To avoid permanent brain damage, the Surgeon General recommends that Vox Popoli be read only through the StupidVu9000
So Vox Day stumbled across my post about the utility of evolutionary biology (among other things) and he went berserk.
Maybe he came across the link by way of ScienceBlogling PZ, and since there’s no love lost between those two, he went nuts by association.
Maybe he read the word “emotional” in the post and became absolutely terrified that his tiny little penis would fall off.
Or maybe he’s just a complete fucking moron.
I’ll lay out what I meant by “moral”:
- Creationists argue that evolutionary biology will lead to all sorts of immorality, and that it should not be taught in schools (or taught in such a watered down manner that it will effectively not be taught at all). This means fewer people will be able to become evolutionary biologists, as well as a general public that is more ignorant of biology.
- As I described during my talk, and repeatedly discuss on my blog, including in the post that got Vox’s panties in a bunch, genomic based medicine (human and infectious disease), not to mention other areas of applied biology, relies on evolutionary theory, tools, and methods. All those articles about ‘decoding the book of life’ don’t happen without evolutionary biology.
- Developing vaccines, discovering new antibiotics, and finding new therapeutic treatments, which we do in genomics by using evolutionary biology, are moral actions.
- Denying the use (and existence) of these powerful tools, as well as the potential training of future scientists will impede our ability to cure disease.
- Reducing our ability to combat infectious disease is immoral.
- Therefore, opposing evolution, as creationists do, because it is theologically inconvenient is wrong, and supporting evolution is a good thing–a moral thing (and ethical too).
Granted, Vox’s reading comprehension skills are minimal, but this is a moral argument on behalf of evolution and against creationism (whose only contribution to fighting infectious disease is “pray”). Regarding the “emotional” component, that was referring to rhetoric. Rather than giving a dry, wonkish explanation of why you do the science that you do (more about that in a minute), we need to use language and explanations that touch not only logic, but human emotion. The creationists are great at this: what does the death and resurrection of Jesus have to do with teaching evolution? Nothing. But it is a useful rhetorical device. When we discuss why evolution matters for medical advancement–not how we do the science–there’s nothing wrong with playing the ‘disease card’–which is also a useful rhetorical device–because it’s true.
It’s also ridiculous that Vox makes me part of Dawkins’ atheist argument when I’m not an atheist. In fact, along with Razib, I’m one of the consistent defenders of religion (at least some religions) on ScienceBlogs. But because PZ agrees with a statement I made, I’m now an atheist? PZ wishes it were so easy…
And Vox also misunderstands what science is when he writes:
The EMOTIONAL and MORAL case for evolution? You can go ahead and write off TENS now, because what was once merely worthy of skepticism is rapidly approaching utter farce. With defenders like this, one need not even pay any attention to those openly attacking the theory, however credible or crazy they might be. So much for the claims to be objective science…
Science, including evolutionary biology, is simply a tool, albeit a powerful tool, that we can use to understand how the physical and material world works and how it came to be. It is not a theological belief system. I can use the tool of science for good (develop a vaccine) or evil (create a biological warfare agent). Why I would want to or should do either of these things is not a matter for science, but morality and, yes, emotion (make sure your penis is still there, Vox).
One more thing: when you write “A Mad Biologist sticks a philosophical gun to his forehead and splatters the room with what previously passed for his brain”, that doesn’t mark you as a tough guy. You just sound like a wimp pretending to be a tough guy.