The evolving moral equivalancing

Frederick Turner (TCS 05jl13) provides another example of the disease of making false equivalances that seems to plague modern debate.

The battle between the evolutionists and the creationists is a peculiarly tragic one, because it is amplifying the worst tendencies of both sides, and making it more and more difficult for most people to find a resolution.

The problem in finding a resolution is not to pretend both sides are the same. Turner’s equivalance does not even withstand his own listing.

On the polemical creationist side, the sin is intellectual dishonesty.

The polemical evolutionists are right about the truth of evolution. But the rightness of their cause has been deeply compromised by their own version of the creationists’ sin. The evolutionists’ sin, as I see it, is even greater, because it is three sins rolled into one.

The first is a profound failure of the imagination … The second sin is a profound moral failure … The third sin is again dishonesty. … A truth used for unworthy purposes is quite as bad as a lie used for ends believed to be worthy.

and then he dismisses the importance of the argument:

The controversy over intelligent design and evolution is, like many current quarrels, largely artificial,

There is good reason to believe that arguments about intellectual integrity are not something that can be dismissed as “largely artifical.” In Turner’s own arguments, he suffers in claiming a dishonesty in evolutionists not by reality and sticking to the truth but rather by motivation and perception. In other words, he creates a dishonesty on one side in order to match one about where there is not doubt on the other. This is how a moral equivalence can be achieved. And that equivalence is how Turner can pretend that both sides ‘do it.’ And, since both sides are equally bad, we can then dismiss the argument.

This is like the BBC using the word “terrorist” to describe the recent London bombings. This only lasted a few days before the BBC caught itself and re-asserted the “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” ethos and went back to rationalizing and excusing and mislabeling those who prey upon the innocent as a primary tactic. When we do not discriminate, then we cannot make effective choices. When we cannot make effective choices, then we make the worst choice.

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