Fred Bloviates

My favorite author on another site is Fred Reed. If I see his name on its daily menu of new articles, I click on it first. He is highly articulate, irreverent, accurate and funny. More than once, I've used his email link to tell him, Thanks.
But once in a while, he blows it; and he never blew it worse than this week, here.
He's written against evolution before, but this attempt is long, ridiculous and ill-reasoned. The very first sentence is grammatically suspect, and it goes down hill from there; since when was “ardent” a noun? Presumably, he was trying to say – incorrectly – that “the intent of this essay is not to debate with those ardent for evolutionism...” He then proceeds for over five thousand words to try to do precisely that, and fails.
Darwin is my favorite scientist, in large part because of his honesty in following the rational, scientific method even as it was leading him away from his pre-formed world-view. He was a theist, yet his findings told him that the natural world probably had no creator, or that if it does, that creator is cruel. His theory, abundantly confirmed since, is that species mutate and that mutants survive and reproduce if suited to their environment as well as or better than their progenitors, or die off if not – usually from starvation.
Now here cometh Reed, and sayeth that he can better believe in a self-assembling A-380 than in a self-assembling baby, and his mastery of prose is matched only by his ignorance of DNA “instructions.” His resounding conclusion is that “There is Something Else involved. I do not know what.” Well, whoopy-do. Bottom line (literally): he knows of no alternative. His is the Unknown God. Irrational, to the power of N.
Just prior to the essay's long-needed end, Reed offers this swipe: “Suppose a Darwinist found out that my hobby was using a blow torch to torture to death children with severe congenital retardation—vegetables, in the unkind vernacular. He would be horrified. 'Why?' I would ask.”
Very clever. Evolution is cruel – true, and sad. So he tries to smear, as also cruel, those who recognize that  the evolutionary theory is one of the best-supported in all science. What he misses is the really wonderful fact that an inherently cruel process has produced one species (at least) with moral sense far superior to that of the designer of the process if there was one – Reed's Unknown God.
So the answer to his nasty question “Why?” is that humans have developed rational ethics. Morality “needs” a supernatural morality teacher no more than the development of life needs a supernatural life-inventor.


Samarami's picture

Obviously, Jim, on this one you and I will agree not to agree up front without hope of reconciliation. I mean, lets face it: folks like you and me can have different beliefs (faiths, if you will) and refuse to move off-center to look at those ideologies from different, or perhaps open perspectives.

Hard headed rigidity. The older I get, the more rigid the hard head. MY hard head -- not the hard heads of others. I'd like to judge them, or you, but that's not my bailiwick.

I suffer from pompous pride. That keeps me from looking at certain premises, or theories, objectively. When somebody supports "evolution" I'll tend to immediately get my back up and become defensive. Because I believe with all my being that the entire premise is fallacious. Its foundation is built on shifting sand (not to mention government grants). Fred and I agree on that. So, inevitably, somebody hits me with the masked man fallacy. I must be hiding this or that religious belief under my cloak. And that enrages me and causes me to become even more defensive if I'm not careful, although it is probably the natural conclusion of irrational folks.

Not that either Fred or I can refute the vast majority of highly intellectual scientists who are not on our side of this issue with any catalog of factual evidence, mind you. Like perhaps some Higher Power, that keeps all this magnificent sustenance in place, and I can prove it. Neither Fred nor I espouse any kind of religion that would support an omni-god in that equation (well, I can't speak for Fred, but it's what I gather from this and other of his work).

And I have to constantly grill myself: is it because I WANT to believe this or that rigid position, or is it because the evidence I see with my own eyes points to the conclusion that I've come to believe? And no, I can't be convinced I am seeing with eyes that "evolved" -- they're too highly designed to have fallen into place over a hundred billion years or some such. Thanks, Fred.

Fred's opening statement:

    The intent of this essay is not to debate with the ardent of evolutionism, which is the Political Correctness of science. To do so would be pointless. The greatest intellectual divide is not between those who believe one thing and those who believe another, but between those who have an emotional need to believe something fervently and those who can say, “I don´t know.” The former group comprises those tedious Darwinists and Creationists who robotically hurl imprecations at each other like fans of rival football teams. Each blockheadedly refuses to concede the slightest possibility that its doctrine might be other than infallible. To my mind they constitute the best evidence that we did not descend from monkeys, but have not yet ascended to them. Stupidity beyond a certain point is intractable.

Incidentally, "...the ardent of evolutionism..." is perfectly good writing -- for Fred as an excellent author. Had he interjected the understood "...proponents..." before "of", it not only would have taken from Fred's jocular style, but also would have unbalanced the natural rhythm of his sentence. Let's try to avoid Ad Hominemism. :-]

So, although I definitely hold you, Jim, in high regard as a libertarian writer and proponent of liberty, (I'd call you " ardent of freedom...") I perceive you have difficulty with one major point Fred made in colorful radiance: You will not, you must not, you cannot say, "I don't know".

But don't feel aggressively chastised. Deep down I discern that I have the same character defect. Perhaps some other root strikers will admit the same.


Oh, and one more thing: you're absolutely correct. Fred got long-winded on this one. Call him "...the zealous of anti-evolutionists..." perhaps. He droned on for 11 pages of single-space Word text.

Jim Davies's picture

Coincidentally, Sam, I posted an "I don't know" here only yesterday, in the penultimate paragraph of this comment. So I'll accept your advice not to feel chastised :-)

Glock27's picture

Read the piece. Yes it was long, but I believe he made significant inroads to discrediting evolution. One could pose the perspective that God used or designed evolution to accomplish the creation. Can't prove it one way or another. I have read Darwin's works and I say read not understood, but I never noted anything of a real significance to it. Darwin. Darwin went on a tangent and spent his life on it. He made some interesting observations and I believe that was about all he did, made observations. It is my understanding that Darwin had some concerns as to whether to publish his life long findings. Obviously he came to the conclusion to do so for the need of money, or someone convinced him to do so. I have to agree with the idea that evolution is a speculation and not a science--a philosophical idea maybe
In the end I found it to be a nice deconstruction of evolutionism