Apparently my criticisms of Intelligent Design and defense of mainstream science has cost me a friend. Yes, the individual in question did unfriend me on Facebook. But this is someone I know in real life. And I’ve never unfriended on Facebook someone I know in real life. I am connected on Facebook to all sorts of people from my childhood up until today, and I see plenty of posts from them on Facebook that disturb me, never mind merely disagreeing with them. But they are friends, and friendships need not mean agreement.
We ought to be able to engage one another and disagree without resorting to mischaracterizations and insults, and then simply walking away when we cannot take what we have dished out.
My friend (alas, he probably now considers me a former friend, and not just in the Facebook sense) took exception to my referring to the Discovery Institute as a source of propaganda. The Discovery Institute itself is happy to use the term in referring to something that does not deserve to be so labeled, i.e. mainstream science. And so how can someone object to using the label in reference to them? The individual in question also objected to various other things I said – none of which were things that I have not been saying publicly for more than a decade. He also thought I was distracting from the issue by asking why he used the term “Darwinism.”
This is different from the sorts of things I have experienced before. This is about someone I know in real life, not some vague online acquaintance. There are lots of strange people on the internet. I recently (via Lothar Lorraine) discovered that someone, whose pseudonym I don’t even recognize as familiar, thinks that I’ve engaged in a “hate campaign” as a progressive Christian. I could see someone complaining that my blogging is too inane, frivolous, or sarcastic. Indeed, I’d probably agree. But a hate campaign? Really?!
I don’t expect agreement, whether on religion, politics, science, or anything else from people I know. If I know you in real life, all that it takes to remain connected with me is for you to not end the connection. I consider the opportunity to be challenged on my views by those who disagree with me a privilege.
The conspiracy theory view of academia that the Discovery Institute promotes fosters a very different approach, which refuses to remain open to challenges from those who disagree. They will gladly take advantage of the open conversation that takes place on academic sites of various sorts, but will not allow it on their own.
The whole thing is disheartening. Of course, Intelligent Design has disheartened me for a long time. But up until now, it has always been a case of conversations ending with people whom I knew only online. Now I have experienced first hand how this pernicious garbage that cdesign proponentsists promote spreads hatred and ends friendships in real life. And that makes me all the more determined to speak out about its malevolent influence.