July 16, 2009
Who's an Embryo? Plan B...
Caroming off our previous post on the appointment of Dr. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., as the director of the National Institutes of Health -- in which we argued that extreme pro-lifers were wrong to try to derail the appointment because of a miniscule doctrinal difference that actually made no difference in the real world -- conservative columnist Cal Thomas (who also supports Collins) now weighs in: He reports that extreme pro-choicers are also unhappy with Collins... because they're worried he might introduce a note of conscience into medicine. Can't have that!
(Alas, Thomas' argument is diminished, as he slips in an instance of Godwin's Law that may overshadow the main point.)
The recent New York Times story announcing the president's selection of Dr. Collins ("who led the government's successful effort to sequence the human genome") reflects what would be considered bigotry or sexism if applied to someone because of his or her race or gender. Reporter Gardiner Harris writes that one of the objections to Dr. Collins (he names no objectors, which is the pattern of a smear) "is his very public embrace of religion. He wrote a book called 'The Language of God' and he has given many talks and interviews in which he described his conversion to Christianity as a 27-year-old medical student."
I don't know exactly what story he references, so I can't read it and see if Thomas' charge is fair; nor am I going to spend any time looking it up: I have other irons to fry.
But I have certainly seen that same ad-hominem attack on Collins coming from ultra-secular materialist liberals, Socialists, and self-described atheists I personally know, when I recommended his book, the Language of God... so I have no difficulty believing that the attack is once again raised in response to the Collins appointment: He can't be a real scientist, because belief in God is fundamentally irrational and demonstrates a disordered mind.
Normally I despise the facile "argument" that if so-and-so draws fire from both the extreme Right and extreme Left, he must, as in the Goldilocks story, be ju-u-u-ust right; it's juvenile and generally a cross between a crocodile and an abalone... that is, a crocabalone. But in this very particular case, I think two ends attacking the middle does tell us something good and fine about Collins (and again, a rare rave to President Barack H. Obama for making the appointment).
Collins draws fire precisely because he sees no conflict between faith and science, and in particular, between evangelical Christianity and modern evolutionary theory; his own success in the scientific field is a living refutation of the warped pronunciamentos of those secularists (e.g., Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, Philip Pullman) who say that studying evolution necessarily makes one an atheist... as well as the religious who refuse, for reasons of faith, to accept evolution -- including Ben Stein, Michael Medved, Ann Coulter, and indeed everyone at the Discovery Institute, from Michael Behe up and down the line.
In this case, the fact that both extremes of the debate turn their rhetorical guns on Collins -- generally without troubling to read what he writes or listen to what he says -- does indeed show that he represents the Kirkian mean between the Spockian and Bonesian poles, to which scientists and the religious should all aspire.
I find it interesting that the very same atheists I personally know -- literally, the exact same individuals -- also dismiss any story from the Washington Times because it's "a Moonie newspaper!" -- as if the paper itself being owned by the Unification Church "proves" that Wesley Pruden, John F. Solomon, John McCaslin, Greg Pierce, Cal Thomas, Mark Steyn, Jeffrey Birnbaum, Bill Gertz, Frank Gaffney, David Brooks, Bill Sammon, Tony Blankley, Tony Snow, and every other writer or editor who has ever worked for the newspaper must himself be -- a Moonie! -- and therefore incapable of reporting without inserting Unification Church propaganda and evangelism into every story, column, or editorial decision.
This type of rhetorical attack -- Argument by Religious Repulsion -- appears to be a habit, possibly an addiction, with some.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 16, 2009, at the time of 3:53 PM
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