The wrong-headed near idiocy of the ID group behind their often cogent critiques of Darwinian full idiocy betrays here the usual misfire against the Enlightenment. It is the core moment of emerging secular thought and that is detested, wrongly, by many religionists. The larger picture is something far far more complex in a portrait of the Enlightenment in its many facets far beyond the one-liners of these crypto-creationists. The Enlightenment contained the seeds of the religion of future, as far as that goes and is not some simplistic atheism but a liberation from the ‘pop theism’ and ‘god gibberish’ inflicted on the ocident in parallel to the far superior (atheistic) Buddhism. Not only is the Enlightenment far more complex than the reduced portrait given it is also an aspect of the ‘modern transition’ which is a vast tide of social innovations, starting we might note with the Protestant Reformation which spawns the very religion in question here.
The modern transition naturally moves beyond itself as physics rapidly moves beyond simple Newtonism but this a unity of subjects finally and is not some kind of displacement of the Enlightenment.
One should note that isolating the Enlightenment out of context forever misses the point. Consider the larger picture where the Enlightenement is counterpoinnt to itself in the dialectic of the Romantic movement and/or the figure of Kant who challenges metaphysics, both religious and secular. Secular humanism has its own limits but it has little claim on the Enlightenment as it, taking Marx as an example among many, as it makes a fundamentalism scientism of its own, far reduced from the richness of the Enlightenment and the modern transition (cf. WHEE). The discoveries of modern physics are the grandchildren of Newtonian physics and the Enlgitenment.
We should note that the history of Darwinism and atheism is itself another complexity ill served by the fundamentalism of the ‘new atheists’ and figures such as Richar Dawkins. Let us note that before Darwin we see the Enlightenment gestate a first real theory of evolution in the Kantian school of teleomechanists! The real theory of evolution is the first born of that period where Darwinism is a sort of dead fish of English capitalism and its rapid creation of a false thought monopoly.
The world of Protestantism would do well to extend their Reformation into a new future. There is absolutely no reason why modern Christianity has to preserve its mummified god-concept and it can as well create a liberating ‘semi’-‘atheism’ (in quotation marks) based on the ‘unspoken IHVH’ given as direct pointing.
In two articles so far (here and here), I have been exploring how justified the new atheists’ appropriation of Darwinian ideas is. This is the third and final post. As we’ve seen, Erasmus Darwin was a quintessential legatee of Enlightenment prepossessions. As its somewhat virtue-signaling name implies, the thinkers of the Enlightenment wished to distance themselves from anything that smacked of religious “superstition.” This led to the determination to declare a unilateral declaration of independence from the metaphysical sphere in favor of purely “scientific” modes of explanation. Yet in the face of the last century of scientific discoveries we have come to realize that hubristic expectations stemming from the Enlightenment dream of encompassing the whole of reality in some grand material theory of everything have been forced into a reluctant retreat.1