Pharyngula

There must be a gene for cussedness

I have a daughter. She’s all smart and growed up, and she has moved away to the distant land of Wisconsin, where she has a real, full-time job and a car and an apartment and a cat and ferrets and a boyfriend, and she thinks for herself (like I told her to!) and she has opinions I mostly agree with — she’s a freethinker and rationalist — and some I disagree with — she’s not a fan of the atheist movement and she’s had a bit more philosophy in her brain than I think is entirely good for her. She’s appeared a few times in the comments here, with much clashiness, and she has her own blog, where she occasionally writes about what she’s thinking.

And now Uncommon Descent praises her. Boy, are they barking up the wrong tree: she’s no friend of Intelligent Design creationism, and if they like that she’s willing to criticize atheists, it’s only because she doesn’t consider creationists even worth arguing over. And they praise her in such a condescending way: she’s just a “kid”, and they mainly seem dazzled that a daughter of a notorious “Darwinist” doesn’t fawn over Sam Harris.

The post that drew their attention is a scathing critique of The Moral Landscape. I’ve talked with Skatje now and then about the book — I’ve been interested but vaguely uncomfortable with it, and have felt a gnawing obligation (but no enthusiasm) to sit down and read it through carefully, and I think she knows that my usual reaction to it is a moan and an eye-roll. But she is the one who worked her way through the book thoroughly and articulated her own arguments. I think her short summary that it should have been subtitled “How science can help us achieve the things we’ve already chosen to value” is brilliant and perfect. I’m impressed that she also had the gumption to disagree with Sean Carroll’s criticism of the premise. I disagree that the book panders to “atheists with very little knowledge of philosophy”: most of the atheists I know, when The Moral Landscape is brought up, tend to shuffle about uncomfortably and try to change the subject — it isn’t at all popular with this particular community.

It’s a good, solid review, and it’s entirely her own work. I’m sure it’s incredibly annoying to her to be saddled with this mostly irrelevant connection to me, and it’s also annoying to me to have an intelligent, thoughtful daughter whose work I can’t reference without the awkward implication of paternalism. Read it because it’s good, not because half her chromosomes came from me.

Also, infuriating as praise from creationists is, even worse is the godless moron in her comments who patronizingly rebukes her for daring to criticize Dr. Harris.

So stop acting like a big smart girl while trying to choke scientific progression, because no one cares about your relationship with your daddy.

I feel a bit of fatherly anger when I read that, and I also feel some dismay that atheism has within its ranks such supercilious, sexist inanity (but then, I’ve been seeing a lot of that lately). The one thing that tempers that anger is that I know Skatje’s strong enough to smack that fool down.