Tuesday, May 24, 2005


On three occasions when I have been blogging an intellectual adversary has written that I am using zingers.

The first wrote something and then said that they looked forward to some more zingers back. The second engaged in a little dialogue and then said that they appreciated the barbs. For as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another and so on, as the irony of it all continues. The last wrote asking if I have a zinger they had not seen yet. But perhaps they cannot see any way, as the Naturalist's mind seems to be folded in on itself just a bit so that its bytes are few. It's the mind of the gaps that refuses to admit to itself what the Self is and cannot admit to the Mind of God either. It may quibble, yet it cannot admit to self-evident truths evident in the Self in an absolute way, which is the only way to admit to them. Instead, it will argue that God is just the "god of the gaps" and that Naturalism is inevitably filling all these supposed gaps in knowledge in. That is quite false in many ways, that sort of mind may as well fill in its own synaptic gaps so that it will not be a mind of the gaps anymore.

But back to the zingers that can fire through some gaps, they are quite necessary in intellectual war. Sometimes, what a mind needs is a zinger!

A study on rhetors, rhetoric and the crafting of zingers:
To Darwin’s skeptics, the coming of Michael Denton in 1985 produced the rhetorical analogue to the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. Darwinism had held the continent of scientific consensus for over a century. At last the time had come to wade ashore and establish the first beachheads of empirically based antievolutionism. The odds against the would-be “liberators” seemed so terrible as to border on the absurd. Everything hinged on the weapon held by the invaders—a 344 page book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, published in England (1985) and the United States (1986). The author was relatively unknown—a British-educated biochemist and medical doctor laboring in the obscurity of the clinical chemistry department of Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

As the invaders clambered up the cliffs towering over the beaches, they hurled Denton’s explosive charges toward the pillboxes: “Neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin’s macroevolutionary theory—the concept of the continuity of nature. . . and the belief that all the adaptive design of life has resulted from a blind random process—have been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1859” (italics mine). MIT’s Murray Eden with his Wistar colleague Schutzenberger joined the invading troops, announcing that Denton “should be required reading for anyone who believes what he was taught in college about Darwinian evolution.” Paul MacLean, a former professor at the Yale Medical School and founder of the Brain Evolution Lab at the National Institute of Mental Health, exulted, “Kant gave credit to Hume for arousing him from his ‘dogmatic slumber. This book promises to arouse an entire audience” (italics mine). Even the celebrated anthropologist Ashley Montagu praised Denton’s breadth of knowledge, noted his “just and telling” criticisms, and welcomed his “valuable contribution.”

The Darwinian defenders were not asleep. Rhetorical bullets flew in savage counterattack:

“Denton’s book displays a vast ignorance about Darwin, evolution, and science in general.”
“A specimen of creationism at its most subtle and up-to-date.”
“No area escapes misrepresentation and distortion.”
“a sham”
“fraught with distortions”
A trio of prestigious evolutionists—Michael Ruse, Mark Ridley, and Niles Eldredge—wrote strongly negative reviews in prominent journals in an effort to crush Denton’s credibility and repel his attack. When the smoke cleared from the beach landings of 1985—86, the continent was still firmly in the hands of neo-Darwinism. Yet in the cliffs, here and there, certain pillboxes had fallen to the invaders, who were now spraying the countryside with sniper fire.

I trust the reader will bear with my Normandy metaphors, which of course are my own attempt to capture the wave of projection themes that powerfully chained out in the budding consciousness of early proponents of design when Denton’s attack was published. The imagery fits well with Denton’s comment in a letter in early 1987 that exemplified the Normandy fantasy scene: “I am totally committed to waging unceasing intellectual war on neo-Darwinian orthodoxy.” Denton was blunt, thorough, confident, and cognitively upsetting for anyone who began his reading with the assumption that Darwinian theory rested on ample confirming evidence. In a word (Denton’s own word in the preface), the critique was radical—a notion I shall analyze later in the chapter.

It is impossible to trace the development of Design in the 1990s and beyond without reviewing the origin of that movement in the rhetorical invasion and bloody skirmishes that were triggered by Michael Denton in 1985. His Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (hereafter referred to as Evolution) is, to an astonishing degree, the initial impetus, inspiration, and even rationale of the movement. Together with The Mystery of Life’s Origin, a more technical critique focused on chemical evolution that preceded Evolution by a few months, Denton practically established the rhetorical matrix of values, communication styles, purposes, perspectives, assumptions, and beliefs that became the substance of the new Design genre. These books also supplied a fund of rhetorical resources—lines of argument, phraseology, and especially patterns of evidence and anomalies gathered from many different biological fields. All of these outfitted the invading marines of the incipient Design Movement as they strategized their next sorties.
(Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design
By Thomas Woodward :47-49)

Zingers are good for sniping, yet I personally do not attempt to establish or maintain "credibility" and I have little to no ethos as a rhetor from an identity/image to base it on. It is good to lack an image, as then there is nothing there for an adversary to attack. Then there is no "who"/identity, only the "what"/argument to deal with. A similar pattern might be: Do not make a graven image to venerate so that you may look to the Word of God instead. The Word of God is what the Mind of God says and communication is the key, insight over sight. Yet then you may have sight through Jesus, as the Word became flesh.

This pattern has helped me out over time, as it creates a tendency to look to text, facts, history and philosophy instead of dealing with the inane personal politics of "credibility" all the time. (E.g. answering Mike's memes....science thumpers are all about personal "credibility." And that's about it for them.)

As Naturalists place the physical and worldly before the metaphysical and spiritual, their focus may shift to the physical person and away from text, logic and evidence naturally enough. By focusing on what is being written instead of who is writing it, I'm just helping Naturalists out of what Mommy Earth tends to select for her believers by her natural selections.

It seems that being helpful like that comes naturally to me.

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