Back when I first started blogging, one of the first things I highlighted were the madcap quote-mining antics of Intelligent Design sycophant Sal Cordova. Sal has been a longtime net presence on numerous forms devoted to evolution and intelligent design, but it seems that now he has his own blog: “Young Cosmos.”
I have to admit: I honestly somehow missed the fact that Sal was a straight up young earth creationist (he says old that dabbles in “young,” but whatever). Whether it was a sort of open secret until now, or I just haven’t expended enough time obsessing about Sal Cordova I don’t know. It certainly does make him a rather poor spokesperson for the claim that Intelligent Design is not, as he has long insisted, a direct outgrowth of the political and scientific failures of classic creationism.
In any case, in his latest post, Sal tries to take on the classic problem of evil: why would a good God create a world that not only has evil, but seems in many respects designed to be specially conducive for evil and suffering?
Sal tries to come off as sympathetic, purporting to offer comfort to those grieving for loved ones lost to cruel circumstances. But he just can’t help himself: the great, ghoulish relish he takes in the tragedy of Darwin’s deformed son, the delight he takes in insisting that the murder of a scientist by a creationist was “natural selection at work” (making the classic error, probably intentional, of thinking of evolution as morally normative rather than descriptive) expose his amoral sadism better than any accusation I could level.
His conclusion (that what seems to be suffering is essentially all just for dramatic effect) is one I’ve heard many times before. And yet, it never ceases to amaze me both in its ultimate moral depravity and its bold anti-empiricism. Here is someone who claims that science, actual evidence, supports his ideology, and but who at the first sign of theological problems, is essentially willing to toss all of reality in the philosophical shitcan just to help himself out of a seeming mess. Here is someone willing to supply and answer to immorality and suffering that could essentially justify ANY act, any state of the world, no matter how horrible and evil.
Sal’s “out-of-the-box” explanation of evil is essentially a philosophical variation on the Brain-in-a-jar/The Matrix/Plato’s Cave/Last Thursday-ism. Such untestable arguments often appear to be extremely powerful and insightful because of the seemingly airtight and absolute way they can explain away just about any possible objection. But far from being innovative, they are ultimately just the opposite: it’s the very height of intellectual laziness: the problem is that they are just too easy to make. Anyone at all can insist that their views are justified by doing away with any all evidential requirements, natural laws, and perceptions of reality and ad hoccing up a story about the “true” reality behind it all. Sal and his ID pals generally seem to think that the reason that only they make these sorts of arguments is because they are brave. In reality, it’s largely because only they are willing to stoop that low.
I mean, seriously. Sal’s God could have created a universe in which all living beings are born straight into decades of unrelenting torture… and his explanation would function just as well as a justification for suffering. I take the opposite view: when seemingly pointless cruelties are said to be contrived by a hypothetical being, the burden s heavily, heavily on its defenders to provide the actual step by step justifications for each and every additional jot of seemingly pointless suffering, not handwaving promises of moral necessity.
Given that modern man has, with technology, largely eased huge swaths of human suffering caused by the particulars of the natural world (all designed, Sal would claim), all without any seeming collapse of our characters or ability to value and enjoy our lives (on the contrary: all these things seem to have advanced significantly), I’d say that apologists like Sal have a very very tough row to hoe on that score. Which is, perhaps, why they resort to simply tossing out all the inconvenient facts as their first order of business.
Tell me why we’re supposed to be in awe of theology again?
Addendum: It’s also worth noting that Sal’s irrational hatred of evolution is so sloppy and scattershot that he actually manages to insist that “Darwinists” were behind the “outcome based education” movement, which he apparently detests. Never mind that the “everyone is a winner” ethos he claims is part of OBE is in direct contradiction to how he portrays “Darwinism” in every other venue. Never mind that neither this nor any major educational philosophy over the last few decades has much of anything to do with insights or influences from evolutionary biologists. Never mind that OBE is actually not even close to the same thing as the “everyone is a winner” baseball game Sal describes (OBE is, in fact, one of the core ideas behind the No Child Left Behind act, in which schools are rigorously evaluated on a pass/fail basis rather than allowing social promotion and graduation of functionally illiterate students).
Sal doesn’t like it, so “Darwinists” must be behind it!