Ron Paul, John Derbyshire, Gay Genes, and the Cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

To my mild surprise, John Derbyshire further shores his reputation as NRO’s house contrarian by endorsing Ron Paul for President.  His reasoning is nested in properly righteous contempt, to wit:      

What I am seeking is an anti-JFK — a candidate who will transform our
nation’s capital from a city of hope for middle-class intellectuals,
into a city of despair for them. The despair of those intellectuals, I
am increasingly convinced, is the hope of our nation. Looking at all
but one of the Republican candidates (and, it goes without saying, all
but none of the Democratic ones) I see nothing in prospect
but a new draft of office-seeking intellectuals, primed and eager to
bring us new expansions of federal power, new pointless wars, new
million-strong reinforcements for the Reconquista, new
thousand-page tax loopholes, new inducements for idleness and crime,
new humiliations for the saps who follow rules and obey laws.

Chided by a fellow Corner contributor for Paul’s gently phrased skepticism regarding  the correctness of matters Darwinian, the Derb responds:

You’ll have to get up earlier than that if you want to get up before the Derb.  In this particular case, about four and a half years earlier: Here I was on NRO in April of 2003:

couldn’t care less whether my president believes in the theory of
evolution. In fact, reflecting on some recent experiences, I¡¯m not
sure that I wouldn’t prefer a president who didn’t.

must say, I think it’s a bit odd for a trained and qualified doctor not
to believe in the central paradigm of modern biology. But
candidacy-wise, I still couldn’t care less.

With which I am not inclined to quibble.  Without indulging in irrelevant apologetics, however, it does seem that Paul’s off-the-cuff remarks regarding "the theory of evolution" are more in line with a kind of open-ended compatibalism than with anything that might be fairly characterized as a wholesale rejection of "the central paradigm of modern biology."  His buried reference to the "precise time and manner" of creation is telling enough, as watchwords go.  And in this, I suspect he differs little from the stooges on either side of the dais. 

But speaking as a convinced neo-Darwinian, I’m more than a little sick of  the noisome toungue-clucking among those self-annointed flying spaghetti monster types who impose their safely fashioned brand of evolutionary correctitude as a kind of litmus test for civic legitimacy.  There are countless examples of  Darwinian denialism on the left, a point that was most recently made clear in the ruckus over James Watson’s statements regarding possible racial differences in intelligence and temperament. 

And for the moment, I can’t help recalling the silly row that ensued when Melissa Etheridge posed her oh-so solicitous "is homosexuality a choice" question to the candidates during a Logo-hosted Democratic gay and lesbian forum some time ago.  Bill Richardson’s amusingly confused fumble drew predictable headlines, but the real story was the lock-step uniformity of response elicited among the others, who knew fuck-well  how to phrase the "correct" answer.  Of course homosexuality is exclusively "biological," they all chimed.  What sort of troglodyte could think otherwise? The problem was and is that the best available evidence does not support any such politically attuned degree of certainty, and I have little doubt that even the most dedicated ID-baiting new-atheist aparatchik would be challenged to deploy a plausible Darwinian explanation for the penetrance of the fabled "gay gene." I’ve done my best from the armchair, and it isn’t easy.

The correct — as opposed to politically correct — answer to Ms. Etheridge’s insincere volley would have been to note that the biological component of homosexuality is a subject of ongoing scientific study, that the best evidence from twin studies is inconclusive, that different types of homosexuality may yield to differing and complex sociobiological, hormonal, and cultural explanations, and that more research is needed. Beyond this, one might reasonably qualify matters by making it clear that the ultimate question of what causes homosexuality should matter not in the least where questions of individual rights are at issue.  No need to stir the vat with talk of gay germ theory, although that may be where things end up.   

But of course, the spaghetti monster cultists don’t care about truth nor about ground level methods of  scientific inquiry.  They just revel in calling out the heretics, and then they gloat from the safely guarded redoubt of smug, self-congratulatory, thoughtless, sooth-faking certainty.  As sure as I am that Ron Paul is mistaken in his assessment of  the weight of evidence favoring evolution, I am no less certain that those most inclined to disparage his character and candidacy on this trivial account are no less foolish than Jack Chick pamphlateers who wax nostalgic about dinosaur hunts of yore.

Memento mori.