Wednesday, March 01, 2006


George Bernard Shaw: Dembski's New Patron Saint

William Dembski has, rather oddly, adopted George Bernard Shaw as his new patron saint.

In a post published today on his Uncommon Descent blog, Dembski quotes Shaw as saying:
In the name of human vitality WHERE is the charm in that useless, dispiriting, discouraging fatalism which broke out so horribly in the eighteen-sixties at the word of Darwin, and persuaded people in spite of their own teeth and claws that Man is the will-less slave and victim of his environment?
For our part, Red State Rabble just loves Shaw. Here are a couple more quotes Dembski might like to look into:

To save Shaw from hell-fire, a friend prevailed on a Roman Catholic priest to catechize the upstart atheist. Having repaired with his catechumen to a church cell, the priest began:

“The universe exists; somebody must have made it.”

“If that somebody exists,” interposed Shaw, “somebody must have made him.”

“I grant that for the sake of argument,” said the priest. “I grant you a maker of God. I grant you a maker of the maker of God. I grant you as long a line of makers as you please; but an infinity of makers is unthinkable and extravagant; it is no harder to believe in number one than in number fifty thousand or fifty million; so why not accept number one and stop there, since no attempt to get behind him will remove your logical difficulty?”

“By your leave,” Shaw replied, “it is as easy for me to believe that the universe made itself as that the maker of the universe made himself, in fact much easier; for the universe visibly exists and makes itself as it goes along, whereas a maker for it is a hypothesis.”

Fifty years later, Shaw stuck to his guns. He told an interviewer for a church magazine: “A First Cause is a contradiction in terms, because in causation every cause must have a cause; and therefore there can no more be a First Cause than a first inch in a circle. If you once admit a cause that is uncaused, you give up causation altogether. And if you do that, you may as well say that everything makes itself. I daresay every black beetle thinks it must have a complete explanation of the world as one of the indispensable qualifications of a respectable cockroach.”

These quotes were shamelessly stolen from "George Bernard Shaw: Mystic or Atheist?" by Gary Sloan, who concludes that "Shaw didn’t believe in an existing God at all. What he believed was that evolution, eons hence, will produce a godlike race in which the life force will consummate its quest for godhead. If, as theologians and philosophers have traditionally maintained, current existence is a necessary attribute of god, Shaw qualifies as an atheist, albeit an involuntary one."

Read more here.

By the way Dr. Dembski, Red State Rabble reads Shaw's letter to James not as a condemation of Darwin, but as a condemnation of an unwarranted fatalism that might be attributed to a misreading of Darwin. If Shaw were with us now, he might apply the same line of reasoning to intelligent design.


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