greased the skids into the valley of the shadow of woke ness, where there is little patience for these dead-white-male scientists’ outmoded appeals to “free inquiry, open debate, and skeptical questioning.”
P that the only meaning our life can have is the meaning we give it, the meaning we construct for it. And if conventional educational values like freedom of thought and expression get in the way of that meaning that we are constructing for ourselves, so much the worse for those valueS. As one of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s characters puts it, “Without God, everything is permissible” — including, we might add, to provide a contemporary example, threatening and deplatforming biologists who rightly insist that the categories of male and female are biological realities immune to the mob’s Orwellian language games.