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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gould a Marxist

Well, I'm back (and hopefully on the right calendar). I check my e-mail only to find out from Christian Worldview Network that Stephen J. Gould was a Marxist and an atheist. The article goes through great lengths to discuss Gould's political views and the magical link to his scientific views. The absurdity should be clear to anyone, but the obvious goal of this article is to associate Evolutionary Biology (in this case, punctuated equilibrium) with Marxism and atheism. After all, no honest Christian or American could possibly agree with either Marxism or atheism, right? Here's the punch line from the article:

Gould, along with Lewontin, Levin, Jonathan Beckwith, Ruth Hubbard, and Herb Fox, founded an organization entitled “Science for the People.” Wikipedia begins its discussion of this organization as follows: “Science for the People is a leftwing organization that emerged from the antiwar culture of the United States in the 1970s.” Harvard’s E. O. Wilson labeled the organization “American Marxists.” Not insignificantly, the cover of its magazine contains the Communist clinched fist!
Oh No, not the clenched fist! To all of this I say, so what? Evolutionary biology is embraced for its utility in science. There are leftist, communist, right wing, centrists, liberal and socialist evolutionary biologists. There are Christian, muslim, buddhist, agnostic and atheistic evolutionary biologists. There are black, yellow, red and white evolutionary biologists. There are big, tall, skinny, short and medium evolutionary biologists. There are evolutionary biologists with glasses, contacts and good eyes. There are blonde, brunette, bald, redhead and every color in between evolutionary biologists. You won't ever hear from Christian Worldview than Gould was a salt-and-pepper haired reading glass wearing evolutionist! The article is another lame attempt by religious fanatics to paint evolutionary biology as something other than solid science. Of course, it took a while, but ultimately we hear the 'I hope he converted' arguments:

In other words, nearly everything Gould touched over his lifetime would force most neutral onlookers to the conclusion that he was indeed a Marxist and by implication an atheist. However, it would be nice to think that Gould saw the error of his ways and repented; that he saw what former atheist Antony Flew finally saw—that the universe could not have happened by chance; or what Whitaker Chambers discovered about Marxism-Leninism as related in his classic Witness.
and the rather disjointed link to global warming.....

Let me make a prediction—this new leftwing “science” organization will be heavily involved in the global warming controversy on the side of big government and the “greening” of America. You see, the “upper class” greens are the new Communists of our era, and they have already decided that “science” is on their side and Western capitalism must be destroyed in order to save the planet from too much capitalistically produced carbon dioxide.
Does anyone proof-read for this publication? The entire article was a wacked out brain-fart from someone trying to make, what point?


Joe Meert


At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Lazy Lurker said...

Citing Antony Flew's tepid conversion from atheist to deist shows very shallow or desperate thinking. Reading Flew's comments subsequent to his change of viewpoint makes it clear that he realizes he is not on solid ground.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger Brett said...

A lot of Scottish clan arms have clenched fists... are they Marxist also?

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Addle said...

I just stumbled on this post and was surprised to see how dismissively you ridicule the criticism of Gould. I don't think your position is informed and I encourage you to look more deeply into this important matter.

That the criticism is cited by people you disagree with, or who might be wrong on other points, doesn't mean the criticism is unfounded. I do in fact regard it as valid and I see Gould and his colleagues as a serious threat to science. While creationists generally operate at the fringes, Gould and his colleagues have held influential positions in many leading universities. I consequently regard pseudoscientists like Gould as a much more serious threat.

Don't confuse Gould with a defender of science. Many biologists see Gould not as a defender of evolution, but as a propagandist for a peculiar casting of evolutionary theory, tailor fit to his political outlook.

Gould's stand against biological determinism, including subjects like sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, sprang directly from political, not scientific considerations; these new branches of evolutionary science challenged his ethical world view. This puts him in EXACTLY the same position as the Christian critics of evolution. He'll make his argument using real science as far as he can go with that. After that, it becomes propaganda, obfuscation, and intellectual dishonesty.

Gould's politics had an unmistakeable influence on his scientific (and anti-scientific) views. Gould himself acknowledged the strong influence that learning Marxism from his father had on him. He borrowed terms from Marxist philosophy and he associated with many biologists who were avowed Marxists. It did indeed influence his thinking about punctuated equilibrium, whether you regard that as a real scientific theory or, as many biologists do, a pseudoscience.

Another reason I regard the Marxist influenced pseudoscientists as a more serious threat than the Christians should be obvious enough. In the past century, Marxist governments have committed atrocities on a scale unprecedented and unrivaled by any other philosophy in the history of the world. By comparison, the Inquisition and even Nazism, were minor. Marxism, in its purest form, purports to monopolistically explain everything from history, politics, religion, ethics, economics, human nature, and science. It is an extremely arrogant and dangerous philosophy, brutal and anti-scientific, far surpassing the threat of Christianity in the present day.

Gould's book, The Mismeasure of Man, has been seen by the general public as a brilliant exposition of scientific misconduct. On closer examination, it turns out to contain a great deal of misinformation that's at best sloppy scholarship, at worse outright dishonesty. There are numerous reviews of the book by experts in various relevant fields that demolish most of the book's theses. The number of serious flaws is too extensive to review here, but I encourage you to investigate the matter for yourself.

In my opinion, politics took precedence over science in Gould's work. Some of this stuff is a matter of opinion, but much of it is uncontroversial.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Joseph Meert said...

Addle thanks for your view. The point of this post was to expose the false attack against Gould solely on the basis of his political views. I stand by my post. If science disagrees with his findings, so be it, there is a proper venue for that disagreement. Whenever I see an argument about science that begins with "Marx" or "Hitler" it automatically triggers a reject filter. Science should be evaluated without regard to political leanings.


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