I hope that the Legacy Code post doesn’t imply that I am any kind of fan of the Intelligent Design movement. As someone who finds value in both faith and science, a movement which so horribly distorts the things I find wonderful about both is pretty unappealing to me except in the context perhaps of having some fun.
In that spirit I want to relate a conversation I had with a representative of the Discovery Institute. If you are not familiar with them they are one of the preeminent think tanks behind the whole Intelligent Design thing. Basically I walked up to him at the coffee shop and asked him what their goals are. He talked non stop for at least 30 minutes giving me the whole spiel about how Darwin’s ideas have poisoned western thought and taken us away from God so that we are now living under the false doctrine of Materialism (where we view that matter and energy are all that exist), how irreducibly complex biological structures prove that evolution is impossible, how Materialism (understood as his definition above) is responsible for the socialism that is ruining our country starting with the Income tax. How people that believe in this doctrine are all socialists or communists because they don’t believe wealth can be created. He had power point and everything.
It was riveting in that “you can’t turn you head away from a train wreck” kind of way. In a real sense it was beautiful because his world view explained everything so well to his satisfaction.
I did my best to participate. But It was hard.
I tried to point out that I think there are lots of people who don’t believe in God or anything other than atoms and energy and yet are quite entrepreneurial. One might consider the world’s richest man as a good example.
This got me nowhere of course since I was clearly missing the point that its not the individual examples that matter but its the corruption of the “intellectuals” that is really the problem and this permeates and corrupts society in nefarious ways that might not be apparent. I assumed by that he meant that teenage girls have abortions because some academic at Harvard thinks its ok and not because they don’t want to be mothers.
I thought about trying to challenge his position on irreducible complexity but as a computer programmer I know way too much about complexity to have a discussion with someone so enamored of their own fiction.
So I settled on saying that I agreed with him that Materialism was the biggest problem in our country but I wanted to define it as people’s desire for things rather than for each other. I shared with him my experience in El Salvador and how I felt that our obsession with wealth and security in this country was in fact one of the biggest factors leading people away from God. I don’t think I really made an impression on him, but I did finally get him to stop talking.
All in all it was an interesting way to spend a few hours.