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Quote mining for fun and profit...

Paul Gosselin (2009)

Doing a little research for an origins-related article I bumped into an interesting statement by Scott C. Todd, immunologist at Kansas State University. This statement is often used by Creationists and Intelligent Design people. Here is the quote as evolution critics on the web typically use it:

Evolutionist's of late do not take too kindly to their own religious leaders discourse being exploited by "heretics" and have begun to fight back. Typically they accuse creationists of taking evolutionists, such as Todd, "out of context". But what does that actually mean? Just to make things a bit clearer, well here is the full quote (and reference), as provided by the Talkorigins web site.

After a quick first read one would have to allow that Todd is not actually proposing pure materialism. But in actual fact, if you take a second (more careful) look, the full quote raises more problems than the sentence typically used by anti-evolutionists.

After rereading the full quote you have to wonder WHAT exactly is Todd saying? On the one hand the sentence excluding the intelligent designer leads inevitably to materialism. That is clear enough. But the other hand, the surrounding sentences contradict this strict materialism and apparently allow for personal "religious beliefs". Why does Todd believe there is a science beliefs/personal beliefs dichotomy? What is this based on? Why does Todd need this dichotomy, this schizophrenic view of knowledge? What ideological purpose might this dichotomy serve?

In my view Todd is either logically incoherent, allowing both "religious" and "materialistic" beliefs (which of course will fit in fine with a post-modern worldview), or he is just a lying hypocrite and all this stuff about scientists, as individuals, "being free to embrace a reality that transcends naturalism" is just marketing crap and chances are he doesn't believe a single word of it himself.

So which is it??

But regarding objections evolutionists have with either ID proponents or creationists using material produced by evolutionists for what they label "quote mining" i believe the bottom line is pretty simple: Heretics (ID proponents or creationists) are NOT allowed to quote anything said by the true believers (nor point out any glaring contradictions in their thinking). This is then a theological/ideological matter and really has nothing to do with "context". How a specific quote was used by the quoter is thus largely irrelevant. That is not the REAL issue.

So the "quote mining" scandal is a basically bogus "objection"...